Last month, Congress repealed the country-of-origin-labeling rule (COOL) on beef and pork after the World Trade Organization (WTO) insisted it was done, imposing 1 billion in tariffs against the US if it didn’t comply.
COOL used to mandate labels on packaging to indicate the country (or countries) where the meat animal was born, raised and slaughtered. On the plus side, though beef and pork will no longer have to comply with COOL rules, chicken and lamb must still be labeled.
Unfortunately, the US attempted to fight the change, but failed.
“Effective immediately, USDA is not enforcing the COOL requirements for muscle cut and ground beef and pork,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement, adding that consumers should still feel safe knowing that “all imported and domestic meat will continue to be subject to rigorous inspections by USDA to ensure food safety.”
How does this affect our food?
Now that we will not know the country of origin of the meats, I decided to check out some local farms where I live in New Jersey to find out exactly what this means for our collective health.
Well, turns out that it means we are not going to know if the meat or chickens we buy in our grocery stores come from China, Europe or India.
But what about health standards? And what does this mean as far as organic food?
Our standards here in the United States can be much different then the standard in China.
This is a very scary thought for me as we don’t know what they are doing and how they are raising their animals.
Personally, I just felt that it would be much safer coming from the US.
But maybe not.
It turns out that I might have been wrong. You see, after I decided to start investigating local farms, some shocking truths were revealed.
Even though I do not eat meat, I really wanted to help my clients make better choices and start some relationships with the local farms. Well, I was in for a really big surprise! You won’t believe what I found.
This Shocking Secret Was Revealed When I Visited the Poultry Farms
Every poultry farm I visited, it turns out, is using GMO grains of corn and soy – and they are charging 3 times the price of even Organic-Certified chickens and turkeys from Whole Foods.
Organic foods have become easier and easier to obtain in recent years. Still, many consumers wonder if this type of food is healthy enough to be worth the often extra cost.
Many of the benefits of organic foods have come to consumers through word of mouth and the promotions put on by advocates of organic eating.
Fortunately, there has been research and several solid arguments supporting the use of organic foods in everyday eating.Several recent studies on farms which produce organic foods determined that organic farms don’t release synthetic pesticides into the ground, the air and, most importantly, the water table.
Some of the inorganic, chemical pesticides are known to be harmful to wildlife and other animals. Organic farms also are superior to conventional farms when it comes to maintaining surrounding natural ecosystems. This includes, maintaining healthy populations of natural plants, insects and indigenous animals.
They also rotate crops more often to maintain a healthy soil. When researchers calculated the energy use per unit area or per unit of yield of organic food-producing farms, it was found that organic farms used less energy and generated less packaging and chemical waste than conventional produce farms.
The yield in organic produce farms is about 20 percent less when those farms used half the fertilizer and 97 percent less pesticide than conventional farming. Others feel that organically-used soil is of a higher quality and maintains higher water retention than farms that raise produce conventionally. This factor may improve the yield of organic farms during years when rainfall is less than average.
In one study on organic farming techniques, a comparison of an organic farm and a conventional farm during a drought
season, the yields of soybeans were between 50 and 90 percent better than the regular farms. Organic corn yields were
mixed but, on average, the farms were on par with conventional farms.
Consider the risk of pesticide exposure on farm workers. Farm workers on organic farms are spared the health risks of being
exposed to pesticides, which are great, even when used correctly. Pesticides made from organophosphates, in particular,
can cause serious acute health problems with over-exposure. Long term exposure, unfortunately, is associated with breathing
problems, memory problems, skin conditions, cancer, miscarriages and birth defects.
To make matters worse, those who eat food not grown in an organic fashion can be exposed to both pesticides and herbicides
that remain on the food. This is why all produce from conventional farms should be washed carefully. Exposure to certain
herbicides is known to cause birth defects, even in small doses. Sadly, one recent study showed that the greatest source
of pesticides in babies is through the dietary consumption of food not grown in an organic fashion.
On a happier note, another study found that a group of children who were switched from a regular diet to an organic diet
dramatically reduced their levels or organophosphate pesticide exposure. In addition, studies have shown that organic food
actually tastes better in taste tests than conventional food.
If you want to keep your family as healthy as possible, consider making the switch to organic foods. The benefits to the
environment and likely to your family’s health are considerable.
What do you think? Do you use organic foods? Will you now? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.
Have you noticed lately that your grocery bill is going up? While the cost of food may be rising, some of your growing grocery store costs might be increasing because you’re making impulsive purchases.
If you shop when you’re lacking energy, hungry, or in a hurry, chances are good you sometimes make hasty decisions about food.
So, how many times have you come home from the store and wondered what you were thinking when you bought this or that?
We’ve all done it, and we’ve all found ourselves throwing out food and products we never use as a result of it. That means we waste our money.
But if you think ahead and try the following ways to save money at the grocery store, you’ll never go over-budget again. Give it a shot.
7 Ways to Save Money at the Grocery Store
Write it down!
Keep a pad of paper and pen in the kitchen. When you notice you’re getting low on something you use regularly, write it on the list.
If you’re tech-oriented, enter those items into your smart phones so you’ll have them with you the next time you go to the store.
Think about food products you don’t use much or that your family doesn’t want to eat anymore. Consider excluding them from your store list.
Before you leave home to go grocery shopping, double-check for any items you may need but haven’t yet listed. Add those to your list.
Don’t rush it!
