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How to Ask the Right Questions at a Farmers Market

Buying fresh, organic and locally grown is more popular than ever before, and that means farmers’ markets are more in demand and they’re big money makers too. That’s a good thing! Local farmers have an easy way to sell their fresh produce and connect directly with the community and local folks can access locally grown freshly harvested food.

But, is it all that it seems?  How do you know what you are getting is really a “clean food”? Is it really fresh, local, organic, and/or grown without chemicals? Unfortunately, “greenwashing” is more common than you may think, with sellers buying industrial produce at wholesale prices and passing off as homegrown. The other major problem that I find at the local markets is that there is a huge disparity in how each farmer decides to grow their food. Some use no chemicals, some use several chemicals and some use certain soil amendments which can make an otherwise locally grown food more likely to contain heavy metals or toxins. I’ve seen it all far too often, and I now understand that you have to ask the right questions in order to know what you’re really getting.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. 
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. 

Is it organic, locally grown, non-GMO…or other?

By knowing what to ask, you can quickly decipher what’s worth buying and when to simply keep walking. You absolutely cannot trust the look of a stall filled with baskets of produce or the “Support Local” t-shirts worn by staff. They are often banking on your perception of what appears freshly harvested and organic. That said, there are often several vendors doing things right from start to finish and those are the ones you want!

To make things easy for you, I’ve created a list of key questions to ask vendors about their farming philosophies and daily practices. The questions fall into three main categories: Where the food came from, how it was grown, and how it was raised. I’ve divided the subject areas into produce, eggs and cheese since those are the main things people tend to buy at markets. But you can also apply these principals to fresh baked goods, meat and fresh fish too.

Farmer’s Market Guide: How to Approach Vendors

Checking for fraudulent produce at the farmers market is important, but needs to de done correctly for good results.

How can you be sure what you are getting is locally grown? ASK!

How to approach vendors and what to look for:

  1.  Approach the vendor in between customers, and preferably when the stall is empty. Do not barge into a booth with a long line of customers and start rolling off questions. You don’t want to cause panic or ruin someone’s business.
  2. Be polite. Your goal is to get information, not to prove someone wrong. Do not assume the worst and don’t approach a vendor with a negative or accusatory tone. If you are gentle, polite, quietly inquisitive and smile, you’re much more likely to get the answers you need.
  3. Get to the point and ask your questions quickly. Vendors are busy and they’re working! They don’t have time for an hour-long discourse on the subject of organic and sustainable food practices. Just from a few questions, you will know whether you should buy there or not.
  4. Have a quick peek behind the booth and under the tables. If you see new supermarket boxes of produce, you should be suspicious. I’ve seen this at farmer’s markets in Australia where the vendors for sure were selling greenwashed produce (and customers were buying!). I’ve also seen it here in North Carolina.
  5. Know your local seasons for produce. It’s your job to get informed if you want to know your food. Alarm bells should already be ringing if you see strawberries sold in late spring or cucumbers sold in winter, for example.

Fruit & Veggies at Markets: What to Ask

Not all vendors at farmer’s markets are selling certified organic goods, and that’s actually ok (or at least not always a bad thing). Many small farms simply cannot afford to go through the lengthy and expensive process of getting an organic certification. Selling non-certified produce means that you are not allowed to market your goods as “certified organic,” but you are permitted to use terms like “grown without pesticides” or “grown using sustainable permaculture practices.” Don’t be scared of those phrases. Whether it’s certified organic or not, you still need to do more detective work.

It’s all a good practice to ask these questions before signing up for any local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) delivery service.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, just remember to be polite and respectful

Questions for Produce Vendors

  1. Where was this grown?
    Hopefully the answer is: at our XYZ farm just down the road. Obviously if the answer is “Mexico” or elsewhere, you’re ready to go to the next stall (unless you’re actually in Mexico, of course!).
  2. Do you use anything for pests or disease?
    A good answer to this is: We let nature run its course and occasionally hand-pick pests like squash vine borers or cabbage worms. Another ok answer is: We use vinegar, water and baking soda to minimize blight. Or: We use traditional companion planting techniques. What you don’t want to hear is a bunch of chemical names that you never heard of. Even certified organic farming allows the use of certain pesticides, however many of those are widely known to destroy local honey bee populations. Not everything organic is better, as you can see.
  3. What type of fertilizer do you use?
    You want to hear something like: We use compost from rabbits fed certified organic feed OR we make our own compost on-site using organic veggie scraps and un-sprayed leaves OR we add XYZ brand of certified organic compost OR we plant cover crops in the fall and practice plant rotation. What you don’t want to hear is: I collect garbage bags of leaves from all over town when it’s time for leaf pick up and I use those. You can imagine that many of those leaves would come from lawns heavily sprayed with chemicals (and yes, I had someone give me that exact answer before!).
  4. Do you add Diatomaceous earth (DE) to the soil?
    To this, you want to hear a clear and definite NO. If the answer is yes, or even yes we add it to the chicken coop and spread chicken manure on the soil, then politely walk away! This stuff is an absolute disaster of a product, sold as a miracle cure to amend soil with nutrients and ward off disease. It’s touted on every online farming forum there is (most likely advocated by industry trolls). While DE may be naturally occurring and is permitted for use in certified organic farming, it is also high in arsenic. Arsenic is a heavy metal; it’s deadly and causes cancer. Plants pull arsenic from the soil through their roots and into the roots, leaves, stem and fruit. This is just one of many reasons why even organic fruits and vegetables are becoming more contaminated with heavy metals than ever before. I’ve personally seen several clients get very sick from taking DE capsules as a “so-called” detox supplement, and they were absolutely not having a detox reaction; rather a toxicity reaction.

