Why Organic Produce IS Worth It

I don’t often write opinion pieces like this, but the recent debate over whether organic produce is any better than conventional has compelled me to speak up.  In a September 4th news post, researchers from Stanford University were reported as saying:

Eating organic fruits and vegetables can lower exposure to pesticides, including for children — but the amount measured from conventionally grown produce was within safety limits.

Really?  I’m not sure I’d like to test this food safety theory, especially on our kids!  Each year, we find out fallacies in what was once thought to be true, safe, and scientifically proven.  How can ANY level of pesticide or toxin be deemed “within safety limits”?  Not to mention that cancers and other serious health issues can arise from a lifetime of ingesting chemicals.  So won’t the accumulation of constantly eating sprayed produce add up to an unsafe limit at some point?

The focus of this particular debate is about nutrition — that organic produce offers no more vitamins or nutrients than conventional produce.  I agree with Marion Nestle’s response in the New York Times that “….nutrients are not the point. The point of organic production is its effects on the health of people and the planet.”

….nutrients are not the point [in this debate]. The point of organic production is its effects on the health of people and the planet.

Here are my responses, as lowly consumer, on the most popular issues with organic produce:

  1. Organic is more expensive.  Depending on the product, sometimes it’s the same price as conventional or not much more.  If the price difference is substantial, I check if the fruit or veggie is on safe end of the EWG’s pesticide residue chart.  I’ll buy conventional onions (49th in pesticide residue) but spring for organic apples (conventional ones are #1 in pesticide residue).  And I figure that my health and the health of my family is more important than saving a dollar here or there.  Check out this post for more money-saving tips.
  2. Organic isn’t more nutritious. Apparently, this is true if you compare vitamins and minerals.  I’m no scientist.  But stop and think for a minute…can organic vs. conventional really be the same — in the way you feel, how your body feels, how the food tastes, etc?  Are you telling me a carrot grown in nutrient-rich soil with no chemicals added really is the same as one grown in pesticide drenched conditions?
  3. Why not grow your own?

    Organic produce is hard to find.  It can be.  But as more consumers demand organic, more farmers are growing organic and more stores and markets are providing it!  The demand will increase the supply. Here are some ways to bring the farm to you, no matter where you live.

  4. “Organic” is a marketing ploy.  I’m sure producers capitalize on organic status for marketing reasons.  But I believe that organic is a way of life.  It affects everyone and everything — farmer, environment, animals, food, consumer.  When I eat organic, I take better care of myself and those around me.  I am a more productive and loving person.  I think better thoughts and exercise more and stress less.  I think organic produce tastes better, so I enjoy and appreciate my food and how it’s nourishing me.  I pay more attention to what I put on my skin and in my home.  I seek out products from companies who are making a positive impact on our world.  So…

Is going organic worth it?  I say, “ABSOLUTELY!” 

What do YOU say?

The Dangers of Prescription Drugs

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Americans have a thing for drugs.  Legal ones.  From asthma medicine to medicine that pumps up the volume in the bedroom, nearly half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.  And 1 in 6 Americans are using three or more medications.

As someone who used to take quite a few medications without any thought to the harm they might be doing to me, I thought this article by Dr. Mercola was important to share.  With permission, I’ve reprinted his website article on the dangers of prescription drugs.  It’s a long one, but I think it’s worth the time to read if you or your loved ones take medication.  It’s an eye-opener.  I don’t think you’ll look at your medicine cabinet the same way again.

How to Solve Nearly Any Illness – Without Drugs

Written by Dr. Mercola

Writing in Counterpunch, Martha Rosenberg lists the drugs which made 2010’s Hall of Shame. Here are just a few of them:

Yaz and Yasmin

Soon after Bayer launched the pill Yaz, 18 year olds started coming down with blood clots, gall bladder disease, heart attacks and even strokes.


After cases of possible psychosis, reports of suicidal behaviors and actual suicides, the government banned pilots, air-traffic controllers and interstate truck and bus drivers from taking this antismoking drug.


