Health is About More Than What You Eat

When talking about health, diet tends to be the first thing that comes to mind. While eating a balanced diet is a very big part of a healthy lifestyle, it is not all-encompassing. Your sleep patterns, hydration level, and even your thoughts also contribute to your overall health.

Believe it or not, lifestyle habits like these can have an even stronger impact on your health than what you eat!

Sleep

Did you know that getting plenty of sleep is associated with lower body weight, higher athletic performance, improved immune function, and better overall mood?

It has been shown that improving your sleep can be one of the easiest ways to improve your health. A recent review of 15 different studies, posted by Oxford Academic, found that sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Poor sleep habits are also strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar metabolism. A 2010 study also found that sleep deprivation can cause prediabetes in healthy adults in as little as 6 days!

Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health. You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.

Stress

Stress is the next big factor that affects your health, regardless of what you eat.

When stressed your muscles naturally tense up to protect themselves from injury. They tend to release again once you relax, but if you’re constantly under stress, your muscles may not get the chance to relax. Tight muscles cause headaches, back and shoulder pain, and body aches.

Stress also stimulates the immune system. This stimulation can help you avoid infections and heal wounds, but over time, stress hormones will weaken your immune system and reduce your body’s response to foreign invaders. People under chronic stress are more susceptible to viral illnesses like the flu and common cold, as well as other infections.

Additionally, your liver produces extra blood sugar when stressed to give you a boost of energy. If you’re under chronic stress, your body may not be able to keep up with this extra glucose surge and it can contribute to glucose insensitivity and even the onset of diabetes.

Hydration

Water is actually the most important nutrient of all! It’s essential for body temperature regulation,

Older adults often don’t get enough fluids and risk becoming dehydrated, especially during summer when it’s hotter and people perspire more.

Studies show that even mild dehydration, such as the loss of 1–3% of body weight, can impair many aspects of brain function! Many additional studies, with subjects ranging from children to adults, have shown that mild dehydration can impair mood, memory, and brain performance.

Even mild dehydration can affect you mentally and physically making it imperative to get enough water each day!

Positive Thinking

Your thoughts and feelings play a big role in your overall health. Positive thinking is associated with heart health, brain health and even longevity.

In recent years, researchers have found that your mind can have a powerful effect on your body. Immunity is one area where your thoughts and attitudes can have a particularly powerful influence. In one study, researchers found that activation in brain areas associated with negative emotions led to a weaker immune response to a flu vaccine.

By nurturing positive emotions, even in the face of terrible events, people can reap both short-term and long-term rewards,including managing stress levels, lessening depression, and building coping skills that will serve them well in the future.

Rest and Self Care

Mental well-being also plays a crucial role in overall health. While it can be easy to feel the need to be constantly productive, taking time to rest and reflect is important for mental health and stress relief.

While there are no specific guidelines for how much relaxation a person should incorporate into their lifestyle, making time to unwind and enjoy life is an important part of maintaining good health. Deep relaxation, like meditation, when practiced regularly not only relieves stress and anxiety, but also is shown to improve mood.

Deep relaxation has many other potential benefits as well—it can decrease blood pressure, relieve pain, and improve your immune and cardiovascular systems.

Taking time for self-care and relaxation is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. This can be anything from meditation and yoga to knitting, baking, walking, or swimming. Finding time for quiet and peaceful activities can make a world of difference when it comes to your health.

How You Eat

The quality of the food you eat is extremely important when it comes to health, but what about the way in which you eat?

In America, eating is often rushed, squeezed in, multi-tasked, and on-the-run. We may be distracted by television, work, or the computer while we eat. Many people eat very quickly and feel too full by the time they stop eating.

Distractions such as sitting on the couch and watching TV or being on your phone while eating can take away from the connection between you and your meal and contribute to overeating.

Using mindfulness practices to rebuild connections with these internal hunger and fullness cues will help you learn to regulate food and reach your health goals. Mindful eating allows you to feel in control and enjoy the experience of eating so much more.

To be more mindful with the way you eat try paying attention to the food that you eat, minimizing distractions, slow down your eating, chewing food thoroughly, and eat when hungry and stop at a comfortable level of fullness.

As you continue to explore healthful eating and managing food portions, remember that learning “how to eat” is just as important as learning “what to eat.”

