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Going green for Earth Day

April 22nd, 2014

Going-Green-Earth

 

Earth Day comes just once a year, but it’s a good time to think about the eco-friendly changes you can make all the time. Check out these easy ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and do your part to help the environment.

1. Carry a water bottle.

About 38 billion plastic water bottles crowd landfills each year, according to environmental research group Pacific Institute. And by carrying your own reusable water bottle, you’ll not only be helping the environment — you’ll be saving money, too. In total, Americans spend $15 billion on bottled water every year.

2. Reduce your paper use.

Go paperless with your bills and accounts by managing your life online. You can make this even easier by signing up for Manilla.com, the leading, free and secure service that lets you manage and share all of your bills and accounts in one place online or via the top-rated iOS and Android mobile apps. Manilla provides unlimited online document storage forever, for free, which means you can view, download or print your documents whenever you need them.

3. Use grocery totes.

Save plastic and paper by using your own reusable grocery tote bags. They usually cost a dollar or less and are a fantastic eco-friendly alternative.

4. Opt for a reusable coffee mug. 

Help save the planet (and your money) by using your own reusable coffee mug for your morning Joe. Most coffee shops offer discounts when you bring your own mug — you just fill it up there and you’re on your way.

5. Eat local foods.

Eating locally produced foods, like fruits and vegetables, improves your health and helps the fight against global warming. Do some research online to find farmer’s markets in your area.

6. Take public transit.

Experts estimate that the more than 130 million cars in the United States produce an ecological footprint that’s larger than the size of Texas. Reducing how much you drive can help reduce it. If you live in a city that offers a convenient and reliable public transportation system, use it!

7. Recycle.

Recycling saves energy, reduces pollution, conserves natural resources and has numerous economical benefits.

Source: HuffingtonPost.com

The health benefits of citrus

March 4th, 2014

Loaded with vitamins and minerals.

The vitamin C in citrus fruits acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from free radical damage. Vitamin C also improves the absorption of non-heme iron (iron from plant foods like beans and nuts). Citrus fruits supply the B vitamin, folate, which plays a role in energy production, growth and development, and may help protect against heart disease. These fruits are also a source of potassium, which is important for muscle function, and fluid and electrolyte balance.

Unique phytonutrients.

Citrus flavanones have been linked to a reduced risk of stroke in women and a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. Liminoids in citrus fruits have been found to inhibit tumor growth. More research is needed to understand how these phytonutrients work to improve health and protect against disease. Many are found in the peel and inner white portions of the fruit, so eating whole fruits and using zest and peels as flavorings for cooking will help you get the most benefit.

Super easy snack.

There are few foods easier to grab on the go than a piece of citrus fruit. Oranges, mandarins, tangerines, and many cross-varieties are easy to pack, peel, and section for a snack. Peeling also slows you down and contributes to more mindful eating. Just remember that some citrus, such as grapefruit, can interact with prescription medications. Be sure to check with your doctor if you take medications, especially those to fight infections or treat high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or heart conditions.

Multiple uses.

Not only is citrus delicious by itself, but the whole fruit can be used in many meals and snacks. Homemade juices are more refreshing with fresh oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and lime. Fruit sections can be blended into smoothies. Lean meats and roasted vegetables are delicious with a splash of fresh juice and citrus zest. Dry the peels of oranges, lemons, or tangerines and add it to loose leaf tea before steeping.

Long storage.

Unlike many fruits that spoil quickly, citrus fruits have a long storage life so you can stock up when they are on sale and enjoy them throughout the season. When refrigerated, oranges and mandarins stay fresh about two weeks, lemons keep for four weeks or more, and grapefruits and limes keep even longer, often five to six weeks.

 

Source: MyFoodDiary.org

Natural is not the same as organic

February 18th, 2014

Source: OnlyOrganic.org

It’s what the labels don’t tell you. Many foods labeled as “natural” include substances that are anything but, including toxic pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, and genetically engineered ingredients.

