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VIP Dinner

The Organic Center is holding its 12th Annual VIP Dinner on Thursday, March 5th, 2015 in Anaheim, CA. With over 500 attendees expected, you won’t want to miss the largest organic business networking event at Expo West. At this celebratory fundraising dinner, you’ll hear thought-provoking keynote speakers discuss the intersection of food, farming, science and politics. A celebrity-chef-designed menu will feature delicious appetizers, delectable main courses, and mouthwatering desserts made with the finest organic ingredients. The evening will start with a cocktail reception and end with a rhythm & blues soul band — so you can count on plenty of time to connect with friends, colleagues, and the industry’s leading innovators.

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Green living expert, author, and TV personality, Sara Snow, explains the USDA organic seal and why "natural" is not organic.

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  • Did You Know?
    Three new studies confirm that exposures to common insecticides during pregnancy can cut a child’s IQ 4% to 7%  by age 9.
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Organic Recipes

Here are some recipes that highlight research on particular food types.  We’ll cover nutritional benefits of organic ingredients, the importance of avoiding pesticides, and environmental impacts of different food types.  We’ll post new recipes every month, so keep an eye out for the latest on food-centric science!

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Southwestern fiesta salad with peaches, black beans and avocado

This delicious salad is the perfect mix of sweet and savory with just a little kick! It’s hearty, healthy and can be served as a main course, as a side to any meal, or as a party snack with tortilla chips. Remember, those delicious peaches add much more than a little bit of sweet to this this salad. Peaches have been shown to contain antioxidants known as polyphenols that may prevent certain cancers—and you can increase your intake of these beneficial compounds even more by choosing organic peaches! A study published in the journal of Food Chemistry compared total polyphenol content in peaches grown under a variety of organic conditions with peaches grown using conventional farming methods. All peaches grown in organic conditions, regardless of organic methods (subterranean clover, weed cover crops, or tilled soil) contained significantly more polyphenols than peaches grown in conventional conditions. Researchers suspect that when the fruit trees are not sprayed with synthetic pesticides, they are forced to produce more polyphenols to defend themselves against herbivores. On the other hand, trees grown in conventional systems are sprayed with pesticides, reducing the number of herbivores and therefore allowing the plants to ‘relax’ their defense systems and produce fewer polyphenols.

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Coconut water mojito

Spring may be a long way off but that doesn’t mean the winter blues need to get you down.  Draw yourself a warm bath, close your eyes, and take a sip of this coconut water mojito (delicious with or without alcohol) to instantly transport yourself to a tropical beach. Coconut water is rich in vitamins and minerals but palm trees are also treated liberally with pesticides meaning that your coconut water may also be rich in chemicals such as carbabmates, pyrethroids and organochlorine. When making this drink be sure to choose organic coconut water to reduce your exposure to pesticides! Palm trees used to produce coconuts are often treated with by way of foliar sprays and trunk injections. Despite the intensive use of dangerous pesticides for coconut cultivation in South East Asia and South America, few governments have established maximum levels of pesticide residues for coconut water.  A recent study published in Microchemical Journal aimed to quantify the presence of residues from these chemicals in coconut water that may be a risk to consumer health. Three different brands (not specified in the study) of coconut water from commercial markets as well as fresh coconut water were tested for pesticide residues.  Researchers found residues from 19 different pesticides including carbamate, pyrethroid, and organochlorine pesticides, across all sampled coconut waters. The highest concentrations of pesticide residues were found in the three brands of coconut water compared to the fresh coconut water. The authors suspect that coconut palms grown commercially for coconut water retail are treated more heavily with chemicals to increase production.

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Cranberry-orange holiday relish

Welcome the holidays to your table with this refreshing side dish that will compliment any holiday meal. Cranberries are not only delicious, they’re healthy, but make sure that when you’re in the grocery store, minimize your pesticide exposure by choosing organic cranberries! Conventional cranberry bogs rely on a large number of insecticides, fungicides and fertilizers during fruit production. In fact, a 2008 report found that cranberries had the highest dietary risk index score across all tested domestically grown fruits due to both the number of chemicals used and the toxicity of those chemicals.