Written by Rheanna Smith, Education Specialist

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Elderberries: The New Face of California Hedgerows

The practice of growing hedgerows stems from all the way back to the Medieval times of England and Ireland.

Hedgerows can increase the beauty, productivity, and biodiversity of a property and are especially beneficial for farms.

Modern day hedgerows are used as a field border to enhance the habitat value and productivity of farmland.

To date, the creation of hedgerows and other restored habitat areas on California farms remains low.

This is in part because of a lack of information and outreach that addresses the benefits of field edge habitat, and growers’ concerns about its effect on crop production and wildlife intrusion.

Native hedgerows on farm edges benefit wildlife, pest control, carbon storage and runoff, but hedgerow planting by farmers in California is limited, often due to establishment and maintenance costs.

Field studies in the Sacramento Valley highlighted that hedgerows can enhance pest control and pollination in crops, resulting in a return on investment within 7 to 16 years, without negatively impacting food safety.

What if hedgerows could provide a source of farm income, to offset costs AND benefit the local environment?

Currently the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) is collaborating with Cloverleaf Farm in Solano County and several other growers in the Central Valley and coastal counties to assess and develop the potential for elderberries to become a commercial specialty crop, with a focus on hedgerow-grown elderberry production and marketing for small- and mid-scale California farms.

UC Agriculture and Environment Academic Coordinator, Sonja Brodt believes that elderberries may be the intersection of sustainable farming, super nutrition, and economic viability.

At the 2019 Elderberry Field Day Sonja explained, “Elderberries may have the potential to combine crop production with environmental conservation functions in a way not typically seen on California farms. This model would enable small- and medium-scale farmers to receive a direct income from a farm practice that benefits the ecosystem as well.”

Farms like Cloverleaf use elder trees as hedgerows on their fields to increase habitat value and crop pollination while also making a profit on the side by selling elderberry products, such as jams, syrups, and flower cordials.

Additionally, with growing consumer interest in health foods, elderberry product sales nationwide have jumped 10-50% in recent years but almost no commercial supply originates in California.

The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system.

According to recent research, elderberries can help tame inflammation, lessen stress, and even help protect your heart!

There are about 30 types of elder plants and trees found around the world.

The European version (also known as Sambucus nigra) is the one most often used in health supplements, however, recent attention has been drawn to the California elderberry (Sambucus caerulea).

Cloverleaf Farm has been an active partner with SAREP by monitoring the success level of elderberries planted and comparing results between the California elderberry and the European elderberry.

So far their findings show that California elderberries have a greater success rate when grown in Mediterranean climates compared to the European elderberry and attract more native pollinators, which benefits the crop yields.

In addition the UC Davis Food Science and Technology department is currently working on a elderberry project, led by Katie Uhl, focusing on the bioactive components unique to California elderberries that can be beneficial for human health.

While a diversity of plant species makes for the most effective hedgerows, the California elderberry is proving itself to be a perfect foundation species as it provides excellent environmental habitat and great potential for profits by selling the berries as health food products!

You can find Cloverleaf Farm elderberry syrups here at the Davis Food Co-op, along with many other elderberry products in our Wellness department!

Written by Rheanna Smith, Education Specialist

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Why Organic?

According to Jane Goodall’s book, “Harvest for Hope”, when chimps were given a choice between organic bananas and conventional bananas 9 out of 10 times they would choose organic!

Interestingly when only given conventional bananas the chimps would peel the fruit before eating it, whereas with organic bananas they would simply eat the whole thing, peel and all!

Top Reasons to Buy Organic:

Organic is Better for The People

Overall the standard of living for workers on organic farms is much greater than conventional farmworkers. Conventional farmworkers have much more exposure to toxic chemicals and also tend to have a worse standard of life.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified pesticide poisoning as a leading cause of public morbidity and mortality. 

Sadly, it is quite common for conventional farmworkers to commit suicide due to the stressful environment, and this is often done using the toxic synthetic pesticides themselves.

Globally, death from deliberate ingestion of pesticides claims more than 168,000 lives every year, which accounted for 20% of all suicides, and the majority of these incidents were reported from developing countries.

In addition, many organic farms are small family-owned farms, so when you buy local organic you can help support farmers in your community!

This is not always true of course as there are corporations switching to organic due to the demand from the public, and these farms, while still being better for your health and for the environment, may not necessarily be small and local.

