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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

Protein Powders containing Mercury, Lead, Arsenic and Cadmium: WARNING!

A new study has revealed that even ORGANIC protein powders can contain high amounts of dangerous heavy metals. The Clean Label Project recently tested 134 of America’s best selling animal-derived and plant-based protein powders for heavy metals, pesticides, BPA/BPS, residual solvents, mycotoxins, melamine and antibiotics residues.

Check below for the WHOLE FOODS I recommend to eat for protein.

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.

 

Source: Clean Label Project 2018

 

In the study, many popular and 100% certified organic protein powders showed concerning levels of heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead, and toxins like bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in some plastic containers and food can liners and a known endocrine disruptor.

These contaminants have been linked to cancer, brain damage, and reproductive issues.

The 2018 study by the Denver-based Clean Label Project, a nonprofit organization, found that virtually ALL of the 134 products tested contained detectable levels of at least one heavy metal and 55% tested positive for BPA.

MORE heavy metals in Organic Protein Powders vs. Non-Organic

Buying a product with an “organic” label did NOT reduce the chances of getting a contaminated product. In fact, organic protein supplements had higher levels of heavy metals, on average, than nonorganic. How can it be?

 

Source: Clean Label Project 2018

 

“That probably has more to do with these products being plant-based than being organic,” says Sean Callan, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and director of operations at the lab that tested the protein products.

Callan further states, “Plant-based proteins may have higher contamination levels because the plants are especially prone to absorbing heavy metals from soil.”

That last sentence may be a shocker, but I believe this is just the beginning of much more to come. I’ve been seeing it more and more and more in recent years. The process of getting certified organic does NOT include testing of the soil for heavy metals. People are switching to plant-based diets and getting sicker than they ever were before, with new ailments ranging from chronic fatigue to knee/joint/back/neck pain to kidney problems to general malaise to peripheral neuropathy and even symptoms of auto-immune disease. Many people blame themselves and their former SAD diet, thinking that they must be having some kind of detox reaction or Herxheimer reaction to eating such a clean diet. However, the new plant-based organic diet may not be as clean as you think. I recently wrote an article called What are the Symptoms of Heavy Metal Toxicity to try to explain this exact problem.

Plant-based Protein Powders HIGHER in heavy metals

Products made from plant-based sources of protein such as soy or hemp fared worse than those made from whey (milk) or egg, containing on average twice as much lead and measurably higher amounts of other contaminants.

 

Source: Clean Label Project 2018

 

Knowing that SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT of plant-based protein powders tested came up positive for lead should be VERY alarming. In addition to lead, several plant powders contained mercury, cadmium and arsenic above health-based guidelines.

The 5 products that received the poorest overall scores in this study were:

  • Garden of Life Organic Shake & Meal Replacement Chocolate Cacao Raw Organic Meal
  • Nature’s Best Isopure Creamy Vanilla Zero Carb
  • Quest Chocolate Milkshake Protein Powder
  • 360Cut Performance Supplements 360PRO Whey Chocolate Silk Premium Whey Protein
  • Vega Sport Plant-Based Vanilla Performance Protein

Symptoms of Heavy Metal Toxicity

To better understand what common symptoms of heavy metals toxicity correspond to each toxic heavy metal, I did some research from the Agency for Toxic Substances & Diseases Registry and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Check out the list below showing each health symptom. Can you see how the results from this study on protein powders could be just the tip of the iceberg?

Symptoms of Heavy Metal Toxicity

  • Foggy Brain – arsenic, lead
  • Fatigue (extreme and/or chronic) – arsenic, lead
  • Hair loss – thallium
  • Memory loss – lead, aluminum
  • Chronically bloodshot eyes – arsenic
  • Mee’s lines (deep ridges on fingernails and/or toenails) – arsenic
  • Impaired concentration – thallium, lead, aluminum
  • Impaired motor function, sensory function, and cognitive function – aluminum
  • Increased nervousness – thallium, lead
  • Irritability – thallium, lead
  • Dizziness – lead
  • Depression/mood changes, headache – lead
  • Skin discoloration – darkening (hyper pigmentation) – arsenic
  • Hyperkeratosis (most frequently on the palms and soles) – arsenic
  • Throat irritation / difficultly swallowing / chronic sore throat – arsenic
  • Impaired immune system – lead, arsenic
  • Generalized muscle aches, weakness and body pains – lead
  • Muscle cramps or muscle tenderness – arsenic
  • Numbness, tingling and pain (sensory) – arsenic
  • Spontaneous pain – arsenic
  • Localized edema – arsenic
  • Inflammation or pain in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract – thallium, arsenic
  • Decreased libido – lead, arsenic
  • Decreased sperm count – lead, arsenic
  • Infertility – lead, arsenic
  • Peripheral neuropathy (hot or burning feeling in hands and feet) – arsenic
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – lead
  • Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly) – arsenic
  • Hemolytic anemia – lead
  • Nausea or diarrhea – arsenic
  • Low Vitamin D levels (inability to convert Vitamin D) – lead
  • Severe osteoporosis and osteomalacia – cadmium
  • Proteinuria (too much protein in the urine) – arsenic
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) – arsenic
  • Skin cancer – arsenic
  • Impaired lung function / fibrosis – aluminum
  • Lung cancer – cadmium, arsenic
  • Kidney (renal) failure – arsenic, cadmium, lead
  • Gout – lead
  • Kidney cancer – arsenic
  • Bladder cancer – arsenic
  • Liver cancer – arsenic
  • Prostate cancer – arsenic

-from the Agency for Toxic Substances & Diseases Registry & the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

 

There is often a combination of deficiency, toxicity and damaged gut microbiome – all of which creates the “perfect storm” of ill health. Read more about this in my article Symptoms of Heavy Metal Toxicity.

What Protein Powders should you use?

Sorry to say, but my answer is: NONE. While this study shows that there are LESS contaminants in whey and egg-based protein powders (due to perhaps the animal being able to absorb or diffuse some of the toxins into their bone, hence why I think bone broth is another disaster), they are NOT coming up clean either. Further, any non-organic animal-based protein powder will have animals that are fed genetically modified feed, thus creating another problem which is pesticide toxicity.

If all of this is not a sign to STOP using protein powders, then I don’t know what is. For years, I’ve repeatedly been recommending to not use protein powders. Extracting protein from whole food, stripping the fiber and creating volatile and unpredictable powders that do not exist in nature is NOT natural or organic. You cannot create protein powders in your home. It needs to be done in a laboratory using extracting chemical solvents – such as hexane – and industrial laboratory equipment. Often times, residual solvents remain in the food product.  And if that wasn’t enough, concentrated and extracted or hydrolyzed proteins are often high in glutamates and can cause reactions in people who are glutamate sensitive.

Animals in nature do not use protein powders and they are not lacking in muscle mass.

If you’re new to all of this information, then you’re head might be spinning and you may think I’m just some kind-of conspiracy theorist. It’s ok to think that! But, I’m not; I’m just a realist. This is the new reality we are facing today. We’ve over-populated the planet with people, trash, chemicals and toxins…and it’s now coming back through the soil, air and water. It’s a closed system and has reached its limits. We’ve over-filled every landfill, contaminated the oceans and damaged too much of the earth. Perhaps it’s karma coming to get us…I don’t know…but I do know this: NOW is the time to grow your own organic food. Getting back to permaculture & organic farming where crops are rotated, soil is replenished and water is clean…while these may seem like ways of the past, they’re the only real solution to a healthy future. Outside of that, I would definitely recommend a regular yearly detox protocol involving liver, kidneys, colon and heavy metal cleansing – at the very least.

What CAN you eat for protein?

Keep in mind that you may not actually need as much protein as you think. The US market for sports nutrition, energy/nutrition bars and sports drinks is set to exceed $20 BILLION by 2020, according to Euromonitor International.

Huge amounts of money are at stake.

There are diets created and promoted by the very industries (think Paleo, Dukan or Keto diet) that would like nothing more than for you to think that the only way to lose weight or increase muscle is to have generous amounts of their protein powder every day. This protein powder study is scaring the bejesus out of the big players in that honey pot. I’m already seeing major damage control happening – denial and downplaying the severity of these findings –  in the comments in forums and on social media (and probably here too).

Back to what you CAN eat…

Good whole food plant sources of protein include chickpeas, black beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, and dark leafy green vegetables.

Examples of plants and their protein:

  • 164g chickpeas = 14.53g protein
  • 118g pumpkin seeds = 35.21g protein
  • 143g almonds = 30.34g protein
  • 140g sunflower seeds = 29.09g protein

How to eat whole food plant proteins?

  • Enjoy delicious homemade seed crackers (and you don’t even need a dehydrator).
  • Make your own hummus and eat a whole bowl of it, especially if you are looking for high protein in one meal.
  • Add homemade tahini dressing to a generous serving of fresh veggie and cooked quinoa (quinoa is a complete protein).
  • Include pumpkin seed cheese into your daily menu as a snack with freshly chopped apples or veggies.
  • Blend a yummy Green Smoothie with added ingredients such as spirulina, sesame seed, tahini, almonds or pumpkin seeds.

Can you imagine a wild pony sitting on a mountaintop saying to a wild horse, “Where do you get your protein? I was feeling a bit tired going up that hill today, and your muscles look way bigger than mine. Whatever powder you are taking, I want it too!”

Of course that sounds ridiculous, because it is. Wild animals don’t need extra protein, but they also don’t ingest refined sugar, bread, fried foods, processed foods, coffee or alcohol either. And if they do, like a domesticated dog for example,  they start to get the same metabolic diseases than humans suffer from.

Our human-created diet has created human diseases.

How much protein more or less is not the answer or the secret key to health. Getting more natural, whole and pure with your food will bring your body health, balance, energy and vitality…and it all comes from natural food.

More information about the Clean Label Project study can be found on their website.

Read more on Why I don’t use protein powders…and why you shouldn’t either!


