Tag Archives: organic

New Survey Shows Plant-Based Milk is Preferred over Dairy!

 

califiafarmsinfographic

 

Taste, health and environmental/animal welfare concerns are top reasons cited for consuming plant-based milks in BerryCart/Califia Farms’ survey; over 50% of omnivores surveyed drink plant-based milks several times a week

Los Angeles, CA  January 18, 2016 – A new survey conducted by Califia Farms, one of the fastest growing natural beverage companies in the United States, and BerryCart, the app for organic, natural and non-GMO food rebates, indicates that plant-based beverages are no longer ‘niche’ and are rapidly entering the mainstream. The survey results mirror industry data that shows a dramatic increase in household penetration of non-dairy milks – from 27.3% in 2013 to 55% in 2015.

The survey, conducted online among over 2,500 BerryCart users in Q4 2015, asked respondents to identify themselves as either omnivore, flexitarian, pescatarian, vegetarian, ‘not able to mix milk and dairy,’ or vegan, and focused on why consumers are opting to drink plant-based milks.

READ and SEE more BELOW!:

PLANT-POWERED BEVERAGES: NOT JUST A VEGAN THING… NEW SURVEY SHOWS ALT DAIRY BEVERAGES ENTERING MAINSTREAM

Author: Christine

What is Organic? Part C

“Organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Specific requirements must be met and maintained in order for products to be labeled as “organic”.

Organic foods provide a variety of benefits. Some studies show that organic foods have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, According to most health experts, consuming fruits and vegetables with a small amount of pesticides poses a very small health risk. Also, large-scale studies suggest the residues are not likely to be an important risk factor for cancer, especially because of the known health benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables, regardless of how they are grown.
hand_in_soil-resized-600
Organic crops must be grown in safe soil, have no modifications, and must remain separate from conventional products. Farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.

Organic food is often fresher. Fresh food tastes better. Organic food is usually fresher when eaten because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer. Organic produce is often (but not always, so watch where it is from) produced on smaller farms near where it is sold.
organic-farming
Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution (air, water, soil), conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. In addition, organic farming is better for birds and small animals as chemical pesticides can make it harder for creatures to reproduce and can even kill them. Farming without pesticides is also better for the people who harvest our food.

what do the labels mean?

-100% Organic means all ingredients (except water and salt) and foods are completely organic and GMO-free.

-Certified Organic or USDA Certified Organic means 95% of the ingredients are organic and usually GMO-free.

-Made with Organic means up to (did you catch that? “up to”) 70% of the ingredients are organic and not usually GMO-free.

nutrition-organic-conventional-farming

 

Author: Kira 

Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Conventionally Grown Meat

Meat, the highest source of protein that the average person receives, is perhaps the top food group that is overlooked when a person decides to start eating more organic and naturally. Some people think they have to write off meat entirely to eat organic and healthy, while others see no difference between a normal grocery store chicken breast and an organic one, because it isn’t as visually apparent as most other organic foods.

cow1

But, the truth is there are several reasons that you should start avoiding conventionally grown meat.

 

  1. Living Conditions.

 

While meat animals are generally treated better than animals that produce animal by-products, like dairy cows and egg-laying hens, meat animals are still fed less-healthy food and live in much poorer conditions than those raised under the National Organic Program standards. Conventional meat cattle and birds are kept in small cramped quarters, called “feed lots,” usually severely crowded by others of their kind.  Feedlot chickens are often even raised in these cramped quarters without light. NOP animals are allowed to roam and graze and live their life in more natural conditions. Because it is required by NOP that the animals are left to graze most of their lives, the pastures are open, spacious areas in order to provide enough food for the animals. Organic standards forbid feed lots for both cattle and poultry.

 

  1. What They Eat, You Eat.

 

Now, you might not be bothered by the conditions that the animals are raised in. Some people just choose not to think about it.  However, as we just mentioned, cattle raised under the organic standards are allowed to graze, which means their diet consists largely of grass, rather than grain and by-products like soy bean casings. Therefore, NOP meat actually contains less omega-6 than beef that has been fed with high levels of grain. High levels of omega-6 are known to promote breast cancer and prostate cancer, as well as other health conditions.

 

To see the full picture, it’s important to note that some omega-6 is part of a normal diet, but high levels are not, the same as it is with many other food properties. The important thing to know is that the level in commercial beef is higher than it should be for a healthy diet, especially when dealing with a staple food.

