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Choosing to eat healthy means steering clear of some foods for better alternatives such as organic. Meats, vegetables and fruits grown with little to no processing, often referred to as organic, contain relatively low amounts of additives.

Some of the foods we consume are processed with additives and are neither clean nor sustainable. These foods are harmful to our health and/or the environment. There are foods that experts feel very strongly should be avoided, so let's take a look at these foods. Although these foods are not "banned", they are better left alone and replaced with alternatives.

Canned Tomatoes:

Tin cans are lined with a resin that contains bisphenol-A which is a synthetic estrogen. This estrogen is linked to various health issues including heart disease, Diabetes, Obesity and reproductive problems. The bisphenol-A exceeds acceptable levels and can cause suppressed sperm production or damage to eggs of animals.

Fredrick Vom Saal (Endocrinologist) stated, if you get 50 mcg of BPA per liter in a tomato can, that level is going to impact people, especially the young.

He went on to say that he will not go near canned tomatoes!

If you prefer tomatoes that are in containers vs fresh from produce, choose those that are in glass bottles. These bottles do not use resin linings.

BPA Causes Damage In OffSpring

Microwave Popcorn:

According to studies from UCLA, the bag lining contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and attributed to infertility in humans. Tests done on animals have shown these chemicals cause testicular, liver and pancreatic cancers. Adding to that, the microwaving process causes the chemicals to vaporize and end up in the popcorn.

Olga Naidenko, Toxicologist, believes these chemical remain in your body and also continue to accumulate every time you consume microwaved popcorn.

Researchers are concerned that the levels in humans could reach the amounts that are causing cancer in animals. Some manufacturers, including DuPont, will be phasing out PFOA by 2015. Unfortunately, there will be millions of bags sold between now and then.

It is strongly suggested that you return to the good old days when popcorn was prepared in a skillet. You can opt for real butter or other alternatives such as soup mix, vegetable flakes or other herbs.

You can make your popcorn organic by using coconut oil instead.

Stop Eating Microwave Popcorn?

Corn-Fed Beef:

Cattle, by nature, eat grass and have forever. Unfortunately, farmers want their cattle to fatten up and are therefore feeding them corn and soybeans. This equates to a higher price tag on cattle and lower prices at the grocery store. That also means, less nutritional value for the rest of us. Studies conducted by Clemson University and the USDA found that grass-fed beef is higher in vitamin E, beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, omega-3s and more. Grass-fed beef is lower in inflammatory omega-6s and saturated fats that are linked to heart disease.

Joel Salatin is co-owner of Polyface Farms and Author of many books on sustainable farming. He said that cows are herbivores but that doesn't mean they should be fed corn and chicken manure.

You can find grass-fed beef at specialty stores and farmers' markets. You may also find grass-fed beef, nationally, at Whole Food. As grass-fed beef demand a premium, most are labeled very clearly.

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Farmed Salmon:

You will not find salmon's natural environment in crammed pens being fed soy, poultry litter and hydrolyzed chicken feathers! Farmed salmon are much higher in contaminants such as pesticides, carcinogens, PCBs and brominated flame retardants. Do you really want your family or yourself eating this?

According to Dr. Carpenter, the highest contaminated fish come from Northern Europe and found on American menus. He went on to say that it's pretty bad when you eat only one of these dinners every 5 months without running the risk of cancer.Dr. David Carpenter is the director of the Institute for Health and Environment at the University at Albany

Preliminary tests have revealed this salmon can be linked to DDT, diabetes and obesity. Some do believe the level of omega-3s counter the risks. Concerns are in the high levels of antibiotics and pesticides that are treating these fish. When you consume these farmed salmon, you are taking in the same drugs and chemicals that are treating the fish.

You might want to choose wild caught Alaskan salmon instead. Packages that read "Fresh Atlantic" are actually farmed and therefore a false statement. There are absolutely no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon. How Healthy Is The Fish You Are Eating?

How Healthy Is The Fish You Are Eating?

Nonorganic Potatoes:

Potatoes are a root vegetable that absorb nutrients as well as harmful pesticides, fungicides and herbicides from the soil. Potatoes are also treated with fungicides during the growing process, and then sprayed with herbicides in order to kill off the vines before harvesting.

