Category Archives: Environment

Sustainable Farming for a Better Future

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What does “sustainable farming” mean to you? If you think of protection of the environment and conservation efforts when considering “sustainability”, you are on the right track.

Organic sustainable farming represents the “true” cost of production by considering all environmental factors. Sustainable agriculture techniques such as conservation tillage, crop rotation, and organic fertilization help to protect and enrich our ecosystems. By increasing the health of our environment, not only are we able to generate healthier food but we ultimately help the health of all living things. Continue reading Sustainable Farming for a Better Future

Why is Eating Seasonal Produce Important for You and Your Health?


Last week on the blog, we talked about what’s in season for fall. Foods like Artichokes, Delicata Squash, Muscadines, Pomegranates, and other fall varieties are what you should be shopping for! Learn more about seasonal picks for fall here.

Why should we make the conscious choice to only choose seasonal foods? According to scientists, researchers, and natural health experts, it is important to eat with the cycles of nature and only consume food that was grown at the time you are eating it. Eating seasonally is not only better for your health, it also promotes balance with both the earth’s resources and its life forms. The changing of the seasons is a source of natural diversity that should be embraced rather than combated.

Because of modern agriculture and food processing techniques, most foods are available year round. We forget that food availability changes with the seasons. So even though technology makes it possible for us to eat tomatoes in the dead of winter, that doesn’t mean we should do it. Modern food practices that do not follow the USDA’s guidelines for organic farming cause damage to our environment and communities. Eating organic is just as important as eating seasonally and they often go hand in hand. Learn more about the importance of choosing organic here.

What does research say?

According to research studies, nutrient content changes in foods depending on which seasons they were produced in. For example, in a study conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food  in London, England researchers found that nutrient content was different in milk harvested in the summer versus winter. Because of the change in the cow’s diet to less fresh plants in the summer, these cows produced nutritionally different milks.  Japanese researchers also found tremendous differences in the nutritional content of spinach harvested in summer versus winter. x

In order to preserve foods that are out of season, these produce items are often covered in pesticides, waxes, and preservatives in order to maintain their fresh appearance. Who wants to put that in their bodies? Science has shown that pesticides and preservatives are detrimental for our health. Also, the longer produce sits on the shelves, the more nutrients and antioxidants they seem to lose. According to research from the University of California, Davis, spinach and green beans lose two-thirds of their vitamin C within a week of harvest. Pair long transport times and sitting on the grocery store shelves and who knows how nutrient dense your produce really is.

By choosing organic seasonal foods, you are guaranteed to have food that was 1) grown closer to you so it doesn’t spoil during transport 2) harvested at the peak of freshness to ensure dense nutrient content and 3) sold during its season, before it spoils or is forced to undergo unnatural preservative processes. Seasonal fruits and vegetables retain more nutrients than their counterparts making them the better choice for your health.

Other benefits of eating seasonally:

  • Supports our local farmers who choose to farm sustainably.
  • Preserves the environment.
  • You have a broader variety of foods in your diet.
  • Saves your wallet! Seasonal foods are cheaper to produce and often cheaper to buy when they are in season as well.
  • You get the best, healthiest food available!

Eating foods that aren’t seasonal is a recent practice and although convenient, it has many downsides. Once upon a time, people only ate seasonally as this way of farming was their only way to survive. Choosing seasonal foods, even if we did not grow them ourselves, helps us reconnect with nature’s natural rhythms. So enjoy your summer peaches while you can! Soon it will be time for the abundance of hearty fall and winter picks that we all love.

Check out our fall seasonal produce guide.

What’s your favorite season to eat in? Please share your seasonal favorites in the comments below!


Check out our website to browse our selection of Certified Organic fall produce as well as pastured meats, coffee, tea, prepared foods, and more! www.naturesgardenexpress.com

If you have any  questions, please contact our customer service department. Office hours are Monday-Friday from 8:00am – 5:00pm and you can reach us at (770) 441-9976. We would love to hear from you!

