Category Archives: environmentally friendly

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Finding New Products at Expo East!

We’re on the Hunt for Great New Products!

September has brought us to Baltimore for the Natural Products Expo East Trade Show. We love attending seminars and meeting producers — it’s exciting to see the creativity and great new products! ┬áHere are some of the fun and delicious things we’ve see at this show!

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I love DEET-free repellents!

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There are a lot of great new entrants in the drink category — this watermelon was delicious!

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Tasty new dressings!

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This brand has new offerings — Yum!

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New offerings in the Chip Aisle

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Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks are a lot of fun — and healthy, too!

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This company had these biodegradable cloths — one towel replaces 15 rolls of paper towels. And they biodegrade in less than 3 months!

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Want an easy side dish? Craving Tater Tots? Try these Cauliflower bites. From Freezer to oven to table. We are definitely bringing these into Lassen’s!

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Grain-free offerings were abundant at Expo East, and this one was tasty, for sure.

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Hu Chocolates’ new products feature cashews, almonds, and dried fruit. Delicious.

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Dahlicious has new Cashew drinkable yogurt, and their almond yogurts are smooth and creamy.

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This French Yogurt was very tasty — I liked the Pressed Lemon in the ceramic container. The flavors were very subtile and the creamy texture was divine.

Watch for the new products coming up soon at a Lassen’s near you! I didn’t get a photo of Justin’s new Cashew Cup, but it should arrive soon in the stores. It is delicious!

Love,

Lassen’s

 

 

 

bug+spray, insect+repellant, natural+sunscreen, sun+protection, body+care

It’s Hot Hot Hot!

And Very Sunny.  So Apply Some Sunscreen!

bug+spray

But What Kind?  And are There Things I Should Avoid?

Questions, Questions, Questions!  We all need to be alert consumers as we choose products today.  And as I have done some research, I have found some common ingredients in many sunscreens that we probably should avoid. 
 

Here are some of the big ones:

  • Oxybenzone.  In lab tests this chemical (in large amounts) has been found to interact with hormones and there is possibly a cancer connection.  
  • Retinyl Palmitate.  This comes from Vitamin A, which sounds positive, but it’s not.  It was added to sunscreens to reduce the signs of aging in the skin, but apparently it reacts badly in the sun, and has the potential to case greater harm.  Most sunscreens have removed it from their ingredients.  
  • Nano particles.  Sounds impressive, right?  People don’t generally want to have white sunscreen so the particles have been reduced in size so that they don’t have a white appearance.  The problem, however, is those tiny particles may be more readily absorbed into the skin, rather than just staying on the top, which is where we want it to be to protect our skin.  But the jury is still our about if those particles absorbed into the skin may do some harm.  So it’s better to avoid nano particles.
  • Sunscreen/Bug Repellent combos.  Convenience, yes.  But you’ll need to reapply the sunscreen often, and that will give you too much of the bug spray.  And you’ll absorb more into your skin.  Generally, bugs are not much of a problem in the day when you’re worried about the sun, and the sun is not a problem when it cools off and the bugs come out.  So keep them separate.

Here are some other things to consider:

  • Spray sunscreens are convenient, but there is an inhalation risk.  Sunscreen should stay on the skin, not in your lungs.
  • Powdered sunscreens, for the same reasons.  The FDA has removed the approval for loose powder sunscreens, but you may still see some on the market.
  • Super high SPFs.  The research indicates that anything over SPF 50 doesn’t provide much additional protection, and may give people a false sense of safety.  Also, they may not have protection from the really dangerous UVA rays, which do their damage deep into the skin.
  • Broad Spectrum protection.  Make sure your sunscreen protects from both UVB and UBA rays.  Look for “Broad Spectrum” or both UVA and UVB wording on the label.
  • You’re going to have to reapply.  Often.  Get used to it.  Bummer, right?  But even the most water-resistant products will have to be reapplied after 40 or 80 minutes.  
  • Use clothing and shade to protect your skin.  
Here is a link to a website that gives your more information and recommendations about sunscreens.
 
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What About Insect Repellents?