Law enforcement officials say this sleep drug has increased traffic accidents from people who drive in a black out.


For every case of breast cancer prevented by Tamoxifen, there is a life-threatening case of blood clots, stroke or endometrial cancer caused by it.

Lipitor and Crestor

All statins can cause muscle breakdown. Crestor is so linked to the side effect, the FDA’s David Graham named it one of the five most dangerous drugs at a Congressional hearing.

Gardasil and Cervarix Vaccines

The Gardasil HPV vaccine doesn’t work for all viral strains, requires a booster and is linked to 56 girls’ deaths as of September in the U.S. alone.

Singulair and Accolate, leukotriene receptor antagonists

These leukotriene receptor antagonists never looked safe. And Singulair, Merck’s top selling drug, is now suspected of producing aggression, hostility, irritability, anxiety, hallucinations and night-terrors in kids.

To see the full list of dangerous drugs, click on the link below.


Counterpunch December 24, 2010

Rosenberg does a fine job pinning down some of the most dangerous drugs on the market today. It’s a tough call, simply because there are so many to choose from. For a truly eye-opening list of “defective drugs,” just take a look at drug litigators’ Parker Waichman Alonso’s web site. It’s a sobering lineup!

Even commonly used over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are not as benign as most people assume.

The fact that we’re now faced with such an onslaught of problematic drugs is a testament to the inadequacies, not to mention criminal behavior, of the pharmaceutical industry.

Studies are frequently biased, results are skewed, and drugs are put on a fast-track to be approved long before anyone knows whether they’re safe. And it’s quite clear that a large number of drugs are not at all safe, and many do not even work as advertised, giving you the absolute worst of both worlds.

In essence, any time you resort to taking a drug, you’re taking a gamble because there are NO 100 percent safe drugs. And the more drugs you combine, the greater the risk that you’ll suffer serious and/or potentially lethal side effects.

Are You on Any of these Dangerous Drugs?

In addition to the drugs listed above, here are several more that may jeopardize your health:

  • Advair– This asthma medicine contains the long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) salmeterol, which can make your asthma deadly by increasing the severity of asthma attacks. It is estimated that salmeterol-containing drugs cause about 5,000 asthma-related deaths each year in the US alone.
  • Avandia (rosiglitazone)– This diabetes drug has been linked to increased risk of heart attack. Confidential government reports claim about 6,000 heart attacks and 3,600 cases of heart failure would be averted each year if patients switched away from Avandia. The drug was recently banned in Europe, but the US FDA has chosen only to monitor the drug, rather than ask for a recall.
  • Celebrex This painkiller has been linked to increased risks of stomach bleeding, kidney trouble, and liver damage. Additionally, one 2005 study found that people taking 200 mg of Celebrex twice a day more than doubled their risk of dying of cardiovascular disease. Those on 400 mg twice a day more than tripled their risk.
  • Ritalin This drug is commonly prescribed to children diagnosed with ADHD, despite the fact it has the same pharmacological profile as cocaine. By definition, Ritalin stimulates your central nervous system, leading to side effects such as increased blood pressure and heart rate.
    When taken over a period of years, as Ritalin often is, the drug can cause severe health problems, including cancer. Short-term, it can still lead to chromosomal damage.
  • Lyrica, Topomax and Lamictal — These epilepsy seizure drugs increase your risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and all three drugs can cause both hair- and memory loss.
  • TNF Blockers Biologics like Humira and Prolia are made from genetically engineered hamster cells, and suppress your immune system. Other side effects include tuberculosis, lethal infections, melanoma, lymphoma and “unusual cancers in children and teenagers”. Humira also carries a warning that it may cause or worsen psoriasis — a condition it is supposed to treat.
  • Bisphosphonate drugs – This dangerous class of drugs include Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva, prescribed to prevent osteoporosis. Fosamax in particular has been linked to thigh bone fractures, jaw bone rot, serious eye problems, liver damage and renal failure, just to name a few potential side effects.
    Fosamax users are also nearly twice as likely to develop atrial fibrillation (quivering of your heart’s upper chambers), which is the most common kind of chronically irregular heartbeat.
  • Statin drugs—This class of drugs, used to lower your cholesterol, have been linked to an array of devastating side effects, including muscle pain and weakness, muscle atrophy, rhabdomyolysis, increased plaque deposits, increased cancer risk, immune system suppression, decreased liver function, CoQ10 depletion, and death.
  • Proton pump inhibitors—Drugs like Prevacid, Prilosec, and Nexium are commonly used for heartburn. However, their side effects may be far more problematic and dangerous than your original problem.
    Side effects include increased risk of fractures of your hip, wrist and spine (the risk of a bone fracture has been estimated to be over 40 percent higher in patients who use these drugs long-term), increased risk of food poisoning, pneumonia and infection with Clostridium difficile, a harmful intestinal bacteria.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Clearly, there are many others. However, many of these drugs are used for ailments that respond favorably to lifestyle changes alone!