Toxic Chemical Pesticides

Many of the foods marketed as “natural” have been grown with help from toxic pesticides. Though designed to combat pests on plants, pesticide residues remain on or in the food we eat. Some of your family’s favorite foods, such as apples, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and grapes, are covered with toxic pesticide residues.

Health problems, including cancer, infertility, asthma, and birth defects, have been linked to pesticide exposure. Pregnant women, children and the elderly are especially susceptible to the impacts of toxic pesticides.

What’s more, toxic pesticides frequently miss their intended targets. Nearby streams are often contaminated by pesticide runoff — polluting drinking water supplies —  and harming wildlife, such as honeybees.

Antibiotics

Many “natural” meats have been produced with help from antibiotics we depend on to keep our families healthy. In recent years, 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States have gone to chickens, pigs, cows, and other animals — regardless of whether the animals are sick. Using antibiotics to promote the growth of animals reduces the effectiveness of these life-saving drugs by making them more resistant to bacteria.

In some cases, farmers use antibiotics to treat sick animals. In most cases, antibiotics are used by feedlot operators trying to prevent infections caused by cramped and unsanitary living conditions. This practice has led to the development of superbugs, antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are hard to treat.

Artificial Hormones

Some farmers use artificial hormones to make their animals grow bigger, faster, and to increase productivity. Despite being banned in other countries, some American meat producers and dairy farmers continue to rely on hormones, which pose numerous health risks. For example, rGBH, a growth hormone engineered to make cows produce more milk, has been linked to colon and breast cancer among adults and early puberty in children. Up to twenty additional artificial hormones are currently used in livestock production.

Genetically Engineered Ingredients 

Many foods labeled as “natural” include ingredients from crops that have been genetically engineered. Genetic engineering is a process that alters a plant’s DNA to make a new organism not found in nature. Crops like corn and soybeans — the building blocks of processed foods — have been genetically engineered to withstand large doses of chemical herbicides and toxic pesticides which pollute our air and water.

Green up your Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2014

Follow these green Valentine’s Day tips from Earthshare.org and you’ll benefit more than just your special someone: you’ll be supporting healthy communities and a healthy planet. Now that’s heartwarming.

Give Eco-Friendly Chocolate. Not only does the Rainforest Alliance certify chocolate that’s better for the environment, “shopping the frog” ensures that cocoa farmers have good living and working conditions. Find Rainforest Alliance Certified chocolate (and other products) here. The Arbor Day Foundation also sells a line of shade grown organic chocolates in their online shop.

Send an eCard. Love wildlife? Check out these free Valentine e-cards from Ocean Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International.

Buy Local Flowers. If flowers are your style, swing by your local farmers’ market for a fresh bouquet of your favorites. It beats buying imported flowers that have often been doused in pesticides. Check out Local Harvest to find a sustainable florist near you.

Find a Date. Single and looking? We have it on good authority that a number of people have found their true love on Sierra Club Outings and public transportation. Visit Grist for some more ideas on where to find your green soul mate.

Ditch Dirty Gold. Did you know that the manufacture of an average gold ring creates more than 20 tons of mining waste? Yikes! Be sure to buy your jewelry from one of the 90 retailers who have committed to ending destructive gold mining through Earthworks. Then sign the pledge yourself.

Love Your Honey (Bees). Bees are in trouble. In the U.S., they’ve been dying off at alarming rates which spells trouble not just for honey, but for our whole food supply. Download this toolkit from Beyond Pesticides and Pesticide Action Network to help protect bees from harmful pesticides.

Let Nature Inspire Your Valentines. Remember how much fun Valentine’s Day was as a kid? For some special V-day kid’s craft projects, check out these nature-inspired ideas from National Wildlife Federation.

Love Your Local Bank. Every Valentine’s Day, Green America encourages people to break up with their mega-bank and shift their money to the community by opening accounts with small banks and credit unions. Click here for tips.