Remember that we are talking pesticides, here.  Obviously we don’t want ticks burrowing into our skin, or mosquitoes sucking our blood, but spraying or spreading pesticides on the skin isn’t exactly appealing, either.  There are some things you can do to cut back on your risk of bug bites, and then you don’t have to use as much of the repellents.  Something I just learned–insect repellents only protect agains biting insects, not ones that sting.  So you’ll just have to avoid bees, wasps, and hornets.  

Clothing

Long sleeves.  Long pants, preferably ones that are tight at the ankles.  Boring colors–you don’t want insects to think you’re a flower! No scented soaps, perfume, lotions, etc.  Closed toed shoes and socks, especially in areas with ticks.  

Repellents

You’ve probably heard of DEET.  It is effective.  Insects are attracted to the scent of carbon dioxide, which we give off; It’s part of breathing, so I don’t think we can avoid that! And DEET masks that scent.  But there are other, more natural ways to keep the bugs away.  The products we carry at Lassen’s generally use essential oils.  Much nicer.
 
Here is a website with recommendations and some other information.

 

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Lassen’s carries a large selection–and this photo shows just a small sampling–of natural sunscreens and insect repellents.  Our helpful Body Care team members will be able to help you choose the ones that are right for you!  And of course, just in case you still get too much sun, make sure to pick up some Aloe Vera gel to cool down and soothe your skin!
 
Have lots of fun in the sun, but don’t forget to protect your skin!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s
gaia+herb, know+your+herbs, gaia+farm, herbal+supplements, meet+your+herbs

Producer Spotlight–Gaia Farm Tour

What a Gorgeous Farm!

 
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Have you ever wondered how those herbs get in the extracts, the tinctures, the capsules, the bulk boxes, and the tea bags?  We had the amazing opportunity to visit the Gaia Farm in North Carolina recently.
 
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With the morning sun gently shining, we looked out over the ginko trees to survey some of the 350 acre farm.  The temperate weather influences and land formations of this area provide a unique habitat–ideal for growing many herbs for their products.  The diverse red clay to black loam soils also provide a fertile landscape.  Gaia Farms grow about 20% of their herbs right here in this beautiful farm.  For the rest of their herbs they scour the world for the best, most ethical, and “clean” producers and gatherers.  

 

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This is Ric Scalzo, the owner, CEO, Herbalist, and Naturopath at Gaia Herbs.  He took us throughout the farms for two days, explaining the herbs that they are growing.  Here he is showing us the Ginko trees.  Ginko is great for mental alertness (in fact, Gaia has a formula called “Mental Alertness” which contains Ginko!) 

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These leaves will be harvested for greatest potency when the edges begin to have a golden edge.

From Seed to Shelf

At Gaia, the herbs are cultivated carefully from seed to harvest.  

 

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Here are thousands of Echinaea seedlings in their greenhouse.  They beging to plant seeds in February. Once they get bigger and stronger, the seedlings are taken outside to the Hoop Frames where the plants get acclimatized to being outside, and are allowed to grow bigger and stronger.
 
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The plants in the foreground are ready to be planted in the fields.  
 
Everything grown at Gaia, as well as all of the herbs they get from sources around the world, is certified organic, according to Oregon Tilth standards, and recertified every year.  Gaia also does yearly soil analysis as well to be sure the soil has all of the nutrients needed for plant strength.  In the winter they grow crops to be tilled back into the soil to increase the nitrogen level in the soil, and it is amended in the spring with fish, kelp, and seaweed amendments, as well as compost, of course.  Pests and fungi are managed organically–no chemicals!  They use wasps to control the Japanese Beetle.

Knowledge

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Here is the group learning about Hawthorn buds and leaves, which were being harvested right behind us.  Hawthorn is a great source of flavanoids, which are extracted right at the Gaia plant.  Hawthorn is a great heart support.
 
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This was the view we had (perfect photo-op area!) as we walked to the fields.
 
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Experience

Ric actually had us taste some of the herbs as he explained their use.
 
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Some of us even planted some Gotu Kola plants from the trays and into the ground.  Here are a couple of rows that had just been planted.  Ric said that Gotu Kola can “calm an overanxious mind.”  Some of us who have a hard time turning off our brains at night could use some of that calming!
 
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We tasted some lemon balm herb, one of the ingredients in formulas for gas and bloating. 
 
