Have Organic Foods Lost Their Luster?

PinExt Have Organic Foods Lost Their Luster?

Consumers know various food products are loaded with ingredients and chemicals not deemed to be in their best interest. Therefore,

75px USDA organic seal.svg Have Organic Foods Lost Their Luster?

buying organic has been the food of choice for many. But does “organic” always mean it is pure, locally produced foods from small family farms? Is it much healthier than regular food not labeled this way?

This article takes you behind the scenes of boards who decide what should be considered organic and who makes up those boards. It is rather lengthy but a good overview of the industry. So take some time this week-end and have a look:


Nothing is ever black and white. We humans like to mix it up a bit. But we use our best judgement and always try to consider the health of our family and our country.

Best to you and yours,

Lee Jackson

 Have Organic Foods Lost Their Luster?
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Too Many Chocolate Bunnies?

PinExt Too Many Chocolate Bunnies?

Did the Easter bunny come loaded with candy to your house? Or did he have some non-sugar related treats instead, such as

300px Chocolate Easter Bunny Too Many Chocolate Bunnies?

A milk chocolate Easter Bunny. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

new socks, new shirts, or fruits and nuts?

If your bunny was like most bunnies I know, he packed a high sugar load. As parents, how to handle the high influx of sugars into young bodies? As well as, how to get back into a schedule of healthy eating?

Studies have shown that high sugar intake not only can add pounds but plays a role in a wide range of health problems such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and obesity. Long-term sugar addiction can also produce a weakened immune system, chronic fatigue, hormonal problems, and gastrointestinal issues as well as anxiety and depression.

There is conflicting evidence over sugar-producing mood altering swings in children. But many parents have seen the changes in their child from a sweet, fun-loving child to one of a hostile, out-of-control “brat”. Too much sugar causes different reactions in different people.

Some view the never-ending “need” many have for sugar as a powerful addiction not unlike that of alcohol. With sugar addiction, individuals are no longer able to use their body’s natural abilities to control their food intake. Reportedly, some parts of the world still keep sugar under lock and key believing it to be a narcotic.

Just as with any other addiction, sugar craving needs to be controlled. This includes cutting out artificially sweetened foods as well as natural sugar foods. Getting the sugar habit under control is especially important for children for health reasons as well as weight control.

How can parents help their sugar-craving kids?

  • Help make Easter candy less readily available. Perhaps making a game out of choosing one piece and then hiding the rest. Often “out of sight, out of mind” helps. Stock cabinets and refrigerator with fruits and vegetables that are within easy reach.
  • Start your kids off with a good breakfast. This could consist of a vegetable omelet or oatmeal with chopped almonds or quinoa flakes and fresh fruit. It could also include last night’s meal of chicken or roast beef with veggie sticks.
  • If you are the chief meal planner and preparer, eliminate sugars and any sugar derivatives (honey, molasses, corn syrup, high fructose syrup and the like) from the menu. Plan  meals in advance, shop intentionally, based on what you need, and prepare the meals at a set time.
  • Pack the meals with plant-based foods from the vegetable group, the fruit group, and high-quality protein sources from animal or plant protein sources such as seafood, poultry and lean meats.
  • Set a good example by not eating foods with sugar. This means eliminating any “diet” soft drinks and other processed, sugary foods as well.
  • Take your kids shopping and ask them to help you make dinner or prepare their school lunch. Praise them for their good choices.
  • Have pitchers of water handy so your kids can drink this anytime. Kids should drink water rather than any soda or other sweetened drink.
  • One of the biggest helps is to teach kids the value of staying active and exercising. When they are playing baseball, hiking or biking they are not as apt to want a piece of candy. Then, have some healthy snacks when they are through, such as nuts or peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat bread, rice cakes and peanut butter, carrot sticks, apples, bananas, grapes, etc.
  • Your child may be tempted to eat sweets, just as you, perhaps, are tempted. Try to get past the temptation by focusing on another activity. Perhaps on some hobby you have, or a pleasant experience you had.
  • Some like to use visualization when this happens. They imagine and visualize how much healthier they will be without the sugar, or they will see a firm, slender body if they don’t indulge.

Getting past the sugar craving is not easy. Having candy and other sweets out of sight is the first step. Stocking up on healthy foods is the second. What your children eat or don’t eat relates to how they think, act, and feel so it is in everyone’s best interests to help them eat healthy.

To your success,

Lee Jackson

 Too Many Chocolate Bunnies?
PinExt Too Many Chocolate Bunnies?

National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

PinExt National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month
300px Farmers market St Paul 2006 08 12 National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

Image via Wikipedia

Did you know June was National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month? Isn’t that appropriate, with all the fresh produce you see at Farmers’ Markets and in stores? Have you had a chance to visit a Farmers’ Market this season? They are often open on Saturdays so hopefully you’ll have a chance to go this week-end and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors.

