Pondering the purchase of organic foods? A story in Consumer Reports spells out which organic items are worth buying -- and which aren't.
Here is the list, which appears in the magazine's February edition:
Organic items worth buying as often as possible: Apples, baby food, bell peppers, celery, cherries, dairy, eggs, imported grapes, meat, nectarines, peaches, pears, poultry, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, and strawberries.
Organic items worth buying if money is no object: Asparagus, avocados, bananas, bread, broccoli, cauliflower, cereals, sweet corn, kiwi, mangos, oils, onions, papaya, pasta, pineapples, potato chips, and sweet peas. Also included are packaged products such as canned vegetables and dried fruit.
Organic items not worth buying: Seafood and cosmetics.
Expect to pay more for organic foods, which are more labor-intensive to grow and don't get government subsidies, states the article.
When Consumer Reports drew up those lists, they considered government standards for organic foods and residues of pesticides, antibiotics, or hormones used in raising nonorganic foods. The article doesn't focus on environmental issues.
Why did seafood and cosmetics fare poorly?
Consumer Reports notes that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hasn't set standards for organic seafood, and wild and farmed seafood can be labeled "organic" even if they contain contaminants such as mercury and PCBs.
As for cosmetics, the article states that products typically contain a mix of ingredients that didn't necessarily come from organic agriculture.
What About Cost?
Organic foods are often more expensive than nonorganic foods. "On average, you'll pay 50% extra for organic food, but you can easily end up shelling out 100% more, especially for milk and meat," states Consumer Reports.
The article offers these ideas to cut costs of organic foods:
Buy locally produced organic foods (check farmers' markets)
Buy a share in a community-supported organic farm to get a regular supply of seasonal organic produce
Order by mail
Consumer Reports also recommends checking that fresh organic fruits and vegetables aren't placed too close to nonorganic produce in grocery stores, since misting could let pesticide residue run.
The web site of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that while pesticides carry some risks, especially for babies and kids, strict rules protect people from being exposed to too much pesticide residue.
The Consumer Reports article mentions concerns that widespread use of antibiotics in conventionally raised animals may spawn drug resistance and that synthetic growth hormones (which are banned for poultry and any organically raised animals) could cause cancer or speed up puberty for girls.
Those fears don't hold water, critics say.
The National Dairy Council's web site states that "American milk and dairy products are among the safest and most highly regulated foods in the world" and that milk from hormone-treated cows has repeatedly been shown to be "safe for human consumption."
The U.S. market for organic foods has skyrocketed in recent years and is expected to more than double by 2009, states Consumer Reports.
Meanwhile, government standards for organic foods have been hotly contested. Here's Consumer Reports' guide to label lingo:
"100% organic": No synthetic ingredients are allowed by law.
"Organic": At least 95% of ingredients are organically produced.
"Made with Organic Ingredients": At least 70% of ingredients are organic; the other 30% are from a list approved by the USDA.
"Free-range" or "free-roaming": Animals had an undetermined amount of daily outdoor access. This label does not provide much information about the product.
"Natural" or "All Natural": Doesn't mean organic. No standard definition, except for meat and poultry products, which may not contain any artificial flavoring, colors, chemical preservatives, or synthetic ingredients. Claims aren't checked.
Codex Alimentarius is a monstrously toxic power play for control of the global food supply and the natural health industry.....and almost no one knows it's happenening because it's being implemented very cleaverly!
The Codex Alimentarius agenda, long metastasizing in the recesses of closed board rooms and governmental chambers, is now coming to light. It is the paramount issue of our times. If Codex standards ever replace U.S. food and food-supplement laws, it will affect everything -- not just Americans' right to choose supplements, but our right to grow crops with untampered seeds, to obtain pure organic food from stores and to live free of the tyranny of Big Agro-Chem-Pharma-Med and health-destructive FDA rules enacted and enforced by a pro-corporate, anti-health freedom government.
Codex Alimentarius is the primary political battlefield where the war is being waged about who will regulate and control the global food supply, from field and stable to table. This "war" is being waged by an increasingly tangled web of global governmental and international authorities, aligned with big business and financial interests, and, as such, profit and power are its prime goals -- not human health.