Allow a reasonable amount of time to grocery-shop. Having ample time to shop means you’re more likely to cut down on hurrying through the store and grabbing whatever food product strikes your fancy at the moment.
Consider shopping during off-peak hours to avoid additional stress that can cause impulse buys.
Eat real food!
Make a real effort to avoid processed food. Food items in boxes, bags, or cans usually have additives and other unhealthy ingredients.
If you “think healthy” at the store, you’ll most likely save yourself from picking up all those processed, packaged foods.
Get what you came for, nothing more!
Stick to the store list. Now that you’ve made a list of everything you need, purchase only items you’ve listed.
If sticking 100% to the list is difficult, consider allowing yourself just one or two foods not included on your store list.
Think about those items carefully to ensure they’re worth the price and that you can use them in preparing healthy meals or snacks for your family.
Don’t go hungry!
Eat a meal before you go grocery shopping. Like your mom used to tell you, “Never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.”
It’s no secret that people tend to spend more when they’re feeling starved while shopping. A bag of chips here, a candy bar there, and you just bumped your grocery bill a few dollars.
Spend what you intend!
Establish a budgeted amount of money you plan to spend at the grocery store and only spend that much, no more.
Some financial experts recommend that you only shop with cash. It seems that handing over your hard-earned money in cash is more difficult for most people than punching in a pin number. (It works, trust me, I’ve done this and saved a ton of money in the process!)
Bonus tip: What to do if you go over budget
Dilemma: Let’s say you don’t want to exceed $75 per week on food. While you’re at the checkout counter, the store staff tells you your bill is $79. What can you do?
How to solve it: Quickly look over your food items. Ask yourself what you can do without. See if there are snack items you don’t really need. Make a concerted effort to reduce the total to $75.00, as you planned.
Follow up: Then, when you get home, consider whether you need to raise your budgeted amount to spend on your next trip to the store. You might conclude you didn’t really need the items you put back. Or you may realize that $75 just isn’t enough to meet your needs and you should raise your budget a little.
Stay the course!
Pat yourself on the back for the planning you did to avoid impulsive purchases at the grocery store. You made a real effort and it shows.
Recognize that with just a few small changes you can nearly end impulsive purchases at the grocery store, if you really want it. Cutting down on your impulsive purchases at the grocery store is entirely possible.
With some advance planning and use of these tips, you’ll reduce your overall grocery store spending and decrease your impulsive purchases. You’ll be successful in reaching your shopping goals, and have more money to show for it!
What do you think? Share your thoughts and money-saving tips in the comments section, below.
As temperatures rise, some of us can’t think about anything but the upcoming summer.
Who doesn’t love summer? You get to freshen up your wardrobe. You get to go on vacation, if you’re lucky, and of course, it’s the perfect time to indulge in all the things you can do in warm, sunny weather.
But between continuing your regular daily schedule (work, the gym and household responsibilities, for example) and adding in the fun of summer activities, you might just find yourself exhausted and under-enthused about the season.
Don’t just give in to burnout. Instead, consider these strategies to attain and maintain your vitality so you can make the most of your summer.
Nothing invigorates you more than feeling content and happy with yourself and your life, so take care of your emotional needs. You’re the only person who knows exactly what you require to satisfy your emotional side. Do whatever is necessary to ensure your emotional needs are satisfied, whether that’s surrounding yourself with good friends, staying close with family, or practicing the hobbies that bring you joy.
Get your vitamins and minerals. Even though experts recommend a multi-vitamin daily, this is meant to be taken in addition to a balanced diet of whole foods. Spend some time at the choosemyplate.gov website to determine how to obtain your daily requirements from the food you eat.
Avoid heavy foods. When the opportunity to take part in a fun, physical activity arises, you want to feel ready! Eating rich, fattening foods makes you want to sit down and watch TV, so you can assume it’s not doing much to pump up your energy reserves. Instead, choose lean meats, vegetables, and foods filled with fiber, such as whole grains.
Sleep well. Getting restful, deep sleep is necessary for your mental health. And in order to have plenty of energy during these active summer days, you’ll need plenty of shut-eye to give your body time to rejuvenate. Aim for 7-8 hours.
Plan ahead. To keep yourself from feeling stressed out and harried, have an idea of what you want to do over the next 3 or 4 days. Making a note of what you hope to do means you’ll also plan to achieve balance regarding your activity, rest, and rejuvenation.
Look your best. Summertime is the time to show off your assets. If wearing your light blue shirt brings out your tan, why not wear it more often? If you’ve been walking a lot, show off those great legs by wearing skirts and shorts. How you feel about your personal appearance is closely connected to how you feel about yourself. You’ll feel emotionally energized when you believe you’re looking great.
Smile more. Think “fun in the sun.” You look confident, strong and completely revitalized when you smile.
Be active. Sit less. Move around more. Whether you’re in the house completing a task, shopping and running errands, or playing baseball with the kids, you’re more vibrant when you’re fully engaged. Go ahead and sign up for that summer tennis league or softball team you’ve been saying you might join. And then, show up and have fun! Being active increases feelings of confidence and will invigorate you more than anything else.
Vary your activities to keep your energy flowing. Even if you love playing golf, a change of pace can revitalize you. Ride bikes with your kids. Jog around the block with your teen-age son or daughter. Finish the yard work in between other activities.
Pace yourself. Allow blocks of times to rest, read, watch television, or listen to your favorite music. Doing what you love and resting sufficiently will give you plenty of energy to stay active.
What are your best tips for staying healthy, happy and vitalized during the summer? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.