Rethink Generosity. The Acumen Fund is rebranding Valentine’s Day as “Generosity Day”. On February 14, people are encouraged to practice simple acts of kindness. Click here for “Random Acts of Kindness” ideas.

Share the Love. With EarthShare’s One Gift option you can make a donation to our environmental charities on behalf of your special someone. We’ll send them a note letting them know about your gift, complete with your personal message.

Source: Earthshare.org

 

Growing a Healthy Generation! 50 Students Help Expand Local Organic Community Garden

September 24th, 2013

CLERMONT, FL — Fifty students from four area Lake County middle and high schools spent their Monday morning pulling weeds, spreading compost, and building and prepping 26 grow boxes during an expansion of South Lake Hospital’s organic community garden, located on the hospital campus in Clermont, Florida.

As a co-sponsor of the garden, Uncle Matt’s Organic has been an integral part of the community project since its launch in early 2013. Uncle Matt’s provides education to members of the community who want to learn about organic gardening.

This year, area schools became involved in the project, sending their agriculture students and FFA (Future Farmers of America] members to participate by preparing the gardens for fall vegetable season. Participating schools included all three area high schools: East Ridge, Lake Minneola, and South Lake as well Clermont Middle School.

“The organic community garden is a great community service project for the students to get involved in and apply the skills they are learning in the classroom,” says Chris Eck, agri-science educator and FFA advisor at East Ridge High School. “It’s neat that this garden is organic because our school garden is not. By planting the boxes here, it shows the students a whole different side of vegetable gardening. It’s an easy transition into the classroom to educate them on what organic is and why it’s important.”

Sarah Eck, agriculture teacher at South Lake agrees. “Right now, my students are learning what makes food organic or not,” she says. “We’re excited about working in the organic garden because it provides an opportunity to learn that there are certain things that we can and cannot do to keep it organic.”

East Ridge students have already started fall vegetable seedlings in the classroom, including squash, zucchini, cucumber and okra, to plant at the community garden and farm it organically. The school’s agriculture department plans on sending students over twice a week to check their garden grow box for weeds and plant health.

Besides Uncle Matt’s, who provided organic juices for the students as they worked, other area businesses also donated supplies and materials, including West Orange Lumber, Home Depot, Simon Seed, Austin Outdoors and Papa Lynn’s Organic Farm. These companies provided everything from lumber to seeds and gardening gloves for the students to use.

“Part of the mission of both South Lake Hospital and Uncle Matt’s Organic is teaching people how to stay healthy and well,” says Susan McLean, board member of both Uncle Matt’s Organic and South Lake Hospital. “One way to stay well includes eating food that is locally grown, organic and nutrient dense.  Through this project, not only do we accomplish all three, but we’re teaching the next generation the value of organic and importance of sustainability.”

The garden’s fall planting kickoff will be held this Thursday, September 26, at 5:30 p.m. at the garden located on the hospital campus.

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Uncle Matt’s Pours on the Love During Annual Teacher Appreciation Breakfast

August 26th, 2013

TA_Winner

Uncle Matt’s Organic, along with the South Lake Chamber of Commerce and Pig on the Pond, helped honor almost 900 public school teachers and administrators on August 15 for the annual Teacher Appreciation Breakfast.

Held at the Wesley Center at the First United Methodist Church in Clermont, Florida, organizers provided the 890 teachers with a healthy breakfast that included 12 oz. selections of Uncle Matt’s premium organic apple and orange juices.

In addition to breakfast, teachers were presented with awards and prizes, as well as supplies and gifts that totaled $130,000 in giveaways.  Among the door prizes were two Uncle Matt’s gift baskets with t-shirts, cooler bags, a $50 gift certificate for fresh organic citrus and free juice coupons, alongside other back-to-school goodies.

The event honored the “Teachers of the Year” and  “Rookies of the Year” from each area school with prize packages that included cash and rolling carts full of school supplies. Also during the event, teacher faculties competed for “Most School Spirit” through a cheering contest.

