A Skeptics Guide To Organic Food

Over time, in the act of doing what I loved, I became a bit of a, dare I say it “organics advocate” and it has caused me some grief.

The thing is, people don’t like organics… and as it turns out they don’t like the advocates of it either! At first it baffled me as to why – why would people be so offended by the concept of eating clean fresh, sustainably grown food?

But then I realized. People are afraid and confused.

The fear and misunderstanding is real. The mixed messages within the media who confuse rumour with fact, and the branding laws around organics are confusing at best.

The fear runs deep, because part of the issue is quite personal. To admit that there is a legitimate reason to eat organic food is also to admit that the whole industry you have trusted to supply you with quality food, the food that keeps you alive and healthy has been lying to you. It also means feeling a little like a fool in some way. The manipulation of perception about what is happening within the food system by major brands is a big truth to swallow.

I get it, really I do. I too have been there and it is no walk in the park. Accepting that you no longer choose to part of the mainstream changes everything and for many, blissful ignorance is a seemingly easy option.

I can’t really help a lot with the second part, that is a journey people need to walk for themselves. What I can help with is clearing up a little of the common misunderstandings around organics.

 

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In my experience so far the misunderstand comes in these four main areas:

Organics Is Not A Dietary Choice.

When people think of the words “organic food”, they automatically think about
dietary choice like vegetarianism, veganism.

The connection between veganism & organics started because the initial pioneers oforganic farming as the vegan movement in fact started a mainstream food option. As a part of their ethos they felt it was imperative to protect the earth and the wildlife by growing food in a way that did not include harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, with many modern vegans choosing mass-produced chemically grown wheat, corn, soy and legume products, this ethos has slipped away, but nonetheless, we credit them for starting the movement towards sustainable growing practices.

Eating organic is simply about the way the food is produced. This includes all food types, from sugar to beef, leafy greens to tofu. It has no connection at all with any kind of preferred eating style or diet.

Organic Food Costs Too Much

It is an assumption that organic equals expensive

Organic food is 10-15% more expensive than conventional food, mostly because small local producers that have higher overheads grow it.

The costs reflect what food should cost when the farmer is actually making money for producing food. When the costs actually get out of line (meaning they are 50-80% more than conventional foods) is when the farmer is forced to sell via a centralised markets that are then adding substantial margin onto the goods before selling it to stores. It should be noted, it is usually the case the higher the retail price, the less money the end grower usually is making. I point this out, because the issue is not the growing of organic food for a reasonable cost, the issue is the supply chain that gets the food from the farm to the store, it is an important differentiation and one that gives farmers (the real hero in all this) much torment.

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The Science Says…

When people hear the words “organically grown or chemical free”, they often jump
into a scientific argument about the nutritional content of a particular plant grown conventionally v’s organically.

The nutritional benefit of food comes from three areas, the quality and makeup of the seed, how rich in nutrition the soil is which it’s grown and how the body absorbs the nutrition once it’s been consumed. The main purpose relating to nutritional value, of eating organic food is to reduce the amount of chemical exposure to your body, so your body can function at an optimal level and absorb more nutritional value from the food you consume.

A study conducted by The National Institute for Research in 2006 was able to demonstrate that an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to pesticides that are commonly used in agricultural production. More so they concluded that these children were most likely exposed to these pesticides exclusively through their diet.

In 2014 Australian University RIMT conducted a 7 day study that put participants on an exclusively organic diet for 7 days. The organic eating participants were found to have a 89% reduction of chemicals in their system.

It is actually astounding that within just 7 days, there was such a significant reduction in chemicals in the systems of participants.

Is It Really Organic?

When people hear “certified organic” they feel mistrust and don’t understand why
statements like “organic ingredients” and “all natural” can be used on non certified items.

Trusting our food is actually organic.

For me, and many others this is one of the hardest hurdles to cross. The biggest problem in this space is the labelling laws around the use of the word “organic” on products. At present there is no clear law that protects organic producers. What that means is anyone can use say their product is “produced with organic ingredients” or “naturally grown” or “natural” and it is hard for the customer to tell the difference between what really is organically grown and what is branding.

