Organic vs. Natural: What is the Difference?

Organic Farming, Natural Products

Why should you purchase an organic mattress? How is organic any different or better than “natural”?

First, “natural” is an unregulated, relative term. Since the FTC does not regulate the use of the term “natural,” companies can (and do) use it to describe an array of products. Natural does not necessarily mean organic. It does not necessarily mean healthy. Natural does not mean nontoxic or pure. Without regulation, the definition of the term “natural” has widened substantially.

Many “natural” mattresses contain polyurethane, formaldehyde, and other toxic materials. Companies do not have to prove the purity of “natural” products like they are required to do with organic products. Third-party organic certifications are the only way to prove the organic nature of a product.

Organic Letterpress Type in Drawer

The majority of OMI’s products are certified organic. OMI’s raw materials and products hold only third-party certifications, which are non-membership-based. Non-membership-based certifications allow manufacturers to show consumers unbiased proof that their products are made with truly organic materials.

OMI’s raw materials and products hold some of the most reputable certifications available, through third-party organizations like the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Oeko-Tex, the National Organic Program (NOP), Greenguard, and the USDA. OMI’s factory is also the only GOLS-and-GOTS-approved clean manufacturing facility in North America!

So how do these organic certifications prove the organic nature of a product? Here is a short run-down on each of them so you can see how they provide the organics industry with regulations to protect the purity of the product. Some certifications even include social and environmental regulations, as well.

Control Union Certifications: GOLS and GOTS

Control Union Certifications (CU) is an independent, internationally operating certification body that carries out inspections and audits and issues certificates. Control Union developed the GOLS and GOTS certifications, and has had years of experience certifying organic products in other industries. Their organic certification is accepted by authorities in every country and is accredited by RvA (Dutch Council of Accreditation).

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The Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) is a latex certification available to mattress manufacturers. This certification ensures that all materials and manufacturing processes adhere to strict and specific international organic standards. OMI’s Dunlop latex and OrganicPedic® latex mattresses are the first to be certified to the Global Organic Latex Standard.

GOTS Logo

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is dedicated specifically to fiber and textile handling and production. The aim of the standard is to define requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing all the way up to labeling, in order to provide credible organic assurance to the end consumer. OMI’s Eco-Wool, textiles, ticking, and thread, as well as our innerspring mattresses and bedding products, are certified organic through GOTS.

Greenguard®’s mission is to identify consumer products that can improve quality of life and public health standards within indoor environments by testing finished products for VOC offgassing. All OrganicPedic® mattresses meet the stringent criteria of the Greenguard Environmental Institute (GEI). GEI’s mission is to boost public health and quality of life through programs that improve indoor air quality. OrganicPedic® mattresses were the first natural rubber mattresses to receive the coveted GEI certification. OMI’s OrganicPedic® line of mattresses holds the coveted Greenguard Gold certification, which has the most stringent requirements and was designed for products that would be used for children and schools. No other adult mattress can make this claim.

oeko-texwebsite

Oeko-Tex

In addition, both our Dunlop and Talalay rubber has been independently tested and certified to Oeko-Tex Standard 100, so it’s guaranteed to contain no harmful substances. Oeko-Tex is respected throughout the world for its stringent testing methods, guaranteeing the absence of substances that are harmful to human health.

USDA/NOP

While there is still no USDA organic standard for manufactured mattress cores (regardless of what you see on the Web), USDA/NOP certification does provide a third-party raw-material assurance for cotton and latex sap. OMI’s cotton is certified by the Texas Department of Agriculture to be in compliance with growing and handling standards set by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), and both our Talalay and Dunlop latex sap is certified.

Rubber Tree Sap

As you can see, reputable third-party organic certifications make a huge difference when offering organic products to consumers. They provide consumers peace of mind when purchasing organic options. The strict requirements of the certifications allow the consumer to trace the product back to the field and/or animal that provided the product’s raw materials. “Natural” products do not provide the same trail of proof.

Cotton pod

With OMI, you can know that we provide the purest possible products to our consumers, and we offer proof through our organic certifications. We also go a step farther by manufacturing our products in a clean organically dedicated facility.