Richard Moyer, farm director of the Rodale Institute, stated that if you buy a potato from the store and try to make it sprout, it will not happen.

He has spoken with many potato growers who told him, quite frankly, they will never eat potatoes they sell. They have separate plots without chemicals for themselves.

Richard Moyer is the farm director of the Rodale Institute, owned by Rodale Inc. the publisher of Prevention. He is also chair of the National Organic Standards Board.

Washing potatoes will not remove the chemicals that have absorbed into the flesh. Buying organic potatoes will only cost approx. $1 a lb. more and is worth it for your health.

Milk Production with Artificial Hormones:

Farmers treat the dairy cattle "recombinant bovine growth hormone" (also called rBGH or rBST) in order to boost milk production. This also increases the risk for utter infection and pus in the milk. This also causes high levels of hormone "insulin" like growth in the milk. This high level of insulin can lead to prostate, colon and breast cancers.

Richard North is project director of Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO - Oregon division of the American Cancer Society.

Mr North said that when the government approved rBGH, that IGF-1, from milk, would break down in the human digestion. He went on to state that even though there is not a 100% proof that there is an increase of cancer in humans, it is banned in almost all industrialized countries.

Look for labels for rBGH Free, rBST free milk products or purchase raw milk instead.

Do you Still Drink Milk?

GMO Unfermented Soy:

Genetically engineered food causes a great deal of concern because of the manipulation of DNA and genetic coding including one species to another.

Always check labels to make sure soy is Non-GMO or organic. Never consume unfermented soy and if possible, ask the company where exactly Non-GMO soy was obtained.

Buy Only Femented Soy - Foods Fit for Human Consumption

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Apples:

Out of all fruits that are harvest in the fall, Apples would win hands down in being treated with pesticides. Apples are descended from a singular tree in order to retain their individual flavors. As apples do not have a resistance to pest, they are continually sprayed. Although the industry maintains that the low residues are harmless, that might not be necessarily true.

Mark Kastel is a former exec. for agribusiness, co-director of Cornucopia Institute that supports organic foods. He believes it is only common sense to avoid the most treated produce, i.e. apples. He also stated that most farm workers have a higher risk of many cancers.

Studies from all sources are concerned with the startling increase of higher body levels of pesticides being linked to Parkinson's disease.

With the onslaught of Thanksgiving, preparing everything from potato dishes to apple pies, it might be to your best interest to start off with organic ingredients. Use common sense, read labels and have a healthy and safe Thanksgiving.

2 Comments | Posted in News By Florence B. Harrell

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Without doubt, the white potato is the most consumed potato on most consumers tables. Although the skins of these potatoes offer a certain level of nutrients, as a general rule they are not on the top of the list for good food value.

That said, there actually is a potato out there that is loaded with nutrients and packed full of mega antioxidants. It's the purple potato! I'll bet almost none of you have eaten or even seen a purple potato. It's time you did become acquainted with this perfect little gem, because it's extremely good for you.

The purple potato is from South America and is named for its rich, dark purple skin and flesh. These potatoes are loaded in antioxidant phytochemicals which aid in creating a lower blood pressure.

Vegetables and fruits that are rich in color often reveal the nutritional value and that value is quite high. Nutritionists have stated over and over that the deeper and richer a fruit or vegetable appears, the more dense it is in nutrients. It has always been suggested that your diet should consist of a combination of colors to ensure you are getting the best possible nutrients into your body.

Purple has the characteristics of rich and powerful antioxidants also called anthocyanin. From the flavonoid family, anthocyanin boosts the immune system and offers fighting agents against cancer.

Varieties of Purple Potatoes:

  • Purple Viking
  • Purple Majesty
  • Purple Peruvian

There are other foods that offer anthocyanin including blueberries and pomegranates. These foods, as well as the potato, have the ability to protect the structure and integrity of DNA. Anthocyanin also produces cytokines which are extremely important in prompting a proper immune return.

Other Antioxidant Benefits:

Antioxidants offer anti-inflammatory values that will protect the health of capillaries and strengthen membranes. It has also shown to regulate estrogenic activity, thereby lowering the risk of hormonal related diseases.