However, if you do your shopping at the local farmers market or local co-op, the organic produce you buy is supporting local farmers!

Organic is Better for Your Health

Organically grown produce has little to no pesticide residue, so by simply buying organic produce you can drastically reduce your exposure to chemical toxins.

Organic foods may still have small amounts of chemical residue, mainly due to contamination from nearby conventional farms, as well as having trace amounts of organic pesticides.

Most organic pesticides are not synthetic and are derived from natural sources, such as minerals, plants, and bacteria.

Although organic agriculture still uses pesticides they tend to be much less harmful to humans and the environment because they are readily broken down.

In contrast many synthetic pesticides are known to persist in the environment as well as in people and animals too!

To better understand the difference between synthetic and organic pesticides it helps to think of a paper bag vs. a plastic bag. They are both bags, but the paper one is made of natural materials and the plastic one is made of synthetic, man-made materials.

If you were to take both bags, pour some water on them and leave them outside for a few weeks you will notice that the paper bag has been completely decomposed where the plastic bag hasn’t broken down at all and practically looks the same as it did weeks ago!

Organic is Better for The Animals

One of the biggest concerns with industrial agriculture is the horrific treatment of farm animals.

Chickens are crammed inside egg houses by the thousands without ever getting the chance to peck around in a field. Cows are denied open pastures and are instead confined to filthy areas where they have to live in their own feces. And pigs are kept in cages so small that they cannot even lay down.

Along with this cruel and unusual treatment, all of the animals are fed unnatural diets and are constantly pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics.

One option to prevent your money from supporting the companies that treat their animals like this is to go vegetarian or vegan, but for those who still want to have meat every now and then, there are more humane options.

One of which is to only buy organic animal products!

According to USDA Organic Standards, if an animal product is organic it is required that the animal is fed a natural diet that is 100% organic, not treated with antibiotics or hormones, and is allowed access to the outdoors year-round!

That means that when you buy organic you are ensured that the animal was provided with a more natural living situation, where chickens can peck and cows can graze.

Organic is Better for The Environment

Industrial agriculture is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation and climate change.

About 25 to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to conventional farming practices.

The ecological imbalance caused by monocultures and excessive use of chemicals has resulted in water pollution, decreased soil fertility, and enormous increases in pests and crop diseases, which farmers counter by spraying ever-larger doses of pesticides in a vicious cycle of depletion and destruction.

Organic farming is much more sustainable than conventional farming.

Many organic farms engage in a variety of sustainable practices such as no-till farming, crop rotation, biological pest control, polyculture, and the incorporation of hedgerows. These practices reduce erosion and soil depletion and help to encourage biodiversity.

Most of these practices are actually very old, traditional ways of farming that are now being embraced by organic farmers in order to move away from industrial agriculture.

Every dollar that you spend on organic produce is a dollar that is supporting the well being of our planet for all future generations to come.

More on Pesticides:

A pesticide is any substance used to kill, repel, or control certain forms of plant or animal life that are considered to be pests.

The World Health organization describes them as such, “by their nature, pesticides are potentially toxic to other organisms, including humans, and need to be used safely and disposed of properly.”

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Services, evidence suggests that children are particularly susceptible to adverse effects from exposure to pesticides, including neurodevelopmental effects.

Because of the widespread use of agricultural chemicals in food production, people are exposed to low levels of pesticide residues through their diets but may also be exposed to pesticides used in a variety of settings including homes, schools, hospitals, and workplaces.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for the Pesticide Data Program (PDP), a national pesticide residue testing effort achieved through cooperative programs with State agriculture departments and other Federal agencies. The PDP tests both fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, poultry, and other specialty food items such as honey, corn syrup, infant formula, fish, and nuts for pesticide residues.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for analyzing chemicals detected by the PDP and determining a “tolerance level”. These tolerance levels are established based on the LD50 (Lethal Dose 50) for each individual compound. The LD50 is a substance toxicity test in which a subject group (typically mice or rabbits) are exposed to a toxic chemical and then observed until the amount of that chemical administered causes 50% of the population to die. The EPA uses the LD50 as a tolerance reference in order to determine the maximum amount of certain chemicals that may legally remain on food.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is then responsible for the enforcement of these tolerances set by the EPA. This is done through the annual Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program in which a broad range of domestic and imported foods are sampled and tested for pesticide residue.

