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Organic Companies Announcing New Products CHFA West recap

A few weeks ago I was apart of an amazing group of social media influencers that attended the CHFA West 2015 Trade Show. This was unlike any trade show I’ve been to and I strongly encourage any retailer or buyer to attend if given the opportunity. Because it’s not open to the public, the atmosphere is very relaxed and the 100s of vendors announcing the latest and greatest in the organics industries are apart of one huge, incredible collaborative under one roof.

I was blessed to guest write an article for Vancouver Is Awesome with my recap of the show. Please head over to this article HERE and read about my favourite organic picks. Below is a sneak peek but to learn the juicy tidbits about the products, VIAwesome is the place to visit.

My favourite roundups:

We started our morning with the co-founders and entire Nature’s Path family. I thank them for continuing to turn out clean food and for the hope I felt after listening to co-Founder Arran speak about how he views the future of organics. Read more here.  Below is the snapshot of my favourite new product (Qi’a) that is launching soon to your local grocery store!

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Visiting the owner Alicia at AspenClean, we talked about their recent news of having all essential oils in their cleaning products 100% organic, while maintaining their already impressive Eco-cert certification. For anyone still using traditional cleaning products, make the switch to a healthier home, once you do, kids can even help clean!

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Team CHFA West discovered that Wholesome Sweeteners has rebranded with a very playful and fun packaging with the shortened name Wholesome!. I’ve long used this brand (coconut sugar) and I can’t wait to try their syrup, especially organic cane sugar syrup – not tapped from a tree. In my experience with trying to avoid GMOs for my family, preparing my own baking using organic sugar (cane or coconut) has really helped with avoiding GMO sugar beets (one of the big GMO crops).

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Visiting the Aura Cacia booth was super fun because I love learning about oils. When used properly, essential oils and plant oils can substitute so many traditional products with synthetic ingredients and perfumes. A great example is the Aura Cacia aromatherapy oil diffusers for vehicles. Have you see these?  No more little toxic trees! Aura Cacia is doing a great job educating consumers with over 100 DIY recipes, showing everyday people how to harness their own creativity and make their own personal care and cleaning products. Love it!

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Last but not least, as CHFA West had hundreds of companies with amazing things, we went to get the scoop on Simply Organic. Again, I love learning more about a company I’ve already been supporting with my consumer dollars for years. The big news was their popular vanilla extract is now available in a non-alcoholic version due to consumer demand because of religious reasons or baking for very young children. Consumers spoke and they listened. Look for this version the next time you are picking up any of their extract, spices, or mixes.

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The group assembled to spend the day talking to leaders in organics was a joy to spend time with and I was like a kid in an organic candy shop. Special thanks to sponsored brands Nature’s Path Organics, AspenClean, Wholesome!,  Aura Cacia, Simply Organic, and CHFA West for assembling them all under one amazing roof in Vancouver!

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What Is The Big Deal About a GMO Apple?

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I spend a portion of my life dedicated to activism. It’s something that helps ease my own personal fears for the environment and future for my four children. I’m proud to belong to an activist group focused on educating the public on GMOs (genetically modified food) called GE Free BC. A big focus over the last year for our group has been on the genetically modified apple for a few reasons:

– the company that purchased the GMO apple technology lives about 4 hours away from my community in BC’s beautiful Okanagan so it’s a big BC/Canadian problem.
– this is only the 2nd fruit produced in the WORLD that is GMO so that makes it a pretty big deal.
– the idea of a tree fruit that needs to be pollinated being engineered is so scary to me (bees are already suffering enough with pesticides) that I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I wasn’t involved in trying to stop this from actually being approved in Canada.
– the Okanagan company that produced the GMO apple, has the technology ready to go for peaches, pears, and cherries.  Once our apples are contaminated, 3 other tree fruits will be next.

