The Green Queen Corner

It is the soul’s duty to be loyal to it’s own desires. It must abandon itself to it’s master… passion! by Rebecca West

Green Cleaning Tip – Baking Soda Cleans Stained Coffee Mugs June 3, 2008

Filed under: organic — greenqueen @ 4:30 pm
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My green cleaning tip for the week is using baking soda to clean stained coffee mugs.

In my home we drink a lot of English tea in white mugs.  Our mugs become stained from the tea.  Before I learned about the danger of toxins in my cleaning products I used to bleach my mugs.  Yuck!!!  Not anymore.

Now I clean my mugs with baking soda and water.  The water is key here.  It activates the baking soda.  Baking soda is alkaline and tea and coffee are acid.  Therefore, when you put just a 1/4 of a teaspoon to 1/2 a teaspoon of baking soda in a stained coffee mug and add water the alkaline baking soda begins to neutralize the acids in the coffee or tea stain and the voila the stain melts off of the mug and you are left with sparkling white, yellow or what ever color mug you have.

I accidently discovered this trick when I was brushing my teeth with baking soda to whiten them.  I put some baking soda into a coffee mug.  I put my wet toothbrush into the baking soda in the mug.  When the water form the toothbrush dripped into the baking soda I noticed the tea dissolve into the water baking soda mixture.

There truly are no mistakes.

To remove coffee from clothing try applying peroxide to the stain before you wash the clothing.

 

Some Children’s Bath Products Hazardous, Groups Say March 22, 2007

Reprinted. By Carlene Olsen, Cox News Service/New York Times News Service

Dallas Morning News
February 9, 2007

WASHINGTON – Some children’s bath products contain a suspected cancer-causing chemical in amounts that reach or exceed recommended limits, environmental groups charged Thursday.

Johnson and Johnson, Disney, Kimberly-Clark, and Gerber are among the makers of 15 children’s products that contain 1,4-dioxane, David Steinman, head of the environmental publishing company Freedom Press, said at a news conference.

The petroleum-derived chemical is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a probable human carcinogen, and the National Toxicology Program considers it a known animal carcinogen, according to the Environmental Working Group, which also took part in the news conference.

In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration recommended that cosmetic companies limit the concentration of 1,4-dioxane in products to 10 parts per million. But the FDA does not regulate cosmetics, leaving companies to monitor the safety of their products on a voluntary basis.

Steinman said a study he commissioned from the West Coast Analytical Service lab in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., showed that Hello Kitty Bubble Bath, made by Kid Care, contained 12.3 ppm of 1,4-dioxane. Johnson’s Kids Shampoo Watermelon Explosion, made by Johnson and Johnson, contained the maximum recommended level of 10 ppm, he said.

In addition, two adult shampoos tested by the lab found twice the recommended level of the chemical, he said.

The Environmental Working Group, meanwhile, said it had conducted a computerized assessment of ingredients in 15,000 cosmetics and other personal care products which shows that 1,4-dioxane may be present in 57 percent of all baby soaps.

Iris Grossman, director of communications at Johnson and Johnson, said, “It’s important to stress that all our products are within the FDA limits.”

The chemical is typically a manufacturing by-product, which companies are not required to list on labels along with ingredients, said Grossman. “And our suppliers guarantee that (levels) are within the FDA limit,” she said.

At the news conference, medical experts said that bath products could be linked to other children’s health problems.

Research suggests a link between ingredients in common bath products and early puberty development in children, said Devra(cq) Davis, director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Children’s fast-paced growth rate and porous skin increases their susceptibility to toxins that can enter the bloodstream through the skin’s surface, Davis said.

Jeanne Rizzo, executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund, said that “an increased risk of breast cancer is linked to toxic exposure that occurs in the most vulnerable period of our lives.”

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HEALTH: Organic Diets Keep Kids Pesticide Free March 14, 2007

If you have children this is a must read. It is reprinted from The Washington Times.9/03/2006 at http://washtimes.com/upi/20060222-044543-1356r.htm

 

 

By CHRISTINE DELL’AMORE, UPI Consumer Health Correspondent, 22 Feb 06

Children who switched their diets for only a few days to organic foods dramatically and immediately lowered the amount of toxic pesticides in their bodies, researchers report.
Lead author Chensheng Lu of Emory University found that when kids eat organic foods, pesticides in their body plummet to undetectable levels — even when following the diet for only five days.
“An organic diet does provide protective measures for pesticide exposure in kids,” said Lu, who presented his research at a panel at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in
St. Louis. His study appeared in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.