According to the 2018 PDP annual summary foods tested that violated the tolerance level set by the EPA included mangoes, asparagus, cilantro, cabbage, canned cranberries, raisins, and canned olives.

Low levels of environmental contaminants, pesticides that have been canceled in the U.S. but their residues persist in the environment, such as DDT were also found on foods such as cilantro, kale, frozen spinach, and snap peas.

But where do these chemicals go when eating them?

Studies have shown that pesticides tend to accumulate in the fatty tissues and reproductive organs of mammals where they can stay for a very, very long time.

The long term health effects of pesticides are still largely unknown, however, an ongoing study known as the Agricultural Health Study has linked pesticides to many health problems including childhood development, immune health, and the development of cancers and other diseases.

The truth

While it may be efficient to exploit certain crops for mass production, conventional agriculture is a major contributor to land degradation, biodiversity loss, and air and water pollution due to the immense amount of synthetic pesticides and herbicides that are used to maintain massive crop monocultures.

Conventional agriculture is not farming. It is an unsustainable food production industry in which the best interests of consumers and the Earth as a whole are overlooked in the pursuit of profit.

That being said, buying organic is by no means a perfect answer to health, climate, and social justice issues.

However, it is definitely a conscious step in the right direction!

Written by Rheanna Smith, Education Specialist

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Intermittent Fasting 101

There is a long human history of fasting, whether it be for cultural, religious, or political reasons.

However, you may or may not be familiar with the new diet trend known as intermittent fasting.

A diet where one eats normally some days and little to nothing other days has lately gained much attention around the world.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

So what’s all the buzz about?

Intermittent fasting (IF) involves periodic fasting paired with strategic eating and has become popularized as a method of achieving weight loss.

HOW IT WORKS:

 
There are two major ways in which IF is effective for weight loss including creating a caloric deficit and aiding in insulin regulation.

Research shows that in order to burn fat and lose weight you have to consume less calories than you use and this effect is achieved through IF.

Fasting works because the dieter eats less in one week than they normally would. For some individuals it may be easier to reach this goal through IF as opposed to reducing daily caloric intake.

Fasting also helps control insulin levels in the body. The hormone insulin is essential for the regulation of sugar and fat in the body.

Insulin is only released by the pancreas after a meal is eaten and therefore insulin levels drop during a fasted state. When insulin levels are constantly high, body cells can become less sensitive to its affect.

Periodically fasting can help regulate insulin levels which helps with sugar and fat processing in the body.

Types of Intermittent Fasting:

There are a few different methods of intermittent fasting and although the research is limited, some methods have shown to be more successful than others.

Time Restricted

This method involves consuming all of your meals within a certain time  

window and fasting for the remainder of the day. 

Alternate Day

This method involves alternating between eating meals regularly for an entire day and 

fasting for an entire day


Modified

This method incorporates IF throughout the week with some days being fasting or 

restricted days and others being regular days. The most popular being the 5:2 method in 

which you eat regularly for 5 days out of the week and you restrict your calories or fast 

completely for 2 days out of the week.

Circadian

This method is a type of Time Restricted IF that is dictated by circadian rhythm principles 

where you only eat while the sun is up and fast when the sun is down.


Is Intermittent Fasting For You?

Fad diets such as intermittent fasting get so much attention is because they offer new hope for people caught in the yo-yo diet cycle.

Despite the evidence that intermittent fasting can cause weight loss and improve risk factors for heart disease, many dietitians remain skeptical and wouldn’t recommend the dietary pattern as a weight-loss tool or method to improve heart health in most people.


Written by Rheanna Smith, Education Specialist

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Know Your Sunscreen

This time of year it’s especially important to wear sunscreen!

Every year in the U.S. about one third of the population gets sunburned and as most know, excessive sun exposure is linked to skin cancer.

When properly used, sunscreen is the best way to protect your skin from harmful UV rays and reduce the risk of skin cancer!

Now let’s talk about the different kinds of sunscreen because contrary to popular belief, not all sunscreen ingredients are equal.

There are two main types, physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens.