Lowering Your Blood Pressure:

A study that was presented in 2012 at the American Chemical Society national Meeting in Denver, stated that consumption of purple potatoes actually lowered the blood pressure of those consuming these potatoes. It is believed the consumption of these potatoes had an effect on the capillaries and blood vessels.

Purple potatoes have a high concentration of chlorogenic acid which lowered the blood pressure in mice.

What About Flavor:

Most consumers are accustomed to eating white potatoes for their flavor and texture. Given the nutritional values in purple potatoes, what do they taste like? Actually, the purple potato tastes very much the same as your standard white and is actually a little creamier in texture.

Cooking Purple Potatoes:

You should cook these potatoes with the skin on, as you should with the white potatoes. Keeping the skin on allows moisture to remain within the potato and prevents the loss of their nutrients.

The skin on these potatoes are loaded with vitamin C along with polyphenols and potassium.

The best ways to prepare purple potatoes are through steaming or baking. If you must have fried potatoes, use a clean healthy oil such as coconut oil or olive oil.

Some folks believe in just taking a big bite out the potato from the onslaught! Now granted, as this potato is a new concept and you are still trying to get over the color, this might not be the best time to just chomp down on its royal rawness!

1 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Manufacturers continue to use various additives that studies have shown to cause anything from heart disease to diabetes. Although there are several alternatives that would make their foods safer, the price tag is more than they are willing to pay.

Jeopardizing the well being of their consumers for their profit margin seems to be the sad state of the manufacturing world. That said, there are certain additives that should be checked off your list now and forever. You are about to discover some of the horrific chemicals that you and your family are consuming on a daily basis.

For centuries food additives have been added to boost the flavor and appearance of foods. Additives also increase their shelf life, but what about their contributing value in foods?

Why Additives:

To help the processing of foods, packaging and storage, food additives are in almost all the products we consume. You have to ask yourself, what exactly are these food additives and what do we really know about them. Why do foods have to have an increased shelf life that is leaning toward the ridiculous? Are any of these additives offering any nutritional value or offer even a small amount of health benefits?

Approximately 90% of U.S households purchase processed foods, loaded with artificial additives. That said, how many of these additives hold serious health issues that, as consumers, we are totally unaware of?

Believe it or not, there are actually additives that are worse for your health than others. Here are some of the worst food additives that you should avoid at all costs.

Artificial Sweeteners:

Equal (Aspartame) is just one of many sweeteners on the market today called artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is a neurotoxin and carcinogen that accounts for more adverse reactions than all other food additives put together. It has been known to affect your short term memory and erode your intelligence. These sweeteners could possibly lead to a variety of diseases including lymphoma, diabetes, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. Other serious disorders include: depression and anxiety, Alzheimer's, dizziness, nausea, migraines and seizures. This is just a small list of the affects artificial sweeteners can have on you.

Aspartame is found in most of your artificial sweeteners and should be avoided.

Another, relatively new sweetener, called Acesulfame-K can be found in many baking goods, gelatins and gum. There has not been enough research done on this product yet, but is linked to kidney tumors.

You might well want to steer clear of artificial sweeteners and consider the natural components of sugar instead.

High Fructose Corn Syrup:

HFCS is the number one source of added calories in the U.S. It is a very refined artificial sweetener and is found in almost all processed foods. At lightning speed, HFCS will add more pounds on you than any other ingredient. It can increase your cholesterol and has contributed to an increasing percentage in diabetes and damage to tissues. Flavored yogurts, salad dressings, breads, candies and cereals are just a few foods containing HFCS. You might want to look at those labels a little closer.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Many Chinese restaurants used to add MSG to their dishes. Most of these restaurants have since pulled the additive due to its negative affects. MSG is an amino acid used to flavor soups, salad dressings, chips and frozen entrees. Excitotoxin is another name for MSG, contributing to depression, fatigue, obesity, headaches and disorientation. Neurological pathways to the brain and the removal of your ability to feel full are effects of MSG. Ergo, you eat beyond your fullness and gain weight.