Do we want to see a world where our access to safe, nutritious foods and effective dietary supplements is restricted, suppressed, and controlled by government in alliance with its pharmaceutical and chemical partners? If not, we must act now, before it's too late.
Read the full article, learn what you can do and please spread the word: Article
Organic skin care company Raw Gaia announces the launch of three luxurious gift sets from its distinctive range of living skin care products. The gift sets will be available for purchase from September 10th, in time for the Christmas shopping season.
Raw Gaia is quickly becoming a very popular organic skin care brand. Using only organic, vegan, and as much as possible, fairtrade ingredients, products are hand-made through a special low temperature process in order to retain all the life energy, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and EFAs in the ingredients.
As a result, Raw Gaia’s skin care products are unusually pure and have wonderful moisturising and healing qualities.
The gifts sets to be launched are:
This complete skin care set will give your face and body the living nourishment it truly deserves. Containing some of Raw Gaia’s best selling products, this is a real pampering treat for yourself and as a gift for your loved ones! (RRP: £48)
• For Her Daughters Living Moisturiser. A beautiful feminine cream with revitalising rosehip, evening primrose and palmarosa. 60 ml jar
• Floral Face Toner. An uplifting and refreshing spray that helps to tonify, balance and revitalise all types of skin. With rose otto, neroli, palmarosa, chamomile and melissa. 100 ml bottle.
• Living Facial Cleanser. Leaves your face wonderfully cleansed & nourished. Made with cold-pressed oils, essential oils & floral waters with outstanding anti-bacterial & nourishing properties. 100 ml bottle.
• Wildcrafted & Fairly Traded Shea Butter. Rich in vitamins A, E & F, it is a fantastic moisturiser for the body and makes the skin feel wonderfully smooth. 90g jar.
• Sun-dried Green Clay Face Pack. A wonderful detox face pack that gently draws out toxins and environmental pollutants under the skin in order to heal and clean while giving your face a nice lift and glow. 65g jar.
• Sweet Orange Living Lip Balm. A soothing vegan lip balm with zesty orange essential oil. It helps nourish & heal dry & chapped lips as well as to promote the growth of new skin cells. 10 ml tin.
A great starter pack to experience the benefits and sensual nourishment of Raw Gaia’s living skin care range. It includes Raw Gaia’s new Detox Living Massage Bar, which is great for drawing out toxins and beautifying the skin as well as the Sweet Orange Living Lip Balm, which helps to nourish and heal chapped lips. (RRP £29)
• For Her Daughters Living Moisturiser. A beautiful feminine cream with revitalising rosehip, evening primrose and palmarosa. 60 ml jar
• Floral Face Toner. An uplifting and refreshing spray that helps to tonify, balance and revitalise all types of skin. With rose otto, neroli, palmarosa, chamomile and melissa. 100 ml bottle
• Detox Living Massage Bar: A lovely massage bar that helps to break up and draw out toxins that lie just below the skin’s surface while at the same time, softening and beautifying the skin. With cacao butter and detoxifying essential oils.
• Sweet Orange Living Lip Balm. A soothing vegan lip balm with zesty orange essential oil. It helps to nourish and heal dry and chapped lips as well as promote the growth of new skin cells. 10 ml tin
The vast majority of baby skin care products contain chemicals, parabens, heated oils, etc. and lack any living qualities. This gift set will allow parents to give their babies of one of the most pure and nourishing skin care available anywhere. Includes the For Her Babies Living Cream, created for very sensitive skin and ideal for conditions such eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. (RRP £27)
• For Her Babies Living Cream: A pure & soothing herbal cream, with healing calendula, comfrey and St John's wort. Effective for nappy rashes & conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Unscented. 60 ml jar
• Massage Oil For Her Babies: A gentle & pure baby massage oil that is calming and highly nourishing. With macerated lime blossom oil, which has wonderful relaxation properties. 50 ml bottle
• Floral Water Spray For Her Babies: This floral water spray helps to cool and heal delicate or inflamed skin. With chamomile, lavender and rose otto, which have a calming, balancing effect.
Raw Gaia is currently the only company in the world producing a full range of living skin care products. These are hand-made using only organic, vegan and unheated ingredients, free of any chemicals, through a low temperature process. This offers two advantages over traditional high-temperature methods: it ensures that all the natural nutrients beneficial to skin are retained and avoids the creation of toxic compounds.
