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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:

Are farmers getting CANCER from pesticides sold at Home Depot?

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

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

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

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

It’s not only in the United States

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

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

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

Link to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

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

Symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:

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

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

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

Farmers using this pesticide who got NHL cancer

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

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

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

(The above info resource link here.) 

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

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

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

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

The numbers say it all

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

What You can do: 5 Easy Steps

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

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

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

How to Eat Clean: Start with Green Smoothies!

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

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

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

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

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


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

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Coaching Session:

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


More on Food Labels:

More on Food Additives and Food Allergies:

More on Genetically Engineering Foods:

The BEST natural remedy for your pet’s health!

In a recent blogpost, I praised the healing powers of castor oil. But what I wanted to share with you today was how we even use castor oil on our dog. In my opinion, it’s simply the best natural remedy to have at home for pets. You can use it on your pets 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. 

Finally, a chance to feature Ella on my blog <3

Ella has benefited from the healing effects of castor oil. After she got spayed, she was understandably in a lot of pain. I was worried because she’s a big dog (more than 85 pounds of pure Great Pyrenees love) and she was having a difficult time walking after the procedure. When she arrived home, I immediately applied castor oil on her belly around the incision, but not directly on the stitches. I noticed an almost immediate improvement in her pain levels and ability to get up/walk/move in just a few hours. I continued to apply it twice daily for 2 weeks after her surgery. She healed perfectly with no infections or problems. I do believe the castor oil sped up the process of healing for her. Funny enough, during that time I noticed she would lick my hands after I applied the oil and I realized that she really liked the taste! So, I started adding 1 Tbsp. of castor oil to her food daily. After a few months of her eating this small amount of castor oil daily, I really noticed a major improvement in her coat. Her hair was thicker, softer and fuller…to the point where now, people comment on her fur every time we take her out. “That’s the fluffiest dog I’ve ever seen!” is something we hear all the time now. Before the castor oil, I cannot recall anyone commenting on her fur. One small word of advice on this – if you do decide to give castor oil to your dog, only add it once a day and to the morning food only. Because castor oil does have a natural laxative effect, adding it to an evening meal can make a dog have to go in the middle of the night. And I’m sure neither you nor your dog wants that!

After so much success with castor oil, I did some further research and found that it’s also helpful for ear infections, ringworm, itchy rashes, ear mites and even fleas. I immediately thought again of our lovely dog Ella and how she was often irritated with her ears, trying to scratch or shake her head all too often. Many times, I would check her ears and could see signs of red inflammation.

So, I bought a glass dropper and poured castor oil pus several drops of organic tea tree oil inside. Now, when I see her having any ear problems, I will place 1-2 drops of organic castor oil in each ear and rub the ear after. I try to do this at night before she goes to bed. Amazingly, the next day I can see that she’s no longer irritated, no longer scratching and when I check the ears, they are a good healthy color again.

I love having natural remedies that work for everyone at home, including our animals!

More Motivation:

Can your eyes change colors on a juice fast?

This is a question that I’ve been asked a lot over the years: “Can my eyes change colors from doing a detox, juice fast, master cleanse or even from becoming vegan/vegetarian?”

The other question that a lot of people have is: “Should my eyes change colors if I am doing a lot of detox, and if they are not changing, does that mean the cleanse or master fast isn’t working?”

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. 

Iridology and Detox/Fasting/Cleansing

First, let me address the first question; that is, can the eyes change? The short answer is: Yes. (The long answer is: No.) Keep reading to find out why!

What can happen in certain eye colors is that layers of coloration can dissipate after the body gets cleaner, whether it’s from a detox or positive change in diet. The most common color changes you may experience are:

  • Green eye turning blue
  • Grey eye turning blue
  • Brown eye turning green

Let me explain each one.

1. Green eye turning blue. The green hue usually occurs from a buildup of uric acid in the body. In Iridology, we would call this a “uric acid subtype by color.” During cleansing or a significant change in diet, old, accumulated uric acid waste may be released through the kidneys and skin. Often times this person had a history of skin problems before. The skin is sometimes called the “3rd kidney,” because when the kidneys are overworked, they will often give their excess work to the skin. The real problem behind the scenes is the kidneys and poor elimination of metabolic wastes. Once the uric acid is released, the yellow hue on the eye may lessen, making a green eye appear more blue in color. (It was always a blue eye actually, which is why the long answer is: No. More on that below….)