Some of the foods containing MSG are: chips, cookies, many other snacks, seasonings, some Campbell Soups, frozen dinners, lunch meats and some restaurants.

Trans Fat:

Trans Fat is another additive used to increase the shelf life of foods and is considered one of the most dangerous. Deep fried fast foods, some processed foods containing margarine or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils when processed, form trans fats due to their contents.

Studies have shown that trans fats increase bad cholesterol levels while decreasing good cholesterol levels. This increases the risk of heart diseases, strokes and heart attacks. Trans fats also contribute to diabetes, inflammations and other serious health issues.

Trans fats are found in chips, crackers, fast foods, margarine and many baked goods.

Food Dyes:

Artificial colorings found in sodas, fruit juices and salad dressings may contribute to behavioral problems in children. This in turn can lead to a serious reduction in their IQs. Other food colorings have also been linked to cancer.

Blue #1 and #2 (E133)

This food coloring is banned in many countries including France, Norway and Finland. These colorings are found in candy, cereal, soft drinks, pet foods and sports drinks.

Red #3 (Red #40) (E124)

This dye has been banned since 1990 after years of debate regarding their incorporation into foods and cosmetics. Unfortunately, it is still on the market until the products, still out there, run out. Red dye has shown to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in animals and could be an interference in brain nerve transmission.

This dye is found in fruit cocktails, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, maraschino cherries and bakery products.

Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102)

These dyes have increased the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in animals. They are both banned in Sweden and Norway.

You can find this dye in American cheese, lemonade,candies and carbonated beverages.

Please Note: Macaroni and cheese was on this list. As of Nov 6, 2013 Kraft announced they are removing the yellow additive from this product! Give a big hand to Kraft!!

Sodium Sulfite (E221)

According to the FDA, one in 100 people are highly sensitive to foods containing sulfites. As most of these people suffer from asthma, it is believed their is a strong link between asthma and sulfites. These people usually suffer breathing problems, rashes and headaches. In extreme cases sulfite may cause death by closing down the airway and therefore leading to cardiac arrest.

Sodium Sulfite is found in wine and dried fruit

Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite:

Many foods, including many processed meats, bacon, hot dogs, luncheon meats, ham, corned beef and smoked fish use sodium nitrate as a preservative and for coloring and flavor. Sodium nitrate is highly carcinogenic once it enters the digestive system. It then forms many nitrosamine compounds that enter the bloodstream and may damage many internal organs including the liver and pancreas. It is considered extremely toxic and should have been banned a long time ago. The USDA tried to ban it in the 1970s but was vetoed by food manufacturers complaining there were no alternatives for preserving packaged meat products.

The biggest reason sodium is still used is because it makes old meat look fresh as it's a color fixer. Sodium nitrate is found in hotdogs, cured meats, corned beef, bacon, luncheon meats, ham and other processed meats.

BHA and BHT (E320)

Known as butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydrozyttoluene are preservatives that keep foods from changing color, changing the flavoring of foods or becoming rancid. It can alter the brain, behaviors and possibly cause cancer. These additives are oxidants which can form cancer causing compounds in your body.

BHA and BHT are found in gum, frozen sausages, cereal, potato chips, enriched rice, lard, shortening, candies and jello.

Sulfur Dioxide (E220)

This additive is considered toxic and both the United States and the Federal Drugs Administration have prohibited its use on raw fruit and vegetables. It has an adverse reaction on bronchial issues, especially those prone to asthma, low blood pressure, tingling or flushing sensations or anaphylactic shock. It should be avoided if you suffer from emphysema, bronchitis, asthma or cardiovascular disease, says the International Labour Organization.

Sulfur Dioxide is found in beer, dried fruits, cordials, wine, soft drinks, juices, vinegar and various potato products.

Potassium Bromate:

Potassium Bromate is used to increase the volume in white flours, rolls and breads. It is known to cause cancer in animals, even with the small amounts found in bread can cause problems in humans.

In Summary:

Even though the United States and the FDA are not coming down on food manufacturers and their bad habits of using additives, you can stop buying their products. In this day and age, there are healthy alternatives to these dangerous additives but manufacturers don't want to spend the money to implement better practices.

