If you know someone in need….

If you know someone in need….

We’re giving away four (4) $25 Soap for Goodness Sake gift cards!

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Do you know an awesome person in need who deserves a little pampering?  We are giving away four $25 Soap for Goodness Sake gift cards one each to four deserving people.

All you need to do to enter is to leave a short comment about why they deserve it in the comments section of this post below:  You don’t need to leave a name.  We will contact you for their name and address privately so be sure to use your email address so we can contact you.

Winners will be selected randomly.  Post before December 18, 2013!  Winners will be announced December 19.

Nominees do have to be 18 years of age and have a US mailing address to enter. One entry per person please.

December 19, 2013 Update:

We have decided that all of the entries were so touching that every one of the entrants will receive a $25 gift card for their amazing person.

Our heartfelt thanks for taking the time to submit the awesome person you know into the drawing.  Your effort demonstrates how much compassion you have for others.  Your entrant deserves pampering and hopefully this will bring a little bit their way.  It is in our hope and prayers that 2014 bring good things to these families.

Our Favorite Organic Sweet Cornbread Recipe

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Fall is in the air and if your house is anything like ours, so is the aroma of a pot of soup simmering in the kitchen.  What goes better with a bowl of heartwarming soup than a good wholesome slice of organic cornbread?  We thought we would share our recipe which we have fine-tuned over the years until we think it’s just perfect.

We use our old Griswold iron skillet for this one so that the bottom crust browns nicely.  The trick for this is to heat the oil in the skillet on the range top before pouring in the batter.

Our Favorite Organic Sweet Cornbread Recipe:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Ingredients:
1 Cup Organic Corn Meal
1 Cup Organic Flour
1/3 Cup Organic Sugar
1 Tablespoon Aluminum Free Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Real Salt
2 Eggs (cage free or free range, whatever you prefer)
1 Cup Organic Milk
1/3 Cup Oil (we use organic olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil or whatever we have)
+ Additional 1/3 Cup oil for pan (see below)

Pour the 1/3 Cup oil for the pan into an iron skillet.  You’ll want your skillet to be medium hot when you pour the batter in so place the skillet on a burner on medium heat while preparing the batter.  Keep an eye on the skillet while you are mixing and remove from heat when it is medium hot so that it doesn’t become too hot.

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle and add eggs, milk and oil.  Beat the eggs into the liquid and then mix all ingredients together. Batter will be a little lumpy.

Pour batter in the skillet and transfer to the oven.  The skillet will be hot so use a pot holder.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Server with butter and honey, if desired.

DUCK TAPE TABLET CASE

Okay, I’ve got to take a minute to show you the tablet cover that my granddaughter made for me.  It’s made from recycled materials and covered with Duck tape!  Now, isn’t that the most awesome tablet case you have ever seen?  But then again, she is an awesome granddaughter : )

Duck Tape Tablet Case

Duck Tape Tablet Case

Is it Duck tape or duct tape?

How to Grow an Organic Garden with Limited Space

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by Ginny Chandoah

I’ve been an organic gardener for most of my life, whether it was my childhood sandbox converted to a flower garden, a small patch of backyard lawn tilled up to grow vegetables, growing vegetables on a sunny patio and deck, growing vegetables in a closet, and larger scale organic vegetable gardening. Even with limited space, as long as there is a sunny spot, vegetables will grow.

Select seed packets that are USDA Certified Organic. It’s best to choose seeds that are open pollinated and heirloom varieties. Avoid those that are hybrid since they’ve been genetically modified, and also avoid those whose seeds have been chemically treated. There are many online retailers selling organic untreated heirloom variety seeds, such as Peacevine, Grow Organic, High Mowing, Wood Prairie, and more. Personally I like to choose seeds from small sellers within my growing area.

Vegetables that adapt very well to container growing include tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash (avoid crook neck yellow squash since that variety has been genetically modified), zucchini, lettuce, spinach, celery, even melons.