2.  Grey eye turning blue. A grey eye may have an over acid condition in the body. In Iridology, we would call this an “over acid subtype by color.” From a distance, the eye looks grey but when you look up close, you can see more white fibers on top of the blue fibers. This may indicate an imbalance of pH in the body. Usually it comes from too many acid-forming foods in the diet (such as coffee, wheat, refined sugar, processed foods), and not enough alkaline-forming foods (fresh fruits and vegetables). Prescription medication can also make the body acidic. A chronic over-acid condition in the body creates a tendency to be more stiff in the joints and a higher risk for a weakened immune system. Many people will suffer from chronic acid reflux or GERD for years, not knowing that the acid problem they have is actually a huge red warning flag for their health. The body is trying to expel the excess acid waste on its own! Eventually you may be more likely to have another health problem down the road, whether it be arthritis, gastritis, diverticulitis, auto-immune disease or even cancer. When a person switches to an alkaline diet (more fruits and vegetables) or does any type of detox that flushes out acid waste, those white fibers in the eyes may start to fade. The end result is that the blue fibers underneath start showing more, and the eye appears to have changed in color, from grey to blue.

3.  Brown eye turning green. This is probably the most profound change you may see, and that’s a brown eye changing color to green, or even in some cases blue. How is it even possible? The “brown” eye is a “mixed eye color” in Iridology, or a Biliary constitution. It’s not actually a true brown eye. While from a distance it can appear more brown in color, when you look up close you will see yellow, orange, brown and sometimes even blue fibers in the eye. In a true brown eye, you will see only brown up close. The “mixed eye” is what I call a “mood ring eye” or a “cat eye.” It’s very changeable in color, depending on the lighting and background colors. Different conditions in lighting may pick up different colors in the eye, making it appear more or less yellow, orange, etc. My clients with this eye color will sometimes tell me they have a “honey colored eye.” During the process of cleansing, as the kidneys strengthen and the overall toxicity lessens, these darker colors may start to break up in the eye. The yellow and blue fibers remaining may make the eye appear green. In some cases, the yellow fibers may also lessen in color, leaving more blue fibers and giving the look of a blue eye.

You may be wondering, “Why is the long answer “No”?” In Iridology, there is no such thing as a green eye, a grey eye or an amber, light brown or honey-colored eye. There are only 2 natural eye colors: blue (Lymphatic constitution) and true brown (Hematogenic constitution). Those honey eyes are known are the “mixed eye” color, or Biliary constitution. Biliary eyes can also be brown, darker brown, green or orange in color. (Note: it’s not always easy to identify the difference between a Lymphatic and Biliary person and always better to consult with a Certified Iridologist.) In Iridology, a “green eye” is a blue eye with a yellow hue (it could be uric acid but may also be other things as well/uric acid is the most common). The “grey eye” is a blue eye that may have toxicity in the colon or an over-acid subtype by color (it may also be other things as well). A “brown eye” may be a blue eye with several other subtypes by structure or color, making the eye appear brown in color from a distance. So, you can see how the eyes don’t really change in color after all; they just start showing their original, dominant color more. Of course, healing occurred still, and that’s what is most important!

As an experienced Iridologist, I can tell you many stories about eyes I’ve seen change over the years and health conditions that improved for people after fasting. Could it just be a coincidence? Maybe or maybe not!

  • Stomach enzymes may improve
  • Overall pH can may more alkaline
  • Uric acid may be released
  • Skin may show healing
  • Lymphatic system may clear
  • Blood may become cleaner and more active (more “chi energy in the body”)
  • Kidneys may strengthen
  • Colon may clear toxins/mucous
  • Liver may improve
  • Layers of toxic accumulation may release
  • Stress and old tension may be released
  • Even molecules of emotion may release!

Note: Iridology does NOT diagnose disease.

Many changes that may appear in the eye are too subtle for an untrained eye to see. Usually it will take at least 10 days of cleansing (and preferably more, up to 21 days is better) to see real changes in the iris. Don’t try to identify markers yourself, unless you are working with a qualified Iridologist. The reason why is that you may not catch all the important points to consider, and you may not understand how certain markers affect other markers in the eye. And of course, you probably won’t know which things should change first and which marks may take longer to change, if at all. That can set you up for unnecessary disappointment and/or unrealistic expectations in your healing.

That leads me to the final question: “Should my eyes change colors if I am doing a lot of detox, and if they are not changing, does that mean the cleanse or master fast isn’t working?”

Not everyone is going to experience a dramatic eye color change with their healing journey. That said, an Iridologist should be able to see some positive change still, even if it’s not a full change in eye color. Some markings in Iridology are inherent, meaning they will not change. Most important is to pay attention to how you feel and what your body is showing you. Are your energy levels better, has your sleep improved, are your eyes brighter in the whites (or sclera), is your mind sharper, has your body odor lessened, has your elimination improved? Are you feeling happier and more at peace with yourself? If you’ve answered yes to most of those questions, then your detox program has worked and you should consider it a success, regardless of your eye color!