Read labels carefully and weigh the percentage of additives added to your purchases. For the sake of your health and the health of your family, it's up to you to just say no, I can live without your products. Sometimes the best way to know what is in your food is to grow it yourself, growing vegatibles and fruits hydroponically way is easier than you think.

1 Comments | Posted in News By Florence B. Harrell

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As you have stopped by iHidroUSA.com, you are probably considering growing hydroponic plants at home. You have your eye on a particular unit and are now considering what plants to grow. When choosing your system, keep in mind there are certain plants that will work better than others. Let's take a look at the best choices and which ones should be left along.

If this is new to you, you want to start off with easily grown plants and a relatively simple unit.

The Freshness of Vegetables

Vegetables are always an excellent choice for those wonderful salads that you and your family enjoy. If you are starting off small, stick to vegetables such as lettuce, radishes, tomatoes and celery. If you're wrinkling your nose at radishes, don't be so hasty, you might be pleasantly surprised. Radishes grown fresh have a wonderful taste vs buying them at the store.

If you have ever grown tomatoes in your garden, you know how much better they taste then from those from the store. The same can be said about fresh grown lettuces and celery. You would be amazed how little flavor store bought onions have compared to freshly grown. How about leaving some space for those wonderful herbs that add the perfect touch to your salads?

Stay Away from Root Vegetables

You will need a great deal of space for root vegetables and would actually be a waste of your time and energy. Potatoes and turnips are not going to taste any differently then buying them in the store, so why bother. Root vegetables are much harder to grow in a hydroponic system because they require a great deal of depth.

What to Steer Clear of

There are some plants that would be great to grow but are not good choices unless you have a great deal of space. Steer clear of zucchini, summer squash, corn and melons are not good choices for hydroponic systems. You can grown them if you want, but they are enormous space hogs!

I'd stay away from vine crops for now, as your time is better spent on more compact plants. Once you have mastered growing hydroponic plants, go ahead and give them a try!

The Traditional Garden

Those of you who have worked in a traditional garden environment, you know how much work goes into it. You head off to your local nursery and hopefully you will get there before everyone else!

You race through the aisles for baby plants, grab a few flats of tomatoes, eggplants squash, etc. Head over to the seed racks then, on top of that, load up on those heavy bags of manure, moss, fertilizer and sand! Yikes!

By the time you return home, you are already spent but you must get to work! You will probably spend the next week laboring to finish that vegetable bed. You know the rest: constant weeding, applying bug sprays or end up with bug infestations and whatever else comes down the pike!

The Advantages of Hydroponics

Granted, you will have to think "space" and therefore be a little selective in what you are going to plant. How about two or three peppers, numerous onions, lettuces and spinach? Don''t forget to grab a tomato plant and a selection of herbs.

That's the hardest part of growing hydroponic plants, choosing what you want. You will never weed or worry about bugs! By planting fewer plants of each type will give you the ability to grow a much greater variety with less waste.

Welcome to the World of Hydroponics

Now that you have a good idea of what will work and what will not, it's time to get your hydroponic system and go for it! You are going to be amazed at the plants you produce, their flavor and the little effort going into growing them. As you become more familiar with these systems, you can always upgrade to larger units, where space allows.

2 Comments | Posted in Hydroponics Details By Charles R. Sword

Using the hydroponics growing medium requires placing plants in objects that support the plants. Then adding a nutrient rich solution through this medium, providing rich food for plant growth. Coconut husks, perlite or clay pebbles are examples of some supportive elements used.

There are two different schools of thought regarding growing plants through hydroponics or aeroponics. There are pros and cons to both methods and pretty much it comes down to a personal choice. Horticulturists have know for some time that removing plants from soil and using other methods of growth reap healthier plants.

Plants expend a great deal of energy growing roots in search of the nutrients within the soil. Nutrients are what plants need to grow and to retain health, not soil. Let's look at the two non-soil methods, covering the positives and negatives of both.

Growing With Hydroponics

The dictionary definition of hydroponics is: "the cultivation of plants by placing the roots in liquid nutrient solutions rather than in soil."