August 22nd Marks National Honey Bee Day

PHOTOGRAPH BY SCOTT LESLIE, MINDEN PICTURES/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

August 22nd, 2015 marks the day where bee keepers across the nation celebrate our mighty pollinating friends, Honey Bees! This national awareness day began as a grassroots movement to educate the public about the beekeeping community and business.

The 2015 National Honey Bee Day theme, “Ban Ignorance, not Honey Bees” is closely connected with the core value of NHBD: educating the public about beekeeping and helping people understand the importance and contributions that honey bees provide.

According to the NHBD website, there are many areas across the nation with prohibitive or outright bans on beekeeping. In the last few years, massive deaths of honey bee hives have been documented throughout the news. Because of certain farming practices that disturb natural habitats and forage that bees love, Honey Bees are in danger of completely disappearing from our environment.  

Many hive deaths have been caused by various parasites and it is only the treatment and care provided by beekeepers that is keeping colonies live. The majority of wild honey bee colonies have died out as a result of these diseases. Other foes bees face are caused by unsustainable agricultural practices, a direct consequence of human greed. Without bees, 1/3 of the food we eat would not be available. Pollination by bees is crucial for genetic sustainability and the continuation of organic agriculture and even backyard gardens.

Here is a great video that explains why bee populations are struggling.

How can you help our dear Honey Bee friends?

If you are interested in keeping bees yourself, check the local ordinances of your city to see if you are allowed to have hives. If your city does not permit beekeeping, join your nearest association and fight to make hives legal in your township!

Beekeepers are not just vital for large scale food production. Backyard beekeepers are vital for neighborhood pollination. And your local ecosystem of food production for wild animals and birds is dependent on this same pollination. Beekeepers fill the void with their honey bees. It is that simple.” ×

The Birds and the Bees As bees visit flowers to collect food, pollen from one flower sticks to the hairs on the bee’s body, and gets left behind at the next flower. This helps the plants reproduce. PHOTOGRAPH BY ANAND VARMA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

You can also help the local wild bee populations by planting a variety of flowers. Here are a few that the bees seem to love:

  • Herbs: Lavender, Catmint, Sage, Cilantro, Thyme, Fennel, Borage
  • Perennials: Crocus, Buttercup, Aster, Hollyhocks, Anemone, Snowdrops, Geranium
  • Annuals: Calendula, Sweet Asylum, Poppy, Sunflower, Zinnia, Cleome, Heliotrope

Supporting local honey companies who are working hard to save our friendly pollinators is also a big help to the cause! We really love Hometown Honey and Georgia Honey Farm – you can find their products for sale on our website here. Eating local honey also has protective effects against allergies and helps boost overall health. Protecting honey bees is imperative to maintaining our food supply and even preserving our species.

To learn more about how you can help save the bees, please visit the National Honey Bee Day website here.

Save the Bees!

What Planet Earth Would Like us to Know

Sure, we hear it all the time: “We need to take better care of the planet.” “We depend on earth to sustain us, so we should treat it better.” However, we forget, that planet Earth will be just fine with or without us. The video below demonstrates what Earth could to say us humans if it could speak.

The planet we live on is the very foundation of all life as we know it. It is home to between 10-14 million species of life. Billions of others that we share the planet with have an equal stake in maintaining Earth. Environmentalists warn about the impacts we have if and when we destroy creatures’ natural habitats in the name of “progress.”  Deforestation and water/food contamination have a significant impact on the quality of life for animals. And in many cases, this can become an issue of life or death.

Julia Roberts narrates a powerful message about the planet Earth.  Too often we take for granted the many things that our planet provides for us each and every day. Hearing her words and watching this video is an important reminder. It really does help to put things in perspective.

Hugh Acheson Wants You to Gobble Up #EndangeredEats

A couple of weeks ago, in Atlanta, there was a mysterious gathering of foodie folks at Celebrity Chef Hugh Acheson’s Midtown hotspot, Empire State South. Guests were not given much information, outside of a cryptic invite that said Hugh Acheson wants people to know that there are food that are at risk of dying out and his idea is to eat them!

Curiosity getting the best of many folks, some even enraged at the fact that a chef with such fame and stature would suggest such a thing as eating these #EndangeredEats.