Lu designed a novel intervention study by substituting organic foods into the diets of 23 elementary school children in the
Seattle area. All the kids, who were aged 3 to 11, had metabolites — or evidence of pesticides — in their urine at the study’s start. But as soon as they began eating organic foods, the concentration of metabolites dropped to essentially
zero. Once they returned to their conventional diet, the pesticides levels bounced back up.


Lu said he is confident that the pesticide reductions can be attributed to the kids’ diet, because the particular class of pesticides studied, called organophosphorus pesticides, or OPs, are not found in households. The kids ingested these pesticides from eating conventional foods, and not from playing in grass treated with chemicals, for example.


Lu and Fenske claim the health risks to children are still uncertain, although Lu points out that there’s no getting around the fact a pesticide is a neurotoxin. Since the chemicals disrupt enzymes in the brain which govern communication, exposure to pesticides could damage a child’s brain. These chemicals are developed, after all, to kill bugs by paralyzing or over-exciting their neurological systems.
“In terms of the impact of these low levels of chemicals on a regular basis in a developing organism — and that’s what a child’s neurological system is — this is extremely important that we try to understand this,” Fenske said.
The Environmental Protection Agency warns children may be sensitive to pesticides because their excretory systems are not developed enough to excrete pesticides, and that in relation to their body weight, kids eat and drink more than adults.
Currently, researchers are studying whether conditions like attention deficit disorder, lowered IQs, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease can be linked to early exposure to pesticides. Children are most vulnerable to pesticides from formation of the fetus up to 2 years of age.


Charles Benbrook, the chief scientist of The Organic Center, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit encouraging the widespread adoption of organic foods and processes, says there’s enough consensus to act now to rid agriculture of pesticides. He mentioned the work of Robin Whyatt at
Columbia University with pregnant women in New York. Whyatt found that birth weight and birth length is lower in children whose mothers were exposed to pesticides.
Benbrook said he was amazed at how fast and how significantly the urinary metabolites fell in Lu’s study participants.

Full article at http://washtimes.com/upi/20060222-044543-1356r.htm

 

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Organic Air Purifiers – Cheap and Natural Filters that Improve Indoor Air Quality February 26, 2007

Filed under: organic — greenqueen @ 3:31 am
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Tip! Bananas: Non-organic bananas from Central and South America are produced using benomyl (linked to birth defects) and chloropyrifos (neurotoxin).

NATURAL AIR FILTERS

Plants are the original organic air purifiers! In our constant societal quest for newer, faster, and better technologies we seem to often overlook time-tested and common sense solutions to some of our basic needs. In our fast paced society we are more likely to shell out hundreds of dollars on a quick fix to our problems that to step back and examine each situation in a broader context.

The equatorial rainforests of our planet are the living and organic air filtration systems for our Earth’s atmosphere. Without this delicate biological air purification system our global ecological systems would slowly deteriorate over time. You can harness the same natural benefits of biological air filtration on a much smaller scale by introducing plants into your indoor living space.

 

INDOOR AIR POLLUTION RISKS

With the rise in the amount of time most people now spend within indoor air environments it has become even more important to understand the threats and risks of prolonged exposure to indoor air pollution. Our indoor environments are littered with chemicals, compounds, and poisons that are continuously breaking down at a chemical level and “off-gassing” their irritants and by-products into the air we breathe.

Examples of common indoor pollutants include cigarette smoke, building materials, floor coverings, paints, adhesives and other sources. The situation becomes worse in office buildings with lots of other sources of pollutants. Tools such as printers, fax machines, photocopiers, paper and pressboard furniture emit different types of harmful contaminants. Those include ammonia, benzene, xylene, toluene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, etc. Regular exposure these contaminants leads to different types of disorders such as breathing problems, headaches, burning eyes and throat, lethargy and other allergy-like symptoms.

Tip! Join a food cooperative. A food co-op is kind of a buyers club for affordable, fresh, local organic and natural products.

