Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Are Organic Foods Necessary?

We have heard both sides; that organic fruits and veggies are the only way to go and we've heard that it doesn't really matter.  It's been difficult thinking that when we throw a couple apples with the peals still on in our blender that perhaps we are hurting our bodies.  Well, this may be the case or it may not matter very much (how are we to know FOR SURE these days).  We have been very hesitant to buy organic produce mainly because it's double the price of non-organic.  In the meantime we are not going to be buying very much organic fruit.  If you are interested in this concept please read the article below.  It's published on a body building site, but it's applicable to us raw foodists.  I copy and pasted the article to avoid all the adds but I will list the link to the site also.
After reading, let me know your thoughts.  Do you buy organic fruit and veggies? And if so, why?

Are Organic Foods Necessary For A Healthy Diet?

The bottom line is that "organic" does not mean what many people think it means. It does not mean absolutely no pesticides or no antibiotics or no irradiation or no genetic engineering! 

Let's face it. A healthy diet costs more than an unhealthy one. Why are so many poor people fat? They can't afford the meat, fresh fruits and vegetables that constitute the basis of a healthy diet. Macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, and other high calorie, low nutrient food build fat not muscle.
When I was a competitive bodybuilder I even had feelings of guilt as I stuffed my face full of nutrient dense food such as chicken, turkey, fish, fresh vegetables and fruit for the sole purpose of getting obscene muscle size!

If regular nutritious food wasn't expensive enough, now we are told by many that we should eat only "organic" foods. To do so would really increase the cost of a healthy diet. In spite of this, the organic food movement is growing rapidly.
In fact, retail sales of the organic industry rose from $1 billion in 1990 to $7.8 in 2000 to $10.4 billion last year, though total percentage of agricultural production still remains well below the 1% level [Greene CR. U.S. organic farming emerges in the 1990s: Adoption of certified systems. USDA Agricultural Research Service, Resource Economics Division, Information bulletin No. 770, June 2001]. 

The Reasons For This Growth Include:
  1. Supermarkets promote organic foods because they charge premium prices which increase their profits.
  2. People are bombarded with claims from lifestyle magazines, TV chefs, health food store employees, etc., that organic food increases health. Supposedly, organic foods are not only safer (less pesticides) but also more nutritious.
  3. Organic foods taste better.
  4. Organic farming is better for the environment.
But Are These Claims True?
Well, obviously the first one certainly is. Supermarkets make higher profits from "organic" produce and will promote them when they can. But are organic foods healthier? Organic foods are certainly not more nutritious [Newsome R. Organically grown foods: A scientific status summary by the Institute of Food Technologists' expert panel on food safety and nutrition. Food Technology 44(12):123-130, 1990.].
The nutrient content of plants is determined primarily by heredity. Mineral content may be affected by the mineral content of the soil, but this has no significance in the overall diet. If essential nutrients are missing from the soil, the plant will not grow. If plants grow, that means the essential nutrients are present. Experiments conducted for many years have found no difference in the nutrient content of organically grown crops and those grown under standard agricultural conditions.
But are they safer? Two recent symposia (the American Chemical Society and the First World Congress on Organic Food) have concluded that evidence is lacking to support the claimed superior benefits of organic foods. Furthermore, a report by the Texas Department of Agriculture indicates that conventional produce was eight times more likely to have pesticide residue than organic, but of the few samples in which a residue was found, the amount was negligible (between 1 and 5 percent of government standards). 

In addition, because organic farmers rely on cow and pig manure for fertilizer, organic foods are vulnerable to bacterial contamination - two recent outbreaks of e-coli involved organic strawberries and lettuce. Organic poultry present an additional problem. Free-range birds have higher rates of bacterial contamination than conventional poultry due to their higher exposure to wild bird droppings!
The fact is that a study by the American Council on Science and Health revealed that organic produce does not have significantly higher vitamin contents than conventional produce.
An exception may be in the vitamin C in organic vegetables, but the difference is minimal. The Food Standards Agency, an impartial body set up by government to safeguard our welfare, declared, "on the basis of current evidence... organic food is not significantly different in terms of food safety and nutrition from food produced conventionally". {By the way, you coffee drinkers, did you know that a cup of coffee contains natural carcinogens equal to at least a year's worth of carcinogenic synthetic residues in the diet?]