 

Grass fed beef also tends to be leaner and therefore easier on your cholesterol. According to a clinical study by two doctors,  Hunninghake and Davison, who ran a long term study on grass fed versus grain fed beef, grass fed beef has a very similar level of fat to skinless chicken breast.

 

Grass fed animals also have a higher content of vitamin E.

grassfedmeat

  1. Lower Fat and Additives – Lower Calories

 

The fact that grass fed beef is leaner also means it’s lower in calories. When comparing two 6 ounce sirloin steaks, a grain fed steak contains approximately 100 more calories than a grass fed steak.

 

While we’re on this subject, even though chicken isn’t affected by the fat problem, they are affected by the solute problem, which also can cause issues in your weight and health. Have you ever noticed the difference in texture between organic poultry and commercial poultry? That’s because commercial poultry is injected with solutions (usually salt based) to make it look plumper and add weight. That extra isn’t good for your health.

 

Do you avoid red dye when you buy foods? Ever thought about why that meat at some major chains looks REALLY red? Both commercial chicken and beef (mostly beef) can have added dyes to make them more visually appealing to consumers and to make the meat look fresher.

CTGB_Circles

  1. Who Needs More Hormones and Antibiotics?

 

While you may be on hormone therapy from your doctor, you certainly don’t need the hormones fed to cattle. Part of most commercial beef programs involve the use of several types of hormones to cause the cattle to gain girth and grow faster. These include hormones that are rarely given to humans in large doses, such as testosterone,  estradiol, progesterone, zeranol, and trenbolone, and melengesterol acetate. These hormones, of course, can continue to stay present in the meat. High levels of artificially introduced hormones of these types have been known to cause several types of cancers,  effect sperm counts, growth rate issues in children, early puberty,  and other reproductive problems. While the USDA maintains that the hormones are kept at safe levels, many don’t feel that it is worth the risk of artificially introducing added hormones to their bodies. Some European countries have even banned the importation of U.S. grown beef because of it. A study at Montana State University found that commercially grown beef contain 47% more hormones than GOP beef.

 

Growth hormones cannot be used in the growth of chickens, per USDA standards, but this doesn’t make commercial chicken safe. Living in cramped quarters creates an environment where illnesses and germs and bacteria are rampant. Many types of infections or disease would wipe out the whole feed lot. As a result, both beef and chicken are routinely given antibiotics to keep down the spread of these infections and diseases. These can stay in the body for weeks, depending on type and amount given. When you consider that chickens grow to maturity between 8-16 weeks, depending on breed, that doesn’t leave much time for the antibiotic to be out of the system and still allow the poultry to be protected from the conditions in the feed lot. Grazed and free ranged animals do not require the intensive treatments, because they are not in the same risky environment. While the USDA does require a waiting period after the antibiotics are administered, traces may still be present and they were still put into the animal’s system and therefore the meat.

 

  1. Longer Shelf Life via Additives and Radiation:

 

Irradiated meat is treated by either electricity or a machine that exposes the meat to cobalt 60, which is a radioactive material that must be manufactured in a nuclear reactor. The process is done in order to destroy the bacteria present in food, which can often be the result of the poor living conditions in the feed lots. Irradiated foods look no different than non-irradiated foods.  This may sound like a very swaying argument, because no one wants bacteria from a feed lot in their food. However, there is more to the story.

 

We know that radiation can destroy good cells as well as bad ones. Along with bacteria, irradiation destroys enzymes in the food that help you to digest it. It also decreases vitamins and a variety of other enzymes. In short, the nutritional value of the food is compromised.

 

Even worse, depending on the type of radiation used, the food can retain trace amounts of radioactivity. There is no long term study in humans regarding the safety of irradiated food, and no studies at all on the effect of irradiated food in children. However animal studies showed increased incidents of kidney failure, tumors, and reproductive issues.

 

There are other, bigger issues involving irradiated foods, including the transport of the irradiation machines and the handling of materials, labelling issues, and many other concerns. Irradiation also produces free radicals during the irradiation process.  All of this is avoided with organically produced food, which by GOP requirements is free of radiation.

 

As we mentioned earlier, there are additives to commercial meats that are designed to improve their appearance and add weight, but those aren’t the only chemicals found in commercial meats. There are also additives that preserve the meat to extend its shelf life. It’s common to find potassium lactate and sodium lactate on poultry. If you’ve gone Thanksgiving shopping recently, you may have discovered that a turkey that has not been injected is a rare find.