So with the company behind the GMO apple technology seeking approval from the Canadian Government (we have no way of knowing what the status of this is, as it’s a secret process), our efforts have been very focused to Canada. So you can imagine our shock when news broke this week that the USDA approved the GMO apple for the US. Any North American with concerns about GMOs has been dismayed as this news slowly made it’s way around North America and the rest of the world. It is very difficult to understand why North American governments continue to approve food decisions that consumers clearly don’t want. Not only do consumers not want this, but also farmers, tree growers, and stores are opposed to the idea of growing and selling an apple that doesn’t brown. That is what the ‘modified’ gene trait is with this apple; the gene that browns the apple has been silenced. These Arctic, non-browning apples will not brown until 15-18 days after being cut so it will look fresh when it’s actually rotting.  And for the few consumers that don’t see the big deal about having an apple that doesn’t brown, here is why we are so concerned:

– in order to silence the browning gene, they’ve genetically engineered the apple by inserting a virus, bacteria, and antibiotic marker gene into the apple’s DNA.
– no animal or long-term studies done or requested before approval.
– we don’t know what the nutritional value of an apple once it’s actually rotten. The non-browning alteration is a cosmetic coverup to the actual quality of the fruit.
– every cell of the GM apple tree will have the transgene and once the growers start production of these apples, it will cross contaminate soil, water, insects, and any organism (including humans) that eats it. It’s like opening a Pandora’s box of contamination before proper testing is completed.

As North Americans we think we are so much more advanced than other countries. As Canadians, we live in one of the most beautiful, peaceful countries in the world. But over the years we’ve really let food standards slide when it comes to pesticide use, GMO food production (yes, we are big producers of it) and food standards that allow most of the non-organic packaged food on our grocery store shelves to contain GMO ingredients. Countries that are poor and hungry have said “NO” to growing GMO seed and a bigger “NO” to importing our food, which is slowly being viewed worldwide as tainted. So what did the US do when they approved the GMO apple this week? I fear that they’ve just lost another export. Contamination of a food system is viewed as that big a deal in other countries, and since we know the Ambrosia apple started out with a discarded core in a compost bin, the fear needs to be acknowledged.

If this is the first you are hearing about the GMO apple, we hope you feel outrage and want to take action. Here is possibly the most important action you can take. Talk to your grocery store Manager. Keep it easy, short, and passionate. Tell them that you as a consumer do not want the GMO apples (also called non-browning apple or Arctic Apple) and do not want your local store carrying it if the Canadian Government approves it or after they come into production in the US. If the grocery stores are not carrying this apple, the demand will not be as great.

For more information on how to stop the GMO apple, please visit the CBAN website: http://www.cban.ca/ and follow GE Free BC on Facebook. The time is now to plug back into our food system before we have our grandchildren asking us “how did you let this happen??”!!

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Homemade Nut-Free Granola Bars Kids Love

I started making my own granola bars years ago. Since I first started, the recipe has evolved and I’ve reduced the sugar and increased apple sauce to produce a delicious, kid-friendly, Non-GMO, organic and easy granola bar!  If you have a child that goes to a school where kids have allergies to peanuts, you already know how difficult it is to source granola bars without nuts. I only know of one brand of traditional granola bars that are nut-free and after you read this article from Fooducate, you’ll understand why 1 granola bar that contains GMO ingredients, 43 ingredients (!!), and have 2 teaspoons of sugar (candy bars have 4 teaspoons) is not a food that will fuel your child properly during the day. The below recipe is nut free, making it a wonderful alternative to bring to school or serve where lots of kids hangout and not worry about allergy or ingredient concerns. Yes, when using organic ingredients in the beginning, you’ll experience higher costs, but you’ll get savvy and start buying organic oats, raw honey, and organic flour in bulk.

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After you try this recipe one time, you’ll realize you should double batch. I always do as they go quick around here! I have given these out to hundreds of different children over the years as a concession snack, after sport snack, and packed in lunches. I haven’t met a kid that doesn’t like them. And they contain 11 ingredients that you can easily recognize, rather than the 43 ingredients above that contain a lot of sugars and preservatives.

Ingredients:

2 cups of organic quick cooking rolled oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup raw organic sugar (can sub coconut sugar)
1/4 – 1/2 cup ground chia (I use The Chia Co.)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup organic flour
3/4 cup chocolate chips or raisins
1/2 cup raw honey
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup organic apple sauce

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a square baking pan with butter.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, raw sugar, chia, cinnamon, flour and chocolate chips. Make a well in these ingredients and add honey, egg, oil, vanilla extract, and apple sauce. Use your hands and mix. Pour into the square pan. The mixture should be gloppy (if that is an official word). Don’t worry about adding too much apple sauce – it’s the secret ingredient to these chewy bars!

Bake for 30-35 minutes, watching them until the bars turn golden on the edges. Remove from the oven, wait 5 minutes and cut them into bars while the mixture is still warm. When they have completely cooled, remove and store in an air-tight container.

