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The Organic Market: It’s Growing!

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The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the leading voice of the organic trade industry in North Amercia. They conduct surveys and publish reports on what has happened in the past, what’s going on now and what is expected to happen in the future when it comes to organic agriculture and products. With more and more people taking greater interest in the health and well being of themselves and their families, it’s not surprising to hear of the strong expansion of organics recently reported by the OTA.

In 2013, sales of organic products jumped to just over $35 billion, an increase of 11.5% from 2012. This increase represents the fastest growth in the last five years. Laura Batcha, executive director and CEO of the OTA, says, “Consumers are making the correlation between what we eat and our health, and that knowledge is spurring heightened consumer interest in organic products.”

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While organic food products dominate the impressive sales figures, non-food products such as fiber, flowers and bedding are expanding their reach into new markets and have almost doubled in market share. Demand for organic products is rising, which encourages the advancement of access to these products. Look around in the places where you shop and you will likely see more shelf space given to organic options. With terms like “eco” and “natural” showing up on more and more products, consumers are often swayed into believing claims of being better for the environment or better for health. “The entire organic industry needs to rally around helping consumers better understand and appreciate all the values that certified organic brings to the table,” said Batcha. “Consumer education is critical to grow the organic industry,” she adds.

Movers and shakers of the North American Organic Trade industry will be meeting in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 21 for the OTA’s Annual Policy Conference, where they will discuss the accomplishments as well as the challenges facing this growing industry.

Organic is going mainstream! Jump in, the water is fine!

Class dismissed….for now.

Road To Wellness: The Journey To Better Health

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Where are you in the journey to better health? Are you just now finding the path, or is your route well established? With more and more people choosing organic, eating healthier food and striving for healthier lifestyles, the options to help us get there are expanding. We’ve come a long way since 1867, when synthetic baby food was first invented. Food products have been created to make our lives easier. The growth of fast food restaurants, convenient food products and frozen food items have changed the way America consumes meals.

How have discoveries in medicine and health affected our diet?

Take a journey down the Road To Wellness, a look at 200 years of inventions and discovery relating to our health and wellness by The Hartman Group.

 

Road to Wellness

Road to Wellness – 200 Years of Health & Wellness

Spring is in the Air…

Spring is finally here! After an unusually bizarre winter with the “polar vortex” swirling around the east and the dry skies in the west, we’re all ready to enjoy the pleasures of springtime. The sun is shining, maybe a little rain is still falling, but warm weather is here, hopefully to stay!

 

Here is a list of 10 things to do, get outside… enjoy the weather and your family and friends.

1. Read outside on a blanket in the sun

2. Go fishing with your buddies

images-13. Do some spring cleaning to fun music

4. Make these beautiful spring centerpieces, using simple glass jars and lemons for a touch of color!

20893414909de221e35e3b2d0ff7b1fa-15. Fly a kite on the beach

6. Plan a “staycation” with these cool ideas

7. Take pictures of wildflowers

5847087633_598af01050_z-18. Make this delicious “dirt cake”:

6309663259aac1a07cbdb3f4d3e9cf879. Walk barefoot on cool grass

10. Make a fairy garden like this one!

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Don’t Lose Sleep During Sleep Awareness Week

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Wake up!  Sleep Awareness Week is now underway and will wrap up with everyone losing an extra hour of sleep for Daylight Savings Time.  The National Sleep Foundation recently released the Sleep in America Poll® examining the sleep habits of caregivers and their children.

 

The primary objectives of the research included looking at parents’ perception of the importance of sleep, factors that impaired sleep and the impact of various types of electronic devices in parents’ and children’s bedrooms.  Not surprisingly, parents placed great value in the importance of sleep for their own health and wellbeing and for their children.  Over 90% felt a good night’s sleep helped with mood, health and performance. Of the parents that responded, 69% felt the importance of sleep was extremely important for their child’s performance at school.

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photo credit Image Source/Getty

Factors that made sleep more difficult included juggling evening activities, homework, temperature, noise, light and pets.  Managing busy family afternoon and evening activities was the most common challenge.  The survey revealed that 41% of parents and 34% of children experienced getting a good night’s sleep due to evening activities.  Temperature was a factor in impaired sleep for 35% of parents. 