For more information on our products and organic certifications, visit our website at www.omimattress.com.

How to keep your pets safe during hot summer days.

As we go through the summer months with rising temperatures, it can be uncomfortable and dangerous to not only people, but our pets too. As pet owners, we need to be aware of these dangers and how to keep our pets cool and comfortable.

Here are a few tips to help keep your pets safe and comfortable in the summer heat.

  1. Never leave your pet in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked. Temperatures inside a vehicle rise rapidly. For example, on an 85-degree day the temperature inside a car with the windows cracked can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature can reach 120 degrees. This will cause organ damage and even death for any pet.

  2. Limit exercise on hot days. On really hot days, limit your pet to early-morning or evening-hour exercises. Also, be especially careful with pets that have light-colored ears, since they are more susceptible to skin cancer. Pets with short noses, who typically have difficulty breathing, may also have a lot of difficulty in extreme heat. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pets’ paws, so walk them on grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your pet hydrated. 

  1. A fan isn’t enough. Pets respond to heat differently than humans do. Dogs sweat through their feet, and fans don’t have the same effect on dogs that they do on people.

  2. Give them plenty of shade and water. Make sure your pet has protection from the heat and sun, and plenty of fresh cold water. During heat waves, add ice to water to keep it cooler longer. You may think that a just because a doghouse provides shade it can keep your dog cool enough, but it doesn’t. There isn’t enough air flow in a typical doghouse to keep a pet cool.

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  3. Take your dog swimming. If your dog enjoys water, this can be a great way for him to cool off and get some exercise. If you don’t live by water, you can use a kiddie pool in a shaded area. FullSizeRender.jpg

  4. Watch for signs of heat stroke.  Warning signs to look for include, heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep-red or purple tongue, seizures, and unconsciousness.

Certain animals are more prone to heat stroke than others including, Senior pets and very young animals, overweight pets, pets that don’t get a lot of exercise or that have heart and respiratory issues.

Certain breeds of dogs, like boxers, pugs, and shih tzus, have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

If you think your pet is experiencing heat-stroke symptoms, move your pet into the shade or to an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck, and chest. Give your pet fresh, cold water or ice cubes to lick and call your veterinarian.

For more information, check out the Humane Society’s website for tips to keep pets safe in the heat. Let’s work together to keep all pets safe this summer.

5 Festive Fourth of July Recipes

Independence Day is this weekend. I am excited for one of my favorite Fourth of July traditions: the cookout. Each summer, I search for new and delicious fare to serve for this festive occasion. This year, I found some great recipes on Good Housekeeping’s website and also on azcentral.com.

Firecracker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

If you’d like to add a little spice to your holiday lineup, this sandwich will really hit the spot.

Ingredients

Sandwiches
  • ½ c. hot sauce
  • ¼ c. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. ketchup
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Hamburger buns
  • ½ c. ranch dressing
Bleu Cheese-Apple Slaw
  • 1 c. packed shredded Savoy cabbage
  • 1 small apple
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 1½ oz. bleu cheese
  • ¼ c. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl; reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture. Add chicken to the remaining mixture and toss to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from marinade; discard marinade.
  3. Grill chicken, covered, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Grill buns until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread dressing on buns.
  4. Serve chicken topped with Bleu Cheese-Apple Slaw and drizzled with reserved sauce between buns.
  5. To make the slaw:Combine all slaw ingredients in a large bowl.

 

Smoky Barbequed Shrimp & Peach Kabobs

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

For lighter fare, these flavorful skewers kick it up a notch.

 Ingredients

  • 12 metal or bamboo skewers
  • 1 tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 lb. shelled de-veined shrimp
  • 3 medium peaches
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • Lime wedges

Directions

  1. If using bamboo skewers, soak skewers in cold water at least 30 minutes to prevent burning. Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high.
  2. In large bowl, combine brown sugar, chile powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add shrimp, peaches, and onion; toss until evenly coated.
  3. Thread shrimp, peaches, and onion alternately onto skewers.
  4. Grill 3 to 4 minutes or until browned and shrimp become opaque throughout, turning once. Serve with lime wedges.

