Those annoying stickers that are often difficult to peel off our fruit actually contain helpful information about how that fruit was grown. These stickers are PLU (price look up) labels, which many of us have thought had the sole purpose of telling the checker at the grocery store what to enter to charge us for the right produce. However, those codes actually can tell us much more than that.
In 2012, many Californians were upset when voters did not pass Proposition 37, which would make GMO labeling mandatory. GMO stands for “genetically modified organism,” which means that food’s genetic material was altered using genetic engineering techniques. That is far from natural. Understanding how to read PLU labels can detour consumers from purchasing GMO fruit without having to have a specific “GMO grown” label on it.
PLU labels have three categories: conventional, genetically modified, and organic.
Conventional: PLU codes for all conventional fruits are four digits. It is safe to assume that conventionally-raised fruit contains pesticides and petroleum-based , as well as being grown in depleted soils.
The other two types of PLU labels on fruits are five digits. It is important to distinguish between these two by their first numbers, because that first number makes all the difference.
Genetically modified: PLU codes for genetically modified fruits are five digits long and begin with the number 8. This fruit contains genes that were not put there by Mother Nature. Science made this fruit.
Organic: PLU codes for organic fruit (defined as organic by the National Organic Standards Board, or NOSB) are five digits and begin with a 9. Although the organic standard as defined by the NOSB are not as strict as many organic enthusiasts would like them to be, these fruits are still superior to conventional and GMO grown fruit.
Knowing to differentiate fruit-based on its PLU is a very helpful tool when shopping at your local grocery store, since the origins of such produce are not typically advertised. Since learning this trick is relatively easy to remember, the next time you are grocery shopping, browse through the produce section and try to apply your newfound knowledge. You might be surprised by what you find!
America has the finest high-tech medical care in the world. If a person is in an accident, the emergency care is exemplary. We also have dedicated, energetic scientists working hard to develop new treatments every day.
I think one area we have not fully accessed is nature and indigenous knowledge. There is still a place for science within this realm, working in harmony with the natural world and people who live in close communion with it to learn from them how we too can do so more gracefully. Preventative health care begins with focusing on sustainable agriculture. This will also help stabilize the climate and prevent war, as hungry people are more belligerent. If you think I am joking, try fasting and working at the same time, and see how long you last.
Traditional crossbreeding of plants is safer and wiser than genetic engineering. Researching and testing the most reliable healing plants and fruits in each region of the earth provides a fertile field for academic and commercial institutions. If we try to leave nature behind, we will not get far, as evidenced by our current state of crisis.
For example, blackberries are incredibly healthy. They grow wild all over the Pacific Northwest of the United States. There is a wonderful blackberry breeding program at Oregon State University that has developed a number of delicious (thornless even!) blackberry varieties. If everyone in this region had a blackberry bush or free blackberries available, many health concerns could be assuaged. Daily berries (in season) really do make a difference in health. Blueberries could be cultivated freely throughout the Northeast. Mangos, avocados, and peaches can be grown in the warmer regions of the country. People’s health is in part determined by the quality of their food and drink. Organic farming will restore the land.
Before you protest and say this will never happen—asserting that we have public space set aside for nature and parks, but only planted with ornamentals—get a load of what the city of Seattle is doing!
In the neighborhood of Beacon Hill a seven acre plot is being planted with grapes, apples, raspberries, blueberries, pears, plums, pineapple, guava, persimmons, and other fruit trees, as well as herbs, chestnuts, and walnuts! It is called the Beacon Food Forest, and was designed in 2009 by students in a permaculture class. beaconfoodforest.weebly.com
The trial plot of two acres is being planted this summer, with the remaining five acres to be completed at a later date. This will be a true, sustainable food bank! Here is a video showing the first plantings:
The founding members of the project hope to educate the community of the benefits of permaculture through the site. Margarett Harrison, lead landscape architect, states, “This is totally innovative, and has never been done before in a public park!”
Jenny Pell, permaculturist, explains, “People worried, ‘What if someone comes and takes all the blueberries?’ That could very well happen, but maybe someone needed those blueberries. We look at it this way—if we have none at the end of blueberry season then it means we’re successful.”
Local residents have been enthusiastically pitching in and signing up with comments like, “Put me to work – I can’t wait to get my hands dirty,” and, “Let me know when I can show up with my wheelbarrow.” Help with propagating, mulching, and pruning is welcomed. “People will come in and for example help cut the raspberries back and then be able to take home five or ten raspberry plants to put in their own backyard!” proclaims Pell.
“When we met with all the different people from the community, what they wanted actually was fruits and berries and big nut trees- that was their biggest request. So, we’re looking at paths with berry bushes on both sides, and we’re going to have mixed fruit orchards, and big nut orchards. It will be the largest food forest on public lands in the United States.”