The easiest way to ensure that you are eating something organic is to look for certification. At present there is a global standard that the following certification bodies adhere to:

USDA (USA) NASAA (Aust) ACO (Aust) Bioc (Europe) AB (France) BIO (Europe) COBA
(Canada) JAS (Japan) BIODYNAMIC (Global biodynamic certified)

It’s confusing that there are so many, and it would be a better future for the market if they consolidated down to one or two main peak bodies and rules, however for now this is what we have. The certification process is complex and producers, distributors and manufactures are held very accountable for keeping in line with the standard.

I owned and ran a catering business that was certified organic and from first hand experience know that the audit process is very real, and comprehensive. If you would like to learn more about what it means to be certified organic you can do so here.

People are confused, fearful and annoyed by organics! And with every voicing of the word “organic” it prompts one of these reactions.

So lets drop this word & start thinking & talking about what actually important here.

Let’s start by asking a question. What am I eating?

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The system is complex, not because it necessarily needs to be, more because that is the way it has been created. It has left us, as a society, so disconnected from what is real about food, where our food comes from, how it is grown and produced and more so how it is marketed to us. If we all were to tell ourselves the truth about what we are really eating we would be overwhelmed with the disrespect we have been shown by the companies we have entrusted with the role of nourishing us.

Which is why, now more than ever we must step forward and take direct responsibility over the way we feed ourselves, our children and our families, the earth and nature as a whole.

We live in a time when we can recite the words of the latest hit song, when we know which celebrity is dating who and what the president of America tweeted 10 minutes ago, and yet we don’t know where our breakfast came from. Let’s not give away our ability to live a long and healthy life simply because we don’t put the time in to understand what we are eating and ask ourselves this question.

What am I eating?

Next time you hear the word organic, don’t think about diets, about debates, the
word organic or the science, just focus on the food. Is it in season? Is it fresh? Where was it grown? How was it grown? Who is the farmer? How is it best prepared?

What am I eating?

Be in ore of the simple fact that in doing so you simultaneously nourished your mind, help the earth and supported a local farmer and take care of your heath.

One should never underestimate the power of real food.

Balanced-Meal

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Chocolate Five Ways

Inspiration

“When you reach the end of what you should know, you will be at the beginning of what you should sense.”

~ Kahlil Gibran

Motivation

Could the slow, but eventual death of sugar consumption, be the birth of truly delicious desserts?


Chocolate Five Ways

Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement that, for the first time, supports a vast amount of science about why we all (especially children) shouldn’t be eating sugar.

The new WHO guideline recommends adults and children reduce their daily intake of “free sugars” to less than 10% of their total energy intake. That equates to about 25 grams of sugar intake per day. With the guidelines reaching further to say that children under the age of two, should have zero added sugar. Free sugars refer to monosaccharide’s (glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (sucrose or table sugar) that are added to foods. The recommendations were made based on the now mounting evidence of the link between preventable diseases, like diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders and the consumption of added processed sugars and artificial sweeteners.

I have to admit I was pretty excited about this announcement. Long since being convinced of the impacts of sugar on the brain. If you are into the science you can view an extensive file of resources and articles here.

So this leaves us all with a very important question… What should we eat for dessert!!

To help with this modern day problem, I decided to put together this list of my most simple to make, delicious chocolate recipes to share with you. This has been an ongoing request from friends, and it is with great pleasure that I contribute to your keeping of the sweet life, without of course, causing you the long-term health issues that too much sugar will create.

I highly recommend keeping a solid supply of these recipes on hand at all times!

 

Rich Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate-truffles

These small round treats are full to the brim with good medium chain fats, which have been shown to improve cognitive function, alertness and overall ability to focus. Got an exam, big workday or busy day running after your children, stash a few of these with you and consume at will.

Ingredients

  • 500g cashews – soaked over night in water
  • 30g of (organic) cacao butter
  • 5 tbl spoons of (raw organic) cacao powder
  • 4 tbl spoons of (organic) rice syrup
  • Almond meal for coating (or anything you desire)

Method

(You need to start this recipe a day in advance)

  1. Soak the cashews overnight – then drain liquid.
  2. While soft, blend in a blender or food processor (vitamix / food processor best – but normal bender is ok). Blend until they form a soft paste. They will appear a little crumbly (you can also keep them chunky if you like more texture) and a little.