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A team of camera crews and official looking people wearing microphones darted in and out of the restaurant in the moments leading up to the auspicious luncheon. Staff came through the line offering up small tastes including a Whisker Shooter and Dangerous Curds.

After quite a long wait, we were ushered inside and lead to our various tables.

Then, the magical uni-brow sporting Acheson appeared and uttered these words: “I am not going to tell you what you are eating until afterwards, but it is nothing unethical and nothing illegal. Just keep an open mind and have fun.”

Hugh Acheson Endangered-Eats-private-event-Acheson

We proceeded to have a delicious 3-course meal of unknown meats and delicious vegetables.

What was this endangered “species” we just consumed? Acheson appeared and the room got quiet in anticipation of the reveal. “There was just one endangered species…a tomato.” The Cherokee Purple Tomato is near extinction.  Acheson urged us to think of these fruits and vegetables as we would an endangered animal and sent us on our way with a pack of seeds for the Cherokee Purple Tomato.

It’s hard to believe a kind of fruit or vegetable could become extinct, huh? But it’s up to us to preserve them. And he sent us on our way with a packet of seeds of the special tomato.

Ant Control: Avoid Pesticides and Use These 3 Natural Deterrents

As the weather starts to turn warm, one unwanted surprise is the presence of ants. Instead of one or two random ants, it seems that they form a chain gang seeking out food and water.  Rather than spraying toxic pesticides, here are some fixes using organic products you already have in your home.

The best deterrent, of course, is a home that doesn’t entice ants. So make sure your countertops are free of food remnants and anything sticky or sweet. Don’t leave food uncovered at all and pack dirty dishes in the dishwasher. If ants still find their way into your home use these other natural treatments. (Photo credit above: www.jcehrlich.com)

1. Spray Bottles with Soap Water –  You can also put tea bags with mint tea in them or cloves around the places where the ants are found. See if you can trace the column of ants back to their entry point and set out a line of cayenne pepper, citrus oil, lemon juice, cinnamon or coffee grounds. Ants won’t cross those lines.

2. Homemade Cure – Mix a small amount of honey with an equivalent amount of Borax and aspartame. Put about a teaspoon and a half of the mixture in a bottle and set the bottle (without a lid) on its side where ants are active. This acts as a kind of toxic bait that the ants bring back to their colony. This is not a good option if you have toddlers or pets who might ingest this.

3. Leave a Light On –  It disrupts their day and night pattern and confuses ants. Do this on your deck so they don’t find their way into your home. Speaking of your deck,  another organic pest control is to put a few cloves of garlic, cut into pieces, between the deck slats. Ants don’t like garlic and will steer clear of the strong odor.

There’s no reason to resort to harsh and dangerous, not to mention expensive chemicals,  when organic pest control for ants will keep your home ant-free.  Remember to keep your kitchen and the rest of your home clean and follow the tips above to discourage ants, and your summer will be more fun and healthy for you and your family.

Happy Earth Day 2015 + New Product Announcement

Today is the 45th anniversary of Earth Day! Together, we’ve made great strides towards progress and helping the environment. Sustainability is becoming much more recognized and important. People and governments are more invested in renewable energy solutions. These are big challenges but we know what’s at stake is the future of our planet if we continue to ignore them.

Today, on Earth Day we want to thank all of our members for their cold-pressed-organic-juicescontinued support. We couldn’t have grown so much over the past several years without your support. As always we are looking for healthy, nutritious and sustainable products to provide you with.

We thought it fitting on Earth Day, to let you in on a huge new product we’ve been working on. It is called Nature’s Garden Cold Pressed juices. Since 2014 we have worked hard to create flavorful, nutrient packed and consciously crafted juices using 100% organically grown fruits, vegetables and superfoods. Our goal was to come up with fresh and delicious flavor combinations that were nutritionally balanced.

  • More than 3 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables in every bottle
  • Nutrient dense juice is perfect to start your day or after a work out

Our goals are to make healthy living easy, fun, accessible, affordable, and aspirational for our community. At naturesgardenexpress.com, we offer a strong educational component and transparency about our products, allowing people to make informed decisions.

