Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trimming the Garden for Hot Days

The hot days of spring and summer are here so we use burlap, shade cloth, and trim out plants back regularly to keep our plants healthy in the heat.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Herbal Tips - Marjoram

Marjoram (Origanum majorana or vulgare)
Marjoram is associated with the element air and the planet Mercury. A true herb of the Mediterranean it grows wild over the hills. Marjoram brings happiness when depressed, and is protective when carried. Medicinally marjoram has a calming effect on the nerves, and is helpful relieving tension and aiding digestion.

Herb aficionados have a favorite saying: "when in doubt, use marjoram", which neatly sums up marjoram’s ability to delicately complement, without overpowering, any dish. Marjoram makes excellent stuffing for chicken and turkey roasts; and is also used in homemade sausages and meats that are to be cured or smoked. The Chopped leaves are added to egg or cheese dishes, fish, lamb, poultry, and vegetables. It makes an attractive garnish for bean and pea soups, and the flowers add a peppery flavor when sprinkled over salads and soups.

Marjoram is one of the rare herbs whose flavor intensifies when dried. Mushrooms cooked with a stuffing of marjoram in their caps leaves them filled with a unique flavor. Marjoram also works well in combination with other herbs in spice blends such as bouquet garni and fine herbs.

Grown in your garden it offers shielding powers against evil. Marjoram should be located in areas receiving full sun and rich well-drained soil. Marjoram is drought tolerant so it makes an exceptional plant for beginner herb growers. Established plants require little care, other than occasional watering.

Harvest & Storing
Cut fresh leaves as needed once plants are 4 to 6 inches tall. When harvesting marjoram, pick the shoots just before flowers begin to open as this results in the best flavor. Bundle marjoram cuttings and hang them upside down in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area. Keep fresh marjoram in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a few days. Dry leaves and flowers can be stored in an airtight container in a dark cool cabinet.

#culinary #enchantments #gardens #healthyeating #herbs #herbharvest #livinggreen #marjoram #naturalfoods #noordinarychick

Saturday, May 21, 2016

All Natural & Organic? Know Your Marketplace Part 2

So if the information in All Natural? Know Your Marketplace Part 1 makes you a bit uncomfortable just imagine who’s behind your favorite ‘Natural & Organic Food Products’, oops not exactly what they seem!

Most consumers are just trying to get something that fits into their budget so price may be the first thing they are looking for; and then taste… It’s a smaller group that asks if the company is sticking up for the brand’s core principles, and asks if the product is really natural or organic.

As sales of natural and organic food products increase so does the confusion surrounding the definition of natural and organic… Are natural and organic foods the same? No they are not! Although organic foods are natural by definition, he term ‘natural’ applies broadly to foods that are minimally processed and free of synthetic preservatives; artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and other artificial additives; growth hormones; antibiotics; hydrogenated oils; stabilizers; and emulsifiers. Most foods that are labeled natural are not subject to government controls beyond the regulations and heath codes that apply to all foods.

*Exceptions include meat and poultry. The Food Safety & Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires these to be free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and ingredients that do not occur naturally in the food. Natural meat and poultry must be minimally processed in a method that does not fundamentally alter the raw product. In addition, the label should explain the use of the term natural, i.e.: ‘no artificial ingredients’.

‘Organic’ refers not only to the food itself, but also to how it was produced. Foods labeled organic must be certified under the National Organic Program, in effect since October 21, 2002. They must be grown and processed using organic farming methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity; two key elements of environmentally sustainable agriculture. Crops must be grown without using synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes, petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.

Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors, and be given no antibiotics or growth hormones.

Organic foods, herbs, and spices may not be irradiated.

A natural companies labeling has more impact on consumers who are not well versed in natural and organic ingredients, terms, and labeling regulations; and are therefore more likely to believe that these products are in fact natural or organic just because they’re marketed that way.

Amy’s or Amy’s Kitchen was founded in 1987 by Andy & Rachel Berliner, and is still family owned, yeah! This company recently opened the first ‘Amy’s Drive-thru Restaurant’ in California; yes this is a natural foods take out, and it is doing tremendously well! You can always count on the quality of Amy’s products; we took our family’s household green, and switched to all natural foods in 1983, and we have been using Amy’s since their onset to the natural foods market.

Annie’s or Annie’s Homegrown In 1989, Annie Withey co-founded Annie’s Homegrown, Inc. with Andrew Martin with the goal of making a healthy and delicious macaroni and cheese for families. In mid-September 2014 Annie’s became the sister of Betty Crocker and dozens of other non-natural brands that make up the food conglomerate General Mills. This is truly an unfortunate situation as Annie’s has a huge market for children’s foods and snacks; now owned by General Mills can we really trust that the product will stay natural, and organic?

Small Planet Foods, or a division of General Mills, who are you trying to fool?! Cascadian Farm, Food Should Taste Good, Muir Glen, and Larabar are all branded as Small Planet Foods.

Cascadian Farm began with founder Gene Kahn from Chicago 40 years ago who just wanted to make a difference in the world. Since 1972, Cascadian Farm has grown beyond its original farm and is recognized as a pioneer in converting conventional farms to organic. We were organic before ‘organic’ was a trend, or even before the USDA certified it, is their slogan… so why did they sell out to the food giant General Mills in late 1999? We just boycott this company altogether; there are many other still family and privately owned companies making the variety of products that Cascadian Farms does, and these days the price difference is minimal.