The next step to creating an organic garden is to select the containers in which to start your seeds. Any local nursery or store such as Lowes or Home Depot will carry splant containerseed starter trays and pots. Fill the pots with soil, create a hole and plant 2 seeds. This will ensure that at least one seed germinates. If both seeds germinate, when the seedlings have two leaves, remove the weakest looking seedling so there is only one seedling per pot. Another option is to use a small pot and space out 3-4 seeds. There are pros and cons to both methods. A single seedling per plant makes transplanting very easy. With multiple seedlings per pot, the roots need to be untangled when transplanting. I have used both methods and either one works. Transplant seedlings when they have at least two true leaves. The first “leaves” to appear after the seed germinates are not true leaves.

gardening_2For transplanting seedlings into growing pots, choose pots that will hold at least 10 pounds of soil. Vegetable plants need a large pot for establishing a good root system. In larger pots that hold 20 pounds or more of soil will be able to handle 3-4 plants in each large pot. I like to place drip catchers under the pots, but some pots are either too large for a drip catcher, or are an odd shape.

If you want to skip the process of sowing your own seeds, nurseries, stores like Lowes or Home Depot, food coops, or local organic farms may carry organic and/or heirloom seedlings that you can purchase and transplant.

The type of soil used is also important. If you want truly organic vegetables, avoid all-in-one bagged soils that contain chemical fertilizers. Instead, choose soils that are marked as approved for organic gardening. Also look for organic compost from local farms or nurseries. I like to mix my soil in a wheelbarrow and add a shovel full of lobster meal in with my composted soil for added nutrients. Peat can also be added to help lighten the soil and retain moisture, but a little goes a long way. You don’t want the soil to be soggy or your vegetable plants will suffer root rot.

Potted plants on a sunny deck or patio will be subject to intense heat and will dry out quickly. After potting my seedlings, I like to place on top of the soil an inch or two of wood chips (not cedar). These can be purchased at nurseries or stores such as Agway. Some people wrap foil around the pots to reflect the sun, and some people place bricks around the pots to absorb the sun’s heat and it also serves to release warmth around the pots during the cooler evening temperatures. Personally I do neither of these things and always make sure there is water in my drip catchers, and always thoroughly water my potted vegetables late in the afternoon or early evening so the plants have all night to soak up the water and nutrients in the soil.

Even though I have a large ground organic garden, I still like to grow certain vegetables in containers on my deck, including tomatoes, cucumbers, and squashes. Potted gardening 3 tomatoes grown on a deck or patio seem to avoid the leaf fungus that ground planted tomatoes are often subject to. That’s because potted tomatoes with wood chip mulch on top avoid the rain splash that throws soil on the undersides of the leaves.

Another reason I like deck or patio container gardening is because wildlife and pests don’t seem to bother the plants. However, I use regular fence material that I cut and wrap around the entire pot and plant. Not only does this keep foragers away, but it helps support the plants during strong wind and storms.

Placement of potted vegetable plants is also important as some require maximum sun while others do better with a little shade. I like to mix potted tomato plants with the potted lettuce and cucumber plants because tomatoes need maximum sun, and the lettuce and cucumbers receive dappled sun.

pic4Growing potted vegetables on a sunny deck or patio makes organic gardening easy. You don’t have to weed, most pests seem to avoid potted vegetables, and they are easy to harvest.

If you have a sunny area in the house, the growing season can be extended by moving potted plants inside when the weather turns too cold. I live in a northern area where nights start to turn cold in September. I’ve moved potted tomato plants into an unheated sunroom and harvested ripe tomatoes well into December.

After the growing season I empty the pot contents (plants and soil) into a composter and add to it my kitchen vegetable scraps. In a year or two I can reuse that soil instead of buying new soil. I wash out and store all of my seedling starter pots and the growing pots and reuse them the following year. With a little initial investment, every summer you can have fresh organic vegetables you grew yourself.

About the Author
Ginny Chandoha is a published writer whose short stories have appeared in The Staying Sane book series by DeCapo Press.  Having spent many years in the publishing industry, she has been a contributing editor of several travel trade publications and is the author of the forthcoming book, “Lichen Sclerosis: Beating the Disease.”