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Contest and Review: Blendtec

Sponsored by: Blendtec

Hosted by: Mommy Footprint

 

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When you enter the world of green-living or making small steps to increase your food awareness and health, the blendtec brand is always making an appearance. Whether you are checking out smoothie recipes, making condiments, sauces, soups, etc., you will see a blendtec machine helping make this happen. Why? The power of the blendtec is amazing. You can have that quick convenience of food that doesn’t take long to prepare, but not sacrificing the quality of the food because blendtec will shorten prep time. From the features tab on the machine I own, I read it’s power is measured with 1625 watt, 3.0 peak horsepower motor. As a mom, all I know is whatever I throw at this machine in a frozen or solid form, the machine is tough and it makes you want to use it. Our recent favourite recipes include watermelon slushies and hummus. The items that you make like smoothies are obvious, but with Fall coming I can’t wait to try more soups and get back to making my own mayonnaise. There are very few gadgets I’ve relied on in my journey to being healthier in the kitchen, and I thank blendtec for their quality and dedication to health!

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Here are five reasons more reasons to love a blendtec:

1) The blendtec machines are smart. My son is convinced it can think for itself with the encouraging phrases you’ll see while it’s in use. This makes the fun factor high with these machines!

2) The timing metrics are great. When you select from a set menu of food you are blending, the machine stops at the end of the time allowance so it’s not over processed. Pre-programmed cycles: Smoothie, Ice Cream, Whole Juice, Hot Soup.

3) The parts are a snap to clean and fit perfectly. I appreciate the snug fit for all the parts and unlike my old blender, there is no waste. If you make a smoothie, you are getting all of the contents as nothing gets stuck in the blades.

4) There are only two pieces with both the twister jar and WildSide+ jar that sit on the big, powerful base of the blendtec. Easy to wash, again, the base is a snap to store, making you want to use this machine often. Nothing is worse than taking apart a machine in 5 or more little pieces to clean after.

5) Power. Its worth mentioning again. You save time and enthusiasm remains high with the powerful motor in this machine. If you need more power, simply slide your finger along the base for customized blending.

About blendtec

Blendtec products are made with high quality and power you can count on. People all around the world use Blendtec blenders in their homes, restaurants, smoothie shops, coffee shops and more. The company started with one man and his curiosity. He has shared that vision with others, and with his team, the dream continues to unfold.

We are excited to bring you this amazing Blendtec Designer Model 625 This machine will inspire you to try recipes with the sleek and functional blender design. The contest winner will receive the blendtec designer 625 base in either black or red colour (based on availability), 3 qt. wildside+ jar & gripper lid container, and guide to recipes and tips.

Would you love to have this beautiful blendtec machine for your own kitchen? Our VERY generous sponsor, Blendtec, wants one of our lucky readers to have that chance!  So, let’s get on to the giveaway!

One lucky winner will win this

Blendtec blender 625!

Giveaway ends 9/19/14 at 11:59 pm ET! Open to US andCanadian residents 18+ and older.

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Good Luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Glyphosate and 2,4-D What You Should Know

When I started reading reports connecting something called Glyphosate to Parkinson’s I knew this article would be written. I watched my dad struggle and pass away from this disease earlier in the year, so I felt strong enough recently to be open to information linking new theories to this disease. I have to say after researching both Glyphosate and 2,4-D, I’m shocked. And to be honest, I’m scared. But I think we have enough of a community here with knowledge on pesticides and food system concerns to get through this. Are you ready?

Should we start at the beginning? Let’s do a quick review of GMOs and how this scary word glyphosate relates to both genetically modified food and conventional food.

GMO is food grown from genetically modified seed. The company that created them is called Monstanto. They created seeds that can withstand being sprayed with chemicals called Roundup to save farmers time with pulling weeds by hand. Basically the weeds would die, but the plant would remain intact which was celebrated news to farmers because they spend a lot of time weeding.

Fast forward a few years and those weeds are becoming resistant to the Roundup. So now farmers have to use a lot more Roundup to try and kill the weeds. The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate. Later in the article you’ll hear what diseases are linked to glyphosate and why it should be avoided, but when crops started to become resistant, Roundup switched to a stronger chemical called 2,4-D, which Health Canada approved in 2012. If the name 2,4-D sounds familiar, it’s because this was an ingredient in Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War.