“Uncle Matt’s is a proud supporter of our hardworking South Lake County teachers that are making a difference in our youth everyday,” says Susan McLean, Human Resources Director at Uncle Matt’s Organic. “We hope to continue to participate in this worthwhile event that recognizes these classroom heroes. And we love helping keep them healthy with our organic juices!”

Lake County, Florida, kicked off the 2013-2014 school year Monday, August 19.

Citrus growers use predator wasp to fight disease threat

August 7th, 2013

California citrus farmers import a parasitic wasp from Pakistan to battle citrus greening, a disease threatening their groves.

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By Ricardo Lopez (View original article here.)

Pesticides haven’t worked. Quarantines have been useless. Now California citrus farmers have hired an assassin to knock off the intruder threatening their orchards.

The killer-for-hire is Tamarixia radiata, a tiny parasitic wasp imported from Pakistan.

Its mission: Rub out the Asian citrus psyllid, which has helped spread a disease that turns citrus fruit lumpy and bitter before destroying the trees.

The pest is wreaking havoc in Florida’s 32 citrus-growing counties. In California, it’s been detected in nine counties, most of them south of the commercial growing areas in the Central Valley. Farmers are hoping the Tamarixia wasp can help keep it that way.

The wasp, which flew coach in a carry-on bag from Pakistan’s Punjab region, is a parasite half the size of a chocolate sprinkle. But it kills psyllids like a horror movie monster, drinking their blood like a vampire. The female wasp can lay an egg in the psyllid’s belly. When it hatches, it devours its host.

The wasp “is going to be our number one weapon to control to Asian citrus pysllid,” said Mark Hoddle, an invasive species expert at UC Riverside, who, over several trips, brought legions of wasps to California.

“We have no other choice except to use this natural enemy or do nothing. And the ‘do nothing’ option is unacceptable.”

A tiny parasitic wasp imported from Pakistan is used to attack nymphs of Asian citrus psyllids.

So far, Hoddle and his teams have released more than 75,000 wasps across the Southland to beat back the disease, known as huanglongbing or citrus greening. The malady was first detected in California last November in a backyard citrus tree in Hacienda Heights.

The disease can lie dormant for a few years before tests are able to detect it, so experts suspect other trees are already infected.

“We’re looking for a needle in the haystack before it sticks us,” said Joel Nelsen, president of the California Citrus Mutual, a trade group.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has enacted quarantines in nine states, including Florida, Texas and California. The quarantines prohibit interstate movement of citrus trees and require labeling of citrus nursery stocks from areas where greening has been detected.

In California, the quarantine covers nine counties. The northern border of the quarantine region had stretched across Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, but on Wednesday, agriculture officials expanded it to 178 square miles in Tulare County where the psyllid was detected.

That recent discovery raises the fear that the pest is creeping into prime citrus growing areas. It could threaten California’s $2-billion industry, which accounts for about 80% of the U.S. fresh market citrus production. Florida’s citrus is primarily processed for juice.

Since 2010, California growers have spent about $15 million yearly to fight the psyllid. Much of that money goes toward massive detection and awareness efforts. That’s on top of millions the federal government and state Department of Food and Agriculture have kicked in.

The psyllids don’t kill citrus trees. They’re merely the agent that spreads huanglongbing. An infected psyllid acts much like a dirty syringe flying from tree to tree, feeding and depositing a bacterium each time it unfurls its stinger.

Source: State Dept. of Food and Agriculture, ESRI

Whether the killer wasp can bring the psyllid to heel remains to be seen.

Florida growers imported a strain of the wasp from Vietnam, but it proved ineffective. The predator never took hold, partly because there was not enough genetic diversity needed to establish a population, researchers said. Some Florida growers now are looking to develop genetically modified citrus that would be immune to greening — a controversial strategy that could turn off consumers.

In California, farmers are betting on the wasp — and on Hoddle and his wife, Christina. The UC Riverside entomology experts have spent their careers helping control invasive species around the world.