An Eye-Opening Account of Iodine and Everyday Radiation

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by Lisa Flores

So after a conversation with my mother about the overwhelming daily radiation we are now exposed to as a result of cell phones and the rapidly growing Wi-Fi signals, I began to think about iodine.  Even though companies will tell you that Wi-Fi and cell phones are low-levels of radiation, I was considering how many sources of low-level radiation that my family is exposed to on a daily basis.

We have 6 cell phones in our house, all of which connect to a tower and receive signals through radiation waves.  In addition, we have a Wi-Fi router that never gets turned off.  On top of that, 5 of my neighbors have Wi-Fi routers turned on 24/7 that have signals strong enough to radiate through my home (evident from my computer when I look at internet connections available to me via Wi-Fi).  I then considered what happens when we leave the house, and I came to realize that schools and businesses all have commercial strength Wi-Fi routers (even stronger radiation) in which my entire family are exposed to daily at work and school.  Lastly, I’ve seen an ever-growing number of businesses offering free Wi-Fi to customers thus even when we go out to eat or shop, we are still being exposed.

This left me to wonder, “Don’t all of these ‘low-levels’ add up?”  What about the fact that the devices we use radiation signals to operate (phones, laptops, tablets, and more) are all used in close proximity to our body and even directly touching us at most times?  In addition to that, I pondered, “What are the long-term effects of all of these ‘low-levels’ of exposure?”

The answer is that we don’t know yet because cell phones just became increasingly popular 15 years ago, and Wi-Fi only in the last 5 or so years.  Very little research has been conducted to explore the long-term effects.  It took over 40 years for us to figure out that smoking was bad for us after all, and its effects killed many people in the meantime.  Kind of scary, right?  I’m not willing to wait for the research results when I know that there’s potential for the long-term effects to be catastrophic for our brains, increased cancer rates, and infertility.

iodineNow how does radiation prompt me to think about iodine?  Well, I was thinking about one line of defense that our bodies have against harmful radiation: which is a healthy thyroid filled with plenty of iodine.  Without a thyroid full of iodine, our bodies will absorb radiation around us to help the thyroid function, but this radiation could be harmful.  So I started thinking about what I could do for my family immediately.  First, I’ve began unplugging the Wi-Fi router at night, and I now insist that everyone turns their cell phones off at night as well.  We don’t use any of it during that time anyway.  Beyond that, I also wanted to increase our intake of iodine, but I needed to learn more about iodine and the best ways to do so.  I began researching multiple sources on this subject and quite frankly, I was appalled at what I learned.  I thought I’d share what I’ve come to know about iodine.

Did you know until the early 1980′s, the U.S. used iodine in flour and commercial baked goods?  One slice of bread was a daily source of iodine.  However, Americans started eating more bread and there was concern of Americans consuming too high of an iodine dose on a daily basis.  However the ideal daily amount of iodine intake according to the FDA was calculated based on how much iodine would be needed per day in order to avoid goiter (an enlarged thyroid mostly caused by iodine deficiency which left untreated can lead to death particularly in infants).  No other considerations were taken.  It’s interesting though that the Japanese consume 50 times the U.S.’s guideline for ideal daily iodine intake.

So what happened after the early 1980’s with flour and baked goods?  Well, iodine was replaced with bromine (or its other forms: bromide/bromate) as a dough conditioner.  Not only does the human body not require bromine as a nutrient like it does iodine, but it actually interferes with the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine.  This is especially harmful in women as improper thyroid function affects the body’s ability to maintain proper estrogen levels which in turn contributes to high rates of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers.  There is quite a bit of research that breast cancer patients have very low iodine levels. Although, guess which country has the lowest incidence of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer…. Japan.

Since bread no longer contains it, now where can we obtain our daily dose of iodine? Most of us know that much of the salt in the U.S. is iodized, and I suppose we are expected to receive enough iodine from this daily source.  However, the amount of iodine we can obtain from iodized salt is very minimal, and additionally, 85% of it evaporates once the salt is opened.  Furthermore, with blood pressure and heart issues on a rapid rise, many people are advised by their doctors to cut down on salt.  If we can’t depend on salt for our daily dose of iodine, then where can we turn?