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The fields were so well maintained are beautiful.
 
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I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the beautiful herbs!
 
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This is Stinging Nettle.  Gaia farm is allowing it to go to seed this year so that they can harvest 500 lbs of seeds.  Stinging Nettle is an Anti-inflammatory, among other uses.  The seeds, the leaves, and the roots are all used in herbal medicine.  

Purity.  Integrity.  Potency.

Gaia Farms has partnered with several universities, as well as international groups to conduct research on herbs.  They recently did some research on Tumeric with Auburn University.  One thing that I was very impressed with was Gaia’s committment to quality.  They test their own products, as well as the herbs they recieve from other sources, to make sure that they have the purest and most potent products possible.  On their own herbs, they will take a sample to the lab to make sure the plant has the best potency before they harvest.  If it doesn’t, they will wait a few days or longer while the plant continues to grow.  They test again, and will not harvest until the plant has reached the target potency.  
 
Gaia does the processing of the herbs–they generally receive the herbs as raw material.  They test it to make sure that it is not only what the supplier says it is, but that it is the target potency.  They make sure there is no pesticide or herbicide residue.  Gaia has a beautiful lab and plant where quality is job #1.  
 
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Valerian Flowers–the root of the beautiful and sweetly-fragrant plant is a sedative for insomnia, as well as muscle pains and spasms.  It is found in the Gaia Sleep formulas.
 
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Gaia has an amazing website, where you can literally “Meet Your Herbs.”  You can enter the ID number on the box or bottle of product, and the website will give you the history of the herbs in your product.  You can also learn about herbs what they are good for, and how your health can be enhanced by using herbal products.  There you can see how Gaia supports local and global concerns as well.  You can find their website here.
 
Thank you Gaia, for a great tour!
 
love,
 
Lassen’s

Let’s Kick Off the Summer with Grass-fed, Organic Meats!

 It’s Good For You, Good for the Animals and Good for the Planet!

While many people are choosing to go vegan or vegetarian, many others enjoy eating meat.  And if that includes you, how do you know the best meats for you, the animals, and the planet?  
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If you are confused by the many terms associated with this topic, you’re not alone.  Here is a short explanation, but for more details, see this Mayo Clinic article.
 
These are USDA terms, and they mean something–
  • Antibiotic Free–must provide documentation, but be careful with this one.  Animals can have antibiotics in their lifetime, but just must have a period of time before slaughter so that there isn’t evidence of the antibiotic in their meat.  Make sure the label says that the animal has never been administered antibiotics.
  • Cage Free–Laying hens are not confined in cages, but typically are in barns or another enclosed area.
  • Chemical Free–this label is not allowed on meats, so beware when you see it.
  • Free Range or Free Roaming–This term is a USDA term (which means poultry are allowed to roam outdoors) but is not a standard term for other meats.  
  • Grain-Fed–The USDA regulates what grains are included in the diet of the animals labeled “Grain Fed.”
  • Grass-Fed–means grass and forage are the feed source for the animals for their lifespan after weaning.
  • Natural–This means the meat has no artificial flavorings, colorings, or preservatives, as well as no synthetic or artificial ingredients.  They must be minimally processed, and the label must outline what is meant by “Natural.”
  • Pasture Raised–This is part of the National Organic Program, and is an assurance that any meat so labeled comes from an animal that has had access to the outdoors year round.
These are Voluntary or Unregulated Terms–
  • Certified Humane–This term is a voluntary label administered by Humane Farm Animal Care.  They have a list of humane practices, including no antibiotics or hormones, and allowing the animals to engage in natural behaviors.
  • Hormone Free–this term is not allowed on meat products, but beef can be labeled with “No Hormones Administered.”
  • Naturally Raised–this term is one that the label must explain what is meant by the term.
  • Vegetarian Fed–Generally used to suggest that the animal is provided with a healthier diet, including no animal by-products.
grass+fed+meats, organic+meats, humanely+raised+meats, free+range+chickens

How are the Animals Raised?

Animals, including domesticated animals, have been living on pasture grasses for thousands of years.  Their physiology has a wonderful system to turn those grasses into protein, which humans can consume  and digest (we have a hard time digesting those same grasses!)  In order to eat enough grasses to grow and thrive, the animals have to be free to roam a large range.
 