One more important point, not to be underestimated. There are 2 parts to healing, don’t forget: 1/2 is elimination and the other 1/2 is rebuilding. Too often people get locked into the detox-detox-detox phase and they forget to stop and rebuild. Too much elimination leads to a low vitamin, mineral and alkaline reserve. Other people swing back and forth from detox to retox. And the retox never involves clean eating or a consistently healthy diet. That can set a person up for deficiencies too. Those deficiencies will show up in the eyes. That person may expect their eyes to be perfect in an Iridology reading because they’ve done so much fasting, but I will see right away that the body is out of balance still. As the saying goes, “The eyes never lie.” In all my years of working with Iridology, I can definitely say that is very true!

Remember: Balance is the key to success in life. Good luck and happy detoxing!


For more on how to do a detox at home, plan a successful post-detox or to get your Iridology reading, book a personalized health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Consultation:

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

Easy Recipe: Make organic pickles at home!

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

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

Health benefits of Fermented Foods

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

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

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

Homemade pickles have no food additives!

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

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

Examples of Yellow #5 in pickles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choosing organic ingredients

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

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

Remember to cut off the blossom ends!

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

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

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

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

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

The stem end has a smooth, indented dot

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

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

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

Recipe for Organic Pickles

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

Pickling Ingredients

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

Pickling Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Homemade Pickle Eat-by Date

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

My Pickle Detox/Cleanse

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

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


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

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Consultation:

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

How to make a Castor Oil Pack for Healing, Pain Relief or Detox

Castor oil has been making a huge comeback recently with the rise of young Instagrammers applying it to their hair (and even eyelashes) for shinier, thicker and longer locks. But did you know there are many other ways to use castor oil for natural healing? Once you start using castor oil, you will seriously be amazed and wonder, “How did I not know about this before?”!

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. 

Discover the ancient medicinal properties of Castor Oil

What is Castor Oil

Castor oil comes from the castor plant that grows castor beans. The castor bean plant originated in Egypt and was used for medicinal purposes in the Middle East as much as 5,000 years ago! In the old days, many people used castor oil to help promote a bowel movement and prevent constipation. You may remember your grandmother having 1 spoonful of castor oil a day for good gut health. But way before that, castor oil was commonly applied topically for healing cuts, wounds, injuries, muscle pain, body pain, menstrual pain, and in many cases even healing internal infections, disease and imbalance. So much so that in the Middle Ages, castor oil was actually known as “Palma Christi,” perhaps because people believed that anywhere you applied the oil was like having the “Palm of Christ” applied to that area, often offering instant and miraculous healing.

What can Castor Oil do

Edgar Cayce was a medical intuitive who used castor oil for healing hundreds of patients. Dr. William McGarey, MD eventually picked up where Casey left off, helping thousands of patients using castor oil for various ailments over the course of 20 years. In his book, The Oil that Heals: A Physician’s Success with Castor Oil Treatments , he lists many cases of castor oil working very well for healing. Open festering wounds that would not heal started to miraculously dry and close after applying castor oil daily. Ringworm and other fungal infections on the skin were healed after applying castor oil to the affected area. And amazingly, people who complained of gallbladder pain often had zero reoccurrence after several rounds of applying castor oil directly to the skin on the right side of the abdomen with a heating pad, otherwise known as a “castor oil pack.” Knee pain, shoulder pain, joint pain, muscle pain, sports injuries, sprained ankles, wrist pain, hernias, bowel obstructions, pain after surgery, arthritic pain, even skin cancers – all seemed to improve after applying a castor oil pack topically to the affected area. Some people say that castor oil can also be taken to help induce labor ( but remember: always check with your doctor first).

In his book, Dr. McGarey wrote, “The most obvious effect I found in treating the body using a castor oil pack was the enhancement of the immune system. As a portion of their duties, the lymphatics – part of the immune system – drain all parts of the body. When the tissues in any area of the body are cleansed by the eliminatory process, the cells are in much better condition to work normally – and the activity of the immune bodies and substances are able better to do their job in defending the body or rebuilding it.”

Wow! With nothing to lose and possibly so much to gain, why not give the old school castor oil pack a try?!

How to Apply a Castor Oil Pack

To make your own Castor Oil Pack at home, you need these 4 items:

  • Castor Oil (preferably organic castor oil)
  • Wool Cloth
  • Heating Pad
  • Old towel (either hand towel or bath towel size)

To make things as easy as possible, look for the Heritage brand “Castor Oil Kit” for sale on amazon or iherb. The kit contains both a wool cloth and castor oil, so it’s a great starter for making castor oil packs at home. The only thing is that the kit has regular castor oil and not organic castor oil. If you want to start with organic castor oil from the get-go, you can buy the wool cloth and the organic castor oil separately. What I did was I bought the kit first, and then upgraded to organic castor oil when I ran out of the oil in the kit. Either way will work! (Each person should have their own flannel so if you’re planning to do castor oil packs with your partner, friend or family member, then every person ideally has their own wool cloth. Best not to share your wool cloth with other people.)

