Category Archives: Farming

The Dirty Dozen PLUS

This article was originally published on Healthy Child Healthy World.

by Anh Nguyen, Communications & Programs Coordinator, Healthy Child Healthy World

No one will contest that a healthy diet must be rich in fruits and vegetables, but have you thought about the toxic pesticides you could be consuming with your fresh produce? According to a recent survey by the Environmental Working Group, 68 percent of food samples had detectable pesticide residues. So which crops are safe to eat, and which are best bought organic?

For the eighth year in a row, the Environmental Working Group has released their list of the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables on the market as part of their 2012 Shoppers Guide. This year, they have expanded their Dirty Dozen list to 14, calling it the Dirty Dozen Plus. The two new crops, green beans and leafy greens (i.e. kale and collard greens) were found to be commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides.

Apples were dubbed the most contaminated produce because 98% of have detectable levels of pesticides. Other significant findings include:

  • Domestic¬†blueberries¬†tested positive for 42 different pesticide residues.
  • Seventy-eight different pesticides were found on¬†lettuce¬†samples.
  • Every single¬†nectarine¬†USDA tested had measurable pesticide residues.
  • As a category,¬†grapes¬†have more types of pesticides than any other fruit, with 64 different chemicals.
  • Thirteen different pesticides were measured on a single sample each of celery and¬†strawberries.

The EWG does stress that ‚ÄúThe health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.‚ÄĚ So if you cannot afford to buy organic all the time, just be extra conscious about carefully washing any produce on the Dirty Dozen Plus, or buy more of those that made it to their¬†Clean Fifteen¬†list.


Photo Credit – Gretchen Tseng

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Filed under Education, Farming, Investigations, Vegan, Vegetarian



Where would we all be without bees? ¬†We certainly wouldn’t be eating the fruits and veggies that we adore.

My family and I recently watched the documentary, Vanishing of the Bees.  I highly recommend this film for the light it sheds on this issue.  In addition to learning about Colony Collapse Disorder, I learned a lot about bees in general (they are fascinating beings).

This year when I plant my garden I want to focus some attention on adding some plants that bees really love…my way of saying thank you to them for all that they do. ¬†I found ¬†a great article from the Honeybee Conservancy about planting a bee garden (click HERE for the article).


Filed under Animal Welfare, Education, Farming, Vegan, Vegetarian, Video

BOOK REVIEW – Healthy Eating Healthy World

In a word, Healthy Eating Healthy World is groundbreaking. Never before have I seen such a multi-faceted look at the power of plant-based nutrition. J. Morris Hicks (With Stanfield Hicks) examines the destructive nature of meat consumption on our environment as well as our personal health while also delving into the cruelty animals experience on factory farms, and the horrendous issue of human starvation throughout the world. Hicks successfully demonstrates the causal relationship between the SAD (Standard American Diet) and the aforementioned issues.

  • In all, raising livestock accounts for 78 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the land surface of the planet. –Page 72
  • To produce one kilo of potatoes requires 100 litres of water; to produce the same amount of beef requires 13,000 litres of water. -Page 78
  • [T]o feed a single person the typical Western diet (heavy with animal products) for a year requires 3.25 acres of arable land. To feed one vegan requires about 1/6 of an acre. -Page 109.

These facts force one to go inward and examine how one can in all good conscience eat the hamburger that contributes so strongly to the hunger of others.  If we were to use the feed given to animals to feed humans I have to think we would be moving in the direction of a solution.

While reading Healthy Eating Healthy World I was struck by the ease with which J. Morris Hicks was able to join together such a comprehensive amount of information with regards to plant-based eating. From the health benefits, to the scientific evidence behind those benefits, to Doug Lisle’s research on why we are so addicted to the very foods we need to be avoiding (The Pleasure Trap), to the HOWS of living a plant based lifestyle. So many books focus solely on the problems our world is facing, and while this book definitely explains those issues, the solutions are detailed as well.

  • In August 2010, for the first time ever, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that they will pay for intensive diet and exercise programs developed under the Ornish and Pritikin brands for reducing cardiovascular event risk. -Page 17

When I read that I practically jumped for joy.  We are starting to see REAL solutions.  Nutrition-based healing vs. drug dependency is going to propel this nation toward health.  While medication can be lifesaving during acute illness, nutritional excellence can achieve true healing versus the masking of symptoms long-term medication provides.

Along those same lines, Hicks digs his heels into the inefficiency and corruption that exists within the health insurance and food industries.  We have hospitals charging $8 for a single Motrin (personal experience) and nutritional researchers being financed by the food industry itself.

  • [A]nother found 34% of the primary authors of 800 papers in molecular biology and medicine to be involved in patents, to serve on advisory committees, or to hold personal shares in companies that might benefit from the research. -Page 145¬†

I don’t know what the solution is, however if people are not aware of the problem, the solution to it will not be found. ¬†For that reason I am thrilled that Hicks is bringing these issues to light. ¬†

As I mentioned above, Hicks does take the time to explain HOW one can healthfully follow a whole food plant-based diet. 42 pages of the book are dedicated to educating the reader about nutrition and WHAT to eat.  My hope is that the reader will be inspired by what they have learned and push further into the subject matter by reading the works of Dr. McDougall, Dr. Esselstyn, and Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

I highly recommend Healthy Eating Healthy World for those who are looking for a concise yet wonderfully in-depth and well-rounded book that truly does bring all of the issues into the same room.  These issues are truly interdependent.