That leaves us with obtaining iodine from food sources. I began researching which foods are rich with iodine in order to add those to my grocery list immediately. But here we go again; I found issues with using food as a source as well. Why? It’s because the list of foods rich in iodine is a general guide as to which foods SHOULD contain a high amount of iodine if properly grown. It turns out that much of the produce grown today is done so in soil which is depleted of nutrients including iodine. In order to grow crops in nutrient depleted soils, chemical fertilizers are used. China is now using fertilizers enriched with iodine in order to combat their high infant mortality rate, but iodine is not widely used in fertilizers in the U.S. There’s no guarantee that produce which should have high iodine content really does have it. Not every piece of produce on its way to the store is checked for its actual iodine content. Additionally, many use kelp as an iodine supplement, but there are some concerns there as well since arsenic and other toxins have been found in some kelp. Kelp is grown in our sea waters which are known to have many contaminants just like the rest of our food supply.

Now what options does that leave?  I learned that a liquid iodine/potassium solution called Lugol’s Solution was invented in the early 1800′s and was widely used in medicine until antibiotics came along.  It was discovered at that time that there needed to be a balance of potassium with the iodine in order for the thyroid to absorb it properly.  This balanced solution was a strong germicide and antifungal.  However, the DEA has since intervened and now regulates the sale of iodine at higher than 2% potency (a much weaker strength than the original formula).  It’s not easy to purchase as you might not find it in stores, and many have long forgotten the beneficial results from it.

Because Lugol’s Solution is now watered down for DEA regulations, and the purity and potency are inconsistent within the various products available, it is recommended that those who wish to supplement iodine should take the pill form of potassium iodide. Its potency and purity are consistent, and it’s legally sold in formulations containing higher than the 2% maximum allowed iodine in the liquid solution. Of course the U.S. guidelines will warn against over-dosing iodine, but again, the Japanese safely take in 50 times what we do on a regular basis. Although it is important to know the symptoms of iodine over-dose so that you may recognize it since too much of any vitamin or mineral can be toxic. Another caution that should be heeded is to gradually increase iodine in your system rather than flooding it all at once. Swift changes of anything new in our system can cause adverse side effects. Make sure and research recommended dosing amounts for iodine, and read the labels of anything you purchase.

Just when you thought I gave you a good solution, I need to address one more problem.  It goes back to the bromine that is now added to bread instead of iodine as a dough conditioner.  Remember that I earlier stated that bromine in all its forms interferes with our thyroids’ absorption of iodine.  Thus just adding a daily supplement of iodine may not be enough.  This is worrisome since iodine deficiencies can cause a host of health problems, and some sources estimate that 2 billion people are at risk of deficiency.

Bromine was ruled in U.S. courts in the early 1930′s to be unfit for food, but the ruling was never enforced due to special interest groups although it wasn’t widely used in the U.S. until the 1980′s.  However by the 1990′s, most of Europe, Canada, Brazil, Nigeria, Peru and some other countries banned the use of bromine in food products.  By the early 2000’s, China and Sri Lanka joined the list of countries to ban bromine in food.  In 1991, the U.S. FDA encouraged companies to voluntarily stop bromating products.  Yet, still today the FDA has it listed as a safe additive for food, and only California requires a warning on the label when bromated flour is used.

Besides commercial baked goods, we are also exposed to bromine in pesticides, plastics, water, clothing dyes, toothpaste, and more.  They even put it in some sodas for enhanced flavor.  The most toxic substance found on the interior of cars is bromide (from the manufacturing of the interior).  We ingest it, breathe fumes of it, and absorb it into our skin.  Other than interfering with thyroid function, research shows it is also linked to other malfunctions involving hearing, skin, mental, and kidney functions.

Lots of bad news, right?  Well I do have one potential piece of good news.  Flour might not actually be so bad for us when it is unbleached and unbromated (and of course, organic whole-grain is best).  Much of the havoc reeked in our bodies thought to be caused from flour, may actually be caused from the bromine and chlorine from the bleaching and bromating processes.  Of course, I should point out that even if unbleached, unbromated, organic, whole-grain flour is found to be beneficial to our health, we know from experience that all things should be in moderation.