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 Detox:

DIY Indoor Grow Light Stands for under $100

Early spring is the time of year to start working on your summer organic veggie garden. In most climates, the actual growing season isn’t as long as you may like due to late frost in the spring and cool weather in the fall. So, how do you maximize your season to get more veggies growing outside once the warm weather finally hits? The secret to to start your seedling indoors, about 6-8 weeks before you transplant them in the ground.

Grow organic food affordably and easily at home

Starting seedlings indoors is relatively easy once you have a shelf, trays and a grow light. However, you would be amazed how much these systems cost. One 3-tier LED grow light stand will set you back a whopping $699 USD! And that doesn’t include any seeds, drip trays, planting trays or a timer!! A one shelf base unit for a standard stack-n-grow system is $199 USD. It’s insane money if you ask me. I knew I could do it myself way cheaper. And I did! For under $100 USD, I have almost the same setup that would cost you $400 retail. Keep reading, I’m going to show you how you can do it too.

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. 
There are affiliate links in this post. 

It’s easy to start growing indoors, and you can do it on a budget too

Background: Our Organic Veggie Garden

I should explain that my husband and I are complete amateurs in organic gardening. Between us, we have less than zero gardening experience. But, we are both committed to a healthy lifestyle. Our goal in moving to western North Carolina was to grow our own organic food. We’ve been at it for just 2 years now, and this is the first year that we are actually starting seedlings indoors. Why did it take 2 years? Between work, renovating our house, and working on the land, we’ve just been really busy and are still getting our bearings with living in a totally new place to boot.

The first year, my husband built 8 raised beds. Last year, he built another 7 for a total of 15 raised beds for veggies. We also planted fruit trees, raspberries, blueberries, goji berries, grapes, many herbs and lots of pollinating plants for our future bees. Believe me, that was more than enough to keep us busy from morning ’til night. We barely had time to start seedlings outside! That first year, we had beginner’s luck. The spring was mild, so the outdoor seedlings survived.

Last year, however, was a different situation and a few late frosts killed most of our outdoor seedlings. Then, we had to start all over which wasted valuable time. I had to buy a lot of veggie starts to just get things growing, and that was definitely more expensive. I knew that I had to start collecting parts and equipment to make our indoor seedling grow system so that this year, we could finally start our seeds indoors. Hopefully you will learn from a few of our mistakes there and just start your spring seedlings inside!

Get Started: DIY Indoor Grow Light Stands Materials

You’ve got 2 options in sourcing your materials for making your own indoor seedling station:

  1. Buy everything new and assemble yourself, or
  2. Look for sales, bargains and thrift store/yard sale finds to create a budget masterpiece.

If you know me, then you already know what I did. Yep, confessions of a thrift store shopper..But, I managed to find everything I needed, and it wasn’t that hard! I’ll give you both the yard sale list and buy new list so you can combine from both to make what suits you.  Since the end of last summer, I’ve been keeping my eyes out for anything that might be useful and putting it aside. In total, it took me about 6 months to put together my super bargain setup.

Shelves for your indoor seedlings

How many shelves do you need? You can buy the 3-shelf systems with lights already set up. I’ve also seen homemade versions with 3 shelves which seem to work fine. But, if you have any curious cats in your house (like we do), then I would not recommend a 3-tier or even a 2-tier system. Can you hear the whole unit crashing? I can! With one particularly curious rescue cat, aka Captain Sneakypuss, we knew that we needed to have one-shelf units to prevent feline adventure accidents.

The first thing I found at a local thrift store was three separate one-shelf units with wheels, each for only $5. I really wanted shelves with wheels in case I had to move them, so I was beyond excited to find such a good deal! Each shelf measures 24″ long x 20″ high x 15″ wide. At the time, I didn’t even know that these shelves are for hanging file folders. I just thought, wow…I can hang a grow light on the top frame of this and put a seedling tray on the shelf – perfect! These 3 shelves went straight to the attic where they sat all winter. But they planted the seed (pun intended) for my vision of our indoor grow station. It doesn’t really matter what type of shelf you use, but a 24″ long shelf is pretty ideal for hanging a grow light in terms of the light being able to cover the planting area.

You can find a similar shelf to what I bought with the same dimensions for $39.99 on amazon here.

If you’re patient, you can score a good deal. I found 3 of these shelves for $5 each!

Heating Pad for warming seed trays

Certain seeds, like tomato and eggplant, require extra warmth to get started. Most people recommend a grow light AND a heating pad for these. You can buy a fancy seedling heating mat for $40 – $90 USD, depending on the size. Or you can just buy a standard heating pad from CVS. Better yet, check your thrift stores and yard sales. Just make sure that the heating pad has an option for continuous heat, that is, it doesn’t force a automatic shut-off after 1 or 2 hours.

Not all seedlings need heating pads. If you only have 2 shelf units, you probably only need 1 heating pad.

I found a like-new CVS heating pad at Goodwill for $3. Woot woot!

You can find something similar on amazon for under $20 here.

You’ll need a warming or heating pad for tomato and eggplant seedlings

Dual-Outlet Timer

Your heating pad will need to be connected to a timer so you can control the amount of hours of heat applied. You’ll also need a timer for your grow lights (see more on the grow lights below).

I bought a new timer because I wanted a digital one with 2 outlets, and this is not something easy to find used. You’re going to need one outlet for the heating pad and one for the grow light. The beauty of a dual-outlet timer is that you can connect both to one timer with the same on/off program. The model I bought is called the Century 7 Day Heavy Duty Digital Programmable Timer – Dual Outlet (Single Control), available on amazon for $12.99.

There’s an outlet on each side of the timer so you can program 2 things at the same time, like a light and a warming pad

Boot Trays make the perfect drip trays

Even with a brand new 3-tier seedling setup, you won’t get any drip trays. It won’t take long to realize that you need something to catch any water that leaks through your seedling trays. With hardwood floors, I definitely did not want water dripping! Measure the size of your shelves, that way you’ll know if boot trays will work. In my case, they fit perfectly under each shelf and turned out to be the perfect drip trays. I found 2 brand-new boot trays at Goodwill for $2 each, for a total of $4. I had another one at home that I bought at IKEA (and was actually using it as a boot tray). I added the IKEA tray to my setup and had everything I needed to secure any water from my seedling trays.

You can get 2 boot trays for $22 online here. That’s not a bad deal at all! Remember to check the measurements of your shelf to make sure they will fit.

I found these boot trays at Goodwill for 2 bucks each!

LED Grow Light

A grow light is probably the most important part of your indoor setup, because without it, your seedlings are not likely to survive. A window is just not enough light in early spring for seeds to get growing.  They need at least 12 hours per day under grow lights to create the right conditions for sprouting. (And the soil needs to be moist, so don’t forget to check the seedlings twice a day and water accordingly.)

I found an affordable grow light on amazon, and so far it’s working great. I decided to buy one at first and try it, before buying another one for my other shelf. Once I started to see little sprouts pushing out of the soil (yay!), I knew the light was ok so I bought another one. This was the most expensive part of my system, but also the most essential and still very affordable. The one I bought was the Newforshop 30W LED Grow Light for $29.99.

The LED grow light looks like a 70’s dance floor, but it works great and uses less energy

Chains, S Hooks, Zip Ties to attach your light

You’ll also need a few items to help hang your grow light on the shelf. One thing that makes the expensive systems more costly is that they have pully systems to easily move the light up and down as your seedlings grow. But, you can easily move your light up and down manually too. Especially if you want to save a couple hundred bucks. Simple materials like zip ties, S hooks and metal chains are all super useful to hang your grow light at the height you want. Check your grow light for its manufacturer recommendations, but as a general rule, you want to start with your grow light about 6 inches higher than the soil. Having chains makes it easy to adjust the height of your light once your seedlings start to grow.

Last summer, I found a big bag of various chains for $1 at a yard sale, and happily added it to my seedling station materials box. At another yard sale, I bought a jar full of screw and other bits for $1; inside of that were a few metal S hooks. I usually buy my zip ties at the Dollar Store but you can sometimes find those at yard sales too.

You can also buy short pieces of hanging chain with S hooks online here for $5.50.

Honey I bought a bag of chains! Huh? It’s for our seedlings! OH!

Chains and Zip ties or S hooks make it super easy to adjust the height of your light

Shopping List: DIY indoor seedling Grow Light Stand

It’s easy to start growing indoors, and you can do it on a budget too

Organic good grown at home is the ultimate in health

Cost – Buying New vs. Used

Buying all new materials, you can create ONE grow light shelf unit for $129.01 or TWO shelf units for $198.99.

Even if you buy everything NEW, you can get TWO grow light shelf units for the price of one ($199) at a comparable online garden supply store. That’s 50% less!!

Buying some used materials (like I did), you can create ONE shelf unit for $54.98 or TWO shelf units for $91.97.

Either way, you save money! Simply by starting your own plants from seed, you can save hundreds of dollars EVERY YEAR from not having to buy starter plants. (1 organic start plant costs $4-6, whereas 1 packet of 100 organic seeds costs $3 or $0.03 per plant.) Your investment in starting from seed will quickly pay off after only one season!

Additional Stuff you’ll need

Once you get your grow light shelves set up, you’ll need a few more things to actually start your seedlings:

  • Starter soil (I recommend 3 parts Peat Moss to 1/2 part Perlite 10 1/2 part Vermiculite)
  • Planting trays (I got mine for free on Craigslist; also check gardening stores at the end of the season for freebies)
  • Spray bottle for watering
  • Popsicle sticks for labeling your trays (I scored a huge bag at a yard sale for 50c)
  • And of course….some quality non-GMO organic seeds (I recommend Sow True Seed brand)
  • Fertilizer (use this once the seedlings are growing so they don’t stall in growth)

Have any personal tips on starting seeds indoors to share? Please leave a comment below!