With castor oil, you always want to choose a high quality cold-pressed oil. Don’t go for cheap, low-quality alternatives that may have been heated to a high temperature in processing.

Next item you will need is a heating pad. I bought my heating pad on amazon. (Note: If you live in a 220V country, you will need a heating pad for 220V voltage outlets.) Alternatively, if you don’t like or don’t have a heating pad, you can use a good old-fashioned hot water bottle.

I also use an old towel to keep the oil away from sheets or clothing. Castor oil is sometimes known to stain material, so having a towel to catch any oil can help to keep things white and bright.

Apply the Castor Oil Pack

  1. Lay down and get comfortable with whatever you may need for 40-60 minutes (book, water, phone, TV remote (to watch a health DVD of course), iPad (to read my book on Green Smoothies – hint, hint!).  I will usually do a castor oil pack before bed so I can just fall asleep with the heating pad on (I use a heating pad with a 2-hour timer).
  2. Plug the heating pad in and have it ready to apply.
  3. Apply a generous amount of castor oil topically to the affected area. I will usually add a palm-sized area of oil. The goal is to cover the skin area you are working on with a layer of castor oil.
  4. Immediately put the wool cloth on top of the oil.
  5. On top of the wool cloth, add your old towel.
  6. On top of the towel, place the heating pad. Turn the heating pad on. Heat helps the skin (and body) absorb the castor oil more quickly and efficiently.
  7. You’ve now made a Castor Oil Pack! It’s a “sandwich” of 4 layers directly on the skin: castor oil, wool cloth, old towel and heating pad on top.
  8. Now, relax and think of all the good you are doing for your body!
  9. Keep the heating pad on for at least 40 minutes, up to 60 minutes.
  10. Then, remove the heating pad and turn it off. Wipe the skin dry with a clean towel. You can store the wool cloth in a clean ziplock bag for future use (I simply wrap my wool flannel cloth in the old towel and store them together).

Congratulations! You can now use castor oil to help heal the body or promote detoxification.

If you’re interested in knowing more about healing power of castor oil, I highly recommend the book called The Oil that Heals: A Physician’s Success with Castor Oil Treatments by William McGarey.

My experience with Castor Oil

I’ve personally seen some pretty amazing results with castor oil. I’ve done many castor oil packs on my liver (abdomen right side area) during colon cleanses, after a liver/gallstone flush or even if I’m just feeling tired or sluggish, after a long-haul flight for example if I’ve got a bit of jet lag. I’ve also personally had menstrual pain go away completely in 30 minutes or less after applying a castor oil pack to my lower abdomen (I’ve never experienced heavier bleeding as a result). I always feel better after a castor oil pack.  I’ve used castor oil to eradicate ringworm, both on myself and on our dogs and cats, with outstanding success. (For more info on fungal infections, check out my article – What is Ringworm and How to Treat it Naturally.) Castor oil is definitely a staple item in our house and I seem to continue to find more uses for it all the time.

Often I recommend Castor Oil to my Iridology and Health Coaching clients, for anything from liver/gallstone pain to skin rashes to arthritis to Fibromyalgia, in addition to what their medical doctor recommended and after seeking approval from their doctor first, of course.

My husband was sold on castor oil after he healed a neck and shoulder injury in less than 24 hours. Several months ago, he fell while going up the stairs at home. At the time, he was holding things in both arms (and going up the stars too fast, in a hurry) so when he tripped on a stair, he didn’t have a free hand to catch the fall. He wound up stumbling hard into the stair with his shoulder/neck. Yes, ouch! Poor fella was in a lot of pain and could barely move his head from side to side. I immediately applied castor oil directly on his neck, with a wool cloth and heating pad and had him lie down for 45 minutes. Afterwards, he was feeling better but the neck was still stiff. That night, we applied another castor oil pack on his neck and he went to sleep with it on. The next morning, he was 100% back to normal with no pain, no stiffness and full range of motion in the neck. He was totally amazed! He commented that had it happened a few years ago, he would’ve been feeling bad for a week!

Read more information on the liver and liver cleansing here:

Liver Flush Detox Drink – Recipe for a Daily Liver Cleanse

Gallstone Liver Flush – Recipe & Cleanse Info

How to Do a Coffee Enema at Home

How to Do Onion Socks for Healing


What’s your success story with Castor Oil? Having natural tools for healing is truly a blessing. I love to hear new ways to use castor oil, so please share your experience in the comments below!


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Our Farmhouse Kitchen for under $3K!! Before and After DIY Makeover

If you’re like me, then you spend a lot of time in your kitchen. Chopping, grating, slicing, juicing, fermenting, harvesting, cleaning….the list goes on and on! The kitchen should be a room you love, otherwise you won’t want to spend any time there at all. If you can’t find the knife or cutting board you need, it becomes a hassle. Organized cupboards, dried foods and easy access to appliances make a whole world of difference. A nice vibe and a personal touch in the decor always give a good positive energy flow to the space. Changes to your diet and lifestyle have to start in the kitchen!