Advantages of Hydroponics

Hydroponic systems give horticulturists total control over the distribution of nutrients throughout plants. Plants that are grown using a hydroponics system show greater productivity than plants grown in soil. Many gardeners experience water restriction during the summer months. Many of these systems recycle water, reducing the amount of water used and the headaches brought on by city and town restrictions. Hydroponic systems only use approximately 10% of the water required by conventional gardening.

For those concerned with herbicides or pesticides used in conventional gardening, hydroponic systems never use these chemicals.

As hydroponic systems can be setup and plants grown inside, these systems take very little space and do not rely on seasonal changes.

The Disadvantages of Hydroponics

One of the biggest concerns with this system is water based diseases working their way through the plants. This is caused by the nutrients being passed between the plants constantly. Another concern is the amount of electricity consumed using hydroponic or aeroponics systems alike. The setup for the hydroponic system is expensive because of the equipment involved. The upside is, once the system is up and running, it's still cheaper than conventional gardening methods.


Growing With Aeroponics

The dictionary definition of hydroponics is: "the method of growing plants without soil by suspending them above sprays that constantly moisten the roots with water and nutrients."

Also referred to as Aeroculture, the aeroponics system uses absolutely no growing formulas. The plants are suspended in a dark area while nutritional solutions spray the roots at set intervals.

The Advantages of Aeroponics

Using this system allows plants maximum nutritional absorption. This is due to the plants being totally isolated and no plant chemicals or formulas are applied.

The Disadvantages of Aeroponics

Aeroponic systems required a great deal of attention to ensure the pH levels or nutrient density ratios are exacting. The systems are quite difficult for inexperienced or beginner gardeners to master. Therefore, aeroponic systems should only be attempted by those experienced gardeners who are familiar with its workings.

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In a Nutshell

With more and more people seeking healthier foods and wanting to take charge with what their families consume, the popularity of these growing systems could well become common place in future homes.

Purchasing a simple system and seeing the results of growing your own vegetables and fruits can be extremely rewarding. As you become more profuse and upgrade to a more sophisticated system, you can expand your assortment of plants and experience a significant savings on your supermarket purchases.

2 Comments | Posted in Plants & Flower Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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You would think that growing a houseplant would be easy, yet many people struggle to get it right. Knowing the type of soil to use, how often you need to water and how much water is needed is often enough to do people in. The process can now be made a whole lot easier by using a process known as hydroculture. There is no soil or compost used in this growing technique, with a nutrient solution used to make the plants grow. This is something of a dream come true for those who would love to have houseplants, but have had issues in the past.

What should be pointed out, though, is that the costs associated with growing plants this way is quite expensive. What that means is that the cost of filling your entire home or office with plants may be prohibitive, but once you see how easy it is, you might just become hooked. In order to get started, you will need to invest in a hydroculture unit. Once you have it set up, you will only be required to add water once or twice a year. The unit itself is usually comprised of a plastic container, an outer container that houses the nutrient solution and an inner container that holds the plant. You will also need an aggregate, which is often clay granules, to anchor the plant, and you may also find that the unit contains a water reservoir that shows the current water level.

The aggregate plays a major role in the growing of the plants, as they are able to absorb a great deal of water. It is the proper delivery of water that often causes normal plant growing to fail. The soil can also cause a problem when trying to feed plants properly, but that is taken away with the use of the nutrient solution used in hydroculture. The effect here is that the plants are steadily fed exactly what they need, with very little needing to be done to look after the plant you are growing. Pretty much all that is required is to check the water level, which will probably only have to be topped up every 6 months.

This doesn’t mean that you can simply pot the plant and do nothing else, as you will still need to make sure that the plants are placed in an area that affords enough light and humidity. Plants grown using the hydroculture process are still prone to the same pests and ailments as other plants, so you will also need to be on the lookout for those issues, too. The temperature of the water is also important, so make sure that you always add room temperature water in order for your plants to thrive.

You need to be aware that not every type of plant is a good fit for the hydroculture growing process. It’s best to check with a professional at your local garden center before choosing a plant to grow in this way. They should be able to set you up with your first hydroculture system unit, as well as being able to help you choose the perfect plant for your home or office.

3 Comments | Posted in Plants & Flower Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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