PLANTS CAN HELP

The most natural way to fight indoor air pollution is to use plants. Besides brightening up a room, they have real benefits in improving the indoor air quality. They absorb various toxic emissions from the synthetic materials such as carpeting, paint and furniture. As a result, we can have cleaner and more pure air to breathe inside our homes or offices. NASA scientists have found out that indoor plants can extract volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from the air. They contain toxic vapors such as ammonia, benzene, xylene, toluene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, etc. Plants break down the chemicals after absorbing them into their leaves. They absorb the chemicals through stomata, the microscopic openings in the leaves. Then the toxins reach the root zone where the root microbes of the plants biodegrade the pollutants. The plants use these biodegraded pollutants as food.

Tip! Strawberries: 500 pounds of pesticide an acre is sprayed on non-organic strawberries.

However, you need to remember that some houseplants can be poisonous to your health. Therefore, you need to be very careful while choosing plants for your home or office. Read more on which plants are good organic air purifiers.

AIR FILTRATION SYSTEMS CAN SUPPLEMENT PLANTS

Depending on the amount of indoor air space you have the number of plants required to filter your air may be impractical and take up too much of your living space. This is where it may make sense to research and find a decent air purification system that suits your indoor environment and help your plants with some of the air filtration duties. There are many types, styles and models to choose from so we encourage you to do your research and compare them carefully.

Tip! Failing to plan – Planning is crucial to a successful organic veggie garden. You need to consider the aspect of your plot/s.

About the Author

S.A. Smith is a freelance writer, contributor, and editor of the Air Purifiers Review information portal.

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LEVI’S® BRAND LAUNCHES 100% ORGANIC COTTON JEANS

Filed under: organic — greenqueen @ 3:19 am
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Reprint of a press release, Levi goes green with their new line of Levi eco. NBC Today Show also announced their new line of organic jeans last week.

Denim Leader To Offer Organic Options In Its Most Popular Styles For Fall 2006.

SAN FRANCISCO, July 5, 2006 – The Levi’s® brand today announced it will include jeans made with 100% organic cotton in its fall 2006 product line. Organic cotton will be used in select new and popular men’s and women’s styles within its Red Tab and, the recently launched, Levi’s® Capital E™ lines. The jeans will be identified as “Levi’s® Eco” and be available in November 2006 exclusively at Levi’s® U.S. stores with additional products to be introduced in spring 2007.

“As the inventor of the jeans category, it is critical for us to continue to innovate with our products and within the category itself in order to drive positive change,” said Robert Hanson, Levi’s® U.S. brand president. Building off the brand’s world-famous product guarantee, Quality Never Goes Out of Style, Hanson added, “Given our history as a leader in responsible manufacturing and business practices, this initiative is about quality and responsibility never going out of style. With Levi’s® Eco, consumers who seek to minimize their personal impact on the environment can choose jeans that demand less from the environment without forfeiting the style or quality they’ve come to expect from the Levi’s® brand.”

Famous for style leadership and its product iconography, Levi’s® jeans made with organic cotton will be available in a range of popular fits and finishes and marked with a few subtle identifiers. Jeans made with all, or a significant percentage of, organic cotton will be signified as “Levi’s® Eco” and feature an embroidered lowercase “e” inside the front pocket, or at the bottom of the right leg of each jean. A natural colored canvas “Levi’s®” tab and “Two Horse Patch” made from 100% organic fabric as well as natural colored pocket stitching of the brand’s famous arcuate will also indicate the jeans are made from organic cotton. All external packaging will be made from organic fabric or recycled paper and printed with soy-based ink.

Among the styles made with 100% organic cotton are the Red Tab Vintage Straight Jean for men, and the women’s Skinny Jean and Skinny Knee Knocker Short. In the brand’s super premium line, Levi’s® Capital E™, a selvedge denim Shrink-to-Fit® 501® Original Jean, and forward fits like the men’s Wrapped Skinny Jean and Skinny Slouch jeans, and the women’s Twisted Skinny and Twisted Cropped jeans will be made from 100% organic cotton. Other elements of the Levi’s® Capital E™ lines including the use of recycled buttons, rivets and zippers and natural indigo to dye some styles of jeans were employed for their minimized impact on the environment.