DAVIS, Calif., July 11 (UPI) Growing food organically over time may result in healthier food, according to a U.S. study that found higher flavonoid levels in organic tomatoes.
Alyson E. Mitchell, of the University of California at Davis, and colleagues compared levels of key flavonoids in tomatoes harvested over a 10-year period from two matched fields -- one farmed organically and the other with conventional methods that included commercial fertilizers.
The research focused on tomatoes because per capita consumption in the United States is so high, second only to potatoes. Researchers analyzed organic and conventional tomatoes that had been dried and archived under identical conditions from 1994 to 2004.
The levels of flavonoids increased over time in samples from organic treatments, whereas the levels of flavonoids did not vary significantly in conventional treatments, according to the study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Flavonoids may protect against cancer, heart disease, and other age-related diseases.
WHO OWNS YOUR FAVORITE ORGANIC BRANDS? As the $20 billion organic marketplace continues to expand, major corporations continue to take over many of the most familiar organic brands. Dr. Phil Howard, an Assistant Professor at Michigan State, has provided a new update on his popular chart "Who Owns Organic." Are you supporting corporations like Kraft, M&M, or Pepsi with what you thought was a purchase of your old familiar brand?
A new University of Michigan study indicates that organic farming is more productive than chemical and energy intensive industrial agriculture. Researchers noted 293 examples in previous studies that corroborate the fact that organic farming is better than conventional, but pointed out that biased studies funded by chemical producers have clouded the public's understanding of the issue. Corporate agribusiness has spent decades repeating the mantra that chemical intensive agriculture is necessary to feed the world. But according to the new report, "Model estimates indicate that organic methods could produce enough food on a global per capita basis to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural land base." Ivette Perfecto, a professor at the University of Michigan, said of the study, "My hope is that we can finally put a nail in the coffin of the idea that you can't produce enough food through organic agriculture." Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_5996.cfm
According to the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) analysis of data from over 43,000 tests on pesticides in conventional produce, over 90% of ingestion of pesticides in foods can be eliminated by avoiding the most contaminated foods. The "Dirty Dozen" most contaminated foods are peaches (97 percent tested positive for residue), apples (92 percent tested positive), sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes. The "Consistently Clean" are onions (90 percent tested negative), avocados (90 percent), sweet corn (90 percent), pineapples, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and papaya. "Federal produce tests tell us that some fruits and vegetables are so likely to be contaminated with pesticides that you should always buy them organic. Others are so consistently clean that you can eat them with less concern." Says EWG Senior Vice President Richard Wiles. Download your wallet-sized shopper's guide here: http://www.foodnews.org
OCA Calls on Consumers to Boycott Wal-Mart for Degrading Organic Standards Organic Consumers Association, Jan 17, 2007 Straight to the Source
Six months after OCA requested in a widely circulated "Open Letter" that Wal-Mart stop selling Horizon and Aurora Organic milk coming from intensive confinement factory farm dairies, and stop importing cheap organic foods and ingredients from China and Brazil that could and should be supplied by North American organic farmers, the nation's largest and most ethically-challenged retailer has done what you would expect, nothing.
In addition, as the Cornucopia Institute has pointed out over the past two months, Wal-Mart continues to post signs in its stores that mislead consumers into believing that non-organic items are actually organic. Meanwhile Wal-Mart's friends in the USDA's National Organic Program have, of course, done nothing.
Wal-Mart's entry into the organic and fair trade sector has generated much fanfare and publicity, at great benefit to a company seeking to re-brand itself in the wake of broad-based criticism of its business practices. While seeking to improve both its reputation and bottom line by moving into the organic and fair trade market, Wal-Mart has systematically lowered standards for these products by squeezing suppliers and sourcing supplies from factory farms and overseas suppliers. Currently, the demand for organic products outweighs the supply, and Wal-Mart's entry into the market has only exacerbated the problem.
The popularity of organics for consumers has in large part grown from the knowledge among purchasers that products they purchased were raised and produced in a safe, humane and environmentally friendly manner and in many cases were produced locally or regionally. The industrialization of organics by companies like Wal-Mart threatens the ability of consumers to be certain that products they are purchasing are indeed raised and produced according to true organic standards.