Physical Sunscreens:

Physical sunscreens contain active mineral ingredients that sit on the top of the skin and block UV rays. Examples are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Pros:
  • Naturally broad-spectrum, offering protection against both UVA and UVB rays
  • No wait needed, protects from the sun as soon as its applied
  • Lasts longer when in direct UV light
  • Less likely to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions
  • Better option for sensitive or acne-prone skin because it’s less pore-clogging
  • Longer shelf life 

Cons:
  • May leave white film on skin making some formulas incompatible with darker skin tones
  • Can rub or rinse off easily
  • Must be applied generously to properly coat skin

Chemical Sunscreens:

Chemical sunscreens contain organic compounds such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, and avobenzone which soak into the top layer of skin and work by absorbing UV rays as they enter the skin.

Pros:
  • Less is needed to protect skin 
  • Spreads easier on skin, tends to be a thinner consistency

Cons:
  • Requires 20-30 minutes after application to begin working
  • Higher risk of skin irritation, multiple ingredients are required to make broad spectrum formulas that protect against UVA and UVB
  • Re-application required frequently
  • May clog pores for oily skin types
  • The higher the SPF the higher the chance of irritation
  • Many compounds used are highly toxic to marine life

Environmental Impact:

As mentioned above, a big con of chemical sunscreens is that many of the compounds used are highly toxic to marine organisms, especially coral reefs.

Chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene damage coral and are largely responsible for coral reef bleaching.

Coral are bright and colorful because of microscopic algae called zooxanthellae.

Coral bleaching happens when coral becomes damaged or stressed and in response expel the algae, turning them white.

This makes for unhealthy coral reefs that cannot support marine wildlife.

Research done in Hawaii shows that coral reefs are exposed to 6,000 tons of sunscreen lotion every year.

When beachgoers wearing sunscreen go swimming they carry these chemicals into the ocean.

Concentrations as low as one drop of water in over six Olympic-sized swimming pools have shown to cause serious coral bleaching!

Coral reefs support some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet!

Thousands of marine animals depend on coral reefs for survival, including sea turtles, fish, crabs, shrimp, jellyfish, sea birds, starfish, and more!

Sunscreen is essential for skin health and UV protection, but not all sunscreens are the same and its important to be mindful of the differences.

Take a little extra time to look over the ingredients next time you buy some screen, it will only benefit you and the environment!

Written by Rheanna Smith, Education Specialist

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Sustainable Sundaes

When striving to follow a more sustainable path and reduce your carbon footprint obvious changes like using a reusable water bottle and buying clothes used may come to mind, but there are more ways then one to be a conscious consumer.

Rethinking how every aspect of your life can become more sustainable is the real key, and that will of course be individual to you!

Every little change adds up, even the ones that aren’t so obvious.

So what about something as simple as an ice cream sundae?

Well, to begin, not all ice creams are the same!

The Real Deal:

By definition, real ice cream should be made like egg custard, then churned‍‍‍ and frozen.

In the U.S. the term ice cream is legally required to be made up of a minimum of 10% milkfat, must weigh no less than 4.5 lbs per gallon, and cannot have more than 100% overrun.

Overrun refers to the air that is whipped into the cream during the churning and freezing process and helps contribute to the light, and fluffy texture of ice cream.

Ice creams with low overrun with be denser in comparison to ice creams with high overrun percentages.

Regulating overrun along with weight per gallon is important to ensure that manufactures are not selling ice cream that has more air than cream!

For similar reasons, milk fat content is measured to be sure that the fat content isn’t being replaced with processed oils.

Tip: If you notice that the label says “Frozen Dairy Dessert” it is most likely because the product does not fit the legal standards to be called ice cream.

What to Look Out For:

Is it organic? 

For agricultural workers and local people, the health impacts of conventional agrochemical use are numerous.

In general, the standard of living for workers on organic farms is much greater than conventional farm workers.

In addition, the USDA’s has strict regulations for organic.

Organic milk must come from a cow that has not been treated with antibiotics, has not been given hormones ― for either reproduction or growth ― and has been fed at least 30 percent of its diet on pasture.

Is it ethical?

It’s important to put into consideration the ingredients used in the ice cream other than dairy.

Quite often exotic ingredients like chocolate, coffee, and vanilla are used for flavorings and mix-ins and the sourcing of these ingredients greatly impacts the sustainability of the product.