A sense of reluctance or hesitation in providing you an answer to any of the above questions should be yet another warning that you may have tapped into something that the vendor does not want to disclose (or doesn’t know, which is also not a good sign).

By asking these questions, I’ve been able to find clean and reliable organic produce vendors, but on average it’s about 2 in 10 that are ok in my book.

Local Eggs at Markets: What to Ask

Questions for Local Egg Vendors

  1. Are these from your chickens, and where is your farm?
    I would hate to think that someone would buy supermarket eggs and try to flog them at a farmer’s market! I’ve never seen this happen myself, however I’m sure there’s always a first. Still, it’s definitely worth it to ask and can be a gentle way to open the conversation.
  2. What kind of feed do you use?
    A good answer to this is: We use only non-GMO organic feed and supplement it with our own organic veggie scraps. If their answer is more vague, such as: We feed them alfalfa, barley, corn and other whole grains, then you must ask: Are they all non-GMO? If the answer is no, then definitely walk away! Genetically Modified (GMO) grains can be high in pesticides such as glyphosate and they can also be high in certain heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead and cadmium. The feed doesn’t necessarily have to be certified organic, but at a minimum it should be non-GMO.
  3. Do you add Diatomaceous earth (DE) to the chicken coop or to the feed?
    Again, you most definitely want the answer to this to be: NO! Many uninformed farmers are adding DE to their coop as a so-called “natural” pest control to kill mites and fleas. However, DE is a known carcinogen when inhaled. Yes, it’s true. Why anyone would ever want to add this junk to anything knowing that is beyond me. However, they are “told” that it’s ok and to just wear a mask when you are applying it. (But don’t worry about eating eggs from chicken with cancer? Ummm….really?) DE is also often added to the feed and it’s totally legal to do this with 100% certified organic eggs. The problem in both cases is that the chickens will ingest the DE. While proponents of DE claim that the arsenic is in its “organic” and therefore not harmful to humans, the reality is that chickens are able to convert organic arsenic into the more dangerous non-organic form of arsenic in their digestive track. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any concentrated forms of arsenic in any of my food!

Often times, you’ll be surprised to find that the non-organic local egg producer is actually selling better quality eggs with less contaminants than the certified organic egg farmer. This is why it’s so important to ask the right questions!

Local Cheese at Markets: What to Ask

Questions for Local or Artisanal Cheese Vendors

  1. Are these from your cows, goats or sheep, and where is your farm?
    Hopefully you’re starting to get the gist of this by now! Some FYI though: it is not uncommon for local cheese producers to buy their milk from a separate dairy farm. Especially if the cheese artisan is making small batches of cheese. So, don’t freak out if you are told – no, we buy the milk from XYZ farm down the road and we make the cheese on-site at our production facility. If you hear that, then go to #2 and continue with your next question. What you definitely do not want to hear is: We buy pasteurized non-organic milk from the supermarket or we buy this cheese in bulk from Costco (as an example) and just package it down for sale.
  2. What kind of feed do you use?
    A good answer to this is: We use only non-GMO certified organic feed OR we use only non-GMO feed. If their answer is more vague, such as: We feed them alfalfa, barley, corn and other whole grains, then you must ask: Are they all non-GMO? If the answer is no, then definitely walk away! GMO grains can be high in pesticides such as glyphosate and they can also be high in certain heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead and cadmium. The feed doesn’t necessarily have to be certified organic, but at a minimum it should be non-GMO. Pretty much same as eggs.
  3. What are the ingredients? (Also, if yellow or orange cheese: How did you get this color?)
    I was absolutely shocked to find SULFITES as an added ingredient in some cheeses in Holland. Especially since The Netherlands is supposed to have the “best” cheese in the world! Sulfites are a chemical preservative that can cause headaches, wheezing, coughing or asthma in people who are sensitive. For the color of the cheese, if it’s yellow or orange in color – you should ask: How did you make the color? I’ve had people tell me that the “natural color” is made from carrots, only to look on the label and see ANNATTO added for coloring. People who are sensitive to Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) or glutamates can also get an inflammatory reaction from Annatto. You also want to make sure there is NO garlic salt, garlic powder or onion powder added to any cheese as these ingredients can contain hidden MSG. Basically, the answer you want to hear is some version of: Rennet, milk, salt, fresh organic herbs such as dill or parsley and NO added coloring.

Using the questions above, I’ve identified two very popular local artisanal cheese outlets/vendors in the Asheville NC area selling seasonal cheese made from milk whose cows or goats are fed 100% genetically modified (GMO) feed.

Now, I’m not here to name and shame and I’m definitely not here to put the small local farmer out of business. But, does it bother me that they are selling a small piece of GMO cheese for $14.99 or more? Heck, yeah! Crowds of customers are wooing over their products, and no one has a clue that the stuff is neither organic nor GMO-free. Not to mention that they are supporting GMO dairy farming, which is a total disaster for the local honey bee population and also contaminates local groundwater. Since most people where I live rely on untreated well water for drinking and on honey bees for pollination of their crops, these things become very important very quickly.

Shop Smart and You’ll be Fine!