Global Organic Jeans Offering

The fall U.S. introduction is part of a global launch of products made with 100% organic cotton. In Europe, the Levi’s® brand will offer certified organic denim versions of its most popular styles – the Levi’s® 506 Standard Fit Jean for guys and the Levi’s® 570 Straight Fit Jean for girls. They will be available in select stores within Europe at the end of 2006. Additional styles made from 100%, or a significant percentage of, organic cotton will be introduced in both regions in 2007. [EDITOR’S NOTE: For information on Levi’s® Europe contact: Paola Brandi, pbrandi@levi.com; Brussels: 32-2-641-6327 ]

About Organic Cotton

Organic farming practices can be used to grow natural fibers including cotton as well as food. Organic cotton farming starts with seeds that have not been genetically modified or treated with pesticides or fungicides. During the growth phase, weed control is achieved through hand hoeing or physical removal and pest control is accomplished through the use of natural predators, trap crops and other biological and cultural practices. Farmers rely on natural processes such as seasonal freezes, rather than the application of chemical defoliants, to prompt the opening of the cotton boll and allow the cotton bud to be picked by hand or machine. From growth through harvesting, the process is monitored according to a set of organic growing standards adopted by governmental bodies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the European Union. [Source: Organic Exchange, “Organic Cotton: Growing Together,” 2005. For more information on organic cotton, please contact Rebecca Calahan Klein, rebecca@organicexchange.org, (510) 597-9949.]

About Levi Strauss & Co.

Invented in 1873 by Levi Strauss, Levi’s® Jeans are the original, authentic jeans. They are the most successful, widely recognized and often imitated jeans products in the history of apparel. Levi’s® Jeans have captured the attention, imagination and loyalty of generations of diverse individuals in more than 100 countries around the world and continues to do so today through jeanswear innovation. Levi Strauss & Co. has been a leading brand for more than 150 years. For more information about the Levi’s® brand, its products and Levi’s® stores, visit www.levi.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: NO PRODUCT PHOTOS ARE AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME.

 

Making Living Green, Organic, Non-toxic Easier for Mom, 14 Tips January 21, 2007

Many people ask me how to start going organic and live a healthy organic lifestyle? There are so many products, so much information they don’t know where to start. Other questions I get are: Do I need to buy everything organic, food, cleaning products, clothes, personal care and skin care products? Are you vegan? Do I have to throw everything away and start from scratch? Where do I start? It gets expensive. What does it mean by going organic?

Lets start with my definition of going organic and living an organic lifestyle. To me going organic is more than the food I eat. It is about making healthy choices with the food I eat, the products I use in my home, on my skin and body, and in my garden. To me organic, green, non-toxic living is about eliminating toxins from our homes and life. It is about the environment and ensuring that it is clean and healthy because last time I checked we are all earthlings which means we are part of the environment. If the environment is unhealthy then so are the earthlings. Finally, going organic, non-toxic and green is treading lightly on the earth so that I leave it better than I found it for future generations.

Here are some simple steps to help you transform your home from conventional, toxic to organic, non-toxic, safe, green and healthy. First I would like to say that it isn’t about being perfect or having everything in your life organic and green. A few simple changes will make a huge difference in the way you feel and in moving forward to an organic, green, non-toxic, healthy lifestyle. Take one step at a time and have fun.

There are a couple of different ways you can incorporate organic living into your lifestyle. One is to use the products you have now, finish them and replace them with healthy, organic choices as needed. The other choice is to throw everything away and replace your old choices with healthy new organic products. Either choice is awesome. Note: If you are throwing away cleaning products that are made with chemicals be sure to do it properly. Contact your local waste management company and ask them how to safely dispose of chemical products.

I took the slow less expensive root and used products until they were finished then I replaced them with green, organic choices. Products like food, cleaning products, personal care, skin care and gardening products were choices I started with when I went green. I took one step at a time to a green, organic lifestyle. It seems the more I do the more that I want to do.

Remember do what is right for you not what your friends and neighbors are doing. You and your family are the only factors to consider here. Also it isn’t about being perfect or who is doing the most or making the biggest changes. What matters is that you are giving your family healthy choices and every healthy choice you make for your family is one step closer to the short term and long term health goals you want to achieve.