Since late 2011, they have been releasing the wasp, mainly in Los Angeles County. Agriculture officials halted pesticide spraying in the county this year, partly because it proved too cumbersome. Six out of 10 citrus trees in the county grow in backyards, making large-scale containment efforts difficult.

“This is ground zero for our war,” Hoddle said.

The goal is to reduce the psyllid population and provide a line of defense between urban areas in Southern California and the commercial growing zones.

The Hoddles and teams they’ve trained have been going neighborhood to neighborhood releasing thousands of wasps and tracking the parasites’ success.

The Hoddles conducted extensive testing to make sure the wasp wouldn’t disrupt California’s ecosystem, considering that past efforts at introducing non-native species have gone awry.

Tiny predatory wasps just before release on a citrus tree in Pico Rivera.

To satisfy the federal government’s concerns, the Hoddles quarantined the wasp for 18 months and performed several experiments to see whether it would attack native species. Time after time, the wasp attacked only the Asian citrus psyllid. After the researchers submitted a 60-page report to the Department of Agriculture, the release program was green lighted. The wasp poses no danger to humans or pets, Hoddle said.

On a recent weekday, the Hoddles drove to Pico Rivera. It was their third trip to the area, where most of the homes have unfenced front yards, providing easy access.

The back of their Toyota SUV contained their tools: a cooler with vials of wasps, a clipboard with log sheets and equipment to inspect citrus trees.

At each tree on their route, the procedure was the same: For one full minute, they circled the tree, counting the psyllids and looking for evidence that the wasp was preying on them. The psyllid, about the size of an aphid, is easy to spot.

The first few trees were unremarkable, and the Hoddles wondered whether the wasps had survived the winter.

Still, “It’s good. We’re finding clean citrus,” Hoddle said before walking another yard.

It’s still too early to say the wasp releases are working, Christina Hoddle said. To confidently conclude that the wasp is slashing the psyllid’s numbers, at least three years of data are needed.

While the team is only about 18 months into the effort, some areas have shown promise. At some release sites, the psyllid population has been drastically cut.

At one of the last homes they visited, the Hoddles saw just how densely the psyllids can congregate. After getting permission to enter a fenced yard, they were dismayed to see one small, shrubby tree crawling with psyllids.

The pest had blanketed some of the branches in a sugary wax, an excrement of young psyllids.

The tree would need more aggressive treatment. Instead of one vial of wasps, Mark Hoddle reached for two.

Entomologist Christina Hoddle releases a vial of predatory wasps in a citrus tree.

He carefully opened the first one, placing a small tree branch directly inside the vial’s opening.

The wasps wasted no time. “They’re all over these guys!” he said. “They’re going to town.”

After a few minutes, he tied the vial to the tree with a wire. The last wasps would wander out on their own later.

As their work wrapped up for the day, the Hoddles headed back to their car.

They would be visiting another neighborhood the next day. The battle would be a long slog, with no certain outcome.

“California has been preparing for this day,” Mark Hoddle said. “It’ll be hard to fault the citrus industry. I think they’ve done everything possible.”

Uncle Matt’s note: Since 2008 our farm program has included utilizing wasps to combat and control the psyllid population. View the video below and learn from Benny McLean, Production Manager, how this practice helps groves stay healthy.

Hello again, avocados!

June 17th, 2013

Summertime means lazy afternoons, sunshine, swimming and the start of Florida organic avocado season at Uncle Matt’s Organic. While avocados are also grown in California and Hawaii, the first Florida avocado crops were planted in the antebellum era of the 1830s by horticulturist Henry Perrine. Avocados didn’t become a commercial crop until the early 1900s. In the 1950s, after gaining popularity as a salad item, demand for the fruit grew. Yes, fruit. Widely considered a vegetable, the avocado is actually a fruit that has become a favorite of foodies everywhere!