Organic gardening for health, joy and happiness

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 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 Immune System:

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Why I worked on an organic cattle farm

Yes, it’s true! I worked on an organic cattle farm for 6 weeks while living in Australia several years ago. You may think, “Traitor!”…but of course, no peace-loving health enthusiast would ever think that!  Why did I do it? I’d never worked on a cattle farm before and was open to see what it’s all about. The family who hired me had actually never met a vegetarian in their entire lives. What a union! I went into the experience with an open mind, and an open heart.

A vegetarian meets a cattle ranch family…will it work?

I took the job at the cattle station not long after working and living on Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef for a year and a half. I was coming out of the isolation of island living and driving around oz, happily visiting friends along the way. One of my friends was working in Alice Springs at the time, so I drove to see her. During my visit, she said, “Jennifer, why don’t you stay awhile and look for work? There’s plenty of work ’round here. Plus, when are you ever going to be back?” (Never, I thought!) But, it seemed like a good idea to stay and get to know more of what the strange, desolate, dry, red landscape had to offer. The next day, I checked the local job board and there was a sign for domestic help on an organic cattle farm. Well, I liked the word “organic” anyway! Why not call them and give it a try? I had nothing to lose.

Outback scenery…the road to Alice Springs

Living in the real outback of Australia is not easy. The husband of the family drove 4 hours one-way to come and pick me up in Alice Springs. We drove back to the farm together, getting to know each other along the way. The pickup truck had a big spider crack in the windshield and I remember spending a lot of time wondering how he could even see the road. Never mind that the car was covered in so many layers of dust that you could no longer see the color of the car! On the dashboard were several shotgun shells. They rolled back and forth with every turn that the car took. Admittedly, I wondered what I was getting into. The husband seemed tough, with thick skin tanned from the desert sun and just as many layers of dirt on him as the car. Yet, he seemed genuine and funny too. Not long after the initial small talk, we started talking about nutrition and health. He proudly told me, “I reckon I get the 4 food groups every morning: coffee, milk, sugar and water.” Ok!

The road to their farm was straight and long. Like hundreds of kilometers long. And nothing but desert for as far as you can see. Finally, we got to a dirt road that was another 200km until we got to their driveway. Then, the driveway was 35km long! And not an easy drive because you had to stop every so often at a cattle gate and get out to open the gate. Mind you, I had just come from living on a tropical island on the Great Barrier Reef, and I thought that was remote. This was beyond anything I had ever seen!!

The family that I worked for had 2 children: one was still at home and learning online via School of the Air, a fascinating program that’s been in place way before the internet (and originally by radio) for outback families. Their other child was already in boarding school back in Alice Springs. The farm was originally owned by the husband’s family. He inherited it after his father passed away. His wife ran the house and prepared meals for everyone, including the family, me and the other cattle hands. Every night, we all ate together at one big table, unless the guys were out somewhere on the farm mustering cattle.

Fair dinkum outback cowboys

The staff (3 of us) stayed in an old house on the property. It was run down, full of dust and smelled bad. Nothing to write home about. The best aspect of the job is that food and accommodation were included, so you could bank all of your money while you were there and come out with some nice savings. After all, what could you possibly spend your money on out there?! Literally nothing. The other 2 guys were nice guys. One was an experienced mustering pilot who worked side by side with the father each day. The other guy was an Irish backpacker who was a butcher back home in Ireland. They hired him to work with the mustering and also to cut up a cow for their freezer (more on that later). They never seemed to remember his name and just called him “Backpacker” all the time. My job was to spring clean the main house, section by section, room by room, from top to bottom.

In the evenings I would walk on the property…but you don’t want to get any closer than this. The cattle can turn and charge at any moment

I left the farm only once during my stay. The wife needed to stock up on some food essentials, so we went to the “local” store instead of driving all the way into Alice Springs. The local store was still a one hour drive away! It was in an Aboriginal village and catered mostly to them. You could immediately understand why obesity and diabetes have become such big problems in the Aboriginal communities. The store was full of candies, sweets and sugary sodas with just a few old wilted vegetables on a back shelf.

One thing I didn’t mention yet is what we ate. Thankfully, there were plenty of veggies for me to eat as well as bread and pasta (This was before I switched my own diet to a healthier version, but I was still a vegetarian). There was no snack food at all and I didn’t bring any snacks. It was a prison diet, in a sense. You just got your plate of food 3x a day and that was it. For the rest of the crew, they had tons of meat, at every meal. I’d never seen people eat red meat with breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. They had one entire freezer full of meat. In fact, while I was there, they started running low so they had Backpacker chop up a “kill.” It took him 2 days and seemed like a LOT of work. I also didn’t mention the flies. You can’t be in the outback without flies. Especially during those 2 days, there were tons of flies.

One thing that happened without fail at every meal – I was always asked if I had enough to eat. You see, this family had never eaten with a vegetarian before, so it was hard for them to believe that I could feel satisfied without meat. I found it pretty funny. If I was tired on any day, they would always say, “Do you want some meat?” Of course, the answer was always, “No thank you”!

The highlight of my experience was getting to spend a night in the outback with the boys while they were out mustering. I drove with them during the day in their “Mad Max” style jeeps on the ground, while the father and pilot flew from above in gyrocopters. We made a campfire at night, put the billy on the fire and slept on cots out in the open air, straight from an outback movie scene.

Mustering cattle is a lot harder than it looks!

In the end, was it a great experience and a good cultural exchange. Why not let a cattle ranch family live with a vegetarian and vice versa? How will we ever understand each other if we don’t foster positive friendships? I respect the family for their hard work, dedication to the land and desire to raise cattle who eat real grass and are not confined to a mega factory farm. I now have much more of a real understanding of what happens in an organic cattle farm than I ever did before. If people do eat meat, it should be organic meat…and ideally, that would be the only option. Our land can sustain it (although dairy farming is another issue), and there is no overuse of antibiotics, GMO feed or growth hormones as a result.

Aussie outback: where the earth and sky meet

Some may think that I should have boycotted such a place and never accepted the job. I myself ate meat, including pork, chicken and beef, as a child. Should I be burned at the stake because I ate meat until the age of 21 years old? What makes me better or worse than someone who eats meat now? I originally become a vegetarian for environmental reasons. After 15 years or so, my focus shifted more on health reasons. This year will be my 26th year of having not eaten meat.

An interesting note to all of this is that the husband’s father passed away from colon cancer, in his 50’s. It’s a very sad ending for someone who loved the land so much. And does make one wonder – did eating so much meat, even organic meat, contribute to his ill health?

The one thing I do know is this: acceptance, forgiveness and love are the keys to bridging the gaps that divide us. Whether vegan, vegetarian, breatharian or other…we are all human.

More Travel Tales:

Find out where I moved to….! HINT: It’s a healing place

If you’ve been following my travels and adventures around the world for the last 15+ years, then you know I’ve been to a lot of places! I lived in Thailand for 6 years, traveled all over SE Asia, explored Central and South America for almost a year and most recently, lived in Tel Aviv Israel for the last 2 years. So where do you think I would have moved to next…and how/why did I choose it?

First I have to say that I am sorry for not updating my blog in such a long time! I was super busy in 2015, working at new detox retreats, traveling for work, and being blessed with many new coaching & Iridology clients over Skype. Did I mention that I also left Israel, got married, moved to a new country AND found a house?! Yep, we were beyond busy. And, truth be told, I’m really not a fan of announcing things until they’re a done deal. Luckily, my husband is the same way on this one. We cherish our privacy in making important life decisions, and wanted to stay focused on what was best for us, not getting distracted by other people’s goals or opinions.

More time in nature is cleansing for the soul

More time in nature is cleansing for the soul

Where we ended up

Drumroll please….ok here it is: we are now living near Asheville, NC in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, USA. We have divinely clean well water to drink, fresh mountain air to breathe and are surrounded by mountains, trees and creeks. It’s the most quiet and peaceful place you can imagine.

The best part is that we plan to have cabins and invite people (like you!) here to do detox programs & retreats. Yes, a real chance to unwind, de-stress and get back to basics with 100% organic smoothies, juices and food. Literally, this is the place to feed your soul. We are so excited and have a lot of work to do, but finally I can offer the best detox and fasting programs that I know work with a focus on spiritual growth and health too.

For the summer of 2016, we may just be open for “glamping” …that’s “glamorous camping” in case you didn’t know! Imagine sleeping in a tent right on the edge of a mountain creek with the sounds of water and birds, and open campfires at night under the stars to discuss healing and health topics, or just to play music and get back to living in the moment. We are waiting for you!

We're about 20 miles outside of Asheville in the mountains, real country living!

We’re about 20 miles outside of Asheville in the mountains, real country living!

Why we chose North Carolina

Lots of people want to know – what’s so special about North Carolina?? It all goes back to 16 years ago when I thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, yep…just like the movie A Walk in the Woods. Except I actually finished the whole 2168-mile trail, but that’s another story! Anyway the trail goes through North Carolina and Tennessee through the Great Smoky Mountains, a beautiful area of lush green mountains and wilderness. While on the trail I had heard about the nearby town of Asheville and what a cool place it was. In fact, a lot of people got off the trail to visit Asheville and wound up staying there for good! I didn’t want to stop hiking so I never visited the town, but it stayed with me as a place I would like to check out someday…

Secret pocket of natural beauty - Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina

Secret pocket of natural beauty – Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina

Fast forward 15 years later and I was living in Tel Aviv with my partner. We decided that we wanted to leave Israel for a few years and started thinking about where to go. Out first thoughts were to stay in the Mediterranean region since we both love the climate and the food (mmm…pomegranates and fresh oranges!). We considered Cyprus and even Spain or Portugal; however things seemed to be getting more tense in Europe with migrants, instability, etc and we decided that maybe now is not the best time to move there.