 

Red, White, and Bleu Potato Salad

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

This fresher version of a traditional staple is a welcome accompaniment to any summer barbeque.

Ingredients

  • 3 lb. red potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • ¼ c. aged sherry vinegar
  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ c. bleu cheese
  • ⅓ c. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 14 oz. watercress
  • 2 green onions

Directions

  1. Place potatoes in an 8-quart saucepot. Add water until potatoes are immersed. Add 2 tablespoons salt and heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium. Boil 10 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are just cooked through, but not soft. Test by piercing a potato with a thin skewer or toothpick; when skewer meets some resistance but can slide all the way through, drain potatoes immediately. Potatoes can be drained and set aside at room temperature up to 4 hours ahead.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, mustard, bleu cheese, and 1/3 cup oil. This vinaigrette can be covered and refrigerated up to 4 hours ahead.
  3. Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high.
  4. Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of each slice with the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, then sprinkle with a 1/2-teaspoon of salt and a 1/4-teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Place potato slices on the hot grill grate. Grill 5 to 10 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned on both sides, turning over once.
  6. Place watercress on large serving platter. Top with the potatoes and green onions. Drizzle the vinaigrette on top. Serve immediately.

 

Firework Fruit Skewers

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Van Blankenship/Gannett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids (and adults) will love these colorful and festive fruity fireworks.

Ingredients

  • 1 set of 10-inch skewers
  • Watermelon
  • Star cookie cutter
  • Blueberries
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Red grapes (optional)
  • Raspberries (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash fruit and skewers.
  2. Slice watermelon into 1-inch pieces that fit your cookie cutter’s width.
  3. Cut out stars from the watermelon using your cookie cutter.
  4. To assemble the skewers, slide a blueberry onto a stick. Follow with a mini marshmallow.
  5. Repeat, rotating between berries and marshmallows until there is about an inch of stick left.
  6. Place a star-shaped watermelon slice at the top of each skewer, making sure the pointed stick is not exposed.
  7. If desired, add red grapes or raspberries after the marshmallows to make a red, white, and blue pattern on the stick.

 

Star-Spangled Sangria

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Van Blankenship/Gannett

Don’t forget a crisp and refreshing beverage to beat the summer heat.

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 3 oz. elderflower liqueur
  • 2 c. blueberries, washed
  • 2 c. strawberries, washed and quartered
  • 3-4 Granny Smith apples
  • 12 oz. sparkling water
  • Ice

Directions

  1. Combine the first four ingredients in a pitcher.
  2. Slice the apples into 1/4-inch pieces, wide enough to fit your cookie cutter.
  3. Cut out stars from the apple slices using your cookie cutter.
  4. Chill beverage for at least 4 hours.
  5. Just before serving the sangria, add sparkling water.
  6. Serve sangria in a tall glass with ice and garnish with an apple-star cutout.

Now that you have some delicious ideas for your holiday cookout, you can have peace of mind going into this busy holiday weekend. Just remember to hit your local farm stands and farmers’ markets to get the freshest local organic ingredients.

Click here >> for more fun OMI recipe ideas.

 

 

Tips to Keep Your Produce Fresh Longer and Lessen Food Waste

 

Assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables and berries. Bunch of carrots, spinach, tomatoes and red apples on chopping board, blueberries and cranberries in old colander over old wooden table. Top view

According to the National Resource Defense Council the average modern American family throws out between $1,000 and $2,200 in groceries each year  That is approximately 470 pounds of food!   With the continuous effort to eat healthier diets full of fruits and vegetables that means 25% off the wasted food is produce.

There are many ways we can help lessen waste and reduce our carbon footprint. One of the easiest ways to lessen waste is to learn how to properly store produce to ensure the longest shelf life.

Here are a few great tips on storing produce:

Do not store fruits and vegetables together

Fruits that give off high levels of ethylene (a ripening agent) can prematurely ripen and spoil the surrounding produce.