Look for the Fairtrade logo to make sure that the ice cream you are buying was ethically sourced.

Sometimes this will even be noted in the ingredients list if it’s only referring to one ingredient in the ice cream, such as “fair trade cocoa“.

Is it local?

In terms of reducing ‘food miles’ and supporting your local economy, it’s always best to buy direct from farm shops and local businesses.

When choosing ice cream it can be easy to default to the popular brands but you may be surprised to find out that there are creameries local to you and by buying their ice cream you are helping support your local community.

What To Avoid:

Does it contain palm oil?

Palm oil is a vegetable oil sourced from palm trees that are commonly used as an additive in ice cream.

Palm oil has been and continues to be a major driver of deforestation of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests, destroying the habitat of already endangered species like the Orangutan, Pygmy Elephant, and Sumatran Rhino.

The palm oil industry is also responsible for serious violations of human rights including worker exploitation and child labor.

If the ice cream has added oils in the ingredients, opt for sunflower oil instead.

Is it Factory Farmed?

In general factory farms have a very negative impact on the environment, not to mention that the animals are confined and commonly mistreated.

Factory farming greatly contributes to air pollution and is responsible for a huge portion of greenhouse gas emissions through methane production.

Opt for ice cream brands that are local and organic to avoid buying from a factory farm.

Is it GMO-Free?

Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, have been shown to negatively affect habitat biodiversity and the companies responsible for the manufacturing GMO seeds and crops have been criticized for seriously exploiting small-scale farmers.

The spread of GMO crops such as corn, soy, and rice is directly responsible for the destruction of the Monarch butterfly habitat in North America and has caused many indigenous grain species to go extinct.

Opt for brands that have the GMO-free label when not buying organic.

Dairy Free Ice Cream:

When it comes to sustainability choosing a dairy-free ice cream option is a great way to avoid the negatives associated with the quality of the milk used!

Many dairy-free options tend to be made with coconut milk, soy milk, or almond milk or frozen fruit, such as banana.

When looking for dairy-free options be extra careful to avoid unnecessary additives like palm oil.

Sustainable Ice Cream Brands:

Click to

Aldens Organic

Straus Family Creamery

Luna and Larry

Stoneyfield

So Delicious

Ample Hills

Written by Rheanna Smith, Education Specialist

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Buying in Bulk

Reduce food waste and unnecessary packaging while saving bucks!

Why Buy Bulk?

Bulk buying is a great option for reducing waste and saving money.

When buying in bulk you also have more flexibility in the amounts that you purchase, this way you can get exactly what you need and avoid getting excess. 

For example if a recipe calls for an ingredient that you know you won’t be using again anytime soon you can buy a small amount of that item in bulk as opposed to buying the typical packaged amount. 

This way your ingredients will always be fresher too because you are buying as you need.

Alternatively bulk buying can be used to buy large amounts of an item to store at home for later use. This is a great option for dried goods like beans and grains because they store well and are much more affordable when purchased in bulk.

Batch Cooking:

Whether you have a family to feed or are living with just one or two people, batch cooking is for you!

Batch cooking helps to make cooking less of a chore while also keeping your health on track by having home cooked meals prepared and ready to go. 

When batch cooking you want to double or even triple your recipes in order to have leftovers to put in the fridge or freezer. Instead of cooking every night you can batch cook once or twice a week.

For example, you can cook up a big batch of quinoa and then use it in stir-frys, salads, soups, and grain bowls.

It’s important to keep in mind all food groups when batch cooking! Make sure to have a balance of protein, grains, fruits and veggies in every meal for optimum health.

How to Meal Prep:

Batch cooking and meal prepping go hand in hand.

Once you’ve batch cooked ingredients you can then come up with different recipes to use them in and prepare meals ahead of time.

Meal prepping is an investment that takes time while you’re doing it, but pays off immensely in convenience when you can grab a healthy home cooked meal to-go!

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Tomato Time

Summer is the season for tomatoes!

Here at the Co-op we love the many delicious varieties of tomatoes that are available in the summer. Tomatoes offer a juicy, fresh flavor and are a healthy meal addition to everything from potluck pasta salad to a classic sandwich.

Let us take some time to appreciate the tomato and all it has to offer.