Health Problems that are Better Treated Without Drugs

In more recent years, a growing body of studies shows that simple lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise are effective remedies for many common health problems. At the same time, we’re seeing more and more evidence of the lethal harm being brought by poorly tested drugs.

To me, the choice is clear.

But many people still do not realize just how effective lifestyle changes can be in treating their disease. Many diabetics, for example, are convinced they need drugs, and resist the idea that treating or even curing their disease is entirely within their own control.

The truth is, type 2 diabetes is virtually 100 percent avoidable and treatable entirely without drugs. If you’re still in the dark about how to accomplish this, please see this link.

Other common conditions that can be managed without medication include:

  1. Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease)
  2. High cholesterol
  3. Depression
  4. High blood pressure
  5. Osteoporosis
  6. Heart disease
  7. Insomnia

Do Your Research Before Taking ANY Drug

For all the problems modern society has caused, it also brings benefits that were previously unimaginable. One of them is the ease with which you can conduct your own research. And I urge you to thoroughly investigate each drug before taking it.

The truth is that doctors are no longer the sole authority on all matters relating to health. And don’t believe for one minute that your physician will have all the answers and all the latest research findings at his or her fingertips. They won’t.

Most of their recent knowledge about drug treatments comes directly from the lips of drug reps, and if you believe drug reps will put your health and safety before profits, think again.

So, as a general rule, always make sure to read up on the potential side effects of the drug. Read the package insert, and remember that even if it lists a side effect as rare, it can happen to you.

Then decide whether the potential benefits truly outweigh the potential risks.

Drugs are Band-Aids. They Do NOT Address the Cause of Disease

If you want to take a step in the right direction, make drugs your last option.

This sounds easy enough, but actually requires a massive thought shift for some people. Many still have a very hard time accepting the idea that your body can heal itself, and that drugs oftentimes will only hinder the process.

I can’t stress enough the importance of the most basic principle for resolving an illness: Find the underlying cause of the problem, and address THAT!

Masking it with a drug that lessens your symptoms does not fix anything. Disease can only be resolved by addressing its root cause.

What many people fail to realize is that it is entirely possible to maintain optimal health simply by:

  1. Avoiding unnecessary drugs, and
  2. Understanding the fundamentals of proper nutrition and exercise

What DOES Make You Healthy?

There are certain basic tenets of optimal health that have always remained permanent truths, and by consistently adhering to them, you give yourself the best chance at a long and healthy life.

