RE: New Poll! Organic Food Post, The Deal with Organic Living

The truth is, the choice to “be” organic is seemingly ridiculous, if one is to consider that before chemical preservatives, pesticides and fertilizers were invented and introduced into the mainstream, humans and other living things only consumed or produced organic matter.  Now, it seems like artificial colors, preservatives, and processed foods and products are the norm (among other unnatural things we do to ourselves and the environment).  So while popular culture is only recently jumping on the Organic Bandwagon, it is important to take a critical look at the facts.  This information was taken from The Mayo Clinic, and non-threateningly provides background information that should make us all more comfortable with choosing the lifestyle that best suits the individual and the family.  It is also important to consider that aside from the foods we eat, and the products we put on and into our bodies, the very air that we breathe on a daily basis is toxic.  So while it’s beneficial to start somewhere, we should be considering what we can do to improve the overall health of our planet.  (More to come on this topic later.) 

In Love, Truth, and support of Local Organic Farmers,

A.K.S.

Organic foods: Are they safer? More nutritious?

Discover the real difference between organic foods and their traditionally grown counterparts when it comes to nutrition, safety and price.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Once found only in health food stores, organic food is now a regular feature at most supermarkets. And that’s created a bit of a dilemma in the produce aisle. On one hand, you have a conventionally grown apple. On the other, you have one that’s organic. Both apples are firm, shiny and red. Both provide vitamins and fiber, and both are free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. Which should you choose?

Conventionally grown produce generally costs less, but is organic food safer or more nutritious? Get the facts before you shop.

Conventional vs. organic farming

The word “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don’t use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. For example, rather than using chemical weedkillers, organic farmers may conduct more sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay.

Here are some key differences between conventional farming and organic farming:

Conventional Organic
Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth. Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.
Spray insecticides to reduce pests and disease. Use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.
Use herbicides to manage weeds. Rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.
Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth. Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing — to help minimize disease.

Organic or not? Check the label

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed.

Any product labeled as organic must be USDA certified. Only producers who sell less than $5,000 a year in organic foods are exempt from this certification; however, they’re still required to follow the USDA’s standards for organic foods.

If a food bears a USDA Organic label, it means it’s produced and processed according to the USDA standards. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it.

Illustration of the USDA organic seal

Products certified 95 percent or more organic display this USDA seal.

Products that are completely organic — such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry the USDA seal.

Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal plus the following wording, depending on the number of organic ingredients:

  • 100 percent organic. To use this phrase, products must be either completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
  • Organic. Products must be at least 95 percent organic to use this term.

Products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients may say “made with organic ingredients” on the label, but may not use the seal. Foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can’t use the seal or the word “organic” on their product labels. They can include the organic items in their ingredient list, however.

Do ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ mean the same thing?

No, “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable terms. You may see “natural” and other terms such as “all natural,” “free-range” or “hormone-free” on food labels. These descriptions must be truthful, but don’t confuse them with the term “organic.” Only foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled organic.

Organic food: Is it more nutritious?

Probably not, but the answer isn’t yet clear. A recent study examined the past 50 years’ worth of scientific articles about the nutrient content of organic and conventional foods. The researchers concluded that organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs are comparable in their nutrient content.

Organic food: Other considerations

Many factors influence the decision to choose organic food. Some people choose organic food because they prefer the taste. Yet others opt for organic because of concerns such as:

  • Pesticides. Conventional growers use pesticides to protect their crops from molds, insects and diseases. When farmers spray pesticides, this can leave residue on produce. Some people buy organic food to limit their exposure to these residues. According to theUSDA, organic produce carries significantly fewer pesticide residues than does conventional produce. However, residues on most products — both organic and nonorganic — don’t exceed government safety thresholds.
  • Food additives. Organic regulations ban or severely restrict the use of food additives, processing aids (substances used during processing, but not added directly to food) and fortifying agents commonly used in nonorganic foods, including preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavorings, and monosodium glutamate.
  • Environment. Some people buy organic food for environmental reasons. Organic farming practices are designed to benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving water and soil quality.