You can find our juices at the following Farmer’s Markets:

Morningside Farmers Market (Saturdays 7:30 am – 11:30 am)
Alpharetta Farmers Market  (Saturdays 8:30 am – 1:00 pm)
Grant Park Farmers Market  (Sundays 9:30 am – 1:30 pm)

Nature’s Garden Cold Pressed juices are some of the healthiest you can buy, and reflect our unwavering values towards health, community and sustainability. It’s happiness in a bottle. Here’s to you on this Earth Day!

Easter Aches: Alternatives for Allergy Sufferers

Image Source: NY Daily News / Andrew Schwartz
Image Source: NY Daily News / Andrew Schwartz

Don’t let food allergies ruin you Easter festivities. Whether you are the host or the one who suffers from allergies, you’ll be glad you stumbled upon this article for ways to avoid your celebration being ruined. There are plenty of sweet treats for those with gluten, dairy, nut and food dye intolerances without losing any of the taste.

All it takes is a little planning to make sure you have the goods on hand a head of time. Did you know there are so many gluten free dessert options now? You can get them in the form of macarons, marshmallow chicks and more. It just takes a bit of research. Go nuts with nut-free Easter egg-shaped sugar cookies or get your faux chocolate fix with a vegan peanut butter Easter bunny. If you are the host, you can ask your guests ahead of time if they have allergies, but it is always a good idea to keep some of these items (especially gluten-free) on hand in case someone shows up with a plus one who has allergies.

If you are a guest with allergies, it isn’t impolite to show up with your own cookies, or dessert if you know you have a food allergy. Just make sure to let the host know why you aren’t having any of the cake she slaved away to make.

Food allergies affect nearly 15 million Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that number is on the rise. “Everyone knows the anticipation and pure bliss of digging through your Easter basket, but what if you were allergic to sugar, dairy or even chocolate? It wouldn’t make for a very festive holiday,” says Jodi Feinhor-Dennis, who started a confection company which specializes in dairy-free goodies that feature tasty flavor combinations from a mix of ingredients like coconut, almond, sea salt, mint lime and vanilla chai.

Happy Easter!

26 Food Facts for a Hopeful Future

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From Foodtank.com’s 101 Hopeful Food Facts

1. The James Beard Foundation, in partnership with Food Tank, released the 1st annual Good Food Org Guide last year to highlight nonprofit organizations that are doing exemplary work in the United States in the areas of food and agriculture, nutrition and health, hunger and obesity, and food justice.

2. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) released a report providing an overview of local and regional food systems. The results showed many consumers are willing to pay a premium for local food, and the number of state laws supporting local food has increased.

3. Over the last decade, the area of organic farmland in the European Union increased by 500,000 hectares each year.

4. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System, covering 150 million acres, is phasing out the use of genetically modified crops and neonicotinoids on farms by 2016.

5. In India, the organization Navdanya conserves more than 5,000 heirloom crop varieties, including vegetables and medicinal plants, helping preserve agricultural biodiversity and improving resilience to climate change.

6. Underexploited indigenous foods like jackfruit and sand rice are offering solutions for food security in the face of climate change by surviving in poor soil conditions.

7. Food rescue initiatives like the Pig Idea in London and Food Recovery Network in the United States are working to recycle food waste from supermarkets, restaurants, and universities.

8. According to Solar Cookers Internationalsolar ovens help reduce toxic emissions and reduce greenhouse gases, improving both human and environmental health. Solar Cooker at CantinaWest provides resources to find solar cooking classes in eighteen states in the U.S.

9. Chef Dan Barber, co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, wrote The Third Plate to radically change America’s cuisine by moving past farm-to-table. In the book he proposes a new definition for ethical and delicious eating.

10. Chef José Andres’ Think Food Group is bringing together healthy food advocates from around the globe. The World Central Kitchen empowers people to focus on smart solutions to hunger and poverty.

11. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, students from the University of Sarajevo are conducting intercropping and hydroponics field experiments in order to improve the quality and quantity of food produced in the country.

12. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has implemented the Food Wastage Footprint project, designed to address food loss and waste using the concept of full-cost accounting, which emphasizes the inclusion of all costs, including environmental and societal, into the price of food.

13.  GRACE Communication’s Eat Well Guide helps diners find resources on sustainable agriculture and makes sustainable food choices easier.

14. Culinary Misfits seeks out the ugly vegetables at grocery stores, farmers markets, and restaurants and turns them into delectable dishes at the events they cater in the city.

15. In Italy, Last Minute Market works with farmers, processing centers, grocery stores, and other food sellers to reclaim food. LMM now runs food donation programs in more than 40 Italian communities.

16. In Australia, the initiative SecondBite collects surplus food that is safe and edible from farmers to donate to community groups, who then distribute it to households. SecondBite has, to date, rescued nearly eight million kilograms of food that would have been otherwise wasted.

17. For the past eight years, The Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation has been funding food waste issues and has helped Sustainable America build a website to give the public tools and suggestions on how they can help reduce food waste.

18. Veteran chef Robert Clark and marine biologist Mike McDermid partnered up to create The Fish Counter, which sources seafood from a motley crew of “salt of the earth” fishermen and women, each committed to a sustainable Pacific Northwest fishery.

19. Fair Trade tea company Bhakti Chai invests in female tea pickers in India who belong to the Self-Employed Women’s Association to give 90 percent of earnings back to their families and communities so that their daughters can receive an education.

20. In Vancouver, Canada Growing Chefs works with chef-volunteers in elementary school classrooms to plant gardens, harvest vegetables, and teach basic cooking skills.

21. Sustainable Rural Development improves and implements efficient and sustainable farming practices throughout Vietnam, bolstering community organizations and empowering local farmers.

22. The Farmstand app allows users to search for community farmers markets in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

23. The Sustainable Agriculture Project in Haiti has planted four model farms in the regions of Cap-Rouge and Petite Rivière de l’Artibonite, which offer organic farming training to aspiring farmers.

24. The Bangladesh Federal Agriculture Organization (FAO) is currently working on a project to promote food security in the country through enhanced agricultural production, as well as the promotion of diversified sources of income and value addition.

25. The Seafood Watch app makes sustainable choices in seafood easier. It offers recommendations along with information on optimal farming or fishing practices for sushi and seafood. It can be used at restaurants and markets to make ocean-friendly seafood choices.

26. Chef Melissa Kelly, executive chef and proprietor of Primo in Rockland, Maine, operates four acres of land that includes vegetables, several poultry breeds, and nine pigs that supply the restaurant with about 80 percent of its products at the height of the season.

 

 

 

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria ‘Dust’ from Factory Farms is Airborne

photo credit: MotherJones.com
photo credit: MotherJones.com

As many are aware factory farms are not just bad for the poor animals that must suffer through cruel treatment, but bad for the humans that ingest food that is comes from the drug-filled meat. As if all that isn’t bad enough, now we are finding out that antibiotic drugs resistant to bacteria may now be airborne, traveling as dust through the environment.

Antibiotics are given to animals that are placed in factory farms as their close proximity to each other, lack of care, and poor existence breeds illness. Antibiotics are in their feed as well. All of this is done as a preventative measure, yet the practice is controversial because so many of these drugs have led to bacteria in humans that resistant to antibiotics.

New research out of Texas Tech University says antibiotic-resistant bacteria are spreading through the air,from massive factory farms to other farms and into human environments. “Scientists collected air samples upwind and downwind of 10 feedlots in the southern High Plains region and found greater amounts of bacteria, antibiotics and DNA sequences responsible for antibiotic resistance downwind of the feedlots compared to upwind,” reports Food Safety News.

This news is alarming at the very least. While this research is of more rural areas rather than urban environments, it is scary that even those of us who choose to buy from small, non-factory farms, could be in danger of ingesting these harmful antibiotics at some point.

Researchers say it’s “proof” on the principle that the bacteria could be airborne, making the possibility of highly untreatable infections a reality.