We've got gorgeous fresh local organic fruit and veggies galore in Asheville

We’ve got gorgeous fresh local organic fruit and veggies galore in Asheville

From there, we did the whole “well, where else can we go?” and it just organically, magically and serendipitously fell into place. We had already traveled a lot, in SE Asia, Central America and even South America…and we were pretty sure we knew what we wanted and what we didn’t want. We were ready to grow our own food so we needed clean farmable land and a good source of water. We wanted to be in nature, in the peace and tranquility of mountains and trees. We wanted to be in a safe place where I could feel comfortable walking or hiking alone. We wanted to be closer to my parents, who live in USA and are in good health but are getting older and may need my help more in the next several years. We wanted good internet since we both work online. And we wanted a nice vibe of a place with some type of interesting art and music scene, good farmer’s markets and nice people.

Fresh local (and organic) food - that's my kind of place!

Fresh local (and organic) food – that’s my kind of place!

After scratching our heads for awhile over that long list, I finally said, “Hey I know this place in North Carolina that I always wanted to check out. Why don’t we go there, rent a house for a month and have a look around?” So that’s what we did. Found a place on airbnb and after 2 weeks in Asheville, we both said YES, we really love it here. From there we started looking at property, and as they say, the rest is history.

How can you know it’s right?

Because it feels right. I’ve followed my instincts my whole life, and they haven’t steered me wrong yet. That’s pretty much how I live. I’ve never been one to talk about doing things; I just do them. And I’m not afraid of trying or making a mistake. How will you ever know what you want if you never get out there and give something new a try?

We wanted nice people and good vibes and a chance to live in nature

We wanted nice people and good vibes and a chance to live in nature

You have to take chances in life if you want to really live. I thought about how I wanted to feel in my next home, and I kept that vision strong. Suddenly the idea of Asheville, NC came to my mind and it felt right. Going there confirmed the feeling. Most people think we are pretty crazy for making such a dramatic move, but it seemed perfectly natural and logical to us.

The Law of Attraction really works if you stay focused on what you want (not on what you don’t want). I even got a book deal just from using the Law of Attraction!

What’s better about North Carolina

I get a lot of emails from people who want to move to Thailand, Ecuador or even Costa Rica, and they ask me questions like “how do you compare this country to that one?” or “where should I move?” These are really impossible questions for me to answer because what’s best for me is probably not what’s most important to you (and that’s perfectly ok!). Thailand was an amazing experience and I cherish the 6 years that I lived there. Having walks on the beach and access to tropical fruits was a dream. Eventually I wanted more challenge with my work and I was also seeking a more balanced life (since my whole life was work!). That led me to my (now) husband and moving to Israel which, in my opinion, is one of the most amazing places on earth. To float in the Dead Sea or to wander through the ancient streets of Jerusalem…it’s just pure magic. We lived 300m from the sea in Tel Aviv and I loved having weekends off, like a normal person finally!

We eventually decided that we were craving more time in nature, and a chance to grow our own food. Even though we had access to a weekly CSA delivery in Tel Aviv, it just wasn’t enough. We wanted to know exactly what was in the soil and we wanted the very best water for our vegetables too.

We have a different Tailgate market (aka farmer's market) every day of the week!

We have a different Tailgate market (aka farmer’s market) every day of the week!

The only solution was to move to a place where we could grow our own. In the meantime, we wanted to be able to buy directly from the farmers. Asheville is literally buzzing with farm-to-table restaurants and there is a different organic farmer’s market every day of the week. I was very impressed to see raw goat’s milk for sale, raw sauerkraut and fresh organic wheatgrass shots in addition to the most amazing organic grapes you will ever taste in your life, truly. Quality of food is a huge priority for us and it was at the top of our list in deciding where to go. Next to that, we wanted to be around genuinely nice people, and we definitely found that in Asheville. It’s a sheer pleasure to meet people who are friendly and actually seem happy!

Our neighbors :)

Our neighbors 🙂

We knew we needed a place with good water and we wanted to be able to afford to buy some land too, not a small lot. Again, Asheville ticked all those things for us. And it still has an urban music scene and enough culture to feed our creative souls. I can own land in NC (unlike Thailand); it’s safe to walk around alone as a woman (unlike Ecuador) and the roads are excellent and it’s a safe area to live (unlike Costa Rica). Not to say that you can’t be happy, healthy and successful living in any of those other places, but North Carolina has more of what we need for where we’re at. Since life is impermanent, all of this can and will change!

By the way, did you know that Obama wants to move to Asheville? We had no idea! It would have never been the reason for us to consider this place as a home, but his interest in the area has definitely put Western North Carolina on the map. Now the New York Times, Washington Post and lots of other national newspapers are writing article on Asheville as the newest, coolest place to visit. Interesting!

We're really excited to explore the area - there are a lot of hidden gems (including us!!)

We’re really excited to explore the area – there are a lot of hidden gems (including us!!)

This is truly a healing place. It’s in my vision to have juice fasting, water fasting and spiritual fasting here for the right guests who are interested in genuine healing. I’ll be offering Iridology, Crystal Healing, workshops and detox retreats in addition to fermentation classes, raw food cooking classes and clean food eating. Stay tuned!

Win a FREE Green Smoothie Starter Kit Superfood Bundle!

It’s time for another awesome giveaway! I’ve been lucky enough to team up with the generous folks at Navitas Naturals and they’ve prepared a Superfood Starter Kit for one lucky winner!  This is YOUR chance to win a FREE quality and organic superfoods and get blending to make the best Green Smoothies ever!

Thanks to John Wiley & Sons for gifting a copy of my book Green Smoothies for Dummies to the WINNER too!

Green Smoothie Giveaway

Navitas Naturals Green Smoothie Starter Kit Giveaway: Online Contest

This FREE giveaway is for YOU: 5 Navitas Naturals Superfoods + My NEW Book: Green Smoothies for Dummies
(Over $100+ total value!!!)

How to Sign Up

The more tasks you complete in RaffleCopter, the greater your chances are to WIN!

Good Luck and Healthy Blessings!

Click on the Rafflecopter link to Enter to WIN:

Start Date: 20 April 2015
End Date: 30 April 2015
Winner Announced: 30 April 2015
Open to: US and Canada Addresses ONLY
Prize: Navitas Natural Superfood Bundle and Green Smoothies for Dummies Book

No purchase necessary. 
Contest closes at Midnight (EST), 30 April 2015.
Winner announced at 12pm noon (EST) 30 April 2015 EST on twitter @rawfoodbliss, FB at http://facebook.com/healthybliss and also here on https://healthybliss.net.

Superfoods – Do you need them? (Answer: Yes!)

In my book Green Smoothies for Dummies, I explain how Superfoods can help you get healthier:

What is a Superfood?

“A superfood is a natural food with exceptionally high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, trace minerals, enzymes, proteins, or special healing benefits. Regular food becomes a superfood when it’s nutritionally dense for its particular size and weight. That means that compared to other foods of the same size, a superfood contains even more nutrition and healing power. Think of the difference between regular fuel and premium fuel for your car. That’s the same logic applied to normal food versus superfoods.”

Why Superfoods?

“Superfoods are especially good for anyone trying to reclaim health, increase energy levels, improve endurance, prevent disease, or simply feel better. More nutrition means better health and wellbeing. It’s that easy.

In today’s modern, busy world, most people are deficient in minerals and vitamins — a situation worsened by the stressed-out lifestyles so many people live. Life doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon, so taking a practical approach to nutrition is important. That’s where superfoods really can help you live a better, longer, healthier life.”

Navitas Natural Superfoods

One of the things I recommend when buying superfoods is to make sure you’re buying high quality and organic. Thankfully, Navitas Naturals is virtually a one-stop shop for all your superfoods…everything from maca to lucuma to pomegranate powder and of course wheatgrass, chia, hemp and more; all 100% certified organic. I’ve created what I think is the perfect Starter Kit for Green Smoothies. Here’s what we have in this giveaway:

Hemp Seed – Hemp contains all the amino acids and is a great vegan plant-based protein.

Chia Seeds – A fantastic source of fiber and protein, again great for vegans and vegetarians.

Cacao Powder – Who doesn’t love a good healthy chocolate fix? Add 1 Tbsp to your smoothie for a yummy choco taste.

Wheatgrass Powder – Hey if we’re talking Green Smoothies…we need to have a “green”! Wheatgrass contains all the minerals, making it a perfect food.

Antioxidant Superfruit Mix Blend – I wanted you to get the most bang for your buck on this so I asked for the Goji – Pomegranate – Acai Blend…giving you a chance to high boost on 3 of the most potent healing fruits on the planet!

Don’t want to wait for the giveaway? You can buy these items here and give yourself the gift of health – you deserve it!

Green Smoothies for Dummies: The Book

The winner of this giveaway is getting more than 90 Green Smoothies recipes plus a complete guide to Green Smoothie making, from beginner to expert in my book: Green Smoothie for Dummies. (Actually you’ll get TWO copies!)

(If you already have the book, thanks for your support! And please remember to leave a review on amazon!)

To enter to win, Answer this in the comments below:
What’s your favorite SUPERFOOD to add to your Green Smoothie?
(My answer: Oh no, Can I only choose ONE? Ok, I’m going with HEMP SEED!)

Your comment will not appear immediately as all comments are moderated for spam before approval.

What Magnesium Deficiency Can Do to Your Health

By not having your daily greens, you could be setting yourself up for Magnesium deficiency. When the body is low in Magnesium, many imbalances in health can result, including heart problems, anxiety, kidney disease, constipation, osteoporosis, chronic fatique and even depression.

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.
Green Leafy Vegetables for Health!

Green Leafy Vegetables for Health!

According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, Magnesium is of therapeutic value in treating a myriad of symptoms.

Top 15 Health Conditions Related to Magnesium Deficiency:

1. Anxiety and panic attacks: Magnesium normally helps keep adrenal stress hormones under control.

2. Asthma: Both histamine production and bronchial spasms increase with magnesium deficiency.

3. Blood clots: Magnesium has an important role to play in preventing blood clots and keeping the blood thin without any side effects.