In addition to preservatives, there are flavor and texture enhancers, such as Bromelain and ficin, hydrolyzed protein, monosodium glutamate and papain. Beef often contains phosphates and propyl gallate, butylated hydroxytoluene, and various water solutions. These and other meats can contain nitrites and nitrates.

 

Preservatives have serious side effects. They can cause stomach issues, allergic reactions, and different types of cancer.  Yes, preservatives and radiation do extend the life of meat and protect from various airborne bacteria, but the consequences and risks of eating these treated foods are something to also be considered.

cows2

Only you can decide what to put in your body, but we hope to help you make an educated choice. Many of these processes do cut the cost of the product. However, we believe that the long term health benefits are worth spending the extra money or the effort that goes in to catching a sale.

Author: Julia

Healthy Subscription Box!

 

 

The BerryCart Box

BerryCart is a new monthly subscription box that will allow people to try 9-10 organic, non-GMO, and all-around healthy products.  Enjoy new snacks and exclusive cash-back rebates to use in your app!

Sneak Peak: In the April box, we currently have 9 products, 5 are full-sized.  Here is the breakdown:

–        8 Non-GMO

–        5 Organic

–        6 gluten-free

–        4 Vegan

–        3 Kosher

–        4 Soy Free

–        5 Dairy-Free

berrybox-app-promo

Enjoy a $5 cash back rebate with our new BerryCart Box too, good for either 1 month or 3 month plan!

5-off-box-rebate

And…

Did you know that if you refer a BerryCart Box to a new subscriber that orders, that $5 is applied to your account?

Happy BerryCart’in!

berrycartbox

Author: Christine

Which Oils Are Good For You?

As we all know, not all fats are created equal. Back in the day, you might remember your grandmother saving bacon drippings to cook with, or at least you heard about it. We’ve learned a lot since then, so let’s take a look at some modern findings:

 

Olive oil

Olive oil is not only flavorful, but good for you. This oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are known to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase the healthy kind of cholesterol (HDL). To increase this benefit, high-polyphenol virgin olive oil has been found to have an even greater benefit than regular olive oil.

oliveoil

Hemp Oil

Hemp oil contains all of the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids that a human body needs.  It has a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omeg-3, a balance shown to be ideal for the cardiovascular system. It also contains fatty acids that are known to be crucial for brain and optical health. In fact, pregnant women are encouraged to include hemp oil in their diets to aid in the development of their growing infant. Hemp oil is also good for mood regulation and immune system health, as well as intestinal health.

Topically, hemp oil is easily absorbed into the skin and excellent for moisturizing  poor skin conditions or as a base for healing blends, treating psoriasis, eczema, itchiness, and irritated skin.

hempoil

Avocado Oil

This tasty oil is especially rich in alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein absorption. It is found to lower cholesterol, and to be good for your kidneys by improving kidney function through the way the way kidneys respond to hormones.

Avocado oil also has anti-inflammatory properties and can help stimulate cartilage growth and repair. One study also noted that it helped ease the symptoms of knee and hip arthritis as well as helped prevent periodontal disease

When blended with Vitamin B12, it has also been found to be an excellent topical treatment for psoriasis.

avocadooil

Apricot Oil

Apricot oil has a sweet, nutty aroma. As a food, it is high in oleic acid and linoleic acid. It is often used in recipes interchangeably with almond oil.

However, apricot oil is primarily a topical. It is commonly used in cosmetics, creams, soaps, lotions, and others. It is also frequently used in massage, as it is easily absorbed into the skin and does not leave a greasy residue. It is also one of the gentlest topical oils, which makes it suitable for use in children, elderly patients, and those with sensitive skin.

Topically, it can be administered to:

–           reduce stress

–          ease pain

–          treat inflammation

–          leave an overall sense of well-being

–          as an emollient and antioxidant

–          an antiseptic and antibacterial that can be used in open wounds and cuts

–           believed to be anti-aging

–           As a topical hair treatment and can nourish weak, brittle, and damaged hair.

apricotoil

Coconut Oil

The benefits of coconut oil include helping the body to fight off disease and increase proper thyroid function. A study in 2009 found that women who consumed coconut oil saw a reduction in abdominal fat, due to the type of medium chain triglycerides that it contains. Coconut oil is also rich in antioxidants.

coconutoil

Black Cumin Oil

Black Cumin Oil is considered to be an ancient healer and appears in ancient Chinese, Greek, and Egyptian medicine. Black cumin seed extract is believed to fight cancer and help increase the body’s production of bone marrow by 250%, increases immune cells, and natural interferons. Black cumin oil contains over 100 chemical compounds, vitamins, and nutrients and is used to treat a wide range of ailments including:

–          cancer

–          allergies

–          tuberculosis

–          multiple sclerosis

–          asthma

–          liver problems

–          sluggish metabolism

–          lethargy

–          fever

–          lowers blood sugar level

–          Inhibits tumor growth by 50%

blackseedoil

As a final note, research has also discovered that the commercial processing of homogenizing, which began as a way of lengthening the shelf life of the product, actually changed the properties of oil into saturated fats during the process. As 7-time Nobel Prize nominee Dr. Johana Budwig put it, this removes many of the healthful benefits of the oil and makes it behave more like “tar” in the body. Cold pressing is the most widely available positive processing that is accepted as a good way of preserving  an oil’s natural properties. Always look for oils that are non-homogenized.

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Coromega

Author: KIra

Kale and Chia and Black Beans oh MY: Three Great Foods to Add to Your Diet this Week

You probably already know that Black Beans are good for you. Aside from being one of the healthiest foods for your colon and digestive tract, black beans are a great way to fulfill the weekly dietary recommendation of 3 cups of legumes per week.  But did you know that black beans are also great for blood sugar regulation due to its natural ability to curtail simple sugar extremes during digestion? They also contain 8 different flavonoids that have antioxidant potential and are high in phtyochemicals. In layman’s terms, they are a big help in the prevention of cancer.

 

But guess what – black beans aren’t just good for YOU, they are good for the soil too!  Beans are one of the only cultivated plants that enrich, rather than deplete, the soil they are grown in.

infogram-black-beans

Chia is actually nothing new, even though it’s new to a lot of Americans. It was a highly prized plant to the Mayans. In fact, chia is the Mayan word for strength. Modern science is proving that the Mayans knew what they were talking about.

Chia seeds contain massive amounts of nutrients on very little calories. In fact, the nutrient to calorie ratio is one of the best known to food.  Two Tablespoons of chia seed contains 11 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. They are also very high in magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, and calcium and contain a significant amount of Vitamins B1, B3, and B12, Zinc, and Potassium.

 

If that isn’t enough for you, chia seeds are rich in antioxidants. Foods rich in antioxidants are necessary for helping your body prevent infectious and debilitating diseases. They are also high in omega-3 fatty acids and have been known to reduce dangerous health markers in diabetics.

 

Chia is also classed as a “whole grain” and is naturally gluten free. As a bonus perk, they are also usually grown organically and GMO-free and are easy to incorporate into your diet. Most nutritionists consider chia to be a “superfood” with no question.

 

Kale was at one time relegated to the unfair position of “food dressing,” where it’s lovely leaves were simply there to make other foods look prettier. However, those days are long gone.

 

Kale has special cholesterol lowering benefits and is excellent for aiding in digestive tract issues. It contains properties that allow bile acids to be excreted more efficiently. The plant is now well-known for helping assist in body detoxification, as well. Kale has been specifically linked to the prevention of at least five different types of cancer – bladder, breast, prostate, ovary, and colon – and new findings are coming in regularly.

ingredents

Science has also found at least 45 different identifiable flavonoids in kale that combine both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

If you aren’t sold on kale yet, 1 cup of kale has only 36 calories, but packs a huge vitamin punch. Its loaded with vitamins A,  K, and C, and also contains significant amounts of calcium, fiber, iron, B6, copper, manganese, and vitamin E.

 

So as you can see, we aren’t kidding! These are three great foods that you should start adding to your diet this week! Your body will thank you.

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SuperEats

Author: Guest Blogger

Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Conventionally Grown Meat

Meat, the highest source of protein that the average person receives, is perhaps the top food group that is overlooked when a person decides to start eating more organic and naturally. Some people think they have to write off meat entirely to eat organic and healthy, while others see no difference between a normal grocery store chicken breast and an organic one, because it isn’t as visually apparent as most other organic foods.

But, the truth is there are several reasons that you should start avoiding conventionally grown meat.

  1. Living Conditions.

While meat animals are generally treated better than animals that produce animal by-products, like dairy cows and egg-laying hens, meat animals are still fed less-healthy food and live in much poorer conditions than those raised under the National Organic Program standards. Conventional meat cattle and birds are kept in small cramped quarters, called “feed lots,” usually severely crowded by others of their kind.  Feedlot chickens are often even raised in these cramped quarters without light. NOP animals are allowed to roam and graze and live their life in more natural conditions. Because it is required by NOP that the animals are left to graze most of their lives, the pastures are open, spacious areas in order to provide enough food for the animals. Organic standards forbid feed lots for both cattle and poultry.