To your health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Food and Nutrition Consultant

 National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month
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Cider Fest Fun

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What an enjoyable day we had at the Louisburg Cider Mill Cider Fest on Saturday! The Cider Mill is located in Louisburg, Kansas, 20 minutes south of Kansas City.

Spain and Louisburg CiderFest 0161 300x225 Cider Fest Fun
                               Lee at Louisburg Cider Fest

Amy Houts, author of Cooking Around the Country with Kids, and I were invited to sign books at their Cider Fest. We brought my two apple cookbooks, other related apple books, and Amy’s books for kids.  We also had coloring pages for the kids, as well as an “apple” stamp for their hands. It was fun interacting with the crowd, telling parents about our books, and just enjoying the beautiful day.

We watched the way apples were put through the process of being made into cider and bottled. We also saw them make doughnuts. Of course we had to sample some of each. The kettle corn and lemon ade across the way was most enticing.

The younger crowd enjoyed the 10- acre Werewolf Corn Maze, another of their attractions. There was also a pumpkin patch, country music, giant slides for kids, and lots of vendors selling their wares. Many visitors found it  a great way to spend a beautiful fall day with their family doing fun things.

 Cider Fest Fun
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Going Food Shopping at the Farmers’ Market

PinExt Going Food Shopping at the Farmers Market
300px Onions Going Food Shopping at the Farmers Market

Image via Wikipedia

Going to the local farmers’ market with your child helps him or her learn where their food comes from. Here your child will see the many varieties of fruits and vegetables that are grown right in your own region.

Understanding that the corn in the can or frozen package really started as corn in the husks on the cob is sometimes hard for children to comprehend. Seeing carrots with bushy tops and not perfectly scrubbed clean in plastic bags can be eye-opening for them as well. Even seeing the quantities of melons in the back of pickups and truck beds piled high with corn is really quite a sight.

I always think of the hard work that goes into growing this food and getting it to market. I know that those who work the soil are always dependent on Mother Nature to bring the rain and sunshine just at the right moments. The fruits of their labor relies on cooperation from the elements.

Even though farmers’ markets offer food at the peak of freshness, we still must be concerned with maintaining the freshness and keeping it safe for eating. It’s always a good idea to go right home to get perishable foods in the refrigerator.

Some produce can be ripened on the kitchen counter and then stored in the refrigerator. Foods such as peaches, nectarines, pears, and plums fall into this category.

Some foods taste best at room temperature, such as onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and squashes. They need to be stored in a clean, dry, well-ventilated place, away from direct sunlight and areas where meat is prepared.

I always like to prepare what I bought as soon as possible. The last time I went to market I bought some beautiful looking onions. I hadn’t baked onions for a long time but remembered how my grandmother used to just set the onion on the top of the cover from a metal coffee can. (I suppose because aluminum foil wasn’t readily available and the juices do run out – can you remember the time before aluminum foil)??

Anyway, baked onions are delicious.

This is what you do…and it’s easy enough that kids can help and be part of the “going to market and then using the fresh food” experience.

Baked Onions

Cut off both ends of the onion and peel the outer skin. Cut an X in the center of the onion and dribble on some olive oil or add a dab of butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place each onion on a piece of foil and wrap tightly. Set in a baking dish. Bake for about 1 hour, or until tender. You can sprinkle top with freshly grated Parmesan, or crumbled cooked bacon, or some fresh herbs.

Serve with any meat dish or pasta.

 Going Food Shopping at the Farmers Market
PinExt Going Food Shopping at the Farmers Market

New Food Innovations

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300px ARS cucumber New Food Innovations

Image via Wikipedia

I just ran across an article in a college magazine about changes college kids are enjoying in their cafeterias. One food service offers “the real thing” in flavored filtered water.

Individual dispensers are filled with layers of ice with cut up fruits and vegetables. Foods such as oranges, lemons, limes, apples, strawberries, cucumbers and other seasonal foods and vegetables are added to the ice to create water that has the flavor of the food. I would never have guessed their favorite flavor is cucumber! The report stated the students are drinking their way through about 150 gallons of filtered, flavored water per day and cutting down on soda drinking.

Another innovative feature of this cafeteria is to go tray-less. This may require more trips to the food counters but the students are responding positively. Going tray-less is saving on water and wash products, as well as on the amount of food wasted.

This sounds like they are taking seriously environmental benefits. Good for them!

Lee Jackson
Books for home and family

 New Food Innovations
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“Fast Food” for Your Family

PinExt Fast Food for Your Family
300px DriedfruitS Fast Food for Your Family

Image via Wikipedia

Before you go grocery shopping, think of foods your family would like for quick “pick-me-up” snacks. This could be your family’s “fast food”.