Are there downsides to buying organic?

One common concern with organic food is cost. Organic foods typically cost more than do their conventional counterparts. Higher prices are due, in part, to more expensive farming practices.

Because organic fruits and vegetables aren’t treated with waxes or preservatives, they may spoil faster. Also, some organic produce may look less than perfect — odd shapes, varying colors or smaller sizes. However, organic foods must meet the same quality and safety standards as those of conventional foods.

Food safety tips

Whether you go totally organic or opt to mix conventional and organic foods, be sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Select a variety of foods from a variety of sources. This will give you a better mix of nutrients and reduce your likelihood of exposure to a single pesticide.
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in season when possible. To get the freshest produce, ask your grocer what day new produce arrives. Or check your local farmers market.
  • Read food labels carefully. Just because a product says it’s organic or contains organic ingredients doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthier alternative. Some organic products may still be high in sugar, salt, fat or calories.
  • Wash and scrub fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water. Washing helps remove dirt, bacteria and traces of chemicals from the surface of fruits and vegetables. Not all pesticide residues can be removed by washing, though. You can also peel fruits and vegetables, but peeling can mean losing some fiber and nutrients.
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Meditation Redefined: Dropping Your Assumptions

Whatever you believe, whatever you do, the truth is, we can all use an opportunity to quiet the mind…

Enjoy!

A.K.S.

Original Post found at Tiny Buddha

How to Meditate at Any Time Without Meditating  

A Meditation at Morro Rock

Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by Amanda Cook

“If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Flour. Salt. Water. Yeast. As I push the warm, soft dough against my palm, I feel the cold stone countertop underneath. I feel my hips leaning up against the cabinets. I hear my breath inside my head.

As I knead the dough, it changes. The dough becomes more elastic and flexible, ready to rise and be baked into a crusty loaf.

As I make bread, I change. My thoughts go quiet. I come into the now.

I have struggled with an inconsistent meditation practice for months. In those moments when I successfully meditate and clear my mind, I feel such a sense of accomplishment and peace.

But as any beginning meditator knows, those moments are few and far between.

Usually, my scattered mind is split between keeping track of the time, trying to quiet the voice in my head, and chastizing my body for fidgeting. 

I struggled and pushed myself to meditate properly with little success, until I realized that any act can be a meditation.

I discovered this fundamental insight through books by Eckhart Tolle and Thich Nhat Hanh. It is not so important to sit with a perfectly erect spine for 20 minutes per day in meditative bliss. What is important is to be here, in the now. Living your life. Noticing what is. Noticing life.

So often throughout our days we are lost in our thoughts. We may be on the train or in the shower, but in our heads we are already giving that important presentation, having the difficult conversation, worrying about and planning for what might happen next.

If you step back and think about it, this is a strange way to live. With all of this planning, worrying, and thinkingwe’re missing out on our lives.

I came to this realization a few years ago when I moved to Paris, France. I had been living the overachieving, type-A personality lifestyle in the United States my entire life.

It’s a common cycle. Working hard in school to get into a good university, then landing a “good job” and working to get promoted, all the while trying to upgrade my belogings to match my desired lifestyle: a bigger apartment, a new car, high thread count sheets, and gourmet kitchen appliances.

My whole life was geared toward reaching some undefined point where I would have “made it,” so I could then take a well deserved vacation.

Then, I moved to Paris.

Suddenly, everything I knew about status and lifestyle was irrelevant. Instead of talking about work all the time, my new French friends talked about hobbies, food, books, vacations, movies—anything except work.

I met people who really enjoyed their lives on a daily basis. Spending time with friends. Savoring delicious lunches. Continuing their artistic pursuits on the side of their career. Hiking in the mountains on weekends and reconnecting with nature.

Moving overseas made me realize that my life isn’t going to start at some undefined point in the future. My constant planning, thinking, and obsessing was making me miss out on my life! I suddenly realized that my life was happening right now, in this very moment.