A couple of other folks worldwide have been at the forefront of this movement to get free produce to everyone while reforesting the earth. Kenya’s Queen of the Trees Professor Wangari Maathai inspired the planting of 47 million trees in Kenya and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to “sustainable development, democracy and peace.” Her vision of environmental stewardship rather than plunder of natural resources (which has been the accepted norm) has inspired many people. She especially encouraged women to plant trees, beginning the www.Greenbeltmovement.org in 1977.
When she started her work, Professor Maathai saw that “behind the everyday hardships of the poor—environmental degradation, deforestation, and food insecurity—were deeper issues of disempowerment, disenfranchisement, and a loss of the traditional values that had previously enabled communities to protect their environment, work together for mutual benefit, and to do both selflessly and honestly.”
Simply put, Professor Maathai said, “If you destroy the forest then the river will stop flowing, the rains will become irregular, the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation… We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk.”
Anthony Anderson of www.growparadise.com states, “When we realize that we can quite easily and quickly begin to grow paradise right where we live, our power returns to us! Growing paradise requires nothing but the spirit of love and growth within us. We invite you to become a part of this, whether directly or by spreading the ideas and growing paradise in your own backyard and local community. Grow paradise. It is ours if we really want it.” He has seeded food forests in Minnesota, California, Arizona, and Cape Town, South Africa.
David Wolfe started the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation www.ftpf.org, which is a nonprofit charity dedicated to planting 18 billion organic fruit trees to “benefit the environment and all its inhabitants!”
“We envision a place where one can have a summer picnic under the shade of a fruit tree, breathe the clean air it generates, and not have to bring anything other than an appetite for the healthy fruits growing overhead. A world where one can take a walk in the park during a lunch break, pick and eat a variety of delicious fruits, plant the seeds so others can eventually do the same and provide an alternative to buying environmentally-destructive, illness-causing, chemically-laden products.”
A pioneer in community agriculture, Farmer John of www.angelicorganics.com states, “Agriculture is an underpinning of our culture. The irrepressibility of life on a farm continually manifests in myriad splendid expressions of life. This glorious unfolding provides us with the sustenance of food, while endlessly nourishing the creative spirit.”
I am very grateful for the amazing hospitals and health care workers we have in this country. They are overburdened, however, because of a lack of preventative and conservational care. With a focus on collective, populist, sustainable agriculture to grow healthy food and medicine for all, chronic disease will diminish, as much chronic degenerative disease is caused by diet and stress related to survival. Food is our first primary need. A plant-based diet is advocated as a foundation for health by leading physicians like Dr. Oz, Dr. Weil, Dr. Chopra, and Dr. Mcdougall.
Combining the skills of doctors, nurses, herbalists, midwives, doulas, shamans, gardeners, farmers, artists and other healers in the community, medicine can evolve beyond a solely symptoms-oriented approach to exploring the source, the roots of imbalance and disease. To do this we must look for help toward our origin and our sustenance – the earth.
For those interested in getting closer to the earth in the LA area and visiting the local farms, go to www.pickyourown.org/CAla.htm.
By Ashley H.
1. Blazing a Trail for a Better Bounty of Oregon Berries. (2011, July 26). Retrieved from www.oregonlive.com.
2. Seattle Food Forest. (2012, March 9). Retrieved from www.loe.org.
3. Husted, K. (2012, March 1). Seattle’s First Urban Food Forest will be Open to Foragers. Retrieved from www.npr.org.
4. Leschin-Hoar, B. C. (1, February 2012). It’s Not a Fairytale: Seattle to Build Nation’s First Food Forest . Retrieved from www.takepart.com.
I awoke early one morning with a desire for grains, and the urge to cook something interesting. I wanted to try out the “Carrot Cake” Oatmeal recipe from the Oh She Glows blog (great blog, by the way). I decided to adapt the recipe to be a little healthier, using banana and dates instead of added sweetener, and doing away with the extra coconut milk cream (I find it plenty rich without). Also, using a multigrain hot cereal instead of regular oats—I love Country Choice Organic Multigrain Hot Cereal—it provides more comprehensive nutrition with a blend of oats, wheat, barley, and rye. These are very nourishing whole grains, containing 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. It tastes like dessert, but feels nutritious!
Makes 2 servings
- 1 heaping cup finely grated carrot (about 1 large)
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I like Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla)
- 2 tbsp unsweetened canned coconut milk
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon, to taste
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8th tsp ground nutmeg
- pinch of sea salt
- 1/2 cup multigrain hot cereal (Country Choice Organic Multigrain Hot Cereal)
- Optional (if using plain almond milk): 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp chopped raw pecans or walnuts
- 1 tbsp raisins, divided
- 1 ripe banana
- 2 large medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut, for garnish
Finely grate 1 cup of carrot. You want it fine enough to blend well, so there are no big chunks of carrot.
Pit and chop dates, and chop banana.
Finely chop ginger. If fresh ginger isn’t available, you can use ground, but I find it much sweeter and more flavorful with the fresh.
In a medium-sized pot, on low heat, combine almond milk, coconut milk, and spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt). Also, if using vanilla extract, add now. Whisk together.