Basta! Enough is enough. It is now obvious that organic consumers and anyone who cares about health, justice, and sustainability should stop "bargain shopping" for organic products at Wal-Mart and its Big Box competitors. Breaking the chains of mindless consumerism means taking into consideration that where you buy an organic or green product is just as important as what you buy. And please keep in mind that boycotting Wal-Mart is not just a symbolic gesture. Over the past year, as OCA and hundreds of other groups have shined the light on America's retail Death Star, Wal-Mart has lost somewhere between two and eight percent of its former customers, sending tremors through Wall Street and causing the company to lose sales and profits. In countries like Germany and South Korea, consumer rejection has forced Wal-Mart to close down its operations entirely.
So today and everyday please boycott Wal-Mart and the other Big Box chains. Whenever possible buy your organic and fair trade products from your local co-op or independently owned natural food store, or from your local farmers directly. For more information on where you can find organic and fair trade products in your local area, go to: http://www.organicconsumers.org/btc/buyingguide.cfm
Organic cotton items are fashionable, durable, and healthier for your family.
Gary Oldham’s family had been farming cotton in Texas for over 100 years, and in 1992, his farms were officially certified organic. At the time, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) had just launched their organic certification program, and few people had even heard of organic cotton.
“I didn’t want to farm with chemicals because it was too expensive and it wore out the land. I didn’t want to raise my children around that,” Oldham says.
To help bolster Oldham’s business, the TDA offered him a list of potential clients interested in raw organic cotton. But one woman on the list asked for organic cotton T-shirts.
“I didn’t have a clue how to start making such a thing, but I said I would try,” Oldham says.
A few months later, he launched S.O.S. From Texas, selling organic cotton T-shirts and knit products cultivated from his certified-organic farm. “When you buy organic cotton, you’re supporting a lifestyle that benefits the land and prevents chemicals from entering the body. We need to leave something for the next generation,” he says. Since Oldham started his business, the organic industry has exploded, and organic cotton fibers are now used in everything from personal care items and home furnishings to children’s toys and all types of clothes.
Thanks to the pioneering efforts of businesses like Oldham’s, clothing giants like Nike and Gap are starting to embrace organic cotton, meaning that it soon could catch up to the popularity levels of organic food as concerned consumers learn more about its benefits.
Whenever possible, choose organic cotton products over those made of conventional cotton. You’ll preserve the health of workers and communities; keep tons of pesticides out of our air, soil, and water; and help sustain the growing popularity of this versatile, comfortable fiber.
The Problem with Conventional Cotton
Conventional cotton farming is one of the most environmentally destructive agricultural practices—harming the air, water, soil, and farmers’ health and safety. The blame for that harm lies mainly with the huge amounts of pesticides used in conventional cotton farming. Although cotton occupies three percent of the world’s farmland, it uses more than ten percent of the pesticides, a category that includes herbicides, insecticides, and defoliants.
Pesticides are most often sprayed from the air, so they spread easily to surrounding neighborhoods. Only an estimated ten percent of this flood of chemicals actually accomplish their goal. The rest are absorbed by plants, soil, air, water, and our bodies—killing wildlife and harming ecosystems. The US Fish & Wildlife Service reports that millions of fish and birds are killed every year from the legal application of pesticides.
Pesticides can also adversely affect the health of cotton workers and those living near cotton fields. The US Environmental Protection Agency has labeled seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton as &ldquoossible,” “likely,” &ldquorobable,” or “known” human carcinogens. Other pesticide-related health problems include birth defects, long-term memory loss, headaches, nausea, or problems with the nervous system, reproductive system, and immune system. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 20,000 people die each year in developing countries as a result of the chemicals sprayed on non-organic cotton.
Protecting People and the Planet
When it comes to cotton, the solution to the pesticide problem is to go organic. Organic cotton is grown without chemical fertilizers, defoliants, pesticides, or herbicides, and from untreated, non genetically-modified seed. Farmers rotate crops to replenish and maintain the soil’s fertility, and they control pests and weeds naturally, using insect predators, traps, or botanical pesticides that are broken down quickly by oxygen and sunlight.