Hopefully you now feel more secure in knowing the right questions to ask at your local fruit & veggie market. It’s definitely worth your time and effort to ask – after all, you pay good money for farmer’s market items. As long as you have a bit of  a “Buyer Beware” mindset, you can still find good fresh locally grown food that’s healthy and enjoyable for you and your family.

You CAN find GREAT healthy local food at your local markets!

At our local markets here in Western North Carolina, I’m known as the “you asked me that last week” shopper. Oops, sorry! After several passes through my regular markets and asking everyone questions, I now know who I can trust. Over time, it becomes easier because you can go straight to the stalls you know are ok.

Once you get home, you may be wondering: What’s the best way clean my fresh veggies? Not to worry, I’ve got it covered here: How to Clean Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.

Do you have any questions that you like to ask at your local farmer’s market? If so, please share in the comments below. Good luck and happy shopping!


How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Coaching Session:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!


More on Organic Farming:

More on Fermented Foods:

SaveSave

How to Ask the Right Questions at a Farmers Market

Buying fresh, organic and locally grown is more popular than ever before, and that means farmers’ markets are more in demand and they’re big money makers too. That’s a good thing! Local farmers have an easy way to sell their fresh produce and connect directly with the community and local folks can access locally grown freshly harvested food.

But, is it all that it seems?  How do you know what you are getting is really a “clean food”? Is it really fresh, local, organic, and/or grown without chemicals? Unfortunately, “greenwashing” is more common than you may think, with sellers buying industrial produce at wholesale prices and passing off as homegrown. The other major problem that I find at the local markets is that there is a huge disparity in how each farmer decides to grow their food. Some use no chemicals, some use several chemicals and some use certain soil amendments which can make an otherwise locally grown food more likely to contain heavy metals or toxins. I’ve seen it all far too often, and I now understand that you have to ask the right questions in order to know what you’re really getting.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. 
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. 

Is it organic, locally grown, non-GMO…or other?

By knowing what to ask, you can quickly decipher what’s worth buying and when to simply keep walking. You absolutely cannot trust the look of a stall filled with baskets of produce or the “Support Local” t-shirts worn by staff. They are often banking on your perception of what appears freshly harvested and organic. That said, there are often several vendors doing things right from start to finish and those are the ones you want!

To make things easy for you, I’ve created a list of key questions to ask vendors about their farming philosophies and daily practices. The questions fall into three main categories: Where the food came from, how it was grown, and how it was raised. I’ve divided the subject areas into produce, eggs and cheese since those are the main things people tend to buy at markets. But you can also apply these principals to fresh baked goods, meat and fresh fish too.

Farmer’s Market Guide: How to Approach Vendors

Checking for fraudulent produce at the farmers market is important, but needs to de done correctly for good results.

How can you be sure what you are getting is locally grown? ASK!

How to approach vendors and what to look for:

  1.  Approach the vendor in between customers, and preferably when the stall is empty. Do not barge into a booth with a long line of customers and start rolling off questions. You don’t want to cause panic or ruin someone’s business.
  2. Be polite. Your goal is to get information, not to prove someone wrong. Do not assume the worst and don’t approach a vendor with a negative or accusatory tone. If you are gentle, polite, quietly inquisitive and smile, you’re much more likely to get the answers you need.
  3. Get to the point and ask your questions quickly. Vendors are busy and they’re working! They don’t have time for an hour-long discourse on the subject of organic and sustainable food practices. Just from a few questions, you will know whether you should buy there or not.
  4. Have a quick peek behind the booth and under the tables. If you see new supermarket boxes of produce, you should be suspicious. I’ve seen this at farmer’s markets in Australia where the vendors for sure were selling greenwashed produce (and customers were buying!). I’ve also seen it here in North Carolina.
  5. Know your local seasons for produce. It’s your job to get informed if you want to know your food. Alarm bells should already be ringing if you see strawberries sold in late spring or cucumbers sold in winter, for example.

Fruit & Veggies at Markets: What to Ask

Not all vendors at farmer’s markets are selling certified organic goods, and that’s actually ok (or at least not always a bad thing). Many small farms simply cannot afford to go through the lengthy and expensive process of getting an organic certification. Selling non-certified produce means that you are not allowed to market your goods as “certified organic,” but you are permitted to use terms like “grown without pesticides” or “grown using sustainable permaculture practices.” Don’t be scared of those phrases. Whether it’s certified organic or not, you still need to do more detective work.

It’s all a good practice to ask these questions before signing up for any local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) delivery service.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, just remember to be polite and respectful