Electronic devices are commonplace throughout the home.  When used in the bedroom they have the potential to disrupt the quality and duration of sleep.  The light and noise from these devices can also lead to delayed bedtimes.  Televisions were the most common device found in bedrooms, with 62% of parents and 45% of children having televisions in their bedrooms.  Leaving electronic devices on at night can especially cause sleep to suffer, and the television was left on more often than any other device.

Are you aware of your sleeping habits?  Do you tend to have lots of activities in the evening?  Is your bedroom filled with electronic devices that might be robbing you of restful sleep?  Learning about your sleeping habits and rituals is the first step.  The National Sleep Foundation, which commissioned this study, is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that Americans are aware that their sleep is an important aspect of their overall health and safety. 

Ok, you can go to sleep now.

Comfort Food with a Healthy Twist

Since Phil the groundhog saw his shadow this year on Groundhog Day, I am pulling out a favorite dish to celebrate this extra-long winter. Found on Pinch of Yum is a recipe with a twist on the traditional broccoli and chicken casserole, with extra protein from bacon and quinoa!

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CREAMY CHICKEN QUINOA AND BROCCOLI CASSEROLE

Author: Pinch of Yum

Serves: 6

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups reduced sodium organic chicken broth
  • 1 cup organic milk
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • ¼ cup cooked, crumbled bacon
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning (like Emeril’s Essence)
  • ¼ cup shredded Gruyere cheese (any kind will work)
  • 3 cups fresh organic broccoli florets

INSTRUCTIONS

1.Sauce: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and generously grease a 9×13 baking dish (seriously, be generous because it really really sticks to the sides). Bring the chicken broth and ½ cup milk to a low boil in a saucepan. Whisk the other ½ cup milk with the poultry seasoning and flour; add the mixture to the boiling liquid and whisk until a smooth creamy sauce forms.

2.Assembly: In a large bowl, mix the sauce from step one, one cup water, quinoa, and bacon and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips and lay the chicken breast strips over the top of the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with the seasoning. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

3.Broccoli: While the casserole is in the oven, place the broccoli in boiling water for 1 minute until it turns bright green and then run under cold water. Set aside.

4.Bake: Remove the casserole from the oven, check the mixture by stirring it around in the pan, and if needed, cover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. When the quinoa and chicken are cooked, add the broccoli and a little bit of water (up to one cup) until the consistency is creamy and smooth and you can stir it up easily in the pan. Top with the cheese and bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or just long enough to melt the cheese.

NOTES

You will know the quinoa is done when it is soft and looks as if it has popped open, with the germ of the kernel visible as a little spiral. If you want the chicken to get that browned exterior, leave the foil off for part of the cooking time, but be aware that the quinoa does take a lot longer to cook without the foil.

For the full recipe and many other delicious recipes check out Pinch of Yums website here.

Talalay and Dunlop Latex

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Latex can be found in many different products in the form of natural or synthetic.  The synthetic form of latex is derived from petroleum, while the natural form…you guessed it…comes from nature!  Many plants produce natural latex, but the Pará rubber tree produces the liquid latex used in the majority of commercial applications.

Talalay and Dunlop are the two methods used to make liquid latex into a core for a latex mattress.  So what’s the difference between the two processes?  It boils down the heating and cooling (no pun intended).  Talalay is a process of vacuum pressurization, flash freezing and heating followed by several washes.  With the Dunlop method, liquid latex is poured into molds, heated and washed, and does not have the flash freeze step that the Talalay goes through.  Both processes have been improved in recent years to yield a more consistent product.

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Another development in latex is the Global Organic Latex Standard, or GOLS.  This standard establishes sustainable processing methods from organic raw materials and also addresses standards for the health, safety and welfare of workers during the manufacturing process.  This new organic certification is available only with Dunlop latex, and everyone here at OMI couldn’t be happier to have more assurance and another step in purity.

The Cure for Snoring is…

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When it comes to sleep, many people or their sleeping partners have a problem with snoring. Some have turned to nasal strips, while others experience insomnia. This woman found a different, more homeopathic approach to helping her husband with his snoring habit…singing!

Read more from this article to find out how you too may be able to stop your snoring or that of your sleeping partner

“While there are a number of sophisticated medical treatments available, such as nasal and oral devices as well as surgery, Ojay’s solution is more akin to a natural home remedy. The British choir director claims that a series of routine vocalizations, performed 20 minutes a day over the course of less than a month, can reduce snoring significantly. That’s because these ‘singing exercises,’ she says, were formulated specifically to work out throat muscles that have weakened over time. The approach is based on the premise that firming up these muscles would allow air to pass in and out with less obstruction.”