TIP: The best way to get them totally smooth and creamy is to blend in small batches. Once blended to your liking, empty mix into a bowl

  1. Place a bowl over a pot of boiling water, and melt the cacao butter. Once melted mix in the cacao powder & rice syrup, it should be a paste like consistency
  2. Mix the chocolate paste into the nut mix until you get a clumpy, thick consistency then take portions as big or small as you want & roll into balls in your hands.
  3. Coat the balls in the almond meal & put in the fridge on a baking paper lined tray and allow 20 minutes to set then.
  4. Eat!

 

Chocolate Coconut Puddings

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This is the perfect dinner party dessert or if you are like me and have no limits on when you eat chocolate, a wonderful breakfast bowl!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp of grass fed gelatin (or your preference of plant based equivalent)
  • 400 mls organic coconut cream
  • 50grms organic raw cacao powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons of raw honey or maple syrup
  • 150g whipped coconut cream
  • Your choice of toasted nuts, seeds and chocolate dusted coconut (pictured) to serve

Method

  1. Combine gelatin with three tablespoons of water in a small bowl and allow to sit for five minutes until the granules have softened and expanded.
  2. In a plan over medium heat, place coconut milk, cacao powder, cinnamon, honey (or maple), whisk to combine. Bring the mixture just to a simmering point and then remove from the heat.
  3. Add the gelatin to the warm coconut mixture and stir until it dissolves. Then transfer the mixture into your ramekins of choice and set in the fridge for one hour.
  4. Serve sprinkled with your choice of topping, whipped coconut cream and dust with a little extra cacao powder.

 

The Worlds Best Chocolate Smoothie

Chocolate-smoothie

Eating a liquid breakfast is an easy way to kick start your brain without slowing down your body’s digestive system. This smoothie is packed with goodness and tastes like a rich chocolate milkshake!

Ingredients:

  • 1 x organic pasture fed egg yolk
  • 1 x tablespoon hulled tahini
  • 1 x table spoon rice syrup
  • 1 x teaspoon essential greens (I use ISO Whey unsweetened green powder, however you can use anything that is pure, unsweetened (no stevia) & organic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla powder
  • 2 table spoons raw organic cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons of MCT oil (I use Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil)
  • 1 cup Organic almond mylk (please use organic, pure almond mylk, so many nasty things in mass produced nut mylks) you could also use other dairy alternatives like Coconut milk or Cashew mylk.

Method:

  1. Mix egg yolk, tahini, rice syrup, greens & vanilla in a small bowl until combined (will look a little like a caramel paste).
  2. Add in the cacao and MCT oil and combine to make a chocolate paste.
  3. In your blender, combine the chocolate paste and almond mylk (or your choice of liquid) and blend for 1 minute.
  4. Drink & smile because it tastes delicious!

 

Double Chocolate Oat Cookies

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Who doesn’t love cookies, and more so who doesn’t love eating them guilt free! These delicious cookies are a great afternoon snack or a health treat for the kids.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of organic gluten free Quick Oats
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tbsp psyllium husk
  • ½ teaspoon organic vanilla powder
  • ½ cup organic raw cacao powder
  • 85grams organic (pasture fed) butter
  • 80grams organic rice syrup
  • 100 grams chopped dark sugar free chocolate (I used 80% raw dark organic chocolate sweetened by coconut sugar)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 C / 356 F and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl & stir to combine.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients together in a small bowl until combined and add the wet mixture to the dry one.
  4. Mix with a spoon until combined then using our hands mix the ingredients together, rubbing the oats and wet ingredients together so they are soaking up the liquid and become soft. The trick is to get the oats nice and soft.
  5. Once combined roll about 1-2 table spoons into a ball and softly flatten with your fingers – keep them quite thick, for delicious end results.
  6. Place on trey and cook for 15-18 minutes (16 minutes was probably perfect for my oven, so you may need to play with this depending on your oven)
  7. Take off hot trey as soon as they come out of the oven & onto wire cooking rack so they don’t keep cooking.
  8. I can highly recommend eating these when they are hot!!

 

Crunchy Chocolate Trail Mix

chocolate-granola

Snack the right way with this delicious salty sweet mix that will keep you feeling good guilt free. Personally I prefer not to leave home without a little stash of chocolate crunch in my bag!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mixed organic almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts and pepitas, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups coconut flakes
  • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • 1 cup of organic rice puffs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons rice malt syrup
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 120ºC / 250°F and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Combine all ingredients except the salt together in a large bowl, making sure all the nuts and are coated in chocolate/ coconut oil/ rice syrup mix, then spread evenly on the tray. Then, sprinkle the sea salt overtop of the mixture.
  3. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden, turning halfway through the cooking time. They will go dark, which is a sign of impending crunch!
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  5. Store it in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 2 weeks
  6. TIP – this tastes GREAT on the Chocolate Coconut Puddings mentioned above!!