 

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Banana Walnut Oat Bread

Get ready for the holidays with our decadent Banana Walnut Oat Bread. This easy sweet treat is great as a dessert after dinner or first thing in the morning with your coffee. It’s so delicious you’ll hardly believe how many nutrients are packed into one slice. Bananas are rich in potassium, walnuts provide loads of omega-3s, and oats are a great source of fiber. If that’s not enough to make you feel good about this dessert, you can up your micronutrient intake even more by using organic wheat flour! A recent study published in the journal Food Chemistry compared organic and conventional wheat flours available in retail outlets, and found that organic flours had more micronutrients than flours made using conventional wheat. Organic wheat flours contained proteins that were of higher quality and that were more easily digestible than proteins found in conventional wheat flour. Researchers also found that organically produced wheat flours had higher levels of essential nutrients including potassium, zinc and molybdenum, and lower levels of toxic elements such as aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, and lead.

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Ginger Apple Cobbler

Fall is finally here and what better way to welcome changing leaves and chilly evenings than with a hot apple cobbler. When picking out apples for this dessert, choose tart apples for their flavor and organic apples for their antioxidant properties. A report published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that organic apples were more likely to have higher antioxidant concentrations than apples grown using conventional systems. After compiling three years of data, the authors report that organic apples have a 12% higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally grown apples. Antioxidants protect your cells by binding to free radical—molecules that are thought to play a role in diseases such as cancer and heart disease. The authors conclude that “in the present study, the organically produced apples displayed a higher phytochemical concentration and a higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally produced apples.”

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Chopped salad with feta cheese dressing

Here’s a refreshing chopped salad that can be served as a side to any meal or can hold its own as an easy and delicious main course. When choosing lettuce for your salad, it’s important to make sure you choose organic. A recent study found that conventional head lettuce has higher levels of commonly used insecticide residues than other vegetables. Insecticides are regularly used on leafy vegetables including lettuce, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and broccoli to combat common pests such as aphids and moths. When cabbage, head lettuce and Chinese broccoli were treated with the same combination and quantity of insecticides, researchers found that the chemicals applied to head lettuce dissipated slower than they did from the other vegetables. This phenomenon was explained by the difference in leaf shape and size. Even more startling is that in a second trial, researchers applied a lower dose of insecticides to head lettuce and a higher dose to Chinese broccoli, and, they continued to find more chemical residues on the head lettuce. Avoid unnecessary exposure to pesticides.  When you think leafy greens, think organic!

 

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Salad Bites: endive boats with apple and cheddar

Looking for a quick, easy, and healthy appetizer to bring to a potluck? Try endive boats. These perfect little salad bites are sure to be a big hit and break up the mix of all of those heavy dips and nachos at the party.  Make sure to use organic when it comes to the cheddar included in this recipe, because recent research shows that organic milk has a healthier nutritional profile than conventional milk.  Specifically, a recent study showed that organic milk contains 25 percent less omega-6 fatty acids and 62 percent more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk, yielding a 2.5-fold higher omega-6: omega-3 ratio in conventional compared to organic milk.  This is important for your health, because current Western diets are notoriously unbalanced when it comes to omega fatty acid profiles, providing unhealthily high omega-6 levels and low omega-3 levels.  High omega-6 and low omega-3 levels are associated with many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Low omega-6:omega-3 ratios, on the other hand, suppress these conditions.  In addition to being more nutritious, organic dairy avoids the use of chemicals that you might not want to ingest on a daily basis such as pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones! 

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The Silver Jubilee Organic Summer Cocktail

For those of you (over 21 years old) looking for the perfect organic summer cocktail – look no further!  This recipe for The Silver Jubilee from Choice Organic Teas and Bluewater Organic Distilling is a fresh take on using ice tea to mix fantastic cocktails that will help you withstand the heat of summer.  It is especially important to choose organic when you are buying tea, because pesticides used on tea leaves can be extracted into your beverage during the steeping process.  One study found that pesticide residue transfer rates from dried tea leaves to brewed tea were up to 92.4%.  Also worrisome are the high levels of pesticides that have been found on conventional tea samples.  For example, a recent test of pesticide levels on dried teas by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation showed that some teas on the market contain levels of pesticides that exceed standards.  To ensure that you are avoiding a high dose of pesticide along with your iced or hot tea always choose organic!