Did you know that there are more than 50 different varieties of Florida avocados, but that only about a dozen of those are sold commercially? Running from late June through December, Uncle Matt’s will offer organic Donnie, Simmonds, Nesbitt, Beta, Tonnage, Black Prince, Hall and Monroe varieties — grown by our very own second-generation avocado grower, Murray Bass, in Homestead, Florida.

Uncle Matt’s Florida organic avocados are “green-skin,” which means they’re larger than the popular Hass variety but have less fat and fewer calories. Which brings us to this important point: Don’t avoid the avocado because you think it’s too fattening! It’s a creamy, delicious superfood that powers your body with an array of healthy fats and nutrients –– like oleic acid, lutein, folate, vitamin E, monounsaturated fats and glutathione, just to name a few. These powerful nutrients help protect your body against cancer, heart disease, and degenerative eye and brain diseases. What’s more, they’re also a healthy source of dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamins B6 and C.

We love our avocados because they’re definitely good for whipping up our favorite summertime guacamole. But our fruit’s mild flavor lends itself to the creative and unexpected. Try a half avocado in a fruit smoothie, or add some slices to your sandwich instead of lettuce.  If you’re really looking for some culinary trendsetting ideas, wow the guests at your next dinner party with this colorful Avocado, Beet and Grapefruit Salad and top it off with yummy sure-fire favorite chocolate cupcakes…only the secret’s in the icing. Avocado icing, that is. Trust us, it’s amazing!

Easy on the Wallet: Money-Saving Ideas for Buying Organic

June 10th, 2013

Buying organic has never been more popular. Yet, you probably hear as we do, this one gripe about organic foods: they sometimes cost more than non-organic foods. Although we at Uncle Matt’s truly believe that safe, healthy nutrition and the vigorous health it creates are priceless, we also know how important it is to stretch those family dollars as far as possible.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to make buying organic more budget-friendly. Here are some tips to get you started.

Watch the grocery store flyers. Watch for specials on organic foods. Grocery stores know organic products are more popular, so they will run specials on them to attract shoppers. Make it a regular habit to check the flyers for specials on organic foods.

Expand your grocery store network. It’s easy to get attached to one grocery store, but by expanding where you shop, you can take advantage of more selection and better prices. Don’t automatically assume only the upscale or specialty grocery stores carry organic products. You can now find organic at big, small, discount, specialty and buying clubs. Check them all out!

Practice smart shopper sleuthing. No need to hop in the car and drive all over town in search of organics. Check specials on a grocery store web site. Or use a site like www.eatwellguide.org to help you find inventory and prices at several local stores. Other sites for saving money on organic products include EcoBonus, Mambo Sprouts, Organic DealsStockpiling Moms, Coupon Divas’ Organic Coupons, and Money Saving Mom.

Join forces with a friend. Enlist a couple of friends who are also committed to finding, buying and serving organic foods to their families. Then instead of shopping individually, take turns shopping for organics. You can pool coupons and discounts, share ideas and knowledge, take advantage of bulk buying programs, save gas, AND have some fun in the process.

Think and eat local.  Small organic farms might have a roadside stand or sell at a farmer’s market. Make it a Saturday tradition to head to the fruit stand or farmer’s market with the kids. They’ll get to see all kinds of foods and get to know local farmers, all while subconsciously learning the importance of being proactive in selecting the safest, more nutritious foods. And you’ll likely save some money while shopping there.

Stock your freezer. While shopping farmer’s markets, buy fresh organic produce in bulk. Then freeze packages of strawberries, green peppers, or whatever else you’ll have a craving for later in the year. Read up on which kinds of produce freeze well – or talk to the grower about how to freeze items. And don’t forget the frozen food section of your grocery store. You can find all kinds of organic products that can save your some serious cash.

Although organic foods may cost a little more on the front end, remember that good health is ALWAYS less expensive than disease. So take these tips to save some money, knowing that you are investing in your and your family’s well-being.