Refrigerate these ethylene releasers:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Figs
  • Honeydew

Do not refrigerate these ethylene releasers:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Tomatoes

Keep these away from all ethylene releasers:

  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce and other leafy greens
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelon

For Vegetables

Before storing, remove rubber bands and trim any leafy ends. Leave about an inch of the stems to keep the vegetable from drying out. Make sure the bag you store the vegetables in has some holes punctured to allow good airflow. Pack vegetables loosely in the refrigerator. The closer together they are, the quicker they will rot. Leafy greens should be washed before storing by soaking them in a sink full of water, while soft herbs and mushrooms should not be washed until right before they are used.

For Fruits

Non-cherry stone fruits, avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples, and pears will continue to ripen if left sitting out on a countertop, while items like bell peppers, grapes, citrus, and berries will deteriorate if left out, and should be refrigerated. Bananas in particular ripen very quickly, and will also speed the ripening of any nearby fruits.

Here is a chart that offers a quick reference for how long and where each type of produce can be stored:

Photo courtesy: www.100daysofrealfood.com
Photo courtesy: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com

Keep enjoying delicious and nutritious produce with these tips!

How to Choose the Right Pillow for You

I never thought about how a pillow can affect your quality of sleep and even your quality of life, but it really does make a huge difference in both respects. I grew up, as many of us do, sleeping on cotton or wool pillows. There are so many different types of pillows, and they are all meant for a variety of purposes. So how do you choose the right pillow for you?

Beautiful woman sleeping in white bed

Your pillow preference will depend on many factors, including your size, shape, and preferred sleeping position/s. A pillow that is good for a stomach sleeper may not have enough support for a side sleeper. Some pillows are better for people who suffer from allergies. Some can last much longer than others. OMI offers a variety of great pillows to meet your personalized needs. They are made with certified organic Eco-Wool™, certified organic cotton, 100%-natural rubber latex, and/or organic buckwheat hulls, in a variety of styles and comforts and covered in a luxuriously soft certified organic cotton cover.

So how do you know which pillow is right for you?

 

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OMI’s Certified Organic Cotton Pillow

For those of you seeking a firmer, flatter pillow, our cotton pillows are filled with pure, sanitized 100% certified organic cotton.

 

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OMI’s Certified Organic Eco-Wool™ Pillow

If you’d like a pillow that feels soft and springy, offers natural body-temperature regulation, and compacts less than cotton, then our Eco-Wool™ pillow is for you!

 

Latex pillows are my personal preference. I am a back and side sleeper, and I LOVE how latex instantly conforms to and supports my head and neck. OMI’s molded latex pillow has a comfortable medium support, and is perfect for when I am sleeping face-up. It supports my head and neck without pushing back too much on my head.

 

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OMI’s 100%-Natural Rubber Molded and Contour Pillows

The contour pillow is great for side sleepers. It contours to the curve of your neck and successfully keeps your head and neck aligned by filling in the space between your head and shoulders. It has a lower side and a higher side, so you have the choice of less or more support. Plus, dust mites hate latex, which makes them great for people with allergies, and OMI’s 100%-natural rubber latex pillows do not offgas harmful chemicals.

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OMI’s Wool-Wrapped 100%-Natural Shredded Rubber Pillow

OMI also offers 100%-natural shredded rubber latex pillows. Shredded latex pillows are great for sleepers who would like the benefits of a latex pillow, but are not sure what kind of loft would be best for their needs. The Wool-Wrapped 100%-Natural Shredded Rubber Pillow and the Crush™ 100%-natural shredded rubber pillow both offer customizable comfort.

 

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OMI’s Crush™ 100%-Natural Shredded Rubber Pillow

The certified organic cotton zippered cover allows the owner to add or remove the shredded latex to create a lighter or fuller comfort. The wool-wrapped shredded latex pillow has an outer chamber filled with our certified organic Eco-Wool™, which helps you to sleep cooler.

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OMI’s Wool-Wrapped Certified Organic Buckwheat-Hull Pillow

The wool-wrapped buckwheat pillow is another great option for sleepers who prefer to customize their pillow loft. In this dual-chambered pillow, the outside chamber is filled with organic Eco-Wool™, which cushions both the feel and the sound associated with buckwheat pillows. The inner chamber is filled with certified organic buckwheat hulls, which you can add or remove to customize your comfort.