 

Wow, look at the lack of space!

Wow, look at the lack of space! It’s not pretty because it really isn’t.

  1. What They Eat, You Eat.

Now, you might not be bothered by the conditions that the animals are raised in. Some people just choose not to think about it.  However, as we just mentioned, cattle raised under the organic standards are allowed to graze, which means their diet consists largely of grass, rather than grain and by-products like soy bean casings. Therefore, NOP meat actually contains less omega-6 than beef that has been fed with high levels of grain. High levels of omega-6 are known to promote breast cancer and prostate cancer, as well as other health conditions.

To see the full picture, it’s important to note that some omega-6 is part of a normal diet, but high levels are not, the same as it is with many other food properties. The important thing to know is that the level in commercial beef is higher than it should be for a healthy diet, especially when dealing with a staple food.

 

They're so cramped that there isn't any room or space for cows.

They’re so cramped that there isn’t any room or space for cows.

Grass fed beef also tends to be leaner and therefore easier on your cholesterol. According to a clinical study by two doctors,  Hunninghake and Davison, who ran a long term study on grass fed versus grain fed beef, grass fed beef has a very similar level of fat to skinless chicken breast. Grass fed animals also have a higher content of vitamin E.

 

Here's a little comparison chart!

  1. Lower Fat and Additives – Lower Calories

The fact that grass fed beef is leaner also means it’s lower in calories. When comparing two 6 ounce sirloin steaks, a grain fed steak contains approximately 100 more calories than a grass fed steak.

While we’re on this subject, even though chicken isn’t affected by the fat problem, they are affected by the solute problem, which also can cause issues in your weight and health. Have you ever noticed the difference in texture between organic poultry and commercial poultry? That’s because commercial poultry is injected with solutions (usually salt based) to make it look plumper and add weight. That extra isn’t good for your health.

 

Conventionally raised chickens are typically injected with hormones, preservatives, and additives to make them appear "larger" and worth your "bang for buck"-when you could have  just gone to the chemist and selected which ones you want in your body!

Conventionally raised chickens are typically injected with hormones, preservatives, and additives to make them appear “larger” and worth your “bang for buck” – when you could have just gone to the chemist and selected which ones you want in your body!

Who Needs More Hormones and Antibiotics?

While you may be on hormone therapy from your doctor, you certainly don’t need the hormones fed to cattle. Part of most commercial beef programs involve the use of several types of hormones to cause the cattle to gain girth and grow faster. These include hormones that are rarely given to humans in large doses, such as testosterone,  estradiol, progesterone, zeranol, and trenbolone, and melengesterol acetate. These hormones, of course, can continue to stay present in the meat. High levels of artificially introduced hormones of these types have been known to cause several types of cancers,  effect sperm counts, growth rate issues in children, early puberty,  and other reproductive problems. While the USDA maintains that the hormones are kept at safe levels, many don’t feel that it is worth the risk of artificially introducing added hormones to their bodies. Some European countries have even banned the importation of U.S. grown beef because of it. A study at Montana State University found that commercially grown beef contain 47% more hormones than GOP beef.

 

Produced by Stonyfield Farms, take a look at the comparison between grass-fed cows & conventionally fed cows.

Produced by Stonyfield Farms, take a look at the comparison between grass-fed cows & conventionally fed cows.

Growth hormones cannot be used in the growth of chickens, per USDA standards, but this doesn’t make commercial chicken safe. Living in cramped quarters creates an environment where illnesses and germs and bacteria are rampant. Many types of infections or disease would wipe out the whole feed lot. As a result, both beef and chicken are routinely given antibiotics to keep down the spread of these infections and diseases. These can stay in the body for weeks, depending on type and amount given. When you consider that chickens grow to maturity between 8-16 weeks, depending on breed, that doesn’t leave much time for the antibiotic to be out of the system and still allow the poultry to be protected from the conditions in the feed lot. Grazed and free ranged animals do not require the intensive treatments, because they are not in the same risky environment. While the USDA does require a waiting period after the antibiotics are administered, traces may still be present and they were still put into the animal’s system and therefore the meat.

 

  1. Longer Shelf Life via Additives and Radiation:

 

Irradiated meat is treated by either electricity or a machine that exposes the meat to cobalt 60, which is a radioactive material that must be manufactured in a nuclear reactor. The process is done in order to destroy the bacteria present in food, which can often be the result of the poor living conditions in the feed lots. Irradiated foods look no different than non-irradiated foods.  This may sound like a very swaying argument, because no one wants bacteria from a feed lot in their food. However, there is more to the story.