Well, then, what about the "fact" that organic farming is better for the environment? Because organic foods are supposed to be grown without artificial fertilizers in soil whose humus content is increased by the additions of organic matter, it is better for the environment, right?
The weed and pest-control methods to which this refers include crop rotation, hand cultivation, mulching, soil enrichment, and encouraging beneficial predators and microorganisms. If these methods are not sufficient, various listed chemicals can be used. (The list does not include cytotoxic chemicals that are carbon-based.) The proposal did not call for monitoring specific indicators of soil and water quality, but left the selection of monitoring activities to the producer in consultation with the certifying agent.
For raising animals, antibiotics would not be permitted as growth stimulants but would be permitted to counter infections.
The rules permit up to 20% of animal feed to be obtained from non-organic sources. This was done because some nutrients (such as trace minerals) are not always available organically.
Irradiation, which can reduce or eliminate certain pests, kill disease-causing bacteria, and prolong food shelf-life, would be permitted during processing. Genetic engineering would also be permissible.
The bottom line is that "organic" does not mean what many people think it means. It does not mean absolutely no pesticides or no antibiotics or no irradiation or no genetic engineering!

Manfred Kroger, Ph.D., Quackwatch consultant and Professor of Food Science at The Pennsylvania State University, has put the matter more bluntly:
Scientific agriculture has provided Americans with the safest and most abundant food supply in the world. Agricultural chemicals are needed to maintain this supply. The risk from pesticide residue, if any, is minuscule, is not worth worrying about, and does not warrant paying higher prices.

Article posted in October 2004

Also, Check Out: 

  • Tufts University Nutrition Navigator [Online]
  • Healthcare Reality CheckNational Council Against Health Fraud [Online] 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Smoothie Recipe & Tips Collection

First off some pointers
for beginners consider using LESS greens and MORE fruit in the beginning. Use mild flavors at first, like spinach, kale, collards, and chard. If you want to play it safe, use spinach and then sneak in the other good stuff later (chard, collards, and kale). Add a bit more water if you feel the smoothie is too thick.
In order to experience the best and most effective smoothie experience you will need a High Performance Blender. If you don’t know already, we will of course suggest the OMNI BLENDER. Most out there don’t know about this secret weapon. As of now the top brands are BlendTec and VitaMix. The OMNI BLENDER is only $250. So, this decision should be a no brainer. Let me know if you want to learn more about the OMNI BLENDER or click on the blender link/picture below.

A general recipe model & info from the GreenSmoothieGirl & Us 
1. Liquid: Put 2 C filtered water in the high-powered blender [or for beginners 1 C water and 1 C juice (i.e. fresh apple or orange juice)].
2. Optional Sweetners: ~¾ - 1 tsp. stevia (herbal sweetener) or ⅓ C raw, organic agave syrup (low glycemic index) [for beginners] ~¼ whole lemon, including peel (anti-skin cancer, high in flavanoids)2-3 Tbsp. fresh, refrigerated flaxseed oil (Omega-3-rich oil) [or just a couple tbsp of ground flax seed].
3. Gradually add the following Greens until briefly puréed and the mixture comes up to the 5-cup line (or less, if you are “converting”), and then purée the mixture for 90 seconds until very smooth. ~Raw, washed greens: spinach(2ish handfuls or chard (2 leafs), or kale( 2 leafs), or collards 2 leafs). These are your staple greens
~[For advanced] bok choy, turnip greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, arugula (use more sparingly, as they are spicy or bitter) lettuces and beet greens (also good—use freely) avocado or cabbage or 1-2 stalks celery [we don’t like celery] (try, to see if you enjoy their inclusion) edible weeds from unsprayed fields (For the adventurous! Purslane has a mild flavor and vines are along the ground everywhere. Use stronger flavors of lambsquarter leaves [not the woody stems], morning glory, and thistle sparingly.)
4. Gradually add the following fruit until the container is very full, then blend for 90 seconds or until smooth: ~1bananas (for a creamy texture and sweetness) ~1 C frozen berries [we buy frozen fruit from Costco, such as: Strawberries, Mixed Berries, Tropical Mix). Others to use are pears, peaches, apples, oranges, apricots, cantaloupe (with seeds—very high in antioxidants!), mango, pineapple, anything! The more fruit, the tastier your smoothie will be.
You can save your smoothie in the fridge for up to two days [and frozen for 3 days] just shake well before drinking.
Makes approx. 4 cups of 100% raw smoothie

2 C water
1 Tbsp. honey (raw) or agave (raw, organic)
10-oz. spinach (a couple handfulls)
1 banana (preferably frozen in chunks)
2 C frozen mixed berries
1 peach, pear, apple, or orange
Blend all until very smooth. Makes about 4 Cups

NO-FRUIT GREEN SMOOTHIE [Created by the Laura/GSG]
~1 avocado
~1 large cucumber
 ~2 C spinach
~2 large leaves collard greens
~2 leaves black kale (or another kind)
~2 or 3 fresh lemon juice (to taste)
~1 ⅓ C water optional: a few slices of Gala apples Purée well and enjoy.

