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Keeping your health on track during the indulgent holiday season


(c) Mikhail Malyugin / stock.Adobe.com

(StatePoint) The holiday season can be an indulgent one, full of cookies, candies, heavy meals and eggnog. While no one wants to rein in the fun during the merriest time of year, there are simple ways to keep your health on track during this indulgent holiday season.

• Stick to Routines. To the best of your ability during this hectic time of year, attempt to stick to routines that promote wellness. Set a bedtime and honor it. Hit the gym. Meditate. Do whatever it is that keeps you grounded and feeling your best.

• Drink Up. Many people associate dehydration with the warmer months. But in winter weather it can be especially easy to forget to stay well-hydrated, especially when you’re indulging in alcoholic beverages at all those holiday parties.

Remember, water doesn’t need to be the only source of hydration you think about this season. Soups and purees made from hearty winter vegetables, as well as citrus fruits do the trick, too, and their nutritional properties can help keep you healthy in winter.

• Keep Things Organically Sweet. Staying on track doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sweetness of the season. Instantly boost the flavor of your favorite meals with organic honey. One great option is Organic Honey In The Raw. USDA Organic Certified and Non-GMO Project Verified, it’s made from pure nectar collected from exotic wildflowers found in the remote Caatinga region of northeast Brazil. The hand-harvested, sustainable honey is raw (never heated above 117 degrees) and unfiltered, so it retains the benefits of bee pollen.

And just one tablespoon of organic raw honey provides the right amount of sweetness and flavor for any dish or drink, including year-round staples like oatmeal, yogurt, tea, and more. You can also consider giving a honey makeover to all your favorite holiday recipes, including glazes and sauces for meat and poultry, cocktail recipes, and of course baked treats.

• Make Substitutions. Other healthful substitutions you can make this holiday season include topping pies with Greek yogurt instead of cream, using apple sauce in place of oil and nut flour instead of white flour in baking, and serving vegetable mash as an alternative to mashed potatoes.

• Be Mindful. The holiday party circuit can be dangerous when it comes to making nutritious choices. When you enter a party with a buffet set-up, it can be tempting to reach for the richest foods first. Before indulging in the canapes and Swedish meatballs, try filling up a plate with crudité first. While you’re doing so, get a good look at all the options available. This way, you’ll be more likely to savor choice items you’ll truly enjoy.

A joyful holiday season doesn’t mean you must pack on pounds or feel under the weather. By keeping your health on track throughout this indulgent time of year, you can start 2019 with your best food forward.

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EarthTalk®


E – The Environmental Magazine

 

Dear EarthTalk: I understand that, despite the popularity of organic foods, clothing and other products, organic agriculture is still only practiced on a tiny percentage of land worldwide. What’s getting in the way?

Larry McFarlane, 

Boston, MA

 

Changing perceptions about just how much healthier organic foods are than non-organic foods are impacting the growth of the sector. But even if the personal health benefits of eating organic aren’t significant or clear, the environmental advantages of organic agriculture still make the practice well worth supporting. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto

Changing perceptions about just how much healthier organic foods are than non-organic foods are impacting the growth of the sector. But even if the personal health benefits of eating organic aren’t significant or clear, the environmental advantages of organic agriculture still make the practice well worth supporting. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto

Organic production may still represent only a small fraction of agricultural sales in the U.S. and worldwide, but it as been growing rapidly over the last two decades. According to the latest global census of farming practices, the area of land certified as organic makes up less than one percent of global agricultural land—but it has grown more than threefold since 1999, with upwards of 37 million hectares of land worldwide now under organic cultivation. The Organic Trade Association forecasts steady growth of nine percent or more annually for organic agriculture in the foreseeable future.
But despite this growth, no one expects organic agriculture to top conventional techniques any time soon. The biggest hurdle for organics is the added cost of sustainable practices. “The cost of organic food is higher than that of conventional food because the organic price tag more closely reflects the true cost of growing the food,” reports the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF). “The intensive management and labor used in organic production are frequently (though not always) more expensive than the chemicals routinely used on conventional farms.” However, there is evidence that if the indirect costs of conventional food production—such as the impact on public health of chemicals released into our air and water—were factored in, non-organic foods would cost the same or as much as organic foods.

Other problems for organic foods include changing perceptions about just how much healthier they are than non-organics. “Many devotees of organic foods purchase them in order to avoid exposure to harmful levels of pesticides,” writes Henry I. Miller in Forbes. “But that’s a poor rationale: Non-organic fruits and vegetables had more pesticide residue, to be sure, but more than 99 percent of the time the levels were below the permissible, very conservative safety limits set by regulators—limits that are established by the Environmental Protection Agency and enforced by the Food and Drug Administration.”

He adds that just because a farm is organic doesn’t mean the food it produces will be free of potentially toxic elements. While organic standards may preclude the use of synthetic inputs, organic farms often utilize so-called “natural” pesticides and what Miller calls “pathogen-laden animal excreta as fertilizer” that can also end up making consumers sick and have been linked to cancers and other serious illnesses (like their synthetic counterparts). Miller believes that as more consumers become aware of these problems, the percentage of the agriculture market taken up by organics will begin to shrink.

Another challenge facing the organic sector is a shortage of organic raw materials such as grain, sugar and livestock feed. Without a steady supply of these basics, organic farmers can’t harvest enough products to make their businesses viable. Meanwhile, competition from food marketed as “locally grown” or “natural” is also cutting into organic’s slice of the overall agriculture pie.

Organic agriculture is sure to keep growing for years to come. And even if the health benefits of eating organic aren’t significant, the environmental advantages of organic agriculture—which are, of course, also public health advantages—make the practice well worth supporting.

 

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

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