I recently learned that Canada is 5th in the world as a top producer of GMO crops. The US is number one. 2,4-D is the second most used herbicide in the Canada Prairie agriculture after glyphosate. I had no idea Soy, Corn, and Canola were such large industries in Canada but all it takes is turning over a packaged food item to check out the ingredients to see that corn and soy fillers are used in most processed food that is not organic.

One large area of mis-information with GMOs is wheat. And I think I know why. Farmers use Roundup to grow wheat. This doesn’t mean that wheat is grown from GMO seeds, but it does mean that the wheat is treated with either glyphosate or 2,4-D before it’s harvested. If you are an advocate for clean food, this would mean the wheat is now chemical food and really makes you wonder if glyphosate is more of a problem than gluten. I’m sure that farmers growing food both locally and imported – widely use Roundup on crops even though that food is not grown from GMO seed (or called Roundup ready crop). And if the Roundup contains the chemical 2,4-D we are talking about a chemical that was used in a war that had devastating effects on agriculture, people and animals. This chemical is routinely used in pre-sowing and pre-harvest application of crops to control insects, weeds, and plant disease. And again, the crops don’t have to be GMO in order to be treated with Roundup pesticide.

And being really new to the topic of glyphosate, I needed a source to start at the beginning. And I found that with Tony Mitra and a recent podcast he taped with Stephanie Seneff who is a senior research scientist. She is controversial for her studies linking connections between glyphosate and a host of disorders but what I liked about this podcast was both Tony and Stephanie are easy to understand. The interview is scary, but not overly scientific and I recommend it for someone wanting the basics on pesticides if they are already uncomfortable with the idea of food containing chemicals. Here are some basic points from the podcast (you will quickly find how controversial Stephanie’s studies are, but the links between glyphosate and autism in particular are hard to ignore):

– glyphosate disrupts gut bateria. This active ingredient in Roundup starts a consequence of disruptions in our bodies that starts with gut bacteria.

– in 1970, 1 in 10,0000 kids were diagnosed with autism. By next year, she predicts that 1 in 30 boys will be diagnosed. She believes the direct connection are roundup ready soy and corn crops.

– the direct correlation between the amount of Roundup used on food and the rise in Autism can be connected.

– glyphosate creates an imbalance in the gut which leads to leaky gut.

– your body is dependent on enzymes and minerals that are important to the body as they are reactive.

– glyphosate is partially responsible for kids getting violent reactions from vaccines. She believes it isn’t the mercury and aluminium in vaccines alone causing reactions such as autism. She believes that it’s the glyphosate in a child’s body that triggers a much more toxic reaction from the aluminium in vaccines.

– gut bacteria is unique for every person and therefore how a body reacts to glyphosate is different.

– Roundup can be linked to global declines in starfish, monarch butterflies, ladybugs, bees and colony collapses, and bats.

– the next of the Monsanto chemicals to enter our food system will be 2,4-D which was an ingredient in Agent Orange.

– as the level of 2,4-D increases, so will the number and frequency of diseases. It’s a chemical treadmill.

– her end of interview advice for people concerned about Roundup? Eat organic food as if your life depends on it.

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So biggest learning point of this research for me personally? Learning that Roundup is connected with GMO crops but can also be spayed and used on crops that aren’t GMO (grown with genetically altered seed). So until now, I have not been worried about wheat or cane sugar because they are not GMOs, but that is wrong because huge amounts of Roundup is used to treat these crops before it’s harvested. Organic – it’s the only way to beat this. The Canadian and US Governments have and will continue to fail it’s citizens with how ruined our food system has become. The only way to save it is through consumer pressure to grow food with organic farming standards.

My thanks to Dr. Thierry Vrain, Dr. Shiv Chopra, and Tony Mitra who have toured and spoken out against the impact of GE foods. From the first time I’ve listed to Dr. Vrain speak until now, I feel like I’ve learned so much but I know I have a long way to go. It’s a scary journey and these men will be the first to tell you that. As a mom that is trying to protect herself and family from the diseases knocking on doors around us, I feel like this is my journey to learn so I can try to teach and protect the people I care about. This stuff has never sounded far fetched to me, rather the opposite. The connections to disease and the timelines surrounding the spikes when Monsanto was allowed to take over our food system fit. They can’t be ignored, we all just need to plug into it, like no generation has ever done before. Which is scary and seems like a lot of work at first. But what alternative do we have?

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