THE ORANGE SMOOTHIE [Created by The Hassards]
Alicia and I like to (once a week or so), switch it up and make an “Orange Smoothie”. It goes something like this:
~2 Oranges (optional- include a ¼ or less of an orange peel, peels have around 8X the amount of Vitamin C then the orange its self)
~1 C Fresh orange juice (optional)
~1 C Water
~3 Large Carrots
~1 Banana
~A small amount of plain/non-fat yogurt or preferrably Kefir
Pulse then blend for 90-120 Seconds. It needs a little extra blending because of the carrots. Makes approx. 4 cups

THE HOT PINK SMOOTHIE [Created by GSG with minor adjustments]
~ 1 C coconut milk
~ 1 C water
~ Half a beet, peeled
~ Beet greens (a couple leafs)
~ 2 Large carrots
~1/3 C raw cashews
~1 Small kale leaf
~1 Handful spinach
~1 Banana
~1 Handful of frozen strawberries
~1/3 C chopped dates
~2 tsp vanilla
~Other options include: Ground oatmeal, ground flax, chia, yogurt or keifer, shredded unsweetened coconut. Place in blender, pulse until ground up and then blend for 60 seconds Makes approx. 4 cups. This contains 400 calories.

SUGGESTIONS (for beginners):


Buy a High Performance blender such as the OMNI BLENDER (click on blender).

Buy the ($10) book titled, “The Green Smoothie Diet”, by Robyn Openshaw. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

For beginners: What do you put in your smoothies?

In general people we come in contact with are always asking, “what’s in the smoothie today”?  From the beginning of our raw food lifestyle we rarely (I mean like 1-2 times a month) use recipes.  We simply buy healthy, reasonably priced raw foods and sometimes from other’s gardens (we don’t have our own . . . YET), then add what we feel would be good in that day’s smoothie.  Once you get going, it’s not very hard to learn what goes well with what.  A few staples we are always using are KALE, SPINACH, CHARD, COLLARD GREENS and various kinds of FROZEN FRUIT.  We typically buy a lot of our produce at Costco.  We’d like to work our way up to buying more “organic” and we do sometimes but it’s harder to get to and more expensive, often times it’s over double the cost.  

Considering we do make our own smoothies with our own “recipes”, meaning each day is a new recipe in a sense, we have made some bad tasting smoothies too.  This will happen once in awhile.  Everyone is different.  Even between the two of us we have personal preferences, but not drastically, so this is not a conflict between us.  Items we DON'T like to add are, broccoli and celery and sometimes bok choy becomes a little to much (for me specifically).  Alicia doesn’t like lemon as much as I do. 

So find what works best for you, either do what we do and just mess around with what you put in your smoothies at first (as long as there’s a good amount of greens) and you’ll find your place OR find recipe ideas in books or online.  There’s a lot of websites out there.  I will list a couple for you.


Chose your future health carefully!!!!!!!       

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sharing our Health Experience

Our experience as we share the love of SMOOTHIES has been interesting. Unless you're already a green smoothie advocate, try to imagine yourself or someone you see almost everyday carrying a bottle of semi thick, unfamiliar green liquid. It’s not something you see very often.

My wife and I get funny looks and sometimes criticism for drinking our smoothies. People at our work now know us as the smoothie freaks, geeks, weirdo’s, health nuts, etc.. At first it was quit a surprise to us how people treated us because of our diet. You would think more people would be proud of someone who is trying to take care of their body, but maybe they really are. Not quit sure the psychology of it, but it might have something to do with jealousy or just simply being uneducated. It’s assuring to read from other “raw foodist” that experience similar things. There are some that applaud us though. It’s been fun to share smoothies with the people at our work. We both do it on occasion and some fun things have happened because of it.

The first time I shared my smoothie was with a 27 year old guy who isn’t terribly unhealthy but isn't very healthy either. I told him I would give him some of my smoothie the next day. So I made extra the next day and gave him about a cup. Later that day, he came up to me telling me how different it made him feel. He said it gave him energy and made him a little loopy. This I suspect was because his body was not used to that many nutrients (or maybe I secretly slipped him some poison). Then later on after the smoothie had passed through him, he said he urinated green, Ha Ha. I couldn’t believe it! Green colors have come out my other end which is intense enough, but not that end or front or how ever you say that. I continued to share my smoothie with him for a little while and he enjoyed and appreciated them.

Another time, there was a girl at my work that noticed that I was always drinking a green smoothie and I told her a little about it. She soon got a high performance blender with her husband and starting making green smoothies. They enjoy blending daily now and she tells me that I am a good influence on their health.