 

Having amazing sweet treats in your life need not be bad for you, nor difficult to make yourself at home. Be creative, mix up the ingredients, add spices and herbs that you love and mix and match flavours.

Here is to you living the most delicious life possible, one chocolate treat at a time.

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For The Love Of Food

Inspiration –

“One cannot think well, love well or sleep well, if one has not dined well” ~ Virginia Woolf

Mindset –

I have really done a deep dive into food. Among projects, I have created & built a full service organic catering company, designed & built six commercial kitchens, spent countless hours on organic & biodynamic farms, designed and built two cafes, created many menus of the edible and drinkable kind, designed and written whole wellness nutrition programs for both men & women and after all this, I still love to cook.


For The Love Of Food

In the book, The Women That Run With The Wolves,  (by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes) she tells a story that goes like this..

“An old witch from Ranchos told me that La Que Sabe knew everything about women, that La Que Sabe had created women from a wrinkle on the sole of her divine foot: This is why women are knowing creatures; they are made, in essence, of the skin of the sole, which feels everything. This idea that the skin of the foot is sentient had a ring of a truth, for an acculturated Kiché tribeswoman once told me that she’d worn her first pair of shoes when she was twenty years old and was still not used to walking ‘con los ojos vendados’, with blindfolds on her feet.”

It’s the last four words of this that really got me thinking. Has the simple act of feeling become obsolete? is it a story to be told for the future? Is it resigned to the archives of folk law?

We wear layer upon layer of clothing, to separate from the climate. We separate ourselves from our neighbors behind fences and locked doors. We use technology to remove our natural imperfection (sometimes referred to as the things ‘wrong’ with us).

We package our food up in plastic bags and metal tins and send it so far from its origin that its hard to know where anything actually comes from anymore. We tell our children to separate from desire – sit still and be quite – when the natural choice would be dance and sing; We shy away from engaging in deep conversations with strangers, let alone eye contact and this sometimes even applies to people we know yet as humans we desire deep connection above all else.

And rarely, ever so rarely do we touch; I mean the skin of your body, touching with the world around it.

I love looking for the simple truth in things. The simple solution. The simple answer, and food is a topic I have considered at length. The thing is, most of the time, to see the simplicity of the matter you need to take in the complexity of the big picture. When I look at the big picture of food, the simple truth is that almost all of the issues relating to nourishment (from lack there of, misunderstanding of, manipulation of and degeneration of) arises from disconnect.

People have disconnected from themselves, and as a result they have disconnected from the basic principles of nourishment. 

So back to the soles of our feet. This got me thinking, if this is true of the feet; then what is the calling of our hands?

In modern society it is the fortunate minority that gets the privilege to partake in the experience of feeling, skin to earth, the creating of the food that is to nourish them. The sliding of your hands slowly down into the earth, letting life run through your fingers, feeling an entire ecosystem vibrate its song of life in your hands, for it is in the act of planting a seed that all things come to life. You make love.

The hand that grows the food makes love to the earth.

Perhaps in an ideal world we would all partake and be responsible for our own nourishment from seed to reseed but the world we currently live in is not ideal… I ask then, how do we connect? How do we connect with the food that nourishes us in a world that continues to plant seeds of disconnection? The simple solution… we can touch.We can eat with our hands!

Have knives, forks, spoons, chopsticks, straws and spatulas dealt us the most unthinkable of disservice? Have these utensils of disconnection between our food and our bodies laid the foundation of the ultimate path to self-destruction of our individual nourishment? 

When was the last time you sat down to some creamy warm potato mash? The flowery texture balanced by butter, cream, water, salt..

When was the last time you sat down to some cream mash, reached out your hand, bypassed your fork or spoon and slid your hand right into the bowl. Can you feel it? The warmth, almost too hot, but not too hot to keep your hand in there.. the creamy mixture sliding in-between your fingers, the small lumps sticking to the palm of your hand.. Then with a slow steady motion you pull your hand back with a scoop, hold it up to your mouth, slide out your tongue and lick.