Questions for Produce Vendors

  1. Where was this grown?
    Hopefully the answer is: at our XYZ farm just down the road. Obviously if the answer is “Mexico” or elsewhere, you’re ready to go to the next stall (unless you’re actually in Mexico, of course!).
  2. Do you use anything for pests or disease?
    A good answer to this is: We let nature run its course and occasionally hand-pick pests like squash vine borers or cabbage worms. Another ok answer is: We use vinegar, water and baking soda to minimize blight. Or: We use traditional companion planting techniques. What you don’t want to hear is a bunch of chemical names that you never heard of. Even certified organic farming allows the use of certain pesticides, however many of those are widely known to destroy local honey bee populations. Not everything organic is better, as you can see.
  3. What type of fertilizer do you use?
    You want to hear something like: We use compost from rabbits fed certified organic feed OR we make our own compost on-site using organic veggie scraps and un-sprayed leaves OR we add XYZ brand of certified organic compost OR we plant cover crops in the fall and practice plant rotation. What you don’t want to hear is: I collect garbage bags of leaves from all over town when it’s time for leaf pick up and I use those. You can imagine that many of those leaves would come from lawns heavily sprayed with chemicals (and yes, I had someone give me that exact answer before!).
  4. Do you add Diatomaceous earth (DE) to the soil?
    To this, you want to hear a clear and definite NO. If the answer is yes, or even yes we add it to the chicken coop and spread chicken manure on the soil, then politely walk away! This stuff is an absolute disaster of a product, sold as a miracle cure to amend soil with nutrients and ward off disease. It’s touted on every online farming forum there is (most likely advocated by industry trolls). While DE may be naturally occurring and is permitted for use in certified organic farming, it is also high in arsenic. Arsenic is a heavy metal; it’s deadly and causes cancer. Plants pull arsenic from the soil through their roots and into the roots, leaves, stem and fruit. This is just one of many reasons why even organic fruits and vegetables are becoming more contaminated with heavy metals than ever before. I’ve personally seen several clients get very sick from taking DE capsules as a “so-called” detox supplement, and they were absolutely not having a detox reaction; rather a toxicity reaction.

A sense of reluctance or hesitation in providing you an answer to any of the above questions should be yet another warning that you may have tapped into something that the vendor does not want to disclose (or doesn’t know, which is also not a good sign).

By asking these questions, I’ve been able to find clean and reliable organic produce vendors, but on average it’s about 2 in 10 that are ok in my book.

Local Eggs at Markets: What to Ask

Questions for Local Egg Vendors

  1. Are these from your chickens, and where is your farm?
    I would hate to think that someone would buy supermarket eggs and try to flog them at a farmer’s market! I’ve never seen this happen myself, however I’m sure there’s always a first. Still, it’s definitely worth it to ask and can be a gentle way to open the conversation.
  2. What kind of feed do you use?
    A good answer to this is: We use only non-GMO organic feed and supplement it with our own organic veggie scraps. If their answer is more vague, such as: We feed them alfalfa, barley, corn and other whole grains, then you must ask: Are they all non-GMO? If the answer is no, then definitely walk away! Genetically Modified (GMO) grains can be high in pesticides such as glyphosate and they can also be high in certain heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead and cadmium. The feed doesn’t necessarily have to be certified organic, but at a minimum it should be non-GMO.
  3. Do you add Diatomaceous earth (DE) to the chicken coop or to the feed?
    Again, you most definitely want the answer to this to be: NO! Many uninformed farmers are adding DE to their coop as a so-called “natural” pest control to kill mites and fleas. However, DE is a known carcinogen when inhaled. Yes, it’s true. Why anyone would ever want to add this junk to anything knowing that is beyond me. However, they are “told” that it’s ok and to just wear a mask when you are applying it. (But don’t worry about eating eggs from chicken with cancer? Ummm….really?) DE is also often added to the feed and it’s totally legal to do this with 100% certified organic eggs. The problem in both cases is that the chickens will ingest the DE. While proponents of DE claim that the arsenic is in its “organic” and therefore not harmful to humans, the reality is that chickens are able to convert organic arsenic into the more dangerous non-organic form of arsenic in their digestive track. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any concentrated forms of arsenic in any of my food!

Often times, you’ll be surprised to find that the non-organic local egg producer is actually selling better quality eggs with less contaminants than the certified organic egg farmer. This is why it’s so important to ask the right questions!

Local Cheese at Markets: What to Ask

Questions for Local or Artisanal Cheese Vendors

  1. Are these from your cows, goats or sheep, and where is your farm?
    Hopefully you’re starting to get the gist of this by now! Some FYI though: it is not uncommon for local cheese producers to buy their milk from a separate dairy farm. Especially if the cheese artisan is making small batches of cheese. So, don’t freak out if you are told – no, we buy the milk from XYZ farm down the road and we make the cheese on-site at our production facility. If you hear that, then go to #2 and continue with your next question. What you definitely do not want to hear is: We buy pasteurized non-organic milk from the supermarket or we buy this cheese in bulk from Costco (as an example) and just package it down for sale.
  2. What kind of feed do you use?
    A good answer to this is: We use only non-GMO certified organic feed OR we use only non-GMO feed. If their answer is more vague, such as: We feed them alfalfa, barley, corn and other whole grains, then you must ask: Are they all non-GMO? If the answer is no, then definitely walk away! GMO grains can be high in pesticides such as glyphosate and they can also be high in certain heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead and cadmium. The feed doesn’t necessarily have to be certified organic, but at a minimum it should be non-GMO. Pretty much same as eggs.
  3. What are the ingredients? (Also, if yellow or orange cheese: How did you get this color?)
    I was absolutely shocked to find SULFITES as an added ingredient in some cheeses in Holland. Especially since The Netherlands is supposed to have the “best” cheese in the world! Sulfites are a chemical preservative that can cause headaches, wheezing, coughing or asthma in people who are sensitive. For the color of the cheese, if it’s yellow or orange in color – you should ask: How did you make the color? I’ve had people tell me that the “natural color” is made from carrots, only to look on the label and see ANNATTO added for coloring. People who are sensitive to Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) or glutamates can also get an inflammatory reaction from Annatto. You also want to make sure there is NO garlic salt, garlic powder or onion powder added to any cheese as these ingredients can contain hidden MSG. Basically, the answer you want to hear is some version of: Rennet, milk, salt, fresh organic herbs such as dill or parsley and NO added coloring.