So what will I do now?  Ultimately, I will be making some changes for my family.  I will make a more conscious effort to reduce radiation exposure within my home.  I’ve read that wired internet versus wireless is the safest to reduce radiation, but you may still have your neighbor’s Wi-Fi radiation creeping inside at least until our regulations change.  I’ve also purchased potassium iodide supplements in pill form for my family.  Lastly, I only purchase unbleached and unbromated flour and continue to methodically read labels on packaged foods.  Since much of the commercial baked breads on the market are made with bromated flour, I will resort to making homemade breads which happens to be easy and inexpensive anyway.  Homemade breads also help us avoid a host of other potentially harmful ingredients including high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.  I encourage you to look into these issues further and decide if you should make some changes at home as well.

About the author:  Lisa Flores is a free-lance writer that in no way claims to be an expert on the topics in which she writes.  Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science degree and claims to conduct her informal research as a mother and wife that desires for her family to live life in the healthiest manner possible.  She shares her informal research in order to bring awareness to a topic, yet she encourages readers to further research these topics for themselves.  No statements made by her should be regarded as factual but merely as her personal insight, and individuals are responsible for conducting their own research.  Making changes to a diet, including supplements, should be done so under the care and supervision of a medical doctor.

Why Eating Organic Food Is Important

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By Ginny Chandoha

Organic food has been in the news a lot lately.  The media has been full of misinformation regarding the nutritional value of organically grown food versus “conventionally” grown food.

Since man first began farming thousands of years ago, he did so organically.  He used his composted animal manures to fertilize fields, rotated his crops, never planting the same crop in the same location within 2 years, and allowing his fields to rest and restore nutrients with cover crops.  That is how it has been done through the ages, and that is how organic farmers continue to grow their crops.  That was the “conventional” way until it was given the name “organic” to differentiate it from “conventional” factory farmed crops and animals.

Conventionally grown food is a misnomer.  These days, conventionally grown crops and animals are anything but conventional.  The same crops are grown year after year in the same nutritionally depleted soil that must be synthetically fertilized.  Due to poor soil conditions and lack of crop rotation, pests and weeds are rampant, calling for ever-increasing usage of more toxic chemical pesticides and herbicides.

Because pesticide chemicals would harm everything, including beneficial living organisms, pesticides have been made “rain proof,” meaning they can’t be easily washed off.  According to the FDA, the 10 top most pesticide contaminated conventionally grown crops are: corn, strawberries, celery, bananas, peaches, rice, oats and grains, green beans, and apples.  That’s nine but what’s the 10th most contaminated food? Because these fruits and vegetables are used in baby foods, alas baby food is the 10th most pesticide contaminated food.

Organic FoodIn genetically modified crops, which include corn, wheat, crookneck squash, soy, cotton, canola, Hawaiian papaya, sugar beets (if it’s not cane sugar then it’s GMO beet sugar) and more, the crops have had a bacterial gene, Bacillus thruingiensis (Bt toxin) inserted into the seed.  When this gene is inserted into the DNA of the plant, it produces its own internal pesticide.  When a pest dares to take a bite out of a genetically modified plant, the insect’s stomach splits open.  This pesticide cannot be washed off and may end up on your plate.  Recent studies show the Bt toxin in the bloodstream of humans.  No studies have been conducted to see how this internal toxin might affect humans in the long term.

Aside from generating their own internal pesticides, genetically modified crops are made to withstand the herbicide Roundup®, which is the most widely used herbicide.  It contains the chemical glyphosate which binds with micronutrients in the soil, depriving weeds of nutrients they need in order to grow.  Unfortunately, it also deprives crops from absorbing those nutrients as well.

A comparison study between organically grown crops and GMO crops reveals that in organic crops the absorption and dispersion of nutrients throughout the plants are 100% of iron, manganese and zinc; whereas in GMO crops root uptake and plant dispersion of iron was 19%, manganese barely 2%, and zinc around 15%.  This means that while eating a steady diet of genetically modified crops might seem healthy, they won’t provide the nutrition the human body requires for optimal health.