As a result, organic farming is healthier and safer for farmers, fieldworkers, and nearby communities. Growing cotton organically also benefits small-scale farmers who don’t have the means to buy expensive pesticides. And organic cotton farming uses significantly less water and electric power than conventional cottonfarming techniques.
Keep in mind, however, that federal organic standards only cover the raw fiber harvesting process. Once the organic cotton fiber leaves the farm, there are no federal standards in place for further processing—so your organic cotton fabrics could be treated with harmful chlorine bleaches, heavy metal dyes, and finishers containing suspected carcinogens and other toxins.
“For the consumer, the most toxic part of clothing comes from fabric treatments. Chemicals that resist flames, water, moths, stains, soil, and wrinkles have been impregnated into the fabric and are often very hard to remove through washing,” says Annie Bond, author of Home Enlightenment. The Organic Trade Association has developed voluntary organic standards that address all stages of textile processing, including bleaching, dyeing, printing, product assembly, storage and transportation, pest management, and labeling.
Of course, choosing any kind of organic cotton products over conventional cotton keeps chemicals out of the environment and protects human health. But your best option is to buy organic cotton from companies that also avoid chemical bleaches, dyes, and finishers. When you shop for organic cotton products, ask companies whether they have organic production standards in place or have committed to the OTA’s standards.
Green businesses in particular have embraced the idea of making their organic cotton products sustainable from the farm to the store. For example, Earth Creations sells organic cotton and other natural fiber clothing made with nontoxic clay dyes and no chemical bleaches or finishers. In addition, their clothing is made in the USA by factories that are monitored for worker health and safety.
“There is a right way and a wrong way to make clothes,” says Earth Creations owner Joy Maples. “Organic benefits everyone. It feels great and looks great. And it has so many long-term benefits. It sustains the whole world, not just the US."
A Growing Industry: The Giants Jump In
Signs indicate that organic cotton is poised for major growth. Years ago, organic fibers were hard to find, but now major retailers—along with innovative green businesses—are incorporating organic cotton into their products, especially clothing.
Popular outdoor gear companies Patagonia, Timberland, and Canada’s Mountain Equipment Co-op have used organic cotton for years. Timberland plans for all of its cotton products to be 100 percent organic by 2011.
Following in their footsteps, clothing giants Levi’s, Gap, and Nike now use organic cotton blends in some of their products. Although their organic cotton use equals less than three percent of their total cotton use, they now represent three of the largest organic cotton purchasers in the country.
In addition, eco-chic was all the rage at FutureFashion, a special show during this year’s New York Fashion Week that featured clothes made from organic fibers. Popular designers such as Diane von Furstenberg and Oscar de la Renta created clothing from organic cotton, wool, and hemp.
“The natural fibers market is following in the footsteps of organic groceries,” explains Shari Keller, owner and designer of Mehera Shaw, which uses organic cotton fabrics from India. “Organic cotton is really coming into the mainstream.”
“Even people who don’t live a green lifestyle are aware of it,” agrees Maples. “It’s in their face now.” But it’s the green companies who are leading the way in terms of sustainable practices, says Denise Hamler, Co-op America’s director of green business programs. “Some of the most cutting-edge initiatives in design, technology, and products are coming from the Co-op America Business Network members that are featured in the National Green Pages™ ,” she says.
How You Can Boost Organic Cotton
There are many things you can do to push for more organic cotton on the market.
• Choose organic clothes: When you shop for cotton clothing for men, women, children, and babies, go organic whenever possible. Be sure to ask companies offering organic cotton if they have organic production standards in place to keep all chemicals out of their clothes. You can find a list of stores in your area that sell organic cotton by visiting www.organicconsumers.org/organiccotton.html.
• Look for other organic cotton products: Organic cotton isn’t just for clothes. You can find organic cotton bed and crib mattresses, towels, sheets, shopping bags, stuffed toys, cloth diapers, and other items in stores and online.
• Go organic for promotional items. When you or your organization or business needs promotional items like T-shirts and bags, choose those made from organic cotton. Check the “Promotional Resources” category of our National Green Pages™, or visit the OTA Web site.
• Talk to retailers. Write letters and talk to local retailers, asking them to carry organic fiber products. If they already do, ask if they have organic production standards, as well.
“How can we not go organic?” asks Maples. “There’s shouldn’t be any other option.”
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