We recently did a DIY kitchen makeover, from a bad 80’s sitcom feel to a cool and funky farmhouse kitchen…and now our kitchen is a space I love! It’s a fun and organic feel. And for those of you on a budget, you’ll be excited to know that we did everything for under $3000! Now that IS amazing. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to put a new spin and fresh look on your old dark and dated kitchen. Trust me! Here I’m going to share the results!

Farm Kitchen DIY – Before and After pics

The 80’s Kitchen Before

We definitely did not choose our house for the kitchen, to say the least. It’s small and a bit strange in its layout, with the sink by itself against a wall and not under the windows facing outside. The dark oak cabinets were screaming 1981 and my dreams of having a fresh clean modern kitchen were not reflecting reality at all. But, we fell in love with the land (for starting an organic farm) and the area (an all farming area in the mountains of North Carolina) and the rest of the house was nice too so it’s all good.

Farmhouse Kitchen Makeover BEFORE

The Farmhouse Kitchen After

Since we may rehab the entire kitchen in a few years, we didn’t want to waste money on new cabinets or counter-tops or even a new layout yet. Our goal was to give the kitchen we have a decent enough facelift to actually enjoy the space and start having fun preparing lots of healthy food, straight from our veggie garden. Because I was working with existing cabinets and counter-tops, I decided to go for a farmhouse look because a modern design wasn’t possible with what we had. Initially I figured the rehab would take 2 months. In the end, it took 6 months to complete. Well, everyone says these DIY’s take longer than you expect (without a full crew working on it like in those 30-minute HGTV shows that make everything look far, far too easy!).

Farmhouse Kitchen Makeover AFTER

Farmhouse DIY Makeover List of What we Did

1. Popcorn ceiling removal – we did this ourselves and it all crumbled off with wet rags, no scraping or spraying at all. Took 2 days in total to complete. (Then we went to Vegas for the weekend, true!)

2. Painted old light fixtures. No idea why but the previous owners had painted the discs red/orange so I painted them white. 1 day.

3. Walls and trim sanded, primed and painted. The old kitchen had a strange greenish paint that had a slight texture which has to be sanded and the trim was a bright orange/red. Yes, time to GO! This was a BIG job. We moved everything to one side and painted 1/2 the kitchen then moved everything to the other side and painted the other half. The paint we used for the walls is Pratt & Lambert “Winchester” in semi-gloss and for the trim, a semi-gloss white.  I also added beadboard wallpaper to the kitchen peninsula and painted it too. Beadboard wallpaper is amazing! 1 week.

Bye bye green walls! What a difference a coat of paint makes.

4. Cabinets primed and painted white, with beadboard wallpaper added and painted, then installed oil rubbed bronze hardware. I got the cabinet pulls/knobs and cabinet handles from amazon and drilled all the holes myself. Definitely buy the cabinet hardware drilling template if you are going to do this step yourself. This was a huge job that I hope to never have to do again! 1 week.

Kitchen Oak Cabinets BEFORE painting – Kitchen Makeover

 

Painted Kitchen Cabinets – AFTER with new hardware – Kitchen Makeover

5. Also painted a pull out cart next to the stove which was originally purple (yes purple). I painted it gray to match the counter tops. Later we realized that the shelf on this cart was too high for the magnetic knife strips on the wall, so my husband cut off one shelf. I then put wood filler in the gaps, then sand prime and paint again. 2 days.

Note the purple pull out cart next to the oven (it holds baking trays and drying racks inside)

 

The pull out cart next to the oven now painted in grey (and notice the new barn house style pocket door)

6. Finally we were ready to put up the farmhouse shelves! I forgot to mention that my husband pulled down the wall cabinets before we painted the walls. It was a bit of a spontaneous decision. We were both working in the kitchen preparing the walls one day and all of a sudden he said, “I’m taking these down!” And that was that. We had looked at photos or farmhouse wood shelves before that but hadn’t decided to do it or not. Well, in that moment we pretty much decided to go for it! After painting the walls, we measured the space and went to Lowes to buy wood. I had done A LOT of research checking blogs for farm style kitchen shelves, and wasn’t able to find exactly what I wanted which was a thick wood floating shelf without having to make a hollow wood shelf and without spending a lot of money on expensive wood. In the end, we bought simple pine 2 -inch thick shelves (that’s 2x12x12) and here’s a tip: Lowes will even cut the wood for you, just bring the measurements!