We know that radiation can destroy good cells as well as bad ones. Along with bacteria, irradiation destroys enzymes in the food that help you to digest it. It also decreases vitamins and a variety of other enzymes. In short, the nutritional value of the food is compromised.

Even worse, depending on the type of radiation used, the food can retain trace amounts of radioactivity. There is no long term study in humans regarding the safety of irradiated food, and no studies at all on the effect of irradiated food in children. However animal studies showed increased incidents of kidney failure, tumors, and reproductive issues.

There are other, bigger issues involving irradiated foods, including the transport of the irradiation machines and the handling of materials, labeling issues, and many other concerns. Irradiation also produces free radicals during the irradiation process.  All of this is avoided with organically produced food, which by GOP requirements is free of radiation.

As we mentioned earlier, there are additives to commercial meats that are designed to improve their appearance and add weight, but those aren’t the only chemicals found in commercial meats. There are also additives that preserve the meat to extend its shelf life. It’s common to find potassium lactate and sodium lactate on poultry. If you’ve gone Thanksgiving shopping recently, you may have discovered that a turkey that has not been injected is a rare find.

In addition to preservatives, there are flavor and texture enhancers, such as Bromelain and ficin, hydrolyzed protein, monosodium glutamate and papain. Beef often contains phosphates and propyl gallate, butylated hydroxytoluene, and various water solutions. These and other meats can contain nitrites and nitrates.

Preservatives have serious side effects. They can cause stomach issues, allergic reactions, and different types of cancer.  Yes, preservatives and radiation do extend the life of meat and protect from various airborne bacteria, but the consequences and risks of eating these treated foods are something to also be considered.

Be aware of what's on your plate, that's all we ask!

Be aware of what’s on your plate, that’s all we ask!

Only you can decide what to put in your body, but we hope to help you make an educated choice. Many of these processes do cut the cost of the product. However, we believe that the long term health benefits are worth spending the extra money or the effort that goes in to catching a sale.

What does Free-Range mean for Chickens?

The Life of a Free Range Chicken

There is a lot to love about free-range chickens. While most commercially raised chickens are kept in confinement, the free-range chicken happily struts around in the grass, foraging and scratching. Happy chickens consume lots of green forage which results in better health.

I don't see any fences here!

Free-range means that there is open space to walk around and forage!

A free-range chicken has a long life compared to confined birds. They get a lot of exercise chasing bugs and foraging. More exercise and fresh air contributes to their long life as well as the rate at which they gain weight. At the same time this makes for a richer and more flavorful bird and eggs. Being out in fresh air with the sun shining down upon their feathers, the happy chickens are able to preen and take enthusiastic dust baths that are a joy to observe.

Ever wonder how a free-range chicken spends their days? A typical diary entry for a happy-free range hen might go something like this:

Look how big and happy and healthy this chicken looks.

Look how big and happy and healthy this chicken looks.

Sunrise
The Rooster started to crow us awake so I jumped down from the roosting poles in the chicken house and started to stretch my legs. I ruffled my feathers and it felt so good to have that space, then I ran out the coop door with my friends. I caught a delicious worm right outside the coop! The day is off to a good start.

Mid-Morning

Hmm, I started to feel like I needed to lie down after all that scratching and eating. A girl needs her time after a hard mornings work after all. I found a nice box of hay back at the coop so I settled in and hoped that none of my friends stopped in for a while. It wasn’t too long until I felt a huge sense of relief and didn’t need to nap anymore. I felt light and good after laying a healthy egg.

Noon

I spent some time chasing these amazing and tasty little bugs. I had to jump around a lot and another hen tried to steal my lunch, so I pecked her. I don’t think she’ll be doing that again. I am the Great Hilda, the Amazing BugCatcher! One of the strange beings came out and put some grain in front for all of us to munch on, but some of the hens here are catty… and they try to take more of their share than they should. Oh how wonderful it would be, to eat food without all this company!

Afternoon

It’s time for a bath and some sunning! I found a spot near the edge of the field that makes it easy to get the dust on my back feathers that are hard for me to reach! A few friends joined me and we were soon splashing dirt enough for a small cloud to form. We sat in the sun the rest of the afternoon, enjoying the fresh air and warm sun.

Sundown

Oh, it’s time to go to bed now! That pesky rooster better not have my spot on the roost pole, or we’re going to have a problem. I just can’t roost properly on the end of that pole! Good night world, good night diary, until another day.