Eating clean: Three tips for avoiding chemicals in your food

May 30th, 2013

It seems like food is getting the blame as the cause of many illnesses and sickness these days. Although we have some of the best health and nutrition education in the world, we’re still addressing significant issues surrounding the American diet. To combat obesity, illness and other diseases, the USDA recommended in 2010 that Americans should fill “half the plate with fruits and veggies” at each meal. Yet, some of us find ourselves second-guessing what’s supposed to be a healthy no-brainer. Maybe it’s due to the fact that much of the U.S. fruit and vegetable supply has been sprayed with pesticides and chemicals that carry long-term health risks.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), many scientists and public health advocates believe that a number of increasingly common problems that afflict children, including autism, ADHD, low birth weight, early delivery, asthma, infertility, diabetes and cancer, are linked to exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides.

A recent study published by the Environmental Health Journal reports that cancer benchmark levels were exceeded by all children tested – 100% – for toxic exposure to arsenic, dieldrin, DDE, and dioxins. Based on the self-reported dietary data, the greatest exposure to pesticides from foods included in this analysis were tomatoes, peaches, apples, peppers, grapes, lettuce, broccoli, strawberries, spinach, pears, green beans, celery and dairy.  What’s more, the study showed that pre-school age children had significantly higher estimated intakes of 6 of 11 compounds compared to school-age children.

So what are we to do when what we put on our family’s dinner plate is about as simple as navigating a minefield? We’re offering you  three dietary tips that greatly reduce your family’s exposure to chemicals in your food and will help you make informed food choices:

1. Choose organic for all your dairy, fresh fruit and veggies.

It’s an easy rule of thumb: if you’re eating the skin or peel of it, buy it organic. It’s that simple. This advice applies to many of the foods on the “Dirty Dozen: Foods You Should Always Buy Organic List,” including: apples, berries, peaches, tomatoes, grapes, squash, cucumbers, green beans, spinach and lettuce. Since the nutrient density of these foods is so high, why taint the health benefits by choosing ones sprayed with chemicals? Also, when it comes to dairy, what goes into the cow shows up in the milk. So, by choosing organic, you can rest assured that “organic cows” used for milking were fed a diet of grains and grasses that were grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.

2. Consume less meat, dairy and fish.

The most Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are found in meat, dairy and fish. POPs are organic (carbon-based) chemicals — products and by-products of human industrial processes — that do not break down, either chemically or biologically, in the environment. They are persistent, meaning that they can be found in the environment for decades and even centuries.

Not only do POPs remain in the environment, they also have a tendency to accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals and humans and have been found in human breast tissue, fish, meat, and dairy products worldwide.

Exposure to POPs has been linked to many health problems, including birth defects, immune system disorders, reproductive health disorders, endocrine and nervous system abnormalities, and cancers. (Source: Healthy Child, Healthy World).

If you don’t want to eliminate these foods altogether, then remove the fat and skin as much as possible when you eat meat and fish since this is where the POPs concentrate. Also, avoid farmed salmon, as it tends to have some of the highest levels of POPs.

3. Lower your intake of processed carbohydrates.

Put away the potato chips. Throw out the cookies. You’ve heard it before: avoid high-carbohydrate processed foods. But do you know why? One partial reason is because those foods have a higher probability of containing “acrylamide.” According to the World Health Organization, “acrylamide is a chemical that is used to make polyacrylamide materials, as well as glues, paper and cosmetics. Acrylamide is also used in the construction of dam foundations and tunnels, and appears to be produced in some foods prepared at high temperatures. Acrylamide is known to cause cancer in animals. Also, certain doses of acrylamide are toxic to the nervous system of both animals and humans.”

So, that begs the question: why is a chemical that is used in construction of dam foundations and tunnels in our food?  The answer is that appears to be produced naturally in some foods that have been cooked or processed at high temperature and the levels appear to increase with the duration of heating. The highest levels found so far were in starchy foods (potato and cereal products).

(Source: http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/chem/acrylamide_faqs/en/)