7. Farmhouse shelves phase 1: Sanding and staining. We decided on 3 shelves on one wall and 2 on the wall with the stove. Also we took out the old cabinet above the fridge and measure out space for shelves there too. I sanded and stained everything myself (phew!). The stain we used was Minwax Early American, left on the wood for 10 minutes. But, I used a pre-stain wood conditioner first which I think is an important step! Then I left to dry overnight and applied butcher block oil. I didn’t want to use any varnish because of the nasty chemical smells. This took 3 long days.

Sanding and staining the farm house style shelves

8. Farmhouse shelves Phase 2: Hanging the shelves. Prepare yourself for lots of measuring, and checking the level many times. We marked all the studs before painting because I knew with shelves like this, we had to hang them in the studs. Almost all the brackets got in studs with the exception of one, so I’d say we did ok! For the brackets, I found nice 8″L x 6″ H hand-made steel metal brackets on amazon. It comes in different sizes for different widths of shelves. We chose wood for a 12-inch width shelf after I measured our dinner plates and largest bowls. 2 days.

Measuring and installing the brackets for farmhouse kitchen shelves

The wood farm style shelves are up – yay!!

9. Hanging new lights – We installed a new ceiling light above the kitchen table and also put up a few battery-operated under the cabinet lights which went under the bottom kitchen shelf. We have very dated and 80’s style track lighting as well, but we weren’t up to the task of changing that just yet, so instead just installed Edison style LED light bulbs. 1 day.

10. Farmhouse doors – how could I forget my favorite part of the kitchen – our farmhouse style doors! We installed one to the pantry (where previously there was a bright red/orange door). Then we installed a new pocket door from the kitchen to the wood stove room, so we could close the kitchen if need be (if a guest is sleeping in the other room for example). The doors were a special order from Home Depot, then were stained in the same way as the shelves. I love these doors! 1 week (it took time for our carpenter to make the pocket door frame and we had to drywall, prime paint, etc after).

DIY Kitchen Makeover BEFORE – the old red/orange pantry door

DIY Kitchen Makeover AFTER – the new barn style pantry door LOVE!

11. New oven – By this point of the makeover it was the end of December (we had started in September), and I said to my husband, “Would it be great if we could get a new oven..like a Viking industrial oven?”  We started reading reviews and were going “wow” then looking at the price and saying “hmmm..” Literally a few days later we went to Habitat for Humanity and found a Dacor brand convection bake oven, already set for propane gas, for $500. It was unreal. And it fit into the space like a glove. Totally manifested it! This oven new sells for over $5K!! We were over the moon. 1 day.

12. Oven installation – had to get an electrician to install the 240V line for the oven, cost about $200. As you can see all of this was almost 1/3 of the $3000 we spent…and in that budget we still landed a $5K oven! This was over xmas/new year and it took some time to book the electrician.  2 weeks.

Oven envy! LOVE our Dacor convection oven, bought used

13. New farmhouse wood kitchen table from IKEA – and yes this is a big deal because it’s a 2-hour drive to IKEA where we live and I had been looking at this table for months. Then when we were ready to go to IKEA, the table was suddenly on sale for $80 less. Total score!! I wanted this particular table with the drop leaf on either side because our kitchen is so small, however we could have guests with this if need be and also, it’s not easy to find a thick farm style kitchen table with a drop leaf on either side. 1 day.

14. Chalkboard wall painted – Up until now, I thought we were going to have a small section of the wall painted in black chalkboard paint, mostly for my husband because it was his request. (He’s a graphic designer and wanted some room to draw.) Actually he wanted an entire wall for a chalkboard, and I kept saying, “No way. You can have this small space here!” I thought the black color would make the room look too small. Fast forward a few months into the project and all of a sudden I said, “Ok let’s do the whole wall.” He was like, “Really?!” I have no idea what happened, but now that the wall is done, I love it. It actually adds depth to the room and it’s so much fun to have guests over and let them draw whatever they want on the walls. Yes, a lot of our guests will ask if they can draw something! It’s really a lot of fun. I love having a real, genuine feel to the kitchen and the ever-changing chalkboard wall adds that for sure. 2 days.

The chalkboard wall and the farmhouse kitchen drop leaf table

15. Kitchen sink backsplash using grey wood-like floor tiles. Yes, we used floor tiles for our backsplash around the sink! I wanted something to go with the grey formica counter tops and not too much white because the cabinets above and below were now white. The grey colored wood tile was a perfect match to go with the counters and add something nice on all that white. We bought the tiles at Lowes and my husband did the tiles himself, first time ever doing tiling and what a great job! 3 days.

Kitchen sink backsplash with grey wood tile

16. Stove and farmhouse shelf backsplash – for this wall, we chose a large subway tile, much larger than normal because 1) it was less work to use bigger tiles 2) the price was actually better than buying small subway tiles and 3) the classic subway look is getting a bit old and we wanted to put a bit of a spin on it. We chose the 16″ x 4″ white tiles from Lowes. 3 days.