Sunny outdoors for foraging and stretching & warm inside a shelter for laying eggs and sleeping!

Sunny outdoors for foraging and stretching & warm inside a shelter for laying eggs and sleeping!

A chicken intended for meat has a similar routine to a hen that lays eggs. Some breeds are better at laying eggs than others. A “meat chicken” is usually butchered at 9-12 weeks of age, which is too young of an age to lay eggs anyway. Free-range meat chickens are also fed more grain than egg-layers and develop muscle mass much more quickly.

A free-range chicken has a good life as a chicken and one bad day when it comes down to Butcher Day. Better living standards for chickens helps protect the environment by reducing disease and waste issues related to commercial chicken raising. Better diet and health result in eggs and meat naturally full of important Omega-3 fatty acids.

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NestFresh Non-GMO Free-Range Eggs

The Grass is Always Greener, The Milk is Always Sweeter

The raw milk debate is emerging as a hot topic for foodies, scientists, and health nuts alike. It is both a political issue and a public health issue. But what does it mean for milk to be raw? Let’s talk about pasteurization and homogenization: the processes that lie at the heart of concerns over raw, or unprocessed milk.

Pasteurization is the process of heat-treating food products to remove harmful bacterial before human consumption. It was invented by Louis Pasteur in the 19th century, and has since become an industry standard in many countries for treating dairy, alcohol, juices, and many canned foods before they are sold. Milk, as a staple in most diets and an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, is one of the most ubiquitous pasteurized foods. It is likely that all of the milk you have consumed in your life was pasteurized. There are a few different methods of pasteurization, but the two most common are High-Temperature Short-Time (Flash) and Extended Shelf Life Pasteurization. They differ in temperature and filtration methods.

 

This is what it looks like once they've transferred cow's milk to the vat.

This is what it looks like once they’ve transferred cow’s milk to the vat.

 

Since becoming a mainstream treatment process, pasteurization has been surrounded by controversy. Conflicting research exists regarding its effectiveness in preventing disease from food-borne pathogens, and the nutritional benefits of raw milk. Pasteurization changes the protein and sugar composition of milk. The effects that this can have in the human body are subject to much debate.

Benefits of Pasteurization:

– Removes dangerous micro-organisms that thrive in milk (for example, Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, Campylobacter)
– Extends the usable life of food products
– Prevents spoilage

Disadvantages of Pasteurization:

– Loss of flavor in product
– Removes some naturally occurring vitamins and nutrients (B Vitamins, Vitamin C, calcium, phosphorous)
– Removes beneficial, probiotic bacteria (Lactobacillus, Acidophilus)
– High-volume distribution of potentially contaminated pasteurized milk can cause disease outbreak

 

Where Can I Buy Raw, or Unpasteurized Milk?

 

Pasteurization became an accepted practice in American cities during the first half of the 20th century, eventually becoming standard across many states after World War II. Pasteurization is now a widely accepted public health measure in the United States. However, many people still tout the benefits of raw milk and prefer to consume it for a variety of ethical and medical reasons. The FDA has recommendations for pasteurization times and temperatures, but the legality of purchasing raw milk varies from state to state. In some states (Maine and California, for example) it is legal to retail properly labeled sheep and goats’ raw milk in stores and at farmers’ markets.

In other states, such as Vermont and Texas, raw milk can be purchased only from the farm where it originates. In yet other states, it is completely illegal to retail raw milk for human consumption. Herd shares are an alternative means for providing and purchasing raw milk. Typically individuals will purchase shares in a farmer’s herd of cows, goats or sheep and then harvest the milk. In some states, this is the only means that exists to acquire raw milk.

Updated June 21, 2013

Updated June 21, 2013

 

Interestingly, the legality of raw milk is vastly different in European countries. It is entirely legal for sale to consumers in the European Union, with slight variations in each nation. In France, raw milk and raw milk products are considered the highest quality dairy products. In England, raw milk is sold direct-to-consumer (ie., it can be purchased from a farm, but not a grocery store), while in Scotland its sale is strictly prohibited. And, in many countries with more prevalent rural lifestyles, consuming raw milk is simply the status quo, as it has been for centuries.