Using the questions above, I’ve identified two very popular local artisanal cheese outlets/vendors in the Asheville NC area selling seasonal cheese made from milk whose cows or goats are fed 100% genetically modified (GMO) feed.

Now, I’m not here to name and shame and I’m definitely not here to put the small local farmer out of business. But, does it bother me that they are selling a small piece of GMO cheese for $14.99 or more? Heck, yeah! Crowds of customers are wooing over their products, and no one has a clue that the stuff is neither organic nor GMO-free. Not to mention that they are supporting GMO dairy farming, which is a total disaster for the local honey bee population and also contaminates local groundwater. Since most people where I live rely on untreated well water for drinking and on honey bees for pollination of their crops, these things become very important very quickly.

Shop Smart and You’ll be Fine!

Hopefully you now feel more secure in knowing the right questions to ask at your local fruit & veggie market. It’s definitely worth your time and effort to ask – after all, you pay good money for farmer’s market items. As long as you have a bit of  a “Buyer Beware” mindset, you can still find good fresh locally grown food that’s healthy and enjoyable for you and your family.

You CAN find GREAT healthy local food at your local markets!

At our local markets here in Western North Carolina, I’m known as the “you asked me that last week” shopper. Oops, sorry! After several passes through my regular markets and asking everyone questions, I now know who I can trust. Over time, it becomes easier because you can go straight to the stalls you know are ok.

Once you get home, you may be wondering: What’s the best way clean my fresh veggies? Not to worry, I’ve got it covered here: How to Clean Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.

Do you have any questions that you like to ask at your local farmer’s market? If so, please share in the comments below. Good luck and happy shopping!


How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Coaching Session:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!


More on Organic Farming:

More on Fermented Foods:

SaveSave

Are farmers getting CANCER from pesticides sold at Home Depot?

Friends, your health matters, at least to me!  This is something you need to know. Poisons are being marketed and sold to us to use freely on our gardens, fruit, vegetables, flowers, lawns and precious earth. This one particular pesticide is used everywhere, from huge agricultural farms to your neighbor next door, who can easily buy it at Lowes and Home Depot just down the road from you. In July 2017, the State of California added this pesticide under Proposition 65 as “known to the state to cause cancer.” In the EU, it’s currently under discussion for vote on a ban of the chemical by 2020.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. 
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. 

If someone offered you a salad dressing that was known to cause cancer, would you add it to your plate? Of course not! Well, unfortunately…this pesticide is already in the salad! Even in some “organic” foods too!! (You can understand why we moved to the mountains to start growing our own food. Scroll down below to find out what you can do NOW to improve your food at home.)

The world today is currently undergoing a slow and painful death and there is no smoking gun since this pesticide has very sneakily been added to our food supply for the last 4 decades and wrongly labeled as “safe” for the sake of profit. It’s in everything from corn, barley, sugar beets, oats, potatoes, sunflower, soy and canola oil, and the list goes on and on. Of course it’s in the feed given to cows and chickens, so that means it’s even more concentrated in meat, eggs and dairy. Recently, this pesticide was even detected in (non-GMO) Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. In fact, it’s so heavily used that it’s been detected in the water and air. (Do you think the average organic farm is really free from this stuff, and especially considering that most “organic” produce sold in the USA comes from Mexico?) While this pesticide is most commonly used on Genetically Modified (GMO) crops, it can also be used and found in conventional crops as well.

It’s not only in the United States

In Europe, where it’s widely thought to be “better than the United States” for all things related to what’s allowed in foods, you will find this pesticide all over the place. In fact, it’s so pervasive that its residues were recently found in 45% of Europe’s topsoil – and in the urine of three quarters of Germans tested, at five times the legal limit for drinking water. Its residues have been found in biscuits, crackers, crisps, breakfast cereals and in 60% of breads sold in the UK. (Can you imagine how much worse it must be in the US then?!)

I see normal everyday people buying this pesticide at Lowes and Home Depot, actually bragging about how great it works to kill things like poison oak, invasive multi flora rose, or bamboo (without realizing that it’s killing them too!).

Could the dramatic decline in honey bee populations all over the world in recent years be linked to this pesticide as well?

Link to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

This particular pesticide has been heavily linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). With NHL, the cancer starts in the white blood cells of the lymphatic system, all of which are part of the body’s immune system. In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, tumors develop from lymphocytes – a type of white blood cell.

Symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:

  • Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin.
  • Abdominal pain or swelling.
  • Chest pain, coughing or trouble breathing.
  • Persistent fatigue, lethargy, feeling of tiredness.
  • Fever.
  • Night sweats.
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss.
  • Skin rash or itchy skin (pruritus).
  • Difficulty moving parts of the body.
  • Pain in the chest, abdomen or bones for no known reason.

Are you ready to know the name of this pesticide?  Since I don’t want to get trolled or harassed by the company who manufactures this chemical, I’ll write it in this way:

R..O..U..N..D..U..P  also known as  G..l..y..p..h..o..s..a..t..e  made by  M..o..n..s..a..n..t..o

Farmers using this pesticide who got NHL cancer

March 2016 – The family of Cambria, California farmer Jack McCall, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against M.o.n.s.a.n.t.o, claiming that McCall’s cancer was caused by R.o.u.n.d.u.p exposure. McCall was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using R.o.u.n.d.u.p for nearly 30 years on his 20-acre fruit and vegetable farm. He died in December of 2015 after suffering a massive stroke due to complications from cancer.