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/cure-snoring-singing-180949408/

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Discovered 1962 Speech

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Today, the day we celebrate the life of our country’s greatest civil rights leader, I hope you have a few minutes to go listen to a new online exhibition featuring the only known recording of Dr. Martin Luther’s King, Jr.’s 1962 speech, now available from the New York State Museum.  The speech commemorated the centennial anniversary of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

New Resolve for the New Year: Seven Resolutions for a Healthier Lifestyle

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With the New Year come New Year’s Resolutions!  The most popular resolutions often have something to do with health as people recommit to a healthy lifestyle in the new year.  Maybe you’ve already been thinking about your resolutions, but if not, we’ve put together seven resolutions to help you lead a more healthful life:

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1.  Graze your way to better health

Making even small changes in your diet can have favorable results for better health.  Keep a diary to track what you eat during the day and review what changes you may need to make.  Choosing organic food is one easy way to help eliminate toxins from your body.

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2.  Boost your physical activity

For some, this might mean starting to train for a marathon; for others, it might mean getting up from the couch more often during commercials. Try some new approaches to see what works best for you.  Try parking your car a little further away, start your day with a few stretches, or dance the night away with your sweetheart.  A few modifications done consistently can develop into beneficial habits.

3.  Sleep well

A good night’s sleep can help restore your body and provide the energy you need for the next day.  Going to bed at a regular time each night can help you sleep better. Perhaps it is time to flip your mattress or invest in a new one.  If you haven’t budgeted for a new mattress, consider starting the new year with a new pillow.  A good pillow may help you sleep better, and may even help those with allergies.  We spend about a third of our lives in bed, so make sure your bed and bedding help promote your health rather than damage it.

4.  Quit smoking

OK, perhaps this falls into the “easier said than done” category.  If you do smoke, try cutting back.  It’s hard to quit cold turkey, so try the gradual approach.  Maybe you pick a day of the week when you won’t smoke, or wait until the afternoon before you have your first cigarette.  If you’re tired of eating sunflower seeds during smoking cessation, try other approaches, such as hypnosis, acupuncture or tai chi to help manage stress.

5.  Stretch your brain cells

Keep your brain active by brushing the dust off an old hobby or by learning something new.  Maybe you took music lessons in your youth but haven’t touched an instrument in years.  Did you learn a foreign language in school, but don’t get a chance to use it?  You may be surprised at how much you have retained.  Stay curious and seek new things to learn.  Try out your skills at crossword puzzles or other games to keep your brain active and healthy.

6.  Expand your social life

Creating positive relationships with others can help your physical and emotional health.  A good social network is a great way to connect with others who may share similar interests or introduce you to new ones.  Try volunteering at a local nonprofit.  Seek out a community center in your area for social gatherings or classes.  Don’t sit on the sidelines…get in the game.

 7.  Visit your doctor

Healthcare has become more affordable for millions of Americans.  Take stock of your current situation by getting a complete physical.  An assessment can help you focus on areas that might need more immediate attention.

By taking even small steps in these areas you can reduce your risk of many ailments and enjoy the journey on the road to a healthier lifestyle.

May the New Year bring you much health & happiness!

Researching GMOs

There has been a lot of talk about GMOs lately, including this from the Organic Consumers Association (OCA):

The GMO "Arctic Apple®"

“The Arctic Apple® provides no health benefit to consumers. No benefit to growers. It’s only “benefit” is that it won’t turn brown when you slice it or bite into it. 

The USDA is set to approve the GMO apple before Christmas. Unless the agency heeds the tens of thousands of consumers, environmentalists and apple growers who are asking for more safety testing. Or at the least, a label?”

To check out the full article, click HERE.
 

I realized I don’t know as much about GMOs as I would like, so I did a little research.  The Non-GMO Project is a great resource for GMO information.  From their website:

imagesGMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

“Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.

Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.”  (Check out their website for tons of great information.)

If you are unsure of where you stand on the GMO issue, or just want to know what the fight is all about, the best thing you can do is research for yourself.  An informed consumer is the best defense against huge corporations putting profit before people and the environment.

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