Large white subway tile backsplash – DIY kitchen makeover

17. Cutting board wall – this is one of my favorite changes to the kitchen! I bought a few hanging racks and S hooks and hung them on the wall to make the perfect cutting board station. I have to say that this cutting board rack is the most convenient things ever especially for someone who is often chopping up fruits and veggies several times a day!

Cutting boards hanging on S hooks – LOVE this!

18. Finally, the last touches! I added hooks for towels on either side of the sink, hung pictures on the walls, another 2 shelves on the chalkboard wall, two walnut wood magnetic knife holders that look amazing (one knife strip is never enough if you do a lot of food prep like me!), also shelves for spices and supplements which I installed over the tile after staining the shelves to match everything else, and a few bars and hooks from IKEA for a bit of organizing towels and hanging stuff. 2 weeks.

Magnetic knife holders wood farmhouse style kitchen

I hope you like the end result as much as we do, and if not…well maybe you got a few good ideas for your own DIY kitchen makeover. Looking back at all the steps, I have no idea how we did all of that! Now the fun part…is using the new kitchen!

Farm Kitchen DIY – Before and After pics

 

The last time I got sick was…

Wait, really?! Is it actually possible to still get sick when you are eating high organic raw food and doing regular detox? If you thought that was Mission Impossible, then I welcome you to the land of being human! 🙂

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.

Truth be told, I almost never get sick. In fact, I am seriously amazed to hear how often our “normal” meat, processed and/or fast-food eating friends or family members get side-lined with fevers, colds, coughs, and flus. (Those are the same people who make fun of my “extreme” diet and (wheat)grass-eating habits by the way.)

Without a doubt, eating an alkaline plant-based diet is a natural way to boost your immune system and the best way to prevent illness. But, it doesn’t mean that you will never, ever, ever get sick again.

The last time I got sick was…

A few months ago. We had just had several days of winter rain in Tel Aviv, and my boyfriend caught a cold from a co-worker at the office. He managed to keep it at the status of a cold for a few days, but then it turned to a high-mucous flu-like illness with fever. I felt so bad for him! I gave him Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) and made fresh orange juice with organic turmeric and green smoothies with lots of fresh fruits to high-boost his Vitamin C. We slept in separate bedrooms so he could rest and I would lower my chance of getting sick. By the 6th day, he was back to normal and I remember saying, “Wow, I am amazed that I didn’t catch it!” That night, we slept together again and he kissed me goodnight for the first time in 6 days.

The next day, I woke up sick!! It happened that fast. I felt stuffy, exhausted and slightly feverish and I thought….man, I can’t even remember the last time I had the flu! In my case, it lasted only 3 days. I basically just surrendered myself and rested. I took GSE and drank lots of fresh ginger tea. I envisioned my immune system getting stronger by the day. 3 days later, I was up and running again.

Are you a failure if you get sick?

Is doing all this detox, immune boosting and healthy eating a waste of time if you’re just going to get sick like everybody else? First, I would say…don’t throw all sickness into one basket. There’s a big difference between someone who gets sick every 3-5 YEARS (or more) and someone who get sick 3-5 times PER YEAR.

And most definitely, there is no such thing as a failure in my book. In fact, every illness can be a gift…a chance to slow down, rest and let your immune system get stronger. It’s also an opportunity to truly appreciate your health. You also may actually need an occasional cold, cough or flu to upgrade your gut health and immune-boosting capabilities.

Your body is a community!

What did I do wrong?

I guess I could say that kissing my boyfriend while he was still sick was a mistake…but in reality, I think the real cause of me getting sick was simply being run-down after months of a lot of deadlines and excess work. Stress alone can make your entire body acidic, even when eating an alkaline diet! I’m definitely a believer in the power of positive thinking and how important that is for your physical health! In that time, I also stopped making fermented foods such as kombucha and raw sauerkraut, which I feel are even more important for boosting your immune system than anything else!

Within 1 week of feeling better, I was back to making batches of kombucha and raw sauerkraut at home. I also drank more lemon and/or raw apple cider vinegar in water, at least twice daily. I started taking 1.5 days off a week and made more effort to stay offline for that time, giving my body and mind time to rest. De-stressing is very important for me (and for you too!).

Combining that with my normal routine of green smoothies, green juice, fresh wheatgrass shots for chlorophyll and minerals and lots of variety in my organic fruits and veggies and I now feel like a superstar again 🙂 Seriously though, I have high energy: I feel balanced; and I like who I see in the mirror every day!

When I look to my body for healing, I understand that I need to strengthen and heal my body as a whole.