Muir Glen was named after legendary naturalist John Muir, and was founded in 1991 by a group of entrepreneurs with experience in agriculture industry. All of Muir Glen's tomatoes are field grown and vine ripened under certified organic practices; no synthetic pesticides, no chemical fertilizers, just true to nature. We find this one of the harder companies to buy other brands, as there just aren’t that many tomato companies, and Muir Glen has so many choices. We have taken to roasting our own tomatoes, and other additives, and then freezing them during the season for use later in the year.

Food experts say there’s no reason General Mills would pay millions of dollars for these trusted brands jut to destroy them. Of course, General Mills could make subtle ingredient changes that would slowly de-healthify its natural and organic brands to save money.

Late July was founded in 2003 by Nicole Dawes; mom, entrepreneur, and champion of healthy living that tastes great… then it boomed in 2010 and is still thankfully privately owned and operated from 15 Channel Ctr St in Boston MA. All Late July snack foods are made with organic and non-GMO ingredients. Yeah! Again a lot of kid friendly product choices, and this companies products are delicious… one of our favorites is their ‘Classic Rich’ Crackers, they’re delicious!

Nature’s Path was founded in 1985 by Arran & Ratana Stephens and is still family owned. The home office is located in Richmond, BC where you can still find an on-site organic garden and some really big compost bins. Products are made in 2 locations; Blaine, WA and Sussex, WI, from home office, to manufacturing centers, to distribution centers with Nature’s Path’s own 400 committed employees. Another company we regularly count on for the basics like cereal, granola, oatmeal, and more.

We are always reading ingredients and feel it’s helpful to learn some of the differences in natural preservatives and sweeteners that are commonly used in organic products. Next just like with body products, if the ingredient list is more than an inch wide, just put the product down, not kidding, it’s not worth the trouble to read all the details most times… it’s so much easier just to find a few products and a few companies you can count on.

#healthyeating #livinggreen #naturaleating #naturalfoods #naturalfoodproducts #naturallygrown #naturalingredients #naturallivestock #naturalmeats #noordinarychick #organicfoods #organicingredients #organiclivestock #organicfoodproducts #organicllygrown

Friday, May 6, 2016

All Natural? Know Your Marketplace Part 1

Do you know who makes your favorite natural body, cleaners, and household products; and do they really care if the products are safe for the planet, and us, or if they are only interested in our dollar?

Most consumers are just trying to get something that works so efficacy is the first thing they are looking for. It’s a smaller group that asks if the company is sticking up for the brand’s core principles, or asks if the product is really natural.

Greenwashing has been particularly impactful on consumers who are not well versed in natural personal care ingredients, terms, and labeling; and are therefore more likely to believe that these products are in fact natural just because they’re marketed that way.

As sales of natural products increase, so does the confusion surrounding the definition of natural, green or organic. The Department of Agriculture regularly inspects food that is labeled organic to make sure it complies with regulations; the same rules and processes do not apply to beauty and body care products.

Burt’s Bee’s started with a line of organic balms and butters launched in the 1980s by Burt Shavitz, a Maine beekeeper who lived in a turkey coop and sold his bees’ honey from the back of his truck. Flash ahead almost 30 years, and what started as a little collection of handmade soaps and lotions is now a factory-produced beauty line adored by hippies and new-agers alike and owned by the Clorox Co… geez just the word Clorox is enough to turn us away!

Mrs. Meyers was a wonderful small company that was inspired by Thelma Meyer in a small town in Iowa, and is now owned by SC Johnson; who has been broadcasting television commercials claiming they are devoted to keeping the planet safe. Just read the ingredients; some things the FDA allows to be called natural may not be so great for our planet, or us, but it is good for the profit bottom line.

Seventh Generation is the only biggie in the natural cleaning world still privately held and operated from Burlington, VT. They still use less expensive natural plant products, and pass that on to the public, and they do not try to say they are something they are not. Even though some companies use safer plant sulfates; they do increase the expense of the products, and you can find Seventh Generation more often in the marketplace so it’s a good place to start.

Tom’s of Maine This company makes more than just natural soaps and body care products; once upon a time we used some of these products, but how important do you think being natural is to Colgate - Palmolive the company they’re now owned by? There is a last paragraph disclaimer on the Tom’s of Maine website in the about the company link that they’d grown in size, and in 2006 became a part of the Colgate-Palmolive family; says their approach has not changed, and then goes on to offer a link to see what the original company founders Tom & Kate are doing now.

We generally do look at ingredients and feel it’s an immediate flag if they are not listed. It is helpful to learn some of the differences in the plant sulfites that are used in natural products. Next just like with food products, if the ingredient list is more than an inch wide, just put the product down, not kidding, it’s not worth the trouble to read all the details most times… it’s so much easier just to find a few products and a few companies you can count on.

#allnatural #greenproducts #greenbodycare #greencleaners #greenhouseholdproducts #livinggreen #naturalproducts #naturalbodycare #naturalcleaning #naturalhouseholdproducts #naturalpersonalcareproducts #naturalsoaps #noordinarychick #organicbalms #organicbodycare #organiccleaners #organichouseholdproducts #organicpersonalcareproducts #organicproducts