No matter what your needs or preferences, OMI has the pure, organic pillow for you!

Click here for more information or to find the nearest OMI retailer.

Great Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Colorful_spring_gardenMother’s day is only days away. Show your mom how much you love her with a thoughtful gift straight from the heart.

  1. Plan an Outing:  Take your mom to her favorite restaurant, museum, play, movie, concert, or some other event she would enjoy
  2. Plan a Special At-Home Treat:  Make her breakfast in bed, or plan a night in, make her a delicious dinner, then watch a video and relax.morgan-making-smoothie-273x300
  3. Create a gift from things you have around the house, such as this no-sew t-shirt pillow:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDVcStxBINs
  4. Make Her Kitchen Mason-Jar Herb Garden:mason-jar-planter-board-747x1024Use a piece of wood and affix the quart-size mason jars using heavy-duty stainless hose clamps, adding chalkboard strips for labeling. Place gravel or clay shards at the bottom of the jars to avoid rot.Click HERE for the full tutorial. 
  5. Paint a Tin-Can Mini Flower Pot: Transform tin cans into elegant containers for potted roses with a can of spray paint in a bright and stylish color.
  6. Give Her the Gift of Relaxation: Gift your mom a relaxing gift basket filled with assorted “tub teas.” pampering items, lotions, etc., to help with sleepless nights.
  7. Glass Vase Centerpiece:Shanty2Chic-Bottle-VaseUse recycled glass wine bottles in a pine or whitewood frame and with fresh flowers.   For a full tutorial on creating this gift, visit Shanty 2 Chic
  8. Recipe Ring:
    DIY-Recipe-Ring
    A great easy gift to help keep your mom’s special recipes. Type out recipes with 6” long and 4” tall dimensions so you are able to glue them onto note cards. Print the recipes onto different-colored paper. You can even color code them according to side dish, entree, dessert, etc. Cut out and glue to note cards; laminate if possible. Hole-punch the top left corner and add a ring. You can even attach a new bright spatula or whisk to the ring for a fun extra addition.  
    Click HERE for the full tutorial. 
  9. Head Outdoors:
    family-walking-through-the-woods1
    Enjoy the great outdoors with a trip to the park for a picnic, or plan a hike to a favorite outdoor area.
  10. Framed Memory: A picture can be worth a thousand words, so give your mom a favorite picture of you or your siblings, or even the two of you together.
  11. Send a Thoughtful Card: Skip the funny card from the card aisle at the grocery store and make your own. Include a note about how special your mom is to you.

This Mother’s Day, make sure to do a little something extra special!

Celebrate Earth Day

This Friday will mark the 46th year of the Earth Day movement!  Earth Day continues to inspire and ignite passion to motivate people into action to help protect our planet. There are many ways we can start incorporating eco-friendly ideas into our lives to lessen our impact on the globe. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Volunteer to pick up litter at your neighborhood park, beach, hiking trail, etc.
  2. Help evaluate the recycling system in your home and office to ensure you are using the best system possible.6881231757_3cb80f7652_b
  3. Be conscious of your energy and water usage. Turn off lights and unplug appliances when not in use, shorten showers, wash laundry in cold water, etc.
  4. Evaluate your home’s efficiency, ensure you have energy-efficient light bulbs, lower water temperature, and adjust your thermostat at least one degree lower during cold days and one degree higher on hotter days to help conserve energy.15114147602_fb7e282435_o
  5. Use reusable water bottles and coffee mugs rather than paper to-go cups or plastic bottles.DSC_0741
  6. Bring your own reusable shopping bags for groceries.
  7. Plan an unplugged night – turn off the TV, computers, laptops, cell phones,and tablets, hang out with family or friends, play games, talk, laugh, and enjoy an electronic-free night.
  8. Get outside and enjoy our planet: have a picnic, play games, garden, etc.1292399_ebf67c05

These simple ideas may not seem like they will make a big impact, but if we all incorporate them in our lives they can add up to big changes.

What changes are you planning on implementing in your life this Earth Day? Tell us in the comments below.