How to Boost Your Immune System

Here are some foods/supplements that can help your immune system stay strong:

1. Manuka Honey (great to have on-hand in winter months, note this is not vegan)

2. Echinacea and Goldenseal (a powerful combo for breaking up stagnant lymph, i.e. mucous)

3. Grapefruit Seed Extract (my go-to remedy with the first sign of cold, cough or flu)

4. Pomegranate (can add to a green smoothie in powder form)

5. Raw apple cider vinegar (a healing food since the time of Hippocrates)

Looking to buy an immune-boosting bundle? You can find all of the above items on iherb.com, and yes they ship internationally!

Whole Body Healing

 

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Detox Soup to Make You Feel Awesome Recipe

This yummy Detox Soup is the perfect way to get through the holidays and start the New Year healthy. If you treat your body well with natural foods, you can immediately start to feel better – more energy, improved digestion, clearer skin, better sleep and yes, even weight loss. You can enjoy this recipe whether or not you are doing an actual “detox program.” But, if you are doing a detox, juice fast or cleanse…you can drink juices and smoothies until 5pm and have 2 bowls of Detox Soup at night for dinner. In the dead of winter, you may not feel so inspired to go 100% cold pressed juices or smoothies (key word: cold!). And that’s totally ok! Check out all the super detox ingredients and instructions below.

Detox Soup Ingredients

Detox Soup Ingredients

Detox Soup to Make You Feel Awesome Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 5 organic carrots, chopped
  • 1 head organic cabbage, grated
  • 2 white onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. celery greens, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 lemons, squeezed
  • 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 small garlic cloves
  • 2-3 inches of fresh ginger, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. organic turmeric powder
  • Cayenne and/or organic black pepper to taste
  • Himalayan salt to taste (optional)
  • 2-3 liters of water
Prepare your soup ingredients in advance

Prepare your soup ingredients in advance

 

Directions:

1. Put olive oil in a large soup pot at high heat. Add garlic, onion, leek, salt and turmeric powder and let cook until the onions are soft. Note: If you are on a “no salt” detox, then omit the salt.

2. Add chopped carrots and celery; stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice and ginger juice. Note: If you don’t have a juicer, then grate the fresh ginger and squeeze the juice out by hand. Only add the juice; discard the pulp. (Ginger juice adds a mild flavor while adding the whole ginger can be over-powering in taste.)

3. Add grated cabbage. Fill the remainder of the pot with water; bring to a boil and let simmer for a minimum of 1 hour (up to 2 hours).

4. Pour serving into the blender and PULSE 3 TIMES at low speed, for 5 seconds each time. This keeps some of the texture in the soup but makes it soft and easy to digest.

5. Pour into serving bowl and add cayenne pepper or black pepper to taste.

 

First add onion, leek, garlic and turmeric.

First add onion, leek, garlic and turmeric.

 

Leek, onion and garlic are very anti-parasitic.
Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and liver cleanser.

 

Cooked onion. leek, garlic and turmeric.

Cooked onion. leek, garlic and turmeric.

 

1. Put olive oil in a large soup pot at high heat. Add garlic, onion, leek, salt and turmeric powder and let cook until the onions are soft. Note: If you are on a “no salt” detox, then omit the salt.

Once the onion, leek, garlic and turmeric are cooked until soft, you can add the other ingredients plus water.

 

Adding fresh ginger juice and lemon juice

Adding fresh ginger juice and lemon juice

 

2. Add chopped carrots and celery; stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice and ginger juice. Note: If you don’t have a juicer, then grate the fresh ginger and squeeze the juice out by hand. Only add the juice; discard the pulp.

You can add either grated ginger or ginger juice, but in my experience, the ginger juice makes for a much more pleasant taste and is not as strong.

 

Finally, add the grated cabbage and water

Finally, add the grated cabbage and water

 

3. Add grated cabbage. Fill the remainder of the pot with water; bring to a boil and let simmer for a minimum of 1 hour (up to 2 hours).

Cabbage is naturally high in sulfur, making it a powerful detox food. It also adds a beautiful texture to any soup and is mild in taste.

 

Pulse the soup in an blender for an easy-to-digest consistency

Pulse the soup in an blender for an easy-to-digest consistency

 

4. Pour serving into the blender and PULSE 3 TIMES at low speed, for 5 seconds each time. This keeps some of the texture in the soup but makes it soft and easy to digest.

Note: Turmeric powder can turn the color of the blender container to yellow; but it will usually wash out after a few rinses.

 

Finally, you're ready to serve!

Finally, you’re ready to serve!

 

5. Pour into serving bowl and add cayenne pepper or black pepper to taste.

Cayenne pepper is very cleansing for the liver and is excellent for blood and circulation. Black pepper is not a major detox food, but it’s a matter of taste…you can add either or and still enjoy a fantastic detox soup!

This recipe is gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO and contains NO food additives. It’s full of fiber, contains natural medicinal foods and is good recipe for an alkaline diet. And, it tastes delicious. Try it for yourself and see!

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