Take one step at a time and notice how the changes are affecting your family and how you feel about these changes. Maybe keep a diary of why you want to live an organic, green, non-toxic lifestyle and then note in the diary the changes that you are making and how they are affecting your family’s health.

For example, maybe you have allergies or a member in your family has allergies and you decide that you want to change your cleaning products so that they are non-toxic in an effort to see if that clears the allergies. Write this in your diary and notice if the allergies subside and even if they go away.

Another example is maybe you change some of the foods you eat to organic and you notice that your children have more energy or they are more focused; write that in your diary. In a month or 2 go back to the diary I bet you will notice that a lot has changed with your families health. Lastly be sure to celebrate your successes. You deserve it. Remember it isn’t about being perfect it is about making a few simple changes here and there.

Below is a list that I created, especially for mom’s, to help them make the switch from conventional to organic, green and healthy.

1. Recycle
2. Reuse
3. Reduce your waste
4. Any food with High Fructose corn syrup is a big no! Especially if you are protecting your family against obesity. It gives the false feeling that you are still hungry even when your body is full and has zero nutritional value. It is not a necessary food ingredient ever. Read labels carefully as it is used often. You will be surprised how often it is used, even in foods labeled as natural or organic.
5. Eat as many organic foods as possible. If your family eats a lot of something like pasta, absolutely eat organic pasta instead of conventional. Chemicals and pesticides build up in your body over time. Children are most susceptible to pesticides and toxins from conception to 10 years old. Here is a list of foods that are a must avoid. If you only want to change some foods that you eat put these on your list:

· Strawberries

· Blueberries

· Raspberries

· Apples

· Grapes

· Raisins

· Juice – many also contain high fructose corn syrup so be careful and read labels.

· Peaches

· Nectarines

· Apricots

· Pears

· Cherries

· Lemons

· Limes

· Bananas

· Pineapple

· Cantaloupe

· Rice

· Oats – commonly used in cereal

· Milk

· Baby Foods – get baby started off right. Also baby’s immune systems are not yet fully developed so they are more susceptible to the adverse effects of toxins.