4. Bowel disease: Magnesium deficiency slows down the bowel, causing constipation, which could lead to toxicity and mal-absorption of nutrients as well as colitis.

5. Cystitis: Bladder spasms are worsened by magnesium deficiency.

6. Depression: Serotonin, which elevates mood, is dependent on magnesium. A magnesium deficient brain is also more susceptible to allergens, foreign substances that in rare instances can cause symptoms similar to mental illness.

7. Detoxification: Magnesium is crucial for the removal of toxic substances and heavy metals such as aluminum and lead from the body.

8. Diabetes: Magnesium enhances insulin secretion, facilitating sugar metabolism. Without magnesium, insulin is not able to transfer glucose into cells. Glucose and insulin build up in the blood, causing various types of tissue damage.

9. Fatigue: Magnesium-deficient patients commonly experience fatigue because dozens of enzyme systems are under functioning. An early symptom of magnesium deficiency is fatigue.

10. Heart disease: Magnesium deficiency is common in people with heart disease. Magnesium is administered and hospitals for acute myocardial infarction and cardiac arrhythmia. Like any other muscle, the heart requires magnesium. Magnesium is also used to treat angina, or chest pain.

11. Hypoglycemia: Magnesium keeps insulin under control; without magnesium, episodes of low blood sugar can result.

12. Insomnia: Sleeper regulating melatonin production is disturbs without sufficient magnesium.

13. Kidney disease: Magnesium deficiency contributes to atherosclerotic kidney failure. Magnesium deficiency creates abnormal lipid levels and worsening blood sugar control in kidney transplant patients.

14. Migraine: Serotonin balance is magnesium-dependent. Deficiency of serotonin can result in migraine headaches and depression.

15. Osteoporosis: Use of calcium with vitamin D to enhance calcium absorption without balancing amount of magnesium causes further magnesium deficiency, which triggers a cascade of events leading to bone loss.

Having a Green Smoothie every day is the best way to start getting your body back into balance with the nutrients it needs, naturally. To enrich your diet with Magnesium, increase consumption of green vegetables, nuts, seeds legumes and unprocessed grains. Of course, a daily Green Smoothie will do this for you! Add 1 Tbsp. dried organic Kelp powder to you Green Smoothie for the highest Magnesium-density food there is (100g Kelp has 760mg Magnesium). Add 1 Tbsp. organic Molasses for more Magnesium (100g Molasses has 258mg Magnesium). Molasses is especially good for pregnant women to avoid cramps and premature labor…yes, that can be caused from a simple lack of magnesium!

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Magnesium is 400-600mg daily. For a supplement, you can take 200mg three times daily.

For additional Magnesium, you can also apply Magnesium Oil or Magnesium Spray to your underarms or wrists every day. Or take an epsom salt bath! Known as Transdermal Magnesium Therapy, this is a really good way to supplement the natural diet. There’s a good book on this subject called Transdermal Magnesium Therapy by Marc Sircus. Other foods high in Magnesium include brazil nuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans and filberts. Apricots, dates, figs and avocado are also good sources of Magnesium.

If your goal is to achieve excellent health and longevity, then a good diet filled with natural, whole and pure foods is the key.

Looking for Green Smoothie recipes to eat more high Magnesium foods?

Green Smoothie for DummiesCheck out my NEW book Green Smoothies for Dummies – I’ve got loads of recipes using dark leafy greens so you get easily get you daily dose of Magnesium, naturally.

Did you know that lack of Magnesium can lead to massive sugar cravings? Perhaps you can start to see how your body really works as a whole. A deficiency in one area can lead to other problems somewhere else.

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!

More on Skin Cleansing:

More on Liver Cleansing:

 

Get Affordable Organic Food with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Vegetable Home Delivery

Want to save time and money and get more affordable organic fruits and vegetables? Then check into finding a local CSA for organic home delivery in your area. Community Supported Agriculture or CSA is a way to connect consumers directly to organic farmers. With no store or “middle man” in between, you get more affordable produce that’s fresh and in season.

Get local organic produce delivered to your door & save money too!

How does a CSA work?

Basically, you invest in a “share” of the harvest, meaning you pay in advance for regular deliveries of organic, fresh, seasonal produce from local farmers. Every program varies in what it offers, when and where it is delivered and how much a share costs. Typically, you choose between a “small box” or a “large box” which is delivered weekly on a certain day (say every Tuesday or Thursday). The contents of the box will vary depending on what’s being harvested that week. For example, this week (in summer) in Israel I received: organic tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, dill, parsley, beets, green chives, mint, pumpkin, spinach, Swiss chard, daikon, zucchini and watermelon. Other times I will get garlic, onion, lemons, papaya, apples, melon or kohlrabi with a mix of fresh greens that also vary depending on the time of year. On average, 1 large box will last me about 4-5 days. I usually need to supplement with my own store-bought organic fresh fruit because admittedly, you usually get more veggies than fruit in a CSA box. With the CSA that I belong to, there is also the option to order additional items, including local organic eggs, tahini, honey and olive oil (I don’t order any additional items but I know a lot of people who do). The box is delivered directly from the farm to your door.

The benefits of eating organic food

Organic food is higher in minerals because the soil in which its grown is a much better quality than the over-farmed, depleted and toxic soil you find in industrial farming. Without any hazardous pesticides either, organic food can decrease your risk of allergies, rashes, inflammation and asthma and keep your immune system strong. This is especially important for growing children. Organic food is also not irradiated or genetically modified (GMO), two more processes and man-handling added to the food supply today which can be harmful to your health.

And, my favorite thing about organic food? It tastes way better!!! My fresh organic produce is never bitter or bland. And a better natural taste has to be better for you. Once you try it, you will see for yourself!

The saddest thing I find about organic food is people seem to only invest their money in it at certain times in their life: mainly, when they’re pregnant, sick or have cancer. Outside of that, it can be really hard to convince anyone to spend money on organic veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds and/or grains. Even vegan, raw food, vegetarian and gluten-free folks will often turn their head at the added cost of organic. But why wait until you are sick or pregnant to start eating the best food for your body? If you eat organic food for years before your pregnancy, don’t you think you will be higher in minerals, less toxic and therefore increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby? And perhaps if you invest in some high quality food now, you won’t ever get sick and if you do, you will recover much more quickly. If you put better fuel in your car, it will run better and last longer. Well, let’s add some extra miles to your life and keep your internal engine working great with high-quality organic food! You deserve the very best.

The benefits of using CSA delivery

1. You increase the amount of organic food in your diet.
2. It’s more affordable and fresher than buying organic produce in stores.
3. The fruit and vegetables are locally grown and in season.
4. You’re supporting small local businesses and farmers in your area.
5. You save time and hassle by enjoying home delivery.
6. You naturally get more variety in your diet.
7. You can experiment and try new veggies that you might not otherwise buy (like daikon or kohlrabi).

In fact, I can’t think of any reason not to join a local CSA! To get started, research your local community by googling “CSA organic delivery + your county, city or state” and see what you find. You can also inquire at your local health food store or Wholefoods market.

A good list of Organic Home Delivery farms in USA: Organic Consumers Directory List for USA

In Israel, there are 2 popular CSA services for Tel Aviv: Chubeza and Maggie’s Garden (I personally have tried both and now am happy with Chubeza). Find a complete list of Organic Home Delivery farms in Israel, including Jerusalem, the north to Herzilya and south to Ashkelon here: Times of Israel article on Eating Organic in Israel using local CSA

If you’re using a local CSA in your community, please list the link in the comments below with your city, state and country below and let’s share the good times of eating more natural, whole and pure food! I’m thoroughly enjoying a healthy week with yummy green smoothies, juices, raw food salads and desserts all with beautiful vibrant organic food!

For more on how to start a raw food diet, how to do a detox at home or what minerals you may specifically be deficient in, 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 digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!

More on Organic Food:

Raw Detox Salad Recipe

Eating raw organic food can be so much fun! Check out this gorgeous salad that took only a few minutes to prepare…and it’s full of detox foods to make it a mini-cleansing meal!

Use the healing power of raw foods to create a fantastic detox salad

For the salad add: Chopped rocket leaves, grated carrot, chopped cucumber, fresh mint, parsley, sunflower seeds and top with homemade raw sauerkraut. If you can’t find rocket leaves, then just use fresh chopped spinach or romaine lettuce.

Make the dressing with: Chopped garlic, crushed papaya seeds, extra virgin olive oil, raw organic honey (optional), fresh lemon, a dash of cayenne pepper and Himalayan salt to taste. The papaya seeds should be fresh, from a ripe papaya. I usually set aside some papaya seeds after eating the papaya. Store the seeds in a small jar in the fridge for up to one week. Use a few seeds each time you make this recipe.

What makes this a DETOX salad?

  • Fresh parsley: Kidney cleanse
  • Cayenne, olive oil & lemon: Liver cleanse
  • Garlic & papaya seeds: Anti-parasitic foods (kills germs)
  • Sauerkraut: Natural probiotic (good bacteria)
  • Rocket & cucumber: Skin cleanse
  • Sunflower seeds: Good for glandular system
  • Raw honey: Immune booster
  • Fiber: Colon cleanse

Let Your Food be Your Medicine…..Wow, it’s really true!

Click here to learn how to make fermented cabbage and raw sauerkraut. In a temperate climate, it takes as little as 4 days!

What is DETOX?

The highly refined foods that you eat every day, including sugar and white flour, make you susceptible to intestinal problems, and possible diseases. The average diet today is heavily loaded with chemical additives, flavorings, coloring agents, toxic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other toxic chemicals which overburden our bodies. Add to that work and family-related stress, indigestion, illnesses, constipation and sedentary lifestyles, and you have a recipe for an unhealthy colon and an overweight and tired body. Many health conditions are caused by the combination of processed foods, low fiber diets and poor evacuation of waste.