But in the last several decades, big production farms have changed the order of meat production.  Typically today, the cattle, lambs, pigs and poultry are confined into small cages, and fed corn and other grains, and do not have the freedom to roam the fields.  Often the beaks of chickens are clipped.
 

These animals, raised in confined spaces, produce high saturated-fat meat.  They also are prone to diseases, since they are close to each other and get little if any fresh air or exercise.  They are stuck living in filthy conditions, unlike this calf we saw at Burroughs Family Farm.

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So Why Should We Eat Grass-fed, Free-Range Meats?

Number One–Better For You:

There is mouting evidence that grass-fed beef is much safer and better for your health than grain-fed beef.  Grass-fed animals are much less likely to have diseases or e-coli than those in confined cages or lots.  Grass-fed beef has less saturated fat, but more healthy Omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a nutrient that is generally lacking in our western diet.  CLA is associated with heart health and lowered cancer risk.  Grass-fed, Free Range meats are also leaner.  Meat produced on Factory Farms are generally full of antibiotics–they are used at an alarming rate.  There is a great discussion on NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook, which you can listen to here.  Of course, we all know that over-use of antibiotics renders these amazing drugs much less effective, and encourages antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria to thrive.
 
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These piglets enjoy rooting around at Highwood Farm

Number Two–Better for the Animals:

Organic, Grass-fed, Free Range animals are allowed (even required!) to be outdoors, foraging for their food, engaging in natural behaviors like spreading their wings (for poultry) and rooting (for pigs) and walking over a large range (beef and lamb).  Factory Farmed animals are packed into small cages or lots, often up to their knees in manure.  Free Range animals are healthier, live longer and are less likely to need medical intervention (sounds like a great benefit for being a “free-range” human!)  When we visited Burroughs Family Farm they told us that their milk cows had a productive life of ten years, where the industry average was only 2 1/2 years!  
 
Also, animals that are fed diets that their bodies are not designed to eat struggle with much less fiber and much more starch.  Because of their unatural diet they are susceptible to parasites and diseases, as well as e-coli.  And this of course, makes their meat healthier for us. 
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Number Three–Better for the Planet:

The land and the soil is much healthier with grass-fed, free-range productions.  Factory Farms produce mountains of waste, methane, pollution, and greenhouse-gas emissions.  This article goes so far as to say that eating Free Range, Grass Fed meat can save the planet.  It has some very interesting points, such as small farm, organic, free-range production is beneficial to the grasses and soils (fertilizing and eating a range of plants, which makes the soil healthier and eliminates weeds), and discourages pests and predators.  
 
Factory Farms are environmentally very harmful.  Pollution, run-off, groundwater contamination–those are just a few of the problems with raising thousands of animals in small spaces.  This Time Magazine article (from 2010) exposes many of those problems.
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How Hard is it to Change to Meat that is Better for Me, the Animals, and the Planet?

Not hard at all.  Lassen’s carries a wide selection of all kinds of meats that are organic, grass-fed, free range, humanely treated meats.  We always have something on sale, and you’ll find that the meat is so delicious and tender.  If you have any questions about the meats that we carry, our friendly meat department can help you.  
 
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If you haven’t tried our delicious meats, the first barbecue of the summer would be a good time to give them a try!  We have everything from ground beef to turkey sausages.  
 
This article has more details on why eating grass-fed meat is beneficial.
 
Have a great summer, and enjoy all of the healthy foods and products that we carry!
 
love,
 
Lassen’s
why+eat+organic, benefits+of+organic, earth+friendly, environmentally+friendly, organic+farming, pesticide+free+farming, herbicide+free+farming, organic+is+better+for+your+health, organic+is+better+for+the+earth, organic+is+more+nutritious, non+GMO, organic+is+non+GMO, orgnic+is+non+GMO+and+more

What’s the Big Deal About Organic?

I May Be Preaching to the Choir, Here

You may already be convinced that eating organic foods is the best thing for you, your family, and the planet.  But just in case you aren’t, here’s some information and some reasons why choosing organic makes a lot of sense.