· Nuts

· Potatoes

· Corn

· Celery

· Cucumbers

· Spinach

· Lettuce

· Green & Red Bell Peppers

· Hot Peppers

· Green Beans

· Carrots

1. Use non chlorine bleach it works just the same as regular bleach without the toxins.
2. Body lotion for you, children and baby. Remember when you hold or play with your children they touch your skin and body thus toxins from you can rub off on them. Most personal care products contain a large list of toxic, unsafe chemicals like parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, DEA’s, TEA’s to name a few. Read labels carefully. Try to use products that are organic and free of chemicals. For more information on safe cosmetics and personal care products go to, http://www.ewg.org/reports/skindeep. They have information on popular baby products too.
3. Face lotion for you and children they also contain many toxic chemicals. A common ingredient used in skin care products especially those that claim anti aging ingredients is methylparaben. Methylparaben has been linked to accelerating aging. Isn’t it ironic?
4. Products that contain phthalates are an absolute must avoid, especially if you have children. They are found in perfume, nail polish, hair care products like hair spray, deodorant and lotions. Phthalates can be carcinogenic and have been linked to birth defects. They also damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system in laboratory animals according to the center for Disease Control. Phthalates are used many products but are not listed on labels in order to protect “trade secrets.” That is where confusion enters. So the best rule of thumb is avoid conventional perfumes, products with fragrance, conventional nail polish remover and nail polish. Don’t panic. The good news is that you don’t have to give up your favorite nail polish color to avoid toxins. There are non-toxic alternatives to all of the aforementioned products. For example, many perfumes and fragrance are made with pure, organic essential oils and are safe. There are non-toxic nail polishes and nail polish removers. Choose products that are fragrance free especially if you are using them on or around your children and baby. If you are pregnant or have children avoid products with phthalates at all costs. Your unborn child’s health and your children’s health are fragile. Before the age of 10 their immune systems aren’t yet fully developed thus chemicals stay in their tiny bodies where they can cause disease and even obesity.
5. Avoid cleaning products or any products that contain anti bacterial ingredients. Antibacterial ingredients contain pesticides. According to the EPA, http://www.epa.gov, pesticides are designed to kill living organisms. They don’t discriminate between pests and humans. The key word here is living organisms. The bacteria and viruses that anti bacterial products kill are also killed with simple warm soap and water. Don’t let marketing hype tell you that you need these products to kill germs in your home. If simple soap and water is good enough for hospitals then it is good enough to kill germs in your home. Why add a layer of pesticide to your surfaces, especially where children and pets play and spend time?
6. Stain remover for clothes is highly toxic use non-toxic. To treat a stain use simple soap and water. Immediately when you notice a stain pore clear liquid soap right on the stain add a little water and throw it in the dirty laundry until laundry day. In most cases the stain will come out. Stains set when they aren’t treated immediately and they are allowed to set into the material of clothing.
7. Conventional air freshener – contains carcinogens. This is a huge NO, especially if you have children. The toxins are inhaled and absorbed through the skin. Extremely dangerous. Instead eliminate the source of the odor. For example if the trash smells, take it out. On nice days open a window. If you must add fragrance to your home use pure, organic essential oils. A trick I use is to drop 3 to 5 drops on a light bulb that will be turned on. Or make your own air freshener using essential organic oils. Simply fill a 29 to 32 oz. spray bottle with distilled water and add 20 to 25 drops of essential oil. Spray the air, your furniture I even use it to iron with. Cook muffins or cookies to make the air in your home smell good. On a cold winter day make some apple cider on the stove and let it simmer on very low heat to add fragrance to your home.
8. Use organic mattresses or put heavy cotton over your conventional mattress – If you can’t or don’t want to replace all of your mattresses with organic then put heavy cotton material over the mattress under the fitted sheet. If possible use organic cotton material. Absolutely do this for your baby and children as they are more susceptible to the effects of toxins found in conventionally made mattresses, because their immune system and organs aren’t fully developed. Toxins found in synthetic mattresses include; phthalates, PBDE – flame retardants, polyurethane, foam, polyester, plastic, formaldehyde. They all emit dangerous toxins that your baby or children breathe in or absorb through the skin while sleeping. In many cases these toxic elements lead to insomnia, have been linked to brain development and thyroid problems, include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing, fatigue, skin rash, severe allergic reactions and may cause cancer. In asthma suffers formaldehyde has been known to cause asthma attacks.
9. If you have children or pets and they will be on the floor playing use simple soap and water to mop your floors. Otherwise the children and animals are playing on a toxic surface where they are absorbing toxins into their skin and body.

If you find that your supermarket doesn’t carry organic, non-toxic products ask them to. Marketers and supermarkets know that women make the majority of the buying decisions in the US. Yes women you have the power, use it. Tell the supermarkets what you want. If they don’t get it right away, tell them again, and again and again until they carry the products you want. Ask your friends and family to chime in. Don’t give up, you can make a difference.

Remember take only the steps that are right for you at this time. Follow your instincts they are your guide, they are true to you. Once again I will say it; you don’t have to change everything if you don’t want to. Simple changes to start make a big difference. Take baby steps. For example, change the food that you eat to organic. Then change your cleaning products one by one. This is something that should be fun and enjoyable. After all you are protecting your health and your family’s health so that you have a long future together, that is something to smile about.

Good luck!

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What’s the Future of Organic Certification? January 8, 2007

Filed under: organic — greenqueen @ 3:36 am
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Tip! Cost savings, because you do not need to buy costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides with organic gardening. Many organic recipes for the control of pest and disease come straight from the kitchen cupboard, and sometimes other plants can even be grown as companions to the main crop.

Some organic produce enthusiasts are cheering about its increasingly widespread availability. They say it’s about time that huge retailers like Safeway, Costco, and even Wal-Mart have begun to add organic products to their shelves. With the market beginning to boom, some of the world’s largest food manufacturers are beginning to jump on the bandwagon, as well, such as Kellogg’s, Kraft, and General Foods. Isn’t that good news for advocates of healthier food?

The answer is a qualified maybe. It’s a simple case of the time-proven law of supply-and-demand. The organic market has been growing steadily for decades, and once the numbers were there, it was inevitable that the big companies would step in to grab a share of the market. Some less enthusiastic organic foods advocates have expressed concern that having the giant retailers move into the market will ultimately weaken certification standards and hurt small farmers who have been able to capitalize on serving the organic niche market in order to survive.