These 10 strategies promote overall health, as opposed to chasing and watering down various symptoms:

  1. Eat a healthy diet that’s right for your nutritional type (paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down) — This aspect is so important for optimal health; I now offer my entire online nutritional typing program for free.
  2. Drink plenty of clean water
  3. Manage your stress
  4. Exercise regularly — I actually view exercise as a drug with regard to being properly prescribed and having proper dosage,  And it’s one that you can readily substitute for some of the most common drugs used today for things like diabetes, heart disease and depression.High-intensity, burst-type exercises like Peak 8 are particularly beneficial for optimal health, as it effectively boosts fat loss, improves muscle strength, tone and endurance, and causes your body to produce human growth hormone (HGH).
  5. Optimize your vitamin D levels by getting appropriate amounts of sun exposure, or by taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement
  6. Limit exposure to toxins
  7. Consume healthy fats such as omega-3 fat, coconut oil and pure butter
  8. Eat plenty of raw food
  9. Optimize your insulin and leptin levels
  10. Get plenty of sleep

Remember, leading a common sense, healthy lifestyle is your best bet to produce a healthy body and mind, and increase your longevity.

Unfortunately, both the pharmaceutical industry and the food industry won’t make it easy for you to avoid the garbage that ruins your health.

The drug industry spends about $15 billion a year manipulating and distorting your perceptions about the proper solutions for your health challenges. The answer is to take self-responsibility and educate yourself so that you can make better, healthier choices.

By adhering to the basic tenets of optimal health provided above, you will build a healthy mind and body, thereby safeguarding yourself against a multitude of health problems and serious diseases.

Dr. Mercola is the founder of the world’s most visited natural health web site, Mercola.com. You can learn the hazardous side effects of OTC Remedies by getting a FREE copy of his latest special report The Dangers of Over the Counter Remedies by going to his Report Page.

Dealing with Grief

You may have noticed it’s been quiet here at Words Are Food.  The silence was due to an inability to write.  Not because of a writer’s block, but because of a life block.  Our furry, four-legged son Hutch died two weeks ago today.  We had to make the heart-breaking decision to put him down as he had been suffering from what the doctor presumes was pancreatic cancer.  He wasn’t yet 6 years old.

We feel we have lost one of our children, instead of just a pet.  Almost all of our time was spent at home when we weren’t working, so Hutch–along with his brother Starsky–were a large and joyful part of our lives.  I’ve experienced some periods of grief in my life, but none like this.  Our apartment is full of painful reminders.  Hutch was a constant fixture in the kitchen when I cooked, so just stepping into the kitchen was unbearable.  Forget trying to cook up the greens and other healthy foods Hutch loved to smell and inspect.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had really laughed or felt joy.

Hutch suddenly became sick at the end of August, and in an instant, my days were filled with constant vet visits and perpetual knots in my stomach, which continued for months.  In the last couple weeks of his life, Hutch required a feeding tube.  Every few hours, we gave him food, water, and medicine through his tube.  We didn’t sleep much as we were on constant guard for any sound that might be a sign of trouble or distress, as often turned out to be the case.  With Hutch gone, I was left without the duties to which I had become accustomed, I had lost my purpose. I was an empty vessel, not one with unlimited possibilities with which to fill myself, but one that had been drained of life force and hope.

Grief is such an odd creature.  It attacks you with force, causes you to cry and laugh and yell, retreats into the background, and then returns to pummel you in waves of varying ferocity.  It was no help to say to myself, You’ve got to march on.  By itself, the act of marching bravely on does not foster healing.  I had to deal with the grief or else I was going to be repeatedly stuffing my grief down inside and slamming a lid on all of it, only to have it pop out like a jack-in-the-box at the most inopportune time.  I allowed myself to succumb to my grief in the privacy of my home, but I vacuum-sealed my emotions while in the outside world in order to be a productive, tear-free citizen.  I wore a pleasant face in front of others, who were surprised by my calm and seemingly well-adjusted self, but it wasn’t real.  I was going through the motions of my daily life. I’m usually a very passionate, driven, emotion-filled, joyful, positive person.  I was none of these things anymore.  Zoning out in front of the T.V. drinking wine became my go-to attempt to take a respite from my grief.  I knew that I should be supporting myself in other ways; nourishing food, soothing massages, unblocking acupuncture, re-centering yoga or energizing spin class…but I neither had the energy, desire, or money to do any of those things.  Talking to my husband was a comfort, but he was grieving too.  I needed outside help.