Studies also show that the average person eating a non-organic diet will consume approximately 61 pesticide residues per day.  That works out to around 37.64 pounds per year! Research also reveals that just two weeks on an organic diet will eliminate 95% of pesticides in blood and urine.

Unless an animal is pastured and allowed to forage for what it evolved to eat, it is factory farmed.  Unfortunately, if it isn’t labeled as organic, most meat and poultry found on supermarket shelves is factory farmed.  Factory farmed animals are kept by the thousands in concentrated feed lots (CAFO’s) and are fed grain to fatten them up quickly for slaughter.  Cattle in particular are ruminants that evolved to eat grass and being fed grain creates bacteria in their intestinal tract.  That bacteria is e-coli which is also present in their manure. The bacteria is also transferred onto their hide and during slaughter can infect the meat that ends up on your table.

Manure used as fertilizer from e-coli infected animals can contaminate crops, which would explain how cantaloupes, lettuce or spinach can contain e-coli.

Additionally, because factory-farmed animals are raised in unnatural conditions, they are subject to illness and as a result are heavily fed and/or inoculated with antibiotics  and the FDA reports that in any given year, animals raised for food receive upwards of 13 million pounds of antimicrobial drugs.  The array of pharmaceuticals administered to factory farmed animals is so impressive it’s a wonder anyone eating conventional supermarket meats or poultry would ever need the use of antibiotics.

Another downside to factory farmed animals is the use of growth hormones to get the meat on the dinner plate as fast as possible.  Organically raised chickens that are allowed to free range and forage for their food mature in 3-6 months.  Poultry that is factory farmed mature in 48 days and according to the FDA, meat chickens at the age of 21 days are placed in “grow-out facilities where they are fed, watered and medicated.”  They are crammed into cages, their beaks are cut so they can’t peck at each other and they are fed growth diets laced with pharmaceuticals to resist disease.  Even if they weren’t caged, they are unable to walk because their bones and organs can’t support their weight.

On the other hand, organically raised animals are allowed to pasture and free-range for food they evolved to eat and do not suffer the diseases of factory farmed animals and do not need the pharmacy of drugs.

Healthy food is food that is alive with micronutrients and beneficial organisms and as a result has a very short shelf life.  But most people today depend on processed foods.  While I’m not personally a fan of processed foods simply because they are processed and no longer have any living nutrients, if I were to buy pre-packaged goods, my choice would be those which are listed as having 100% organic ingredients and the packaging contains the USFDA organic seal.

Unlike conventional processed foods, the organic label prohibits the use of synthetic, GMO, or non-organic ingredients, as well as the use of preservatives such as sodium benzoate which is a carcinogen.

One of the most abused labels is the use of the word natural to describe a food product.  There are no regulations governing the use of “natural” to describe a product and therefore is meaningless.  Many if not most products containing the “natural” label contain artificial and GMO ingredients and are not raw.  My favorite preposterous food labeling is “natural” potato chips which are sliced conventionally grown potatoes fried in oil, and sometimes seasoned with artificial flavors.  The way I know this is not “natural” food is that not only is it processed, but I’ve never seen a potato chip growing anywhere.

About the Author
Ginny Chandoha is a published writer whose short stories have appeared in The Staying Sane book series by DeCapo Press.  Having spent many years in the publishing industry, she has been a contributing editor of several travel trade publications and is the author of the forthcoming book, “Lichen Sclerosis: Beating the Disease.”

Sunflower Oil in Soap and Skin Care Products

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We just love making soaps and other products with sunflower oil.  Sunflower oil has a higher concentration of skin loving vitamin E than any other vegetable oil.  Sunflower oil is also rich in vitamins A and D and essential fatty acids making sunflower oil products an excellent vitamin packed choice for skin care.

According to several sources, sunflower oil helps to prevent acne and premature aging as well as promoting healing of skin and cell regeneration. We use organic Sunflower oil in our products so you don’t have to worry about pesticide residual.

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower Oil

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