February 2016 – California couple James and Brenda Huerta filed a R.o.u.n.d.u.p cancer lawsuit against M.o.n.s.a.n.t.o claiming exposure to g.l.y.p.h.o.s.a.t.e caused Brenda to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The R.o.u.n.d.u.p cancer lawsuit claims that both were exposed to the herbicide while living on a sod farm where g.l.y.p.h.o.s.a.t.e was sprayed between 2004 and 2008.

November 2015 – Christine Sheppard owned and worked on a coffee farm in Hawaii between 1995 and 2004. For around eight years, she relied on M.o.n.s.a.n.t.o R.o.u.n.d.u.p [g.l.y.p.h.o.s.a.t.e] to kill weeds on her farm. Sheppard alleges her exposure to R.o.u.n.d.u.p is the cause of her non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In her R.o.u.n.d.u.p cancer lawsuit, she claims that M.o.n.s.a.n.t.o failed to warn the public about the dangers of g.l.y.p.h.o.s.a.t.e.

(The above info resource link here.) 

The list goes on and on. In 2015, 200 people filed a class action lawsuit in California against the maker of this pesticide.

People just don’t know and that’s the problem

Here’s a big part of the problem: the public perception of risk is low. Would you really think your Kona coffee grown on the hills of the Big Island of Hawaii could be loaded with a cancer-causing pesticide? Or you hippie-loving Ben and Jerry’s ice cream? It’s really hard to convince people that these seemingly healthy products could be contaminated.

Last year I was at a weekend farmer’s market her in Western North Carolina. There was a nice man selling “farm fresh artisanal” goat cheese. We got to talking, and I casually asked him about what he feeds the goats. He explained to me that he doesn’t have his own goats. Instead, he buys the milk from 2 different local goat farmers. I asked if the farmers used non-GMO feed. He exclaimed, “No way! They can’t afford that, and I couldn’t afford to buy their milk if they did!.” I was in shock. I think it took half a minute for me to say something! What’s even more shocking is that his cheese sells for $12-15 per piece! And for that, you’re getting a GMO product (along with the cancer-causing pesticides)!! Every time I’ve been to that market since, his booth is packed with customers. Sadly, I’m sure they have no idea what they are really getting. (In his defense, I can only say that perhaps he, like many others, just doesn’t know or understand the problem.)

The numbers say it all

Look at the charts below to get a better understanding of what we are really dealing with. To understand the severity of these findings, remember, research shows that probable harm to human health begins at really low levels of exposure – only 0.1 ppb. And yes, the manufacturer of that chemical is trying desperately hide that number for the general public! Below, you can see for yourself that many foods were found to have over 1,000 times this amount!  Also note that you see organic foods on the list too. This should be on the front page of every newspaper!!

What You can do: 5 Easy Steps

Hopefully by now, you are wondering, what can I do to improve my health and stay away from this chemical?! This is something that I will go into more and more in future posts, to help you navigate through this maze and find better ways to detoxify your body so you don’t have too much accumulation of any chemical or heavy metal. In the meantime, some things you can do now:

  1. Avoid buying organic produce from Mexico. Since we have no idea what’s it the soil, water or otherwise…it’s just a risk not worth taking. Organic produce from USA may not be much better, but at least there is a chance! (And when you see the difference in price between organic from Mexico vs. organic from California, doesn’t it make you wonder??)
  2. Avoid bottled water, unless it’s distilled water. Don’t waste your money on anything other than distilled water…and at least the distilled water can help bind and transport heavy metals out of the body. We drink freshly collected mountain spring water and distilled water in our home.
  3. DON’T BUY or USE R.O.U.N.D.U.P !!! Not for any reason! I cannot emphasize this enough. If people stop buying this crap, the company will suffer. Let your lawn and flowers and bamboo do want they want…which is grow! If you don’t like a particular weed, pull it out of the ground. Would you rather have no weeds and cancer, or no cancer and weeds? It’s a no brainer!
  4. Avoid foods from China. This is easier said than done and takes a bit of learning to figure out what common foods are imported from China. Garlic is a good example. Nearly all conventional fresh garlic sold in supermarkets today comes from China.  An easy upgrade for you and your family is to buy locally grown certified organic garlic (or grow your own, like we do!).
  5. Avoid packaged snack foods. Use only certified organic spices. Use whole organic ingredients (preferably locally grown) and make meals from from scratch whenever possible.

Ready to do even more? Start planting more pollinating flowers outside your home or apartment. And don’t use any chemicals on them! Give the honey bees a chance to survive with some decent clean food. I’ve found that the bees in our area really love organic catnip, lavender, sage and delphinium – all of which are pretty easy to grow.

How to Eat Clean: Start with Green Smoothies!

Green Smoothie for DummiesCheck out my book Green Smoothies for Dummies – I’ve got loads of recipes using dark leafy greens and many delicious combos without any chemical additives, flavorings or refined sugar. It’s so easy!

Clean your body from the inside out and watch your skin improve, your hair and nails get stronger, your eyes look brighter and your waistline slim down….all naturally and effortlessly! It’s simply amazing and your only regret will be that you didn’t start drinking green smoothies sooner.

When you take care of your whole body, you get whole body health.

When you let your food be your medicine, you are always moving towards better health.

Find the book Green Smoothies for Dummies on iTunes or amazon.com!


For more on how to achieve your health goals and actually start feeling great, book a private health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Coaching Session:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a smart phone or digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval for Iridology Analysis.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!