Periods of abstinence from solid food – a ritual performed since ancient times – can allow the body to “cleanse and purify” or “detox”, that is, to remove toxins, excess fat and even parasites caused by years of ingesting processed food, excess food, refined sugar and wheat and even fast food that eventually impairs the normal functioning and our body’s elimination.

During fasting, large amounts of these accumulated metabolic wastes and poisons are eliminated through the cleansing ability of all the organs of elimination – the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs and skin.

Eating more detox foods in your regular diet is a way to have a “mini-cleanse” on a regular basis and that helps the elimination organs keep us with their daily housework. Eat a detox salad for lunch instead of pizza or Chinese food and you will have better digestion, less headaches or insomnia, improve your skin and increase energy levels, simply by choosing better fuel for your body. A raw food diet is a detox on its own. You can continue for 1, 3 or 7 days on a 100% low fat raw food diet as a way to really give the body a good natural cleanse from the inside-out.

For more on how to start a raw food diet, how to do a detox at home or what minerals you may specifically be deficient in, book a private health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health 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!

More on Raw Food:

How to Ferment Cabbage and Make Raw Sauerkraut

If you think that eating more fresh, natural raw food in your diet is too expensive, then this recipe is definitely for you! Making fermented foods at home is one of the most inexpensive ways to enjoy raw food. For optimal digestive health, we need to get good bacteria in 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.”

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.

How to Make Raw Sauerkraut at home, a healthy naturally fermented food

How can we get good bacteria or “probiotics” back in the gut? The Western diet has virtually eliminated all traditionally fermented foods out of the diet, with the exception of yogurt. Store-bought yogurt is pasteurized, and usually contains added sugar, flavor and colorings. It’s also not a suitable option for vegans, and it’s expensive! Nowadays you will see Kombucha drink as a fermented raw food vegan option. Kombucha is fantastic, but it is also expensive at $6.00 per bottle. You may see sauerkraut for sale in supermarkets, but it’s already been pasteurized, so virtually all of the good bacteria has already been destroyed.

Not to worry! If you have just a few heads of cabbage, some salt and a few jars, you can easily make your own raw sauerkraut at home! It’s so easy to make that you will be wondering why you didn’t make it sooner! Cabbage is not expensive, and once the sauerkraut is made, you only need to add about 2 Tbsp. per day to your salad or veggies to get the good bacteria that your body needs. At that rate, 2 heads of cabbage could easily last up to 2 weeks for a family of 4. That’s some healthy savings!

What You Need: Raw cabbage, salt, a grater and jars

How to Make Homemade Raw Sauerkraut

Raw Sauerkraut: Ingredients

  • 2 medium-large organic green cabbage heads (or purple cabbage)
  • 1-1.5 Tablespoons Himalayan Salt or Pure Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon caraway and/or mustard seeds (optional)
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh dill (optional)
  • 2 organic carrots (optional)

Raw Sauerkraut: Equipment

  • Grater or Mandolin
  • Cutting Board and Knife
  • Large Mixing bowl
  • Wooden Mallet (optional)
  • Large widemouth canning jar (or extra large mason jars)
  • Small glass baby-food jar or small glass cup to fit inside the larger jar
  • Clean rock or other weights to fit inside the small jar (to weigh down the cabbage)
  • Old t-shirt or towel for covering the jar
  • Large plate to catch any overspill

Instructions

Clean all materials before starting. Fermentation can be a sensitive process, and if there is any soap residue in your jars or hand cream chemicals on your hands, the fermenting might not work. I prefer to wash everything with a 50/50 mix of tap water and boiled water. For safety reasons, I do not recommend using 100% boiled water. Be careful not to rinse your jars with only boiling water because the glass can crack. Add tap water first, then some boiled water. Swish everything around and rinse. Wash your hands well with clean water and no soap.

Shred the Cabbage. Peel off the leaves of the cabbage and set them aside for later. Grate the cabbage on the large grate side of the grater or use a mandolin to shred the cabbage. Be sure to use the safety mechanism on the mandolin!

Combine Cabbage and Salt. Place the shredded cabbage to a large bowl and sprinkle some of the salt over top. If you have a wooden mallet, then start pounding the cabbage. If using only hands, then begin massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. In just a few minutes, you should start to see the cabbage becoming watery and limp – this is a good sign! You can add some shredded carrot at this stage too (optional).

Making Raw Sauerkraut: Use a wooden mallet and pound away!

Add the salt. Then start squeezing by hand…

As you squeeze the cabbage, it will start to soften and you should see liquid/water. Put the liquid and cabbage in a glass jar for fermenting, pushing out any air bubbles. You can also add fresh dill, whole mustard seeds or caraway seeds for flavor.

Pack Cabbage and Liquid into Jar. Use your hands to pack the cabbage into the jar, pressing out any air bubbles each time you add more. At this stage, you can add some fresh dill, caraway seeds or mustard seeds for flavor. Pour any excess liquid from the cabbage into the jar. When the jar is nearly full, place a few of the larger outer leaves to cover the surface of the sauerkraut. This helps keep the cabbage submerged.

Gently press out air bubbles. Place some large cabbage leaves on top and be sure that your cabbage is all covered by the liquid. If necessary, add a small amount of water to cover the cabbage.

Cover the Jar. Place your filled jar on a dish, cover it with an old t-shirt or towel and put it in a quiet place to happily start fermenting. Ideally, your jar will be on top on a cabinet or on a table where it will not be disturbed. The best place is away from direct sunlight and at a cool room temperature — ideally 65°F to 75°F.

Place your sauerkraut on a dish or in a large bowl. Usually there will be liquid coming out of the jar as it ferments; this way any liquid escaping is caught and will not make a mess.

Finally, cover your sauerkraut with a towel or old t-shirt and keep it undisturbed. Check once a day, pushing out air bubbles and adding more water if needed. It should be ready in about 4 days.

Check Daily. Once a day, be sure to check your cabbage. Open the lid and push down the cabbage to release any air bubbles. If necessary, add a small amount of additional water and salt. By the 2nd day, the cabbage has usually been pressed down enough that there is some extra space in the jar. At that point, add the small baby-food jar or glass cup with rock inside to keep the cabbage submerged under water.

Taste after 4 days. Small batches of sauerkraut like this can be finished in as little as 4 days. On the 4th day, taste your cabbage. If you’re happy with the results, you can transfer your sauerkraut to the fridge where it will continue to ferment, although much more slowly. You can also keep it out to ferment for up to another 10 days, but you must check it every day, press out any air bubbles and add additional water and salt if necessary.

Note: It’s normal to see air bubbles coming through the cabbage during fermentation. When you press them down daily, you are eliminating the air space between the cabbage. In some cases if you forget a day, you may start to see mold, dark scum or smell a bad odor from the cabbage. If the scum can be skimmed off, then it’s ok to do so. If there is a bad smell or visible mold, I recommend to throw out the batch and start over.

When your sauerkraut is ready, put the large container in the fridge or transfer the sauerkraut to smaller jars and then refrigerate. Raw sauerkraut is a fermented product and will stay fresh for a few months. Once you open a jar and start eating it, it’s best to consume the sauerkraut within 30 days.

After 4 days, start tasting your batch. When you like the taste, you can transfer to smaller jars to put in fridge…or share with family and friends!

Making Large Batches of Sauerkraut

You can make much larger batches of sauerkraut in a ceramic fermentation crock, but the crocks are very expensive. It’s probably a good idea to try fermenting in glass mason jars first and see if you actually enjoy eating sauerkraut before making the investment in a crock. (One benefit of the large crock is that you don’t have to check it daily. The weights in the crock keep the air bubbles out.) Over time, if you find you want to make larger batches, then definitely consider making the leap.

How is Sauerkraut Fermented?

Raw sauerkraut is made by a process called lacto-fermentation. We can ferment cabbage thanks to the good bacteria that naturally exist on the surface of the cabbage leaves (and many other veggies too). Food becomes fermented when the “good” lactobacilli bacteria convert their sugars and starches into lactic acid. This is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. The lactic acid also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine. Sauerkraut contains high levels of glucosinolates. These compounds have been shown to have anti-cancer activity.

The diets of every traditional culture have included some kind of lacto-fermented food. Kimchi from Korea and cortido from Latin America are 2 examples of traditionally fermented vegetables made from lacto-fermentation. In Europe, people fermented sauerkraut, grape leaves, herbs, and root vegetables. Lacto-fermented veggies are nutrient-dense, enzyme rich, a raw food, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free. And they taste yummy too! Fermented cabbage is one of my favorite foods for a mini-daily detox and a balanced raw food diet!

More on Fermented Foods:

Vilcabamba, Ecuador: The Raw Food Valley of Longevity… or Just Hype?

Ecuador is known as a top retirement destination for Americans due to the low cost of living and ease of getting residency, but did you know that it’s also a place for raw foodists and young international families interested in a more simple, natural way of living? Some raw food friends of mine recently moved to Vilcabamba, known to many as the “Valley of Longevity,” and after years of hearing about the place (especially after Mike Adams, Matt Monarch and Angela Stokes moved there), I decided to finally go for a visit and check it out for myself.

The main road entering Vilcabamba, Ecuador aka The Valley of Longevity

My boyfriend and I spent 2.5 months in Vilcabamba. We stayed at the Meditation Center in town for the first 2 weeks until we found a furnished house available for short-term rent. We found a place with gorgeous mountain views and a lot of space (2 bedrooms, an office loft, 2 full bathrooms, a large living area and kitchen) for $900 USD per month. It was less than a 10-minute walk from the center of town. This was perfect for us because we didn’t want a car and we could easily walk to town and buy whatever we needed.

Our home for 2 months…a gorgeous mountain retreat!

