Category Archives: Non-GMO

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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

 

 

 

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Our Bulk Almonds are Local and Organic, too!

Brought to you by Yemetz Family Farms!

Lassen’s is committed to supporting organic and local farmers, and that applies to how we source our bulk items as well. A case in point is our bulk almonds, grown in the Central Valley of California.

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A few of weeks ago I visited George Yemetz at his almond grove just north of our Fresno store. It was easy to know when I was at his farm when I saw almond trees with green underbrush. Most of the almond groves have bare ground all around, indicating that toxic weed killers have been applied all around the base of the trees. But organic groves are easy to spot!

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Producers and manufacturers usually have amazing stories, and George sure does! His parents and grandparents fled Stalin’s Ukranian atrocities in the 1940’s, and settled in the Los Angeles area, where George was raised. Ukraine was known as the Bread Basket of Europe, so they were watching for agricultural opportunities. They had gardens in LA and around 1980 when the chance to buy farmland in the Fresno area appeared, they jumped at it. George learned all he could on his family farm, and in 1997 bought 12 acres of untilled land. He had a mentor that encouraged him to farm organically, so right from the start his almonds have been grown organically and sustainably. He has expanded his acreage by another 11 acres, and has his eyes open to further expansion in the future.

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Almond trees live about 25-30 years, but don’t produce for a few years after planting. George said it took five years before he was able to break even, and the 2008 recession was difficult. Add California’s long drought into the mix, and needless to say it’s been a challenging decade for farmers, including Yemetz Family Farm. But George has been able to keep his trees healthy through a strong soil ammedment program (using the manure from an organic chicken ranch nearby), and his own well water. The groves are mowed every three weeks which helps keep the soil around the trees healthy and cooled.

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If you’re wondering, yes, almonds and peaches are in the same family!

George grows two varieties of almonds — Carmel and Nonpareil. Nonpareil is the premier variety, but Carmel is harvested about a month later, making harvesting and processing more convenient. Both are wonderful almonds for all kinds of uses. Almonds are harvested by equipment that shakes the trees, then blowers and sweepers gather the almonds. They are processed by hulling and shelling, then these organic almonds are frozen to kill any moths or other pests. Yemetz almonds are never heated at all, so they are truly raw. 

In about 2007 there was a big almond processing operation that had an problem with salmonella, so laws and regulations were put in place that require pasteurization of all almonds. Most organics use steam pasteurization, but conventional operations use chemicals (!!) to pasturize their almonds. Ick! 

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George is a true believer that we have a choice  — we can pay a bit more now for healthier, organic food, or we can pay the doctor later when our health suffers. It’s certainly a belief that we at Lassen’s share. We are proud to count on such a strong commitment from our farmers and producers to help us bring your family the Best of Everything Good! 

Look for our beautiful bulk almonds and Lassen’s brand Almond Butter, brought straight to you from Yemetz Family Farm!

Love,

Lassen’s

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Amy’s — a Natural Foods Staple for 30 Years!

Amy’s is a California Original!

When we visited Northern Califoria this year, we were excited to tour Amy’s Kitchen in Petaluma. We were surprised and impressed with their hands-on approach. I expected floor to ceiling stainless steel machinery doing all the work, but what we saw was hundreds of dedicated workers hand making and packaging Amy’s products. 

More than 30 years ago, Rachel and Andy were expecting a baby, and there wasn’t anything in the store to satisfy the need for healthy, convenient, ready-made meals. With Rachel on bed rest, they realized that there were likely many others in the same boat. Once their baby was born, they started making their first recipe, Pot Pie, to sell locally. Their daughter Amy and Amy’s Kitchen were born in the same year!

They launched their company, thinking that they would just make those delicious Pot Pies, but requests for more variety started coming in. They started adding other products, from Pizza to Canned Soups. They heard about people with allergies, food sensitivities, and special diets, so Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten-Free offerings were created. Since Organic is also non-GMO, Amy’s is also committed to GMO-free ingredients.

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Amy’s has always been passionate and committed to organically grown produce, even in the beginning when there was no Organic Certification. They work closely with their farmers to make sure they have the best ingredients possible.

And now, thirty years later, Amy’s is a household name. You can read more of Amy’s story by clicking  here.

When I had busy and active kids at home, we almost always had Amy’s Burritos in the refrigerator for a quick snack before gymnastics or soccer. The cheese enchiladas were also a favorite, and it’s fun to see my grandchildren enjoying the same products!

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Amy’s has a desire to change the face of fast food, and in 2015 they opened Amy’s Drive Through in Rohnart Park. It’s a sustainability model, with solar panels and a living roof.

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They have delicious burgers, fries, shakes, pizza, burritos, and much more. I hope they bring their Drive Thru to Southern California!

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yummmmm… Chili Fries!

I love visiting the producers of our amazing products! Thanks, Amy’s for hosting us!

Love,

Lassen’s

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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

non+GMO

Genetic Roulette screening in Westlake Village

Dangers of GMOs
 
Friday, October 5th, 2012, Lassens was asked to attend a special screening of the documentary Genetic Roulette in Westlake Village California at the Center of Spiritual Living. We were there! Armed with organic apples and Lassens alkaline waters which we handed out free to all attendees of the film, a trio of Lassen-ers were able to meet and connect with our Conejo Valley community about the risks and dangers of GMOs and the importance of eating, not just organic but also consciously. 

 

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Joining us were a couple of awesome local vendors…

 
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… including the wonderful and very tall (or maybe I’m just very short…) Mark McAfee, the founder and CEO Organic Pastures raw milk.  Things started to pick up as the Genetic Roulette filmmaker, Jeffrey Smith made his appearance.
 
 
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We saw a lot of familiar faces from our community as well as made some new friends. It felt really gratifying to be able to supply everyone with healthy, organic and non GMO snacks before the film.
 
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The film was wonderful; Scary and sickening with a hopeful finish. It uncovers scientific studies that link the production and consumption of GMO foods to serious health problems in not only men, women and children, but also livestock. It was a very eye opening experience and definitely caused me to pause and think about foods that I normally eat and how they might not only be affecting me, but my future family as well. The end of the film explains how we can help make a difference by voting yes on prop 37 which will force companies to label their use of genetically modified food. We can also be sure to only purchase food that is certified organic or that is part of the non GMO project.

 
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Click here to download a list of verified NON GMO items from the nongmoproject.org.
Lassens carries many of these items and will be happy to help find whatever you need.
Lassens strives to choose only the best in health food products to serve to our community. We try to support as many small, local businesses that use the best environmental means of production as possible because clean and healthy living has always been our mission and the quality of life has always been our driving force.

Whether you decide to vote YES or NO on prop 37, it is important to become educated on GMOs and organic food because we are lucky enough to have a choice in what we feed our family and ourselves.

  
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Love,

Lassen’s