More on Food Labels:

More on Food Additives and Food Allergies:

More on Genetically Engineering Foods:

Easy Recipe: Make organic pickles at home!

Are you ready to make your own fermented foods at home? (Answer: Yes!) Pickling cucumbers is a great start to build up your confidence with fermentation. And who doesn’t love a crisp tasty pickle on a hot summer day? You can have your pickles ready to eat in as little as 7 days with the easy recipe below.

Use this fast and easy recipe to make delicious pickles at home

Health benefits of Fermented Foods

For optimal digestive health, we need to get good bacteria in the gut on a regular basis. Antibiotics destroy all the bacteria in our system, both good and bad. Over time, this can lead to more imbalance in digestion function, absorption and elimination. Some experts even say that food allergies, autism and ADHD may be related to an imbalance of bacteria in the colon. Certainly many digestive diseases like colitis, diverticulitis and Crohn’s disease are caused in part by lack of good bacteria in the gut. Having the right balance of good bacteria helps to strengthen immune system, improve digestive health and long-term, can even prevent dis-ease. Probiotic, or good bacteria, literally means “for life.”

You may think that fermented foods are only made with yeast (like beer or wine), but there are other cultures used for fermentation. Other types of natural bacteria are used as well as SCOBY’s (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). With pickles, the natural bacteria on the skin of the cucumber itself is what’s used to start the “lacto fermentation” process.

Pickles are perfect to try if you’ve never done any type of fermentation before. You get relatively fast results (in 7 days), unlike kombucha, for example, that can take a few weeks. And there isn’t a lot of hard work involved or checking required, like in making raw sauerkraut. You should see bubbles rising in the pickle jars when you flip them every day, and when you eventually open the jar to eat them, the jar should make a “pop.” Then you know you’ve done everything correctly and can enjoy the fruits of your fermentation labor. Scroll down to get the recipe below.

Homemade pickles have no food additives!

There are other great reasons to eat homemade pickles instead of store-bought, besides the obvious better taste. Commercially sold pickles are pasteurized, which means all those beneficial natural probiotics are destroyed. Homemade pickles keep all the good bacteria intact, making for good gut health when eaten. A healthy microbiome is the basis for a strong and healthy immune system.

Store-bought pickles can also contain nasty food additives, the worst offender being Yellow #5. Banned in many countries (including all of Europe) since it was shown to be a carcinogen, Yellow #5, or tartrazine, is a coal-tar derivative. It is currently still allowed in foods in the USA. Yellow #5 is frequently used in your favorite brands of pickles for added color to make the pickles look brighter and fresher. Most store-bought pickles also contain preservatives, the most common one being sodium benzoate (not good).

Examples of Yellow #5 in pickles:

Vlasic: Hamburger Dill Chips Pickles – Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Sodium Benzoate (Preservatives), Calcium Chloride, Natural Flavor, Polysorbate 80, Yellow 5. “Great taste & crunch. Classic dill taste.” (No thanks!)

Vlasic Bread & Butter Spears No Sugar Added Pickles – Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Spice, Calcium Chloride, Sucralose, Yellow 5. “No sugar added!” (But you kept the carcinogens, great work.)

Mt. Olive Sweet Gherkins No Sugar Added Pickles – Cucumbers, Water, Vinegar, Salt, Calcium Chloride, 0.1% Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Alum, Sucralose (Splenda Brand), Natural Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Polysorbate 80, & Yellow 5. “Mt. Olive Pickles are Picklicious!” (Don’t think so…)

Heinz Dill Spear Pickles – Fresh cucumbers, water, distilled white vinegar, salt, sodium benzoate, garlic extract, gum acacia, calcium chloride, natural flavoring, polysorbate 80, fd&c yellow 5. “Classic dill taste and crunch Heinz pickles are 100% fat free, Gluten free.” (But they contain chemical crap, hmmm…)

Organic brands of pickles are often no better. I’ve seen xantham gum, natural flavors, spices and agave syrup…all of which are suspect ingredients that I avoid as much as possible.

The bottom line is this: YOU deserve the very best in life and you are worth having only the very best ingredients in your food. Taking the time to make your own food is one of the best investments in yourself, your health and your family’s health.

High-five some hashtags to health!! #homemade #homegrown #farmtotable #organic #cleanfood #cleaneating

Choosing organic ingredients

The best part about making cucumbers at home is that you can use all 100% certified organic and whole food ingredients. Look for smaller sized pickling cucumbers at your local farmer’s market. You can also grow your own pickling cucumbers in your backyard garden at home – they’re actually very easy to grow! Choose fresh organic dill. And definitely use organic garlic. (Non-organic garlic is mostly all grown in China, so the quality is a big unknown. But I find that non-organic garlic has a too strong and overpowering taste; whereas organic garlic has a soft yet flavorful and more delicate taste. Organic garlic also doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth or a bad smell on your skin.)

The water you add to your pickle jars should not contain any chlorine, because chlorine can stop the natural fermentation process. The best option is to use natural spring water or clean well water. If you are using tap water, then be sure to pour your water into a big pot or glass bowl and let it sit out on the counter overnight before using. This should off-gas the chlorine so it’s no longer in the water by the next morning. (If you’ve ever had pet fish, then you’re familiar with doing this when changing their tank water.)

Remember to cut off the blossom ends!

