Chipotle Ad - Click to View
I haven’t seen this advertisement on television yet, but the Soulsby Farm posted this to their blog recently (which by the way, is really worth following). Farm owners, Dan and Mindy, live in Hudson, OH. They believe in sustainable farming from organic heirloom seeds and are strongly against GMO’s. They grow everything organically and let our hens free range around the garden.
Last year they started a non-profit organization called Project Garden Share that helps connect individuals in need of food with people who grow gardens. You might want to check them out.
But back to the ad.
It’s a short animated commercial featuring Willie Nelson covering Coldplay. My son works for Chipolte and is also an avid photographer and filmmaker so this really caught my attention. However, the message itself is quite compelling. Rather than modifying food to suit the producers and retailers, we need to modify how that food is produced and marketed to meet the growing market demand. When we do we are being true to ourselves our creator and the care of all creation.
Oh, did I tell you their food is really good?
It’s great to see that a number of major grocery stores are beginning to offer organic products. Just a few years ago, finding organic products meant traveling to some out of the way food cooperative where the staff all wore crinkled natural cottons and had a variety of piercings in places that would make you cringe.
However, organics is becoming more and more mainstream and along with it, prices are becoming more and more competitive. In fact, I’ve been finding the some organics are either only marginally higher priced the convention products, or in fact the same price. On fresh produce, prices have even been less on certain occasions than their conventional counterparts.
So what does this mean?
Well, for one it means that these products are becoming more accessible and with that are gaining a larger part of the market. The law of economics tells us that that when demand increases, more producers enter the market. When more providers enter the market, there’s an increase in competition. When competition increases, consumers win because competition means a drop in prices.However, even more importantly is the fact that both consumers and the environment are being exposed to less chemical pesticides and fertilizers than ever before.
Now remember that not all labels are equal. Even if it says “organic” you need to look for the “USDA Certified Organic” label. And remember that there’s a significant difference between “organic” and “natural”. Many of the grocers are offering an increasing number of natural products as well. This is certainly not a negative, but it pays to know the difference. See my January Post on organic labeling for more information.
In the Midwest, I’ve been able to find organic products at Meijer, Target and of course the mega-grocer, Kroger’s.
You might be wondering what the Midwest Traveler is doing in Thailand, but an important part of my life consists of traveling abroad on a regular basis as the director of a Christian Non-Profit.
This past week found me in Northern Thailand where I have visited before and where I am forever intrigued with its people, cuisine and flora. One of the things I like to do best if provided a bit of free time, is to visit local markets – not the tourist night markets, but the ones locals visit to buy the meat and produce.
In Northern Thailand the sweet tamarind is especially prevalent in market places, especially in Phletchabun Province at this time of year. Many are not familiar with this sandy brown colored vegetable, but it has a number of uses in addition to serving as a central ingredient in Thai cooking. My first encounter with this distinctive sweet and sour vegetable was during a year of language study in Costa Rica. There we knew it simply as an ingredient for a great tasting juice. However, here are just a few uses I discovered on this trip:
1. The ripened pulp is used in Thai cooking and is perfect for flavoring curry or Tom Yum dishes.
2. When boiled, the steam from tamarind leaves is said to help reduce a fever.
3. Tamarind juice is believed to soothe a sore throat.
4. A ripened pod can be used as a body scrub with the outer covering used as a loofah.
5. The mild acidity of the flesh means it’s perfect for polishing brass, copper and other metals.
If you’re interested in visiting the northern province of Phletchabun the Sweet Tamarind Fair takes place in late January.
There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the use of the term “organic”. According to The Daily Green, a consumer’s guide to green living from GoodHouseKeeping.com, the USDA has established three different interpretations.
USDA Organic: In 2000, after a 10-year development process, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rolled out its rules covering use of the word “organic” on foods. The USDA accredits independent certifiers, who then check the claims of producers. The system has three levels:
- “100% Organic”: Can only contain organic ingredients, meaning no antibiotics, hormones, genetic engineering, radiation or synthetic pesticides or fertilizers can be used. Can display the USDA organic logo and/or the specific certifying agent’s logo.
- “Organic”: Contains 95% organic ingredients, with the balance coming from ingredients on the approved National List. These products can also display the USDA organic logo and/or the certifier’s logo.
- “Made with Organic Ingredients”: Must be made with at least 70% organic ingredients, three of which must be listed on the package, and the balance must be on the National List. These products may display the certifier’s logo but not the USDA organic logo.
Read more: http://www.thedailygreen.com/going-green/3979#ixzz1ja6f5mDD
But what about products that claim to be “all natural”?
Legally, food labeled “natural” does not contain any artificial ingredients, coloring ingredients, or chemical preservatives, and, in the case of meat and poultry, is minimally processed.
Meat from animals treated with artificial hormones can (and is) labeled “natural,” as is meat injected with saline solution (claimed to add flavor, which it does, but it also adds considerable weight to a product sold by the pound). For more about meat labeling, see What Do Meat Labels Mean?
Similarly, foods containing “natural flavors”, such as processed proteins that you may or may not consider desirable, can legally sport the label “natural.”
In short, the “natural” label on food means something and there are guidelines about which foods can be labelled “natural,” but they aren’t very stringent. For people interested in pure foods and minimally processed or unprocessed foods, the “natural” label probably won’t tell you what you want to know. Be sure to read the label for more information.
The word “natural” should not be confused with organic. While organic foods are natural, not all natural ingredients are organic, and many natural ingredients are extracted with chemical solvents and other processes that are not allowed in true organic foods.