 

Homogenization is a type of processing used with dairy products, often after pasteurization. While pasteurization is intended to improve the safety of dairy products, homogenization is intended to create aesthetic consistency across products that are mass produced. Without homogenization, the large fat molecules separate from the water in milk and collect in a cream layer at the top of the container. During homogenization, the milk is pressurized and forced through tiny holes, breaking down the fat molecules and creating a consistent mixture. It is useful for combining batches of milk from different herds of animals. Of course, changing the molecular composition of milk results in backlash from those who believe such processing has detrimental effects. Opponents of homogenization argue that breaking down the fat molecules releases a dangerous enzyme, Xanthine oxidase, and enables the fat to be absorbed into the bloodstream, posing risks to heart health. These claims are not publicly accepted or substantiated by evidence.

 

So, How Does This Affect My Diet?

Unfortunately, there is no bottom line on whether pasteurization is a “good” or “bad” thing. It is a widely accepted practice with much-disputed benefits and disadvantages. Ultimately, the choice to drink pasteurized or homogenized milk is a personal one! Do you prefer your milk au natural, or processed?

 

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What is Processed Food and How to Avoid?

 
Why are processed foods bad?

Any search on Google for “processed food” will surround you with popular clauses like ‘harmful’, ‘avoid’, or ‘dangerous’. Over time, convenience food has bedeviled our pantries and fridges, even our mind and body. Why do you think the alteration in our food has stockpiled such media critique? Whatever we eat is processed to some degree and that includes, but not limited to, chopped apples, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, even a bag of spinach leaves. If you’re still wondering how to achieve clean eating, read on.

What you need to know: Real vs Processed Food

Conventionally, the main reasons to process food are to eliminate pathogens and to extend shelf life of the food. In order to achieve this, food is altered on a varying spectrum from minimally to heavily. Most of our food has been processed for centuries using simple techniques such as cooking. This offers many benefits like enhancing the useful life of the product, reducing the food safety risks, and creates a greater variety in the food supply chain. So what is this negative aspect that has a major impact on food processing? Mainly, it’s the practices and ingredients used in conventionally processed foods, which places the human body at immense dietary & health risks while concerning our environmental and economic issues.
Often, the mind struggles to perceive the significance of real food. Real food comes with an expiration date. Conversely, processed food remains the same in color, texture, and appearance no matter the age.

Real non-processed foods won't have an expiration date stamped on them.

Real non-processed foods won’t have an expiration date stamped on them.

What to look for & consider avoiding: 
– Packaged vegetables, fruits, and roasted nuts. These have been processed minimally and are often prewashed, diced, and peeled for human consumption convenience.
– Read your Ingredient List for added ingredients like flavor enhancers, additives preservatives, and stabilizers. These are used to improve texture, taste, and color and are often found in dairy products, pasta sauces, salad dressings, and more.
– Highly processed foods will include ready-to-eat meals, frozen meals, frozen food, precooked meals, and short microwave cooking times.
– Canned food is often heavily processed with chemicals to lock in the nutritional quality and to retain freshness.
– Opt for low-sodium products as they are often packed to keep the longevity of the food product. Rinse off canned vegetables/fruits and drain; this simple step reduces salt by 30%.

Now, there are some things that you should be aware of in processed foods.
Sugar – Avoid non-organic sugar as it is often just beet sugar and heavily processed. Try switching your sugar source to raw sugar or unpasteurized honey. Always look at the ingredient list and be wary if there are added sugars in the first 3 ingredients listed. Words like: sugar, maltose, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, cane sugar, and fruit juice concentrate should be avoided as much as possible.
Fats – To understand the difference between good and bad fats, you need to be aware of the players in the game. ‘Mono’ and ‘Poly’ unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, rice bran oil, and fatty fish (salmon, trout, tuna) and they enhance your good cholesterol and overall health. ‘Trans’ fat and ‘saturated’ are the worse fats to intake as they elevate heart disease and other disease risks. A simple trick to remember is that ‘good’ fat is liquid at room temperature (like virgin olive oil or coconut oil) and that ‘bad’ fat is solid (like margarine).
– Fortified Foods – like cereals, milk, and juices. Milk and juices are fortified with vitamins like A and D and breakfast cereals are usually enriched with fiber along with other vitamins and essential nutrients.

How to Start Making an Impact on your Health!

Start making a habit of reading the Nutrition Fact Label as well as the Ingredient List so that you can make quick informed choices. Look around and be aware for terms like “raw”, “unprocessed” and “no added preservatives”. If buying meat and meat by-products, being aware of “cage-free”, “no hormones added”, and “organic” will aid in a cleaner product.

Clean labels to consider purchasing

Clean labels to consider
purchasing

Buy Non-GMO Project verified on sugar and corn & try to buy USDA Organic if not Non-GMO Project verified.