When you’re pickling cucumbers yourself, you must cut off the blossom ends. There’s an enzyme in the blossom that can make the pickle soft and unsafe to eat. The blossom end also tastes bitter when you eat a raw cucumber. That bitter taste can make an entire juice or smoothie taste bitter too, so it’s generally just a good practice to always cut off about 1/16-inch on the blossom end of all your cucumbers. In fermentation, cutting the blossom ends will help your pickles get more crisp and crunchy.

Every cucumber has 2 ends: A Blossom end and a Stem end

The blossom end of the cucumber is the end that grew the flower. The opposite side is where you will find the stem that connected the cucumber to the vine. Sometimes it’s easier to identify the stem end first. Then, you know that the other side is the blossom end.

Which end is the blossom end of the cucumber? To identify the blossom end, check both sides of your cucumber.

The picture below shows the stem end of the cucumbers. Do you see the smooth, indented dot? That’s where the cucumber was picked off the stem.

The stem end has a smooth, indented dot

The next picture shows the blossom end of the cucumbers. Even though the flower is gone, you can see that there is no indentation. This is the side that you want to cut about 1/16-inch off.

Note there is no indentation in the Blossom end of the cucumber

Don’t forget to cut those blossom ends for a crunchy, crispy pickle

Recipe for Organic Pickles

With this recipe, the pickles take 7 days to ferment and then you’ve got the best tastiest pickles ever! No sugar, no honey, no preservatives and no cancer-causing Yellow #5. Oh yeah, and these are 100% organic farm-to-table and made with love!

Pickling Ingredients

  • Pickling cucumbers (approx. 6-8 small cucumbers needed for each jar)
  • 1 1/2 cups (or 360ml) filtered water
  • 1/2 cup (or 120ml) organic raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. fine Himalayan salt (as desired)
  • 1/2 tsp. organic crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. organic mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. organic back peppercorns
  • 1 sprig fresh organic dill
  • 2 organic garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 2 organic fresh grape leaves* (optional)
    You can buy the organic dried ingredients listed above on iherb.comAlso will need:- Wide mouth clean Mason jars with canning lids
    – 1 permanent marker
    You can buy Mason jars plus organic raw apple cider vinegar on amazon.com

Pickling Instructions

1. In a glass bowl, mix 1/2 cup organic raw apple cider vinegar + 1.5 cups water.
Add peppercorns, red pepper flakes, mustard seed, and up to 1T Himalayan salt.

2. Rinse your cucumbers but don’t scrub them. You want them to ferment from natural bacteria in the skins. Make sure you cut 1/16-inch from the blossom ends of each cucumber, then slice the cucumbers in spears. You want to keep the skins intact (do NOT peel the cucumbers), so the good bacteria in the skins can kick off the lacto-fermentation process.

3. Add 2 organic garlic cloves, fresh dill, and 1 grape leaf to the bottom of the Mason jar. Stack in chopped cucs and pack tightly. Add liquid and spices. Add another grape leaf to the top before closing. Secure the lid tight by hand. Write the date on the lid with a permanent marker.

4. Place the jar on a tray or plate on a shelf or counter-top. Flip the jar once daily for 7 days. Sometimes liquid may seep out of the jar, which is why having a tray or plate underneath is a good idea. You should see small bubbles rising in the pickle juice when you flip the jar. And that’s the fermentation happening right there!

5. After one week, put the jar in the fridge. Now, you can open, eat and enjoy!

Store pickles in a tray or glass container to prevent spillage during 7 days of flipping once daily

*Fresh grapes leaves are recommended because they’re supposed to help keep the pickles more crisp and crunchy. I don’t know if they are totally necessary or not, but because we have plenty of wild organic muscadine grape vines growing all over our land, it’s no problem for me to pick a few leaves and add them to each jar. Sometimes in summer, you can find fresh grapes leaves for sale at local farmer markets. If you don’t have access to fresh grape leaves, don’t be discouraged. You can still make this recipe without them!

Homemade Pickle Eat-by Date

Using the above recipe, there is no canning or heating required. That’s nice because it keeps the cucs as a raw food, with all the enzymes intact. But, because they are not totally sealed the way canning or heating will do, these pickles should be eaten with 3 months of making them. Just keep that in mind if you give them to family or friends. After 3 months the pickles may turn soft or watery. If you see that, then it’s best to toss them in the compost bin. Writing the date on the lid of each jar helps to know how long to keep them.

My Pickle Detox/Cleanse

Last summer, we had so many cucumbers from our organic veggie garden that I was making 2 jars of pickles per day! By mid-August, we were up to our ears in pickles and the fridge was almost full. I had been planning to do a 7-10 day green juice fast as a nice transition from the end of summer into fall. But when I looked at all the pickles, I said to my husband, “Why don’t we just do a pickle detox and eat only organic pickles for 10 days?” So we did!

On average, we each ate about 1.5 jars of pickles per day and we drank all the pickle juice too. We also drank plenty of water in between. It was totally unplanned and un-researched. But it turned out great. We both felt energized. Our guts got a major boost of probiotics from the lacto fermentation and the organic raw apple cider vinegar. We had a mini-parasite cleanse from eating so many fermented garlic cloves. The pickles were cold and refreshing during the hot summer days. We had high energy and slept great. The was no juicer to clean! And we used organic clean food fresh from our garden. This year, we may do a 3-day pickle cleanse and go into green juices after that. I’ve got plenty of organic dandelion, celery and parsley that I’d love to use in juices or smoothies so we’ll see….!


For more on how to do a detox at home or how to navigate through your detox symptoms and start feeling great, book a personalized health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Consultation:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a smart phone or digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!