By living in our heads, we’re missing opportunities to connect with our family. Opportunities to feel the pleasure of sunshine on our face while standing at the bus stop. Opportunities to feel our creative energy spark when we watch a child playing. Opportunities to be in nature, even for just a few minutes, and find our footing again.

Slowly, over the past few years, I have been working on showing up to my life on a daily basis. Trying to live in the present moment. Trying to really be here, now.

So now I have a new meditation practice. I make our weekly loaf of bread by hand.

It doesn’t take that long, once you know the technique. But it’s such grounding, salt-of-the-earth, staff-of-life stuff.

Making bread by hand connects me with the generations before and after who have done this daily practice. I take it slowly. Measuring the flour, salt and yeast. Then slowly pouring in warm water to form a dough. Then the fun part—digging in with my hands. Kneading bread is an almost childlike pleasure because it’s so tactile.

When I make bread, I am reminded of the simple pleasures in life. I’m reminded of the importance of health and nourishing our bodies. I re-discover, week after week, the miracle of transformation. The miracle of basic ingredients becoming something so pleasurable, delicious and a cornerstone of our diet.

Perhaps bread baking isn’t your thing. But you can turn any daily activity into a meditation practice: washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, ironing your clothes.

5 tips to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine:

1. Notice, don’t think.

Pretend you are a traveler or student encountering this activity for the very first time. Don’t judge, label, and think about what you’re doing. Just notice. Notice every detail with an open, beginner’s mind.

2. When in doubt, check your breathing.

If you feel your thoughts wandering from the present task, take a minute to hear and feel yourself breathe. Just paying attention to a few breaths will bring you back to the present moment.

3. You have 5 senses, use them.

Mindfulness means truly experiencing what is going on right now. This is more than just noticing what something looks like. What does it smell like? Feel it with your hands. What is the texture? Temperature? What do you hear?

4. Have a strategy to handle nagging thoughts.

Occasionally we all have thoughts that won’t go away—so you need a strategy for how to handle them. I like to have a notebook with me at all times to write any nagging to-dos, ideas or issues. If you write them down, your mind can relax because it knows you can go back to them later.

5. It is what it is.

You don’t need to analyze your mindfulness experience. Don’t worry about what it all means or if you’re being mindful enough. Just try to be mindful every day. Come more fully into the present moment. Let the experience be what it is.

While this might not fit the ideal of a perfect, solitary meditation practice, it works for me. It works because it gets me to the right place—the present moment.

Every week when I make bread, I re-discover that by mixing, kneading and baking, I am able to come more fully into the present moment and really connect with life.  And isn’t that the purpose of a meditation practice in the first place?

Photo by ChuckThePhotographer.

This may ruffle some feathers…

 

But I must share this gem with you.

Unfortunately, the content of the blog I wish to share cannot be copied here; and rightfully so.  But I am so excited to spread something that has given new meaning to spirituality for me; one that challenges many of my previous biases and positions on sex, love, and enlightenment, and while I may not agree with everything, still shatters much of my ignorance.  If you are not afraid to open your mind to a radical and unconditional stance of the union (or oneness) of sexual spirituality, then please click here to enter the blog of Kenya K. Stevens, and treat yourself to an hour and a half free video concerning feminine sensuality.

If you are sensitive, closed and defensive about your personal, religious, or spiritual beliefs, I would challenge you to ask yourself why you think and feel the way you do.  If you can articulately, with evidence, support your stance, then I commend you, as you are one of the few.  Most people these days who hold unfounded positions do so because they have been conditioned by society to accept one way of living, to subscribe to one way of thinking, and to blindly follow the crowd.  It’s one thing to know your beliefs for yourself, and another thing altogether to hold those beliefs without ever having questioned why.  The only way one can get to a state of true consciousness, is to knowing one’s personal stance, all the while understanding that of his opponent.  

 

 

Your comments are much appreciated my sisters!

 

In Love and Truth,

A.K.S.

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