Shared pool for the small gated community…it was right next to our house

Open doors in the morning for an absolutely fantastic view of the mountains…close doors 4pm to minimize mosquitos!

Most of our time in Vilcabamba was spent preparing and focusing on the 21-day water fast that we did while there. This was our main goal in renting a house for 2 months – to take a break from all the traveling we’d done through Costa Rica, Guatemala and South America, and to have some quiet time surrounded by nature to fast and rest. What better place to do a detox than in the Valley of Longevity itself?

My first meal (pureed cucumber) after water fasting for 21 days…and NO worms! 🙂

Not to start things on the wrong side, but it has to be said: there are a lot of strange expats in Vilcabamba. You will definitely notice a weird vibe when you arrive to town. It’s a small place, everyone knows each other, and clearly you are the newcomer when you get there. We experienced a lot of long uncomfortable stares from the local “gringos”, to the point where we even googled something like “why is everyone so weird in Vilcabamba” and we actually had a good laugh when we read several travel blogs that reported having the same experience as us. There is definitely a lot of conspiracy theory talk going around about…well, just about everything. It’s almost impossible not to overhear at least one major conspiracy theory conversation per day, especially if you go the the Juice Factory, the main hang-out in the town square where all the gringos converge for a juice, smoothie, salad or the ongoing end-of-the-word discussion. I even heard a story about how the Jesus on the cross was fake, and that the real Jesus was hiding under a pyramid in Egypt… Well, who knows? It could be true!

Odd conversations aside, the Juice Factory has an awesome juice, wheatgrass and smoothie menu!

Admittedly we were a bit disappointed over the lack of normalcy in the people we met. It didn’t take us long to start keeping to ourselves, putting our energy into our preparations for fasting and trying to be friendly as much as we could. Over the course of 2.5 months, we slowly started to meet more gringos who lived further outside of town or who simply kept more to themselves as well, and by the time we were ready to leave, we did actually make some really nice and interesting friends. My best advice in experiencing Vilca is to have an open mind and be patient. There are some really cool people living there; it just might take a bit of time to find them.

People aside, there are a few key practical things that bring expats to Vilcabamba to live. One is the cheap cost of living. Most people are renting houses for about $300 per month. Our house was considered to be very expensive, but we wanted to be in a gated community for safety and security. The other main attraction is the ability to grow your own organic food because there is plenty of land and plenty of water. There are also some people looking to live in a healthy and natural healing environment with a strong sense of community, and although it’s not fully there yet, this movement in Vilcabamba is definitely growing. And many people just want to be “away from it all,” living as far away as possible from the television, media, and “Big Brother” feeling in the Western world.

A 5-star view from our veranda, in Vilcabamba Ecuador

That’s the short of it. Here’s my full list of the Pros and Cons of Vilcabamba:

Vilcabamba, Ecuador: Pros

1. Affordable Organic Food. This was a main attraction for me. Every Saturday there is a great organic market run by Kitzia Kokopelmana where you can find all kinds of fruits, veggies and greens at fantastic prices. Of course, if you stay longer, you would have the option to grow your own. There are many expats selling non-GMO seeds and swapping crops with each other.

Organic produce from Kitzia’s weekly market in Vilcabamba, Ecuador

2. Affordable Housing. There are many options available. Check the notice board at the Juice Factory for postings. We also really enjoyed staying at the Meditation Center in town; it has a great outdoor kitchen and very clean rooms. Bernie, the owner, is a really nice guy and he also happens to be a real estate agent in case you are looking for a home to buy!

3. Nice locals. The Ecuadorian people are very sweet and we really enjoyed speaking our broken Spanish when we could.

4. International delivery is ok. I met some people who ordered supplements from Vitacost and everything seemed to arrive ok. I had a few packages sent from USA that arrived safely (it does take longer than other places, up to 3 weeks for airmail). This becomes very important when you actually decide to live in a place.

5. Relatively Safe. More on this below, but for the most part when comparing to Central America or Colombia, I would consider Ecuador to be much more politically stable and crime-wise a safer choice.

6. Mountain views, rainbows, peaceful feeling. Aren’t we all hoping for more of that in life?

Nice rainbow view from our house in Vilcabamba Ecuador

7. Good climate. It’s not too hot or too cold year-round. You don’t need air-conditioning or heat and that means more fresh mountain air and negative ions for your health!

8. Easy to Get Residency. If you have $25,000 USD in an Ecuadorian bank or the equivalent value in property in Ecuador, you can apply for a resident visa and stay permanently. There seems to be a lots of hoops and paperwork to make this happen, but many people succeed and it’s certainly a reason why a lot of expats move to Ecuador.

9. Many Interesting Activities. Check the notice boards and ask around; you’ll quickly see that there are a lot of good workshops and activities being offered on everything from energy healing to women’s circles to essential oil lessons and much more.

Vilcabamba, Ecuador: Cons

1. Slow internet. This is true for all of Vilcabamba and can really be a problem if you work online (like me!).

2. Expensive Internet. We were shocked how much we paid for a few mice to spin us a connection….it was $84 USD per month!

3. Household items are Very Expensive. Things like pillows, sheets, kitchenware, plastic bins, shower curtains, etc. are extremely expensive in Ecuador. We were really shocked to see this because everyone told us how cheap it was! A plastic bucket could easily cost $5 or $6. That really adds up when you are buying for an entire home!

4. Superfoods and Supplements are Extremely Expensive. So much for the cheap cost of living! Once you get outside of the inexpensive rent, things can start to become expensive in Ecuador. While some superfoods and herbal supplements are available at the Juice Factory, they are really expensive, up to 3x the normal price. Your best bargain at the Juice Factory is the green juice shot made from wheatgrass, kale, parsley, fennel, celery and whatever other local organic greens are in season. Dennis, the owner of the Juice Factory, is a super-nice guy and very helpful by the way. It’s simply difficult to find a good source of organic raw nuts, seeds and dried basic raw food essentials.

5. Difficult to Find Work/Make Money. This is really a problem for a lot of gringos that don’t have an outside source of income. We saw many people trying to sell homemade raw food cookies, cakes and chocolates and hippie jewelry as a way to make money. The high cost of raw food ingredients makes the profit margin for food very low. Your best bet is to arrive with money or have a way to make money outside of Ecuador.

The town’s main square in Vilcabamba, Ecuador

6. Isolated. That can be a pro or a con depending on the individual! It’s a 1-hour drive to the nearest town, Loja, where you can find a large supermarket and the bigger shops. In Vilcabamba itself, there is really nothing but a few cafes and small shops selling essential items.

Not much to do in downtown Vilcabamba…it can be good but definitely isolating

7. Weird-vibes from certain Expat Locals can bring you down. As with any small town, there is a lot of gossip, rumors and even jealousy between gringos. This has a lot to do with #6 (isolated). If you’re prepared for this, you will be fine!

8. Increase in local crime, break-ins and robberies. This goes slightly against #5 of the Pros, but there I compare Ecuador to other countries in Central and South America. You are not likely to get robbed at gunpoint in Vilcabamba, and that is re-assuring. But, burglaries are on the rise. We heard of many break-ins while we were there; most occured while the residents were out to dinner and usually laptops, electronics and cash were stolen. Just before we arrived, there were at least 2 Western women who had been raped (in different incidents). It’s important to be careful. This is one of the main reasons why we chose to pay more money to live in a gated community. Definitely look at the security of your house before you decide to rent.

Vilcabamba can still be a great place to live and a positive experience as long as you stay street-smart and take advantage of all the good things it has to offer.

A lot of people ask me what I thought about Vilcabamba. Many young raw food, vegan and vegetarian couples and families consider moving there because of the ability to live relatively cheaply and still have access to organic food (most of the health-oriented people in Vilcabamba grow their own vegetables, fruits and greens). It’s not easy to describe my experience to others because everyone has different expectations when they travel to a new country to start a new life.

The house had a main living area, 2 separate bedrooms and an upstairs office/loft

Quiet bedroom and lots of nature, ideal for a long water fast…this place was really a perfect detox retreat!

This was the upstairs loft which I used as an office. Great place for meditation or yoga as well!

I really liked Vilcabamba for the few months that I was there, but long-term, I don’t think it’s the place for me, at least not at this stage in my life. I feel a very strong need and pull to be in the mainstream still, to help people understand how to read food labels and look for hidden additives in food, to teach more about raw food and detox, and to show that you don’t need to live in the faraway mountains in order to be healthy. Maybe in a few more years this will change, maybe not. Stayed tuned for more updates, because you will know when I know!

One thing I would definitely recommend is to visit a place first and try to live there for at least 6 months before you seriously considering moving there permanently. Not everyone is able to handle the “mañana” approach in Ecuador (also known as the “mai pen rai” style in Thailand). When we take our Western mind with us, even when we want to “get away,” we may still expect the post office to deliver on time or for the store to open when it says it should or for the correct item to be ordered and delivered. Well, things just don’t happen like that in more relaxed places in the world.

If you decide to go, join the Vilcabamba Facebook page to search for houses to rent and ask any questions to the local expat community.

Top Pick for Vilcabamba

Be sure to check out Elena’s Raw Food Lunch in her private home, a monthly event offered directly from Elena and her husband Vladamir, 2 of the nicest people you will meet in all of Ecuador, and even in the world! Elena has a passion for raw food recipes like no other and every month she offers a new and unique raw food menu for lunch. It’s well worth it to enjoy her creations, and a great way to meet other local raw food people too.

Elena’s Raw Food Lunch is amazing!! Here is her raw pizza with cashew “cheese”

Elena’s raw cacao and coconut cake…this cake alone is a reason to visit Vilca!!

So is Vilcabamba a real Valley of Longevity? Well, maybe yes and maybe no. According to the book The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer by Dan Buettner, Vilcabamba did not make the cut for having a high number of centenarians (people who live over 100) because they don’t have the proper documentation to verify birth records for age verification. Personally, I didn’t see that many healthy old Ecuadorians. Sadly, many of the locals appeared to be overweight and more on the unhealthy side of life.