 

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First, a Definition of Terms

“Organic” refers to the way in which food is grown.  This includes produce, dairy products, grains, and meats.  Farmers who grow organically do not use chemical pesticides or herbicides or drugs to control bugs, weeds, or diseases.  They are committed to using methods and practices that encourage healthy soil and water, as well as that reduce pollution.  Food that is not produced organically is termed “Conventional.”
 
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As you can imagine, an organic farmer has chosen to use methods requiring more labor and time.  For example, a conventional farmer will just preemptively spray crops for bugs and weeds.  But an organic farmer will examine the crops regularly for weed or insect infestation, and then pull weeds, use traps, hand-remove pests, or use friendly insects and birds to take care of the pests.  They may also use sophisticated crop rotation and organic fertilizers to encourage healthy growth and healthy soil, rather than chemical fertilizers.  They will spread mulch or manure to discourage weed growth.  Organic farmers also use targeted watering systems (such as drip or water tape) to make sure the water goes directly to the plants, rather than to weeds.  This also conserves water resources.   

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This is Burroughs Family Farms–Happy cows and happy chickens, and healthy soil and pasture grasses!

Organically producing foods generally takes more space, too.  Animals are allowed to have a large range to wander, rather than being grown in small-space cages.  Crops often have smaller yields, since the farmer is not using chemical fertilizers to spur growth.   

The United States Department of Agriculture has established strict guidelines for a food to carry the USDA Organic label.  Any product that carries this label must adhere to those guidelines, and be certified by the USDA.  There is an exception for those who produce less than $5,000 worth of produce per year, but if it is labeled “Organic” (even without the certification) it has to be grown according to the certification standards.  Lassen’s works only with reputable producers to make sure that what we carry in our stores really is the best quality organic food available.

What Does the Organic Seal Mean?

 

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“100% Organic” means that everything in the product is wholly organic.  “Organic” means that at least 95% of the ingredients meet the organic standard.  Products labeled with “Made with Organic Ingredients” have to have at least 70% of the ingredients organic.  If a product has less that 70% organically grown ingredients, it cannot use the word “Organic” on the label or include the USDA seal, but it can list the organic ingredients in the ingredient list.  
 
Organic regulations also prohibit or severely restrict the use of food additives, processing agents, and fortifying agents.  This means that organic processed foods (such as cereals and canned goods) will not have the preservatives, colorings, artificial sweeteners and flavorings, as well as chemicals such as MSG that conventionally produced foods may have.  Produce will not have waxes and dyes sprayed onto the foods to make them look better and may give them a longer shelf life.

So What’s the Benefit of Buying and Eating Organic Foods?

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No Pesticides.  I know that conventionally grown foods do not exceed the Government Standard for an acceptable level of pesticides in my body.  But I don’t really want to be voluntarily eating any poisons.  This link will take you to an article about the produce items that have the most pesticides in them.  Their premise is to cut back on pesticide ingestion by changing to organic on these dozen items, but although those are the worst, all conventional produce has pesticides and insecticides.  My goal is to eat as little as possible.
 
No Chemical Weeds Killers.  Ditto the above.  No matter how much I wash my produce, those chemicals are designed to be absorbed into the plants.  And they are still there when I or my family eats them.

 

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Taste.  I think organic just tastes better.  It is subjective, but a fun family activity might be to do a taste test.  Buy both conventional and organic foods and compare the taste.   We have found that apples are a good test subject.  And meats!

Nutrition.  The jury is still out on the question of if organically produced food is more nutritious than conventionally produced food.  There are some studies that suggest it is.   There is clear evidence of more phytonutrients in organically produced foods.  Click here for more information about some of the studies being done.

 

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Better for the Environment.  If more of our food was produced organically, we would not have the threats to our water and soils that we do now.  The residue of all of those chemicals is washed through the fields, absorbed into the soil, and spilled into our waterways.  Then the fish and other sea life are impacted by those chemicals. 

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You can tell this Burroughs Family Farm almond grove is Organic because there are grasses under the trees.  A commercial grove would be bare–the grasses killed by herbicides

Sustainable.  Many fertilizers are made from fossil fuels, on which I think we’d all like to reduce our dependence!  Soils are healthier when organic farming is practiced.   