I reached out to my friend Donna, a licensed holistic counselor.  I don’t know what I expected her to do, but I knew she would be able to give me some sort of advice or nugget of information that would help me.  She immediately asked me to help her plan and assist in her six-week Healthy Living class, and in return, I could join in on the classes for free.  I wasn’t planning on such a commitment, but I couldn’t say no to the opportunity.  Although I’m familiar with much of the information she teaches, the class would be a powerful reminder, I would be meeting other women with an interest in holistic wellness, and I’d pick up a new trick or two.  Plus, just being around Donna energizes and inspires me.

Life is birth and death, beginnings and endings.  We will all experience grief in our lives; they will occur in varying frequency, depth, and duration, but it is a fact of life for us all.  The trick is finding a way to heal ourselves so that we may continue to live rich, joyful lives. That is what I am trying to do now.  Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but in my experience, it seems to lessen the sting.  However, I don’t want to waste weeks, months, or years twiddling my thumbs while time does its thing.   We are constantly reminded that life is finite and unpredictable.  For whatever time I have left, I want to be smack dab in the middle of Life, living it at top capacity.  I want to do all that I can to heal properly, but I can’t let life pass me by anymore as it happens.  After Donna’s classes are over, I will share with you my journey and what is working for me, so that perhaps it will help you or someone you love deal with grief someday.

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead: A Documentary

*Please do not use the contact form on this website to send a message to Joe.  Use this form to contact him instead.  Thank you!* 

Fat, sick, and nearly dead. That was the condition Joe Cross lived in until he decided to take charge of his health and his life.  Joe, a successful businessman from Australia, vowed to leave behind his junk food diet and only drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days as he traveled across the United States with a juicer in the back of his car.  He hired a film crew to document his pilgrimage to health, so he must have known it was going to be quite a journey.  He couldn’t have anticipated, however, the monumental effect it would have on his life or on others.

Six months later, and 90 pounds lighter, Joe was eating cleanly, thinking clearly, enjoying incredible health, and on a mission to help as many people as possible.  What started off being about a juice fast, ended up being about maintaining a balanced lifestyle.  Joe has big plans for the U.S., Australia, and Britain…getting everyone access to juicers and information to help them get healthy and choose life.

I was recently invited by my friend Donna to see his not-yet-released film with a few others.  Joe hosted the event in an apartment he was staying in while his owner-friends were away.  I had never experienced a film screening in a private residence before, and it made for a very intimate, comfy, and friendly atmosphere.

Joe served us fresh juices beforehand.  They were so delicious, we struggled not to drink him out of his entire supply.

Enjoying fresh juice before the viewing. Joe is in the background. Issac (far right) is a songwriter/musician from The Kin whose song is featured in the film.

Then we got down to business, watching the film, which was a roller-coaster of heart-warming characters, emotional stories, entertaining delivery of information, and inspiring outcomes.  It is such an important film to see and share with others, I can’t wait for its release.   Afterward, Joe joined us for an honest and in-depth discussion.  He spoke to us about his intentions with the film and his vision for its future, answered any questions we had, and asked for our feedback.

Although I don’t want to tell you the whole story, I would like to share some things I learned from the film:

  • Although no one out of the hundreds of people Joe talked to blamed anyone but themselves for their poor health or eating habits, the consensus was that they didn’t think they possessed the willpower to eat healthfully.
  • The typical American plate only consists of one-quarter vegetables, which are either over-cooked or in some form of potato.  “Would you like fries with that?”
  • Eating fresh fruits and vegetables isn’t cheap, but it’s a lot cheaper than having to treat multiple health ailments due to poor nutrition and lack of exercise.  Cost to juice – around $400/month.  Cost of heart attack – around $58,000.  Buying fresh produce looks like the better deal, right?
  • In the U.S., 70% of adults over the age of 21 take medications, 29% take 5 or more medications.  After 60 days of juicing (the fruit and veggie kind of course), Joe’s doctor discovered he no longer needed the medications he had depended on for so many years.
  • One woman who took Joe up on his 10-day juice fast challenge reported increased energy, clearer skin, and no longer suffered from migraines.
  • Only 1 person out of the 400 Joe met asked for help:  Phil, a truck driver from Arizona who had the same condition as Joe.  He not only lost a ton of weight and got healthy, but found purpose to his life and served as an inspiration to his family and community.   Such an awesome story!