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Quick and Easy Quiche

Several studies have shown that using antibiotics in poultry rearing can increase the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria on eggs.  Researchers swabbed the outside of  conventional and organic egg shells to test for bacterial antibiotic resistance, and found that bacteria on the conventional eggs was less susceptible to antibiotics than bacteria on the organic egg shells.  One study concluded that their results “show that organic livestock farming plays a part in contributing to reduced antibiotic resistance”, while another states “organic livestock farming with its restrictions and additional requirements contributes to further effectiveness of antibiotics.”

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Quinoa Tabouli – a light and delicious summertime treat

Quinoa is one of the most healthy grains out there (or pseudo-grains, anyway – it’s not actually related to most other grains!).  In addition to having high protein content it also can have beneficial effects on blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.  One research study found that eating quinoa lowered overall cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL levels in research participants.  The authors state that “it can be concluded that the use of quinoa in diet can be considered beneficial in the prevention and treatment of risk factors related to cardiovascular diseases that are among the leading causes of death in today’s globalized world.”

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Easy Kamut Bread

Kamut khorasan wheat is an ancient grain that is full of protein and nutrients, not to mention delicious!  Several studies have come out recently comparing kamut to durum wheat, consistently finding that the kamut had health benefits over durum wheat.  For example, one study that compared kamut to durum wheat found that kamut had higher protein content, antioxidants, and several other health benefits when compared to durum wheat.  Another paper reported that study participants who ate kamut had lower inflammatory profiles and improved blood variables such as lower cholesterol and higher levels of potassium and magnesium.

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School Lunch Box--Go Organic!

It’s especially important to buy organic for children, because they are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of exposure to synthetic pesticides.  A few years ago a report was issued by the President’s Cancer Panel on ways to entitled “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk:  What we can Do Now”, going over ways to reduce environmental exposure to carcinogens to decrease the risk of cancer.  The report detailed how eating organic can reduce one’s risk of developing cancer, especially in infants and children.  For example, in the executive summary they cover pesticide contribution to chronic diseases and cancer, concluding that “Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues”.  Also, on there is a section about how animals raised on non-organic farms add to the runoff of medications (such as antibiotics, growth hormones, etc.), and there is speculation that these chemicals can disrupt the human endocrine systems.  Because children are especially sensitive to environmental toxins, make sure to choose organic when you stock your child’s lunchbox.

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Seared Wild Salmon in Lemongrass Broth

One reason to choose organic salmon is that it’s a sure fire way to avoid genetically modified (GM) fish.  A recent study found that GM salmon could be posing a threat to native fish through hybridization with common trout.  The research shows that the offspring of genetically modified (GM) salmon and wild brown trout could pose a risk to wild fish species, because hybrids formed between the two species can out-compete both parent species for food, suppressing the growth of GM salmon by 82%, and suppressing the growth of wild populations of fish by 54%.

“These findings suggest that complex competitive interactions associated with transgenesis and hybridisation could have substantial ecological consequences for wild Atlantic salmon should they ever come into contact [with GM salmon] in nature,” wrote the study authors.  Unfortunately, the contact between GM salmon and wild fish may become more frequent in the future, as fisheries farming GM fish continue to expand.  The researchers warn that “escapes and introductions of domesticated salmon can increase rates to as much as 41%,” which could result in the slow spread of GM genes.

When you make this recipe be sure to use organic salmon, and help contribute to native fish health and population strength!

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Recipes for Strawberry Season

Professor John Reganold teamed up with eight other researchers to examine the differences in fruit quality between organic and conventional strawberry production.  Their research showed that strawberries that are grown organically have longer shelf lives, higher antioxidant levels, and higher concentrations of ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds than conventional berries.  They also found that organic strawberries taste better than conventional ones!  If nutrition and taste weren’t enough to convince you, they also showed that the organic farms that grew strawberries had higher soil health than conventional strawberry farms.  You can learn more about the study here.

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