Forget the Instagram photos of your morning smoothie in a jar, this is the real food porn.

Sorry.. back to the story.

All of a sudden something strange will happen. All of a sudden you will feel your food. All of a sudden with one foul scoop of mash, you are connected. I was asked to write about decadent food. The first thought I had was, “all food is decadent”, shortly followed by a second thought.. “is it”? The truth is, all food has its own unique beauty and magic but the decadence, that my friends is deep within the connection.

I dedicate much of my time to working out ways of bridging the gap between people, and the food that nourishes them. I sometimes find myself wanting to sing it out to all I meet. I talk about integrity, about its origins, its story, and its history.  I talk of its journey, its keepers, and its medicinal magic, but I know, none of this is heard.

Nothing really sticks, until that moment.

I know you all know what I mean by this. Everyone has had one. The moment when what you eat stops time, it stops all other thoughts, all the future, all the past fades away and all that remains is the sensation that you have in that moment with that food. It’s the wide eyed, cant talk, never want it to end moment.

The giggle.

The cry of joy.

The OH MY GOD. 

That is the connection between the individual and the nourishment. It is love.

Before you have that moment of connection with a lover, the history, information and education of them, is nice but it passes like other information that holds no relevance for you. However when you connect, when there is love, it is as though your brain is rewired to hear of and learn about nothing or no one else. This is connection.

I have included a wholesome recipe below for your cooking pleasure. Its summer where I am so berries are in, however *I have included some details of lemon & lime so it can be made in winter too. Eat it at room temperature (not cold from the fridge) with nothing but your hands and some people you love.

In fact, it would please me so, if you were to create somewhat of an affair of it all.. Bake anything you love, what ever that is, be it steak or mash (I know you all want some!) fruit dipped in chocolate or cookies and cream… why not cook a whole meal. Then set your table. Make it a special event, put napkins, your best silverware, plates & cutlery on the table. Invite friends and family for your special feast. When its time to eat, and the food is served ask everyone to stand up. Then reach in and with complete abandonment, eat with your hands! Stand, sit, sit on the floor, hell why not sit on the table, throw a spoon or two over your shoulder, feed each other with your hands, lick each others fingers..

This is decedent food.  Absolute all out, over the top decadence, and then watch yourself fall in love.

With what you ask?

With your food.. yes, this will happen

With each other, yes, that is bound to happen too (finger licking can lead to all sorts of emotional exchanges)

With yourself… that’s right. And this is where all connection starts.

Tag me in your photos if you dare to share !! 

STRAWBERRY CASHEW CAKE

Ingredients:

Cake:

440 g cashews – soaked overnight in mineral/ spring water

500g strawberry sauce

50 ml lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

350 g honey or (100g xylitol)

270 ml coconut oil, melted

Base:

160 g activated almonds

90 g desiccated coconut

6 stoned medjool dates

Pinch of sea salt or Himalayan salt

1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

Strawberry Sauce:

500g Strawberries frozen

250g honey or (100g zylitol)

Topping:

250g Strawberries frozen

100g honey or (100g zylitol)

Mixed nuts to serve (I use pistachio)

*

Base: Process the nuts and coconut until broken up to a nice crumble and then add the dates and when your mixture comes together and holds well it’s ready.

NOTE: If you over process the nuts will release a little too much oil and it will become oily.

Strawberry Sauce: Place strawberry and honey into a saucepan and simmer until reduced, puree strain and cool.

Cake: Blend the cashews, vanilla and salt. The mixture will be thick and hard to mix so stop the blender and give it a stir using a plastic spatula. Now add the honey, the warmed coconut oil. Blend that into your cheesecake mix and you will see it will become more fluid. Blend until smooth and has the texture of cream and adjust to taste. Mix in strawberry sauce. Pour the mixture onto the crust. Remove air bubbles by tapping the pan on the table.

Topping: Place strawberry and honey into a saucepan and simmer until reduced, puree strain and cool. Eating: With your hands please!

*For Lemon/ Lime option – replace the strawberry sauce with: 420 g lemon &/ or lime juice1 teaspoon each of lemon & lime zest. Add the lemon, lime & zests to the main nut cake mix – once combined, while the mixed is running slowly add 270g of melted coconut oil & mix to combine.


Note – This blog first appeared on Nabalo – you should check out their site, it’s full of all things wonderful & wellness.