Add in the cereal, carrot, dates, and banana—mash together and stir. Cook on low for 20-30 minutes, watching closely and stirring (don’t let it boil, reduce heat if necessary). You’ll also need to add some additional almond milk as the cereal thickens and reduces. Make sure it doesn’t start sticking to the bottom of the pot. You can reduce the cooking if you want the consistency to be less creamy and more chewy.
Turn off heat. Stir in all the additional goodies—the chopped nuts, raisins, and coconut.
Divide between two bowls, hand one to a friend, and enjoy.
Last night, I finally got around to trying a recipe that I’ve been excited about—The Blissful Chef’s (a.k.a. Christy Morgan) Heavenly Raw Chocolate Mousse recipe. I happened to have all the right ingredients from the Farmer’s Market anyway. I made it, and it wasn’t chocolaty enough for me, so made some tweaks. This recipe is quick and easy, and the only equipment necessary is a food processor.
12-15 large, sweet dates – pitted and soaked (preferably Medjool, or Halawy)
1 tbsp. raw almond butter
1/3 – 1 tbsp. raw agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla flavor
A pinch of sea salt
- Soak the dates for at least 2 hours.
- Blend dates into a paste in food processor. You might need to pour in a little of the soaking water if they aren’t blending properly.
- Cut open avocados, remove pits, and spoon the meat into the processor.
- Add in remaining ingredients.
- Blend until smooth, stopping and scraping the sides with a spoon to include all ingredients.
- Enjoy in moderation as is, or with berries on top.
I love sushi, and I am an environmentalist, but I never really saw the two as opposing forces. I ordered what I wanted off the menu, and I go to the farmer’s market, carry my tote instead of using plastic bags, and recycle. A recent National Public Radio article made me question the unity between the environmental lifestyle and my sushi habit. It really bothered me, because I love sushi too much to cut out of my life, but I want my life to live in harmony with the environment as much as it can. Ultimately, while overfishing is a huge issue, after a bit of research, I found a middle ground to still enjoy sushi and respect the environment.
The article directed me to a video, “The Story of Sushi,” showing tiny figurines depicting fishermen, fish, processing plants, and sushi restaurants. Corporate fishers on large boats catch the majority of fish using unsustainable practices . For example, they catch marine life indiscriminately and discard what they should not be catching, cannot process, or do not have license for. This discard is given the euphemism “by catch.” For each pound processed for food, five pounds are thrown out as “by catch” . Oh, it’s just a “byproduct,” not a giant environmental concern for the sustainability of the ocean, environment as a whole, food source, and economy. No big!
The worst part is that I don’t think I’m exaggerating the issue. The UN Food and Agriculture scientists found that nearly 80% of the fish worldwide are “exploited” and their populations are or will soon be depleted if fishing methods are not altered, giving the fish a change to repopulate.
The video, made by Bamboo Sushi in Portland, Oregon, advertises sustainable sushi, but adds that many current restaurants advertise as sustainable but aren’t. Bamboo Sushi is the “fist certified” sustainable sushi restaurant certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, and works with partners like the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
While a sustainable sushi restaurant may not be around the corner from the office, the Monterey Bay Aquarium provides an easy to use “Sushi Guide” downloadable from their website at http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_sushi.aspx. Using this simple guide, which documents the “best choices,” “good alternatives,” and sushi to “avoid,” I can now eat good sushi and still keep my conscience clean. Do your part! Download the guide and tell friends about it in person or through social media. It’s easy to print out and keep folded in your purse or glove box for when you decide to dine at a sushi restaurant sustainably.
By Emily Friedman
Josh Rosebrooks all-natural, organic beauty line is not only a healthy approach to anti-aging, but also amongst the growing number of authentic products making an impact on a market rife with body-disruptive chemicals.
How did your beauty journey begin?
I was fascinated with taking care of my skin since I was about 18. I loved the fact that if I did a few things every day, over time, I would always look younger. I began reading the ingredients on the skin care products, researching and testing them on myself. I was always finding ingredients and products that I thought were working and researching to understand why. I have always been fascinated with plants and herbs. It is so amazing to me that these botanical extracts and essential oils contain such mind blowing properties for health and anti aging. All the bases are covered in nature and it is absolutely complete with the highest forms of all vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, enzymes, proteins and nutrients…
When Jessica Rodriguez stepped up to address the audience in Washington, D.C. along side of Hillary Clinton at the first Pathways to Prosperity Women Entrepreneurs Conference in October, it was a step that few would have imagined her taking just one decade ago–least of all, perhaps Jessica herself.
Several decades ago, a few creative thinkers started redefining the traditional idea of home. From coast to coast, people started looking at their environment and began building with eco-inspired homes.
If you could bite down on a crispy, crunchy potato chip that was “natural”, tasted great and totally good for you, youd probably buy it, right?
If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco, be sure to check out (or into) the Orchard Garden Hotel, one of California’s greenest.