No GMOs.  This is a big topic that will have to wait for another day.  There is some great information in this article (17 Essential Reasons to Eat Organic Food) on GMOs, as well as other great ideas.  
 
Better for Farm Laborers.  One day several years ago after riding my bike past some fields on the Oxnard plain, I developed a rash all over my skin that had been exposed to the air.  Legs, arms and face.  It was itchy and blotchy and took several weeks to go away.  I have no idea what had been sprayed on those fields as I was riding by, but can you imagine the exposure to dangerous chemicals that the farms workers and the neighbors are suffering?  

What About the Cost?

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Lassen’s always has several delicious–and always organic– produce items on sale!
There can be a concern about the cost of organic produce and other food.  As you can see, producing organic food takes more space, time, and labor, thus higher costs.  But we at Lassen’s are committed to bringing you the very best value in organic produce and other organic foods.  We also bring you local produce whenever possible, thus cutting down on shipping expenses (and, as a bonus, helping to reduce the carbon footprint.)  Click here for our website, and you will find a link there for our monthly sales newsletter, which always has great produce specials.  You can also find a link to the newsletter on the right-hand side of the blog.
 

This is a helpful article on organic eating.  And even TLC (the channel that brings us all kinds of shows about sugar–Cake Boss and DC Cupcakes!) has an article on why we should eat organic!  Click here to see their 15 reasons to eat organic food.

Come to Lassen’s and enjoy our beautiful, organically produced food and supplements!

love,

Lassen’s

farmed+fish, healthy+fish, wild+fish, wild+vs+farmed+fish

Fish is Fish, Right?

Actually, No.  

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When we go to the store to buy fish, we think we are making a healthy choice.  And eating fish does have a lot of great benefits.  See this article from the Mayo Clinic for more information on how eating fish can help keep our hearts healthy. Fish, along with other healthy foods, can provide us with healthy Omega 3s. This article From Health Ambition will open your eyes to the Omega 3 possibilities!

Wild vs Farmed

But there is a big issue we face when we pick up that package of salmon.  We have two choices–Farmed Raised fish (sometimes called Ocean Raised, but just the name is different, the process is the same), or Wild-Caught Fish.  (“Natural” on the label doesn’t mean anything either.) 

 

This is a fish farm.  Thousands of salmon are raised in these pens, fed “salmon chow,” which is concentrated mixture of ground up fish and fish oil, which is high is fat.  The fish are also fed antibiotics to try to cut down on diseases, and colorings to make their flesh a brighter red color.  They are packed tightly into the pens, never swimming in the open ocean, unable to swim freely.  Weak or sick fish just stay in the pools, infecting the rest of the fish with their illnesses (and spreading the bacteria or viruses to the surrounding waters and the fish that may swim by.)

Look at these beautiful and wild Sockeye Salmon, heading upstream to spawn!

Wild fish are, well, wild.  After they hatch in rivers and streams, they head out to sea where they live for 1-8 years at sea, eating and growning and avoiding predators.  Wild fish have a highly diversified diet as they swim freely and over a large range.  They eventually make their way back to the rivers and streams where they hatched, often jumping rapids and waterfalls to reach their spawning grounds.

 

Why Should we Choose Wild Salmon?  

Wild salmon spend all of their time swimming (duh!) and that muscle development means great Omega-3 growth in their bodies.  They eat a variety of foods, which help them to maintain strength and health.
 
Wild Salmon also swim in dangerous waters–seals, whales, and other predators provide a natural culling process to weed out any weak or sick fish.  
 
 
And of course the bears!  Only the healthy and strong fish are able to make it back to the spawning grounds, where the salmon are caught for market.  
 
So when we make a choice to buy only Wild Caught Salmon at the market, we are voting with our dollars–our consumer power–and sending a message that wild salmon is what we want in our markets, our restaurants, and on our dinner plates.  
 
This study  from the University of Albany exposes some worrying concerns about eating farmed salmon.  And this documentary about Canadian policies is an eye-opener that made me determined to avoid farmed fish.

 

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So when you make this delicious salmon recipe, make sure you choose Wild Caught Salmon! 

love,
 
Lassen’s