Beautiful mountains and vistas in Vilcabamba, Ecuador

A word of warning about the salt in Vilcabamba and all of Ecuador/South America for that matter: There is a non-caking agent in the salt called Yellow Prussiate of Soda (YPS) or E535 or 535. This chemical additive can cause an allergic reaction in people resulting in an extremely itchy rash, restless sleep, hot flashes and irritability. I saw many expats in Vilcabamba suffering, especially with rashes. Salt is used in all restaurants (including “healthy” restaurants) contains this additive. I found people very unaware and even ran into problems with one local expat who was selling his own “higher quality” salt that caused a terrible reaction for me; still he swore it was clean. Upon further questioning, he revealed that his product has never actually been tested. In short, do not trust homemade expat labels and check the ingredient list on all other salt. Fluoride is also added to salt in South America so most people do try to avoid buying it, but I did not meet one person who knew the dangers associated with YPS, in my opinion, the much more dangerous ingredient. Stick with Himalayan salt or buy the equivalent large pink salt from Bolivia which can be found in supermarkets in La Paz for $2 per kilo.

We have nice memories of Vilcabamba….thank you!!

Vilcabamba is definitely not for everyone, but it’s still be a good place for a raw food community, and I hope to see it thrive!

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What I Learned from taking a traditional Nutrition Course…and What I Didn’t Learn

I recently completed the Nutrition, Health, and Lifestyle: Issues and Insights Course at Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing. It was an extremely insightful experience to see what a traditional Nutritionist learns and eventually coaches or advocates to their clients.

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.

I decided that it would be a unique “cultural exchange” to experience what traditional Nutritionists learn. Although I did learn a few useful things that I will outline below, for the most part I was shocked and disappointed to see the mis-truths and lack of unbiased information being presented to the students. Well, we all know that industry sponsors many universities through expensive grants, so could we really expect these teaching institutions to maintain an impartial perspective?

Many times during the course, I felt like I was being fed propaganda created directly by the food industry and/or Monsanto themselves. I actually feel bad for anyone who spends the money on a 4-year Nutrition Degree, because they may enter their study with high hopes of helping others, but how can they really help guide others through nutrition and diet when they are being taught lies? It’s truly a shame to see a system that is so broken and so far away from the relevance of a real natural, whole and pure diet and its effect on one’s health.

What I Learned

As I mentioned above, there were a few things that I learned from this course, or at least that I felt were truthful and relevant. They include:

-Professor showed several studies comparing a vegetarian diet to meat-based diet and how vegetarians have reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, etc.

-Professor mentioned that, “Even though we are living longer in the US, we are also living sicker.” I would agree!

-Professional explained superfoods, nutrient-dense foods, phyto-chemicals and importance of nutrients in the diet. Obviously this is important, and was factual in the course.

Superfood are Nutrient-Dense Foods
from Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing

-Professor cited a study that showed vegan and vegetarian diet offer significant benefit in diabetes management. Additionally, it was pointed out that vegan and vegetarian diets also improve plasma lipid concentrations and have been shown to reverse atherosclerosis progression.

-Professor cited the position of the American Dietetic Association that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

-Professor discussed the importance on B12 and Omega 3 Fatty Acids in a vegetarian and/or vegan diet. Certainly important factors to consider, and should be addressed for meat-eaters too!

-Professor accurately showed the excess of salt, fat and sugar in the Standard American Diet and the related high obesity rates in the United States.

Clearly these facts cannot be denied!

Typical American Diet: Excess in Fat, Salt and Sugar
from Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing

United States #2 in Obesity Rates
from Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing

In summary, some good information about the benefits of a vegetarian and/or vegan diet was presented, and some factual information on obesity and the lack of fruits and vegetables in the Standard American (SAD) Diet was mentioned.

The other parts of the course are where I found myself wincing and shaking my head in utter dismay.

What I Didn’t Learn

Most notable items not addressed, under-addressed or mis-addressed in this course:

-Professor downplayed any danger associated with GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) foods, saying that “GMO has been around for centuries and centuries” and then stated that GMO has been around for “thousands of years.”

How did they isolate proteins in labs thousands of years ago exactly?

-Professor mentioned soy as a complete protein but of course no mention that 94% of soy in the USA is GMO and no mention or even peep about consuming GMO foods in relation to higher risk of infertility and food allergies.

Isn’t this of utmost importance when working with people and the nutritional relevance of their diet to health?

-Professor stated that, “Consumers may need to educate themselves before they jump on the bandwagon of something that they don’t understand,” and went on to add that with GMO foods “we are feeding areas of the world that don’t have the distribution and supply that we have.”

Spoon-fed propaganda from Monsanto PR…or what?

Anyone who is working with nutrition and food allergies, autism, ADHD and infertility (all of which have completed skyrocketed in the last decade worldwide) knows that something has seriously gone wrong.

If you are unsure in any way, please watch these documentaries on GMO foods and health: “The World According to Monsanto,” “Food, Inc.,” “The Future of Food,” “Seeds of Freedom,” “Genetic Roulette,” “Scientists Under Attack,” and “The GMO Trilogy.” Some of these documentaries can be watched for FREE online at http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/.

I also highly recommend the book The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It by Robyn O’Brien for extensively researched information and links to studies on GMO foods and food allergies. An excellent read for anyone looking to learn more on the subject of GMO foods and health!

Yes, it is true that we need to educate ourselves!

-Professor downplayed importance of organic foods, stating that “an organic apple is not going to be more nutritious than a conventionally grown apple.”

No mention of pesticides, GMO proteins or the simple fact that organic soil has more nutrients in the soil. How, why?? How can a “qualified” Nutritionist ignore the nutritional value of organic food?

In fact, reviews of multiple studies show that organic varieties do provide significantly greater levels of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus than non-organic varieties of the same foods (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20359265).

Organic food has been shown to have higher nutrient concentrations,
yet Vanderbilt University’s Nutrition Course says: No Difference.

-Professor advocated the use of “fortified foods” as a way to increase nutrient consumption, specifically advocating milk fortified with Vitamin D, fortified breakfast cereals, and fortified sports drinks like Gatorade.

Why ignore the value of organic whole foods yet advocate processed foods that are chemically fortified with inorganic vitamins and minerals? No mention of the antibiotics and hormones in conventional milk, the added sugar in breakfast cereals or the chemical colorings in sports drinks. Wow.

-Professor downplayed the dangers of chemical food additives in the diet.

In my professional experience, more people are being affected by all types of food additives more than ever before, because food additives are being used in food more than ever before!

Flavor enhancers (MSG, ribonucleotide), nitrates, sulfites, aspartame and other artificial sweeteners and chemical colorings are creating an absolute health epidemic! To gloss over this issue and to not acknowledge the danger of food additives in relation to nutrition and health is both irresponsible and just plain idiotic. I’m truly devastated to see the education so lacking on this topic. Sadly, the food industry has a lot of money to hide the truth.

Nutrition Courses teach that MSG is “Generally Recognized as Safe” or GRAS
from Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing

Because Monosodium Glutamate was used in foods before 1958, the FDA considers it as “Generally Recognized as Safe” or GRAS. Other foods which are categorized as GRAS are salt, pepper, vinegar and baking powder. How is it possible that MSG is considered as safe as vinegar? And hasn’t the amounts of concentrations of MSG increased in foods since 1958, making it a higher risk contaminant and something that should be re-evaluated in the interest of public health and safety?

The worst part of all is that this is what Nutritionists are learning in school. Will they be able to identify an MSG intolerance in their client? Chances are extremely slim, because they are taught that MSG is “safe!” I cannot count how many clients I have worked with suffering from migraines, insomnia, depression, heart palpitations, anxiety, vertigo, itchy rashes, puffiness, sensitivity to light and sound and even behavioral and learning problems in children: all of which were reversed when we removed MSG and/or Ribonucleotides and all hidden forms of MSG out of the diet.

You cannot advise people on food and not take into account the potential effect of chemical food additives!

-Professor spoke with David McCarty, Senior VP Operations of Smart Balance spreads for 30 minutes and praised his product line for being a good source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids and for being a “heart-friendly” food.

Smart Balance “butter” is not something that I even consider a FOOD!

What is natural about spreadable butter containing genetically modified (GMO) soy and artificial flavor which is surely where they are hiding the salty, savory flavor enhancers and/or some hidden form of MSG to actually give this greasy mess some type of taste that is palatable to humans?

How are consumers protected when food companies “self-regulate”?
from Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing

If you are a non-vegan, you are much better off eating REAL butter with 2 simple ingredients: butter and salt. I am amazed to see Smart Balance call itself a “heart healthy” food when Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is known to cause heart palpitations. People may eat this mess and think they are having a heart attack!

Vegans can simply use extra-virgin olive oil, an organic almond butter or tahini (sesame seed) paste. People on a raw food vegan diet will not need any spread to put on bread, and they can use fresh lime or lime for salad dressing and add tahini to a raw cracker. Easy!

To summarize, I do not feel that I wasted my time by taking a traditional nutrition class. Actually, I would recommend it to anyone working with nutrition, diet, people and food. It’s important to know what the “mainstream” teaches in order to have a better understanding of what your client may have faced previously by seeing a traditional nutritionist in the past.

That said, there still may be some nutritionists who think and learn outside of the box and may actually have an awareness of other factors that affect food and health, mainly GMO foods, quality of food (organic vs. conventional) and the relation of food additives to health. As a client, the best thing to do is to check your nutritionist’s website or ask them if they will go to the level of food additives and food quality during your session. If they reply that their approach is centered only around protein, carbs, fats, minerals and vitamins, then please take my advice: keep shopping until you find someone who will go deeper to help you have the best health ever…because you deserve the very best, in food and in health!

For information on how to work with me for Your Best Health, please go to my Coaching Page.

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