Raw fruits and vegetables are great to include. You might consider fruit such as grapes, apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries or other berries. Add some veggies like carrots, cut up cauliflower, celery stick and others. And you might want to have on hand non-sweetened cereals, granola bars, yogurt, dried fruits, cheese, whole grain crackers, and nuts.

Especially now when children are home from school for the summer, it’s good to have nutritious grab-and-go foods available.

Here’s to happy and healthy snacking.

Lee Jackson

 Fast Food for Your Family
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From Kitchen to Classroom to Book Writing

PinExt From Kitchen to Classroom to Book Writing

Greetings to all!

Hi! I’m Lee Jackson jumping in here after Chef Crombie left. I hope I don’t disappoint! He has some big shoes that I want to fill but it won’t be easy.

I just wanted to tell you a little of my background. I was a family and consumer sciences (home economics) teacher in the middle school and high school for over 20 years. I taught subjects such as foods and nutrition, clothing and design, child development, housing and environment – all subjects that still interest me and ones I continue to find fulfilling.

Way back before I started teaching, I enjoyed recipe clipping, trying new dishes, and in general, trying to find myself in the kitchen. This is stuff, I see now, I’m still trying to do and still like to do.

Somewhere along the way, growing apples, eating apples, finding recipes for apples, and anything “apple” really appealed to me. So much so that I wrote my first cookbook, “From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers“, which is one of our most popular books.

One good thing leads to another, and I asked orchards and apple cider houses to send me their best recipes and a little information about their apple business. This resulted in another cookbook: “Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards”.

There was a textbook sprinkled in amongst teaching and some of this. It is “Careers in Focus: Family and Consumer Sciences. High schools, Junior colleges, and, I understand, some colleges use this in their curriculums. I took a year’s leave of absence to do this, but by the end of the year I had a good start on an outline. It was a long work in progress, but now, I’m very proud of it.

This blogging is rather new to me, but all media is changing so I figured I needed to keep up with the times.

I have some exciting news about another new children’s cookbook that is coming off the press very soon. But I will leave that for another time. Enough about me, I want to hear from you and about you and about other stuff that we all like to think about – food!

I hope you will come back…

Best to you,

Lee Jackson    flatstan19 150x150 From Kitchen to Classroom to Book Writing

(my young friend and I)          

 From Kitchen to Classroom to Book Writing
PinExt From Kitchen to Classroom to Book Writing

What Is “Natural Food”?

PinExt What Is Natural Food?
202px MyPyramid1 What Is Natural Food? Image via Wikipedia

Is what you eat really “food”? If you eat it, does that make it “natural food”?

A diet high in “natural food” or “real food” and low in food products (or those heavily processed foods) is a much healthier choice. But how can you tell the difference?

One way to generally tell whether the food you eat is considered “natural food”, or “real food”, is to check on the following:

  • Is the food grown and does it have a close connection to the land? (Considered the best is if the food is grown locally).
  • Does the food go bad quickly? (Does it spoil easily)?
  • Does the quality of the food vary? (Some may be more ripe, more colorful, or shaped differently).
  • Does it require any preparation before you eat it? (Do you have to cook it? Peel it? Change it’s form?)
  • Are the colors bright and rich?

Many food products have questionable health benefits. These types of “foods” are the ones that:

  • Keep forever
  • Are artifically flavored
  • Are artifically colored
  • Form never varies
  • Are heavily processed
  • Contain hydrogenated fats
  • Contain high fructose corn syrup
  • Are not grown but are manufactured

It is best to read labels and choose real food for you and your family.

 What Is Natural Food?
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Food Label and Shopping Answers

PinExt Food Label and Shopping Answers
202px Foods Food Label and Shopping AnswersImage via Wikipedia

Glad to have you visiting today!

In the last post we looked at some words pertaining to food labels and other terms related to food. Did you divide the words and phrases into “good” and “poor”?

Here is the way I think of those words and phrases:

“Good” words to look for when choosing food:
whole food
whole wheat pasta
whole grain
whole grain oatmeal
plain organic yogurt
brown rice

“Bad words” or foods or processes to avoid when choosing food:
hydrogenated fats
white rice
artificial flavoring
corn syrup
refined flours
high fructose
artificial dyes
refined – white bread

When I go to the food market I want to have my list ready. First, though, when I make out the list, I try to write it according to the layout of the store – that is, I visit first the canned areas, the meat section, then the fresh fruits and veggies, and finally the frozen food section. Actually, I try to stay out of the middle of the store. Much of the fresh foods and those that are more nutritious are generally on the outside perimeter.

I don’t go to the store hungry either, because you know what that does! Everything looks good and I buy more than I need. The sooner I leave the store the better, too, because that means I won’t spend as much. I won’t be enticed with all the temptations surrounding me. In and out, is how I like to shop.

 Food Label and Shopping Answers
PinExt Food Label and Shopping Answers