I’d like to clarify that while this film is about juicing, it’s not just about juicing.  It’s about choosing fresh food over processed food.  It’s about taking responsibility for and control of your health.  It’s about choosing life and living it.  I think that’s something we can all get behind.

Want to learn more about the film?  Want to connect with Joe and get healthy?  Become a fan of his Facebook page or sign up for his Reboot email list.


My Quest for a Natural Allergy Solution, Part 3


April 22, 2010

This is the day of reckoning.  I am to find out if my body responded to the Sublingual Immunotherapy and whether I can be declared free of my cat allergies.  A couple of hours before my appointment, I get a phone call from the allergist at the ear, nose, and throat doctor’s office.  It’s disappointing news: There will be no allergy test, my doctor wants to keep me on a maintenance plan for a while longer. I’ll just be going in to get my new vial and worksheet.  Oh well.  I’ll do whatever I’m supposed to in order to lead an allergy-free life.

I arrive at the ENT office and, as usual, find it amusing and slightly sad that everyone knows who I am by name and/or face.  If this was a different place of business, I’d feel honored.  But in my case it means I’ve had way too many health issues.  I love the ladies who work here, but I’d rather not have to see them so frequently.  When the doctor comes into my room, I tell her I haven’t experienced any allergy attacks (except one day) or sinus infections.  She is pleased but explains that my therapy is not over, and I need to continue with a maintenance plan.  I actually wasn’t supposed to have a break in the therapy–I guess there was a little misunderstanding on that point. I share that I’ve blogged about my experience in searching for a natural allergy solution, and that I had told my readers I was getting a skin allergy test today.  Being the lovely, supportive woman she is, the doctor offered to let me take the test.  Yes!!

This time around, I took a picture of all the allergens that comprise the skin allergy test.  It’s always nice to know what you’re being poked with, and I thought you folks might be interested in the multitudes of things that create allergy misery for so many people.  In section A, histamine is the control, and will create a welt on everyone.  So obviously, a raised welt appeared on my arm almost immediately following a burning/itching sensation.  No other welts appeared. May I just point out the implications of that last statement?  No other welts appeared apart from the control, meaning no reaction to the cat hair allergen, meaning no more allergies to cats! Heck yeah!  I was so excited, I gave my fabulous allergist Tina a high-five.

When you click on the photos for a larger view, make sure to use the “back arrow” button on your browser to return to this post.  I can’t make a new window appear for photo galleries.

I will continue to take the maintenance drops for 3 weeks, using the same protocol as the previous times, and then continue using 3 drops/day for 6 weeks after that.  I suppose the purpose is to further strengthen my tolerance.

I am so pleased to share this awesome news with all of you.  Not just because I seem to be cured, but that my journey might help some of you who are suffering for many months out of the year from severe allergies and sinus infections.  I’m ecstatic to find a natural solution to allergies.  I loathed the idea of dependence on over-the-counter allergy meds, which have side effects like drowsiness, excitability, dryness of throat and sinuses, and who knows what else–not to mention weird ingredients and dyes.  There’s no guarantee that this therapy will work for you, but I’m thinking that if it helped me–who was a serious case with a troublesome health history–there’s a good chance you’ll benefit as well.

While my drop therapy was for cat allergies, it can be prepared to combat allergies to grasses, trees, pollens, and animals.  It does not treat food allergies.  Contact an allergist or ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor to discuss how sublingual immunotherapy can work for you.