Fresh red ripe tomatoes on the vine on a dark rustic cutting board

Health Benefits:

Tomatoes are good sources of several vitamins and minerals

Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen in the body and plays an important role in immunity by acting as an antioxidant in the body. One medium-sized tomato can provide about 28% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI).

Tomatoes contain many phytochemicals

Don’t forget to stop by our Produce Department for your fresh, local tomato needs!

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Storing Produce

Have you ever brought home beautiful bunches of greens and herbs only to have them wilt away in your fridge?

Save your money and stop wasting food with simple storage tips!

For our complete A-Z produce storage guide click here.

Greens and Herbs:

Trim the stem ends, place in a jar of fresh water, and place the entire jar in the fridge.

This allows the veggies to re-hydrate and will stay fresh much longer this way.

Use this method for greens like kale and chard, fresh herbs like basil and cilantro, and even vegetables like asparagus!

Vegetables:

Most veggies store best in the fridge.

Storing in a plastic bag or within the crisper drawer in your fridge will help keep in moisture and prevent your veggies from getting soft and drying out.

Some veggies such as tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, onion, and hard squashes are actually best stored outside of the fridge in a cool, dry place. 

Tip: Vegetables should be stored away from fruit in order to prevent them from ripening too fast!

Fruit:

When it comes to fruit most varieties will keep fresh longest if stored in the fridge, but when it comes to ripening they ripen best outside of the fridge.

Berries, lemons, and apples will all last much longer if stored in the fridge whereas tropical fruits like bananas and mangoes store best on the counter top. 

Tip: Some fruits, such as apples and bananas, produce ethylene gas and can be used to help ripen other fruits! 


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Natural Teeth Whitener

Simple, effective, and affordable!
Made with only 3 ingredients…

Looking for a way to brighten your smile without the harsh chemicals? Well we have a great natural solution for you!

Turmeric

Turmeric is a bright orange root vegetable closely related to ginger. When dried and ground into a powder it becomes an earthy spice that is popular in Middle Eastern, Asian, and Indian cuisine.

The bright color compounds found in turmeric are responsible for the whitening effect and with consistent usage it’s been shown to have results similar to using activated charcoal.

In addition turmeric is well-known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and truly stands out when it comes to oral health.

Studies have shown that brushing your teeth with turmeric is comparable to using mouthwash when it comes to removing plaque building, killing bacteria, and reducing inflammation! Turmeric has also been shown to prevent gum disease and relieve oral pain.  

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is known for its versatility, popularly used in everything from lotions and lip balms to baked goods and popcorn, so it’s not much of a surprise that it is also amazing for oral care.

Coconut oil is rich in anti-microbial fatty acids, such as lauric acid. Studies have shown that lauric acid attacks harmful bacteria that cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.

By preventing plaque build-up and improving gum health coconut oil helps to keep your teeth white. 

Baking soda

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is generally used as a leavening agent in baking and is  popular as a deodorizer due to its ability to absorb smelly food particles. You may have also seen baking soda listed as an ingredient in some toothpastes as it is well known for its oral care benefits, specifically teeth whitening!

When brushing with baking soda it acts as a mild abrasive that can help remove stains. Some may worry that this abrasion could damage tooth enamel but according to the American Dental Association, silica particles commonly used in toothpaste as an abrasive agent are actually much harder than baking soda particles.

Baking soda also acts as a mild base which helps to alkalize your mouth, creating an environment that is hard for bacteria to grow in.  

All three of these ingredients have their own oral health benefits and when combined they make for an extremely effective teeth whitener that’s affordable, all natural, and easy to make!

To Make:

Only 3 ingredients needed:

  • 2 tbsp Coconut Oil 
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2-3 drops of essential oil (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together in a glass jar.

It helps to use slightly softened, but not melted, coconut oil.

Turmeric is also notorious for staining anything and everything yellow (except your teeth!) so be cautious when measuring and mixing it.

For less coconut taste opt for a refined coconut oil which will have a much more mild coconut flavor compared to unrefined.

You can also add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to make the mix more pleasant tasting!

To Use:

After brushing your teeth with regular toothpaste and rinsing, scoop a pea-sized amount of the homemade teeth whitener onto your toothbrush and use it just like you would toothpaste.

You may want to use a separate toothbrush from your regular one as the turmeric will most likely stain the brush.

Store in a sealed jar at room temperature. 

Use up to once a day or every other day for best results.

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