The market share for organic produce is still miniscule, accounting for less than 3 percent of U.S. retail food sales in 2005, but the numbers are still impressive: $14 billion in sales and increases of 16 percent for organic produce, 24 percent for organic milk, and a whopping 55 percent rise in organic beef sales over the past year. Certified organic products typically sell at a 20-30 percent premium over similar non-organic ones. Given numbers like those, it’s not surprising that the nation’s mega-retailers are beginning to get excited by the possibilities for future growth.

However, there is growing concern that as factory-style farms move into the organic area to fill the demand from giant retail chains, the certification process may be lessened to allow those huge farms to meet the specifications. Those fears were given some credence when a recent report by the Cornucopia Institute discovered that two of the largest organic dairies in the nation keep their cows primarily in huge feedlots with little or no chance to graze on pasture.

At the moment, the demand for organic milk outstrips supply, but if the trend continues (and there’s no reason to believe it won’t), it could cause genuine problems for small farmers, who have been all but squeezed out of nearly every other phase of agriculture, but managed to find a market niche that allowed them to stay in business.

One of the biggest effects on the market will be retail giant Wal-Mart’s demand for considerably lower prices. That means smaller profit margins for suppliers, but it could also mean a further loosening of certification standards in order to meet the demand and the low prices Wal-Mart would expect.

 

Where will it all lead? It’s too early to tell, but if the current trend continues, it would appear that the consumer cost of organic produce and meat is going to become more affordable. However, it’s yet to be determined how much loosening of the certification guidelines will take place in order for that to take place.

Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher

Jeanette Fisher teaches environmental interior design. For more information about Environmental Psychology and 5 ways you can change your home environment, visit http://environmentpsychology.com.

size=”1″>Tip! Sustainability. In his book, Gardening Organically, John Fedor defines sustainability as “the ability of a society or an ecosystem to function indefinitely without squandering the resources on which it relies.

Grow your own

The cheapest method has got to be to grow your own. The great thing is that it doesn’t require you to have much garden space, or even a garden at all!

We grow tomatoes, and strawberries in containers and the extra benefit is that you get total control over the growing conditions.

 

The best combination is to have organic soil together with organically produced seeds or plants, that way you ensure you get the full flavour and benefit.

Containers can be placed anywhere that receives a reasonable amount of daylight, which means that you can use them on balconies or other hard surfaces.

Tip! Strawberries: 500 pounds of pesticide an acre is sprayed on non-organic strawberries.

Look for your local suppliers

One of the most satisfying things to do is to buy organic food locally. That way you get the freshest ingredients for your kitchen and also get to support local businesses. With no transportation costs for the supplier too you should get very competitive prices.

Don’t forget that these same businesses will be employing local staff so you are also helping the local economy, everybody wins in this scenario.

Local markets

We visit a big monthly market held on a disused airstrip. Organic food is just one of the variety of items sold there but the prices are very, very good indeed. Of course they are all local suppliers and with several of them in one place we benefit from healthy competition and get to sample a lot of fruit!

Tip! Failing to plan – Planning is crucial to a successful organic veggie garden. You need to consider the aspect of your plot/s.

Local box schemes

If you are unable to get out of your house or are too busy working to select your groceries by hand then why not subscribe to an organic box scheme?

You will receive, delivered to your door, a weekly selection of fruit and vegetables in season.

Farm shops

Finally, investigate whether any farms near you are operating an organic farm shop. Our local one is operated on an open farm so that you can go and see where the animals are being kept and take a look at the crops being grown.

Tip! Bananas: Non-organic bananas from Central and South America are produced using benomyl (linked to birth defects) and chloropyrifos (neurotoxin).

They actually have a well-designed walking route around the farm which makes a nice day out for the kids too.

If you investigate the options above you should be able to make considerable savings whilst you and your family sample the delights and advantages of organic food.

Virginia Louise is a keen convert to the organic way of life, having two children has especially highlighted the benefits to be gained by them from eating organically.

Virginia runs an information site on the advantages of organic food where you can obtain lots of free information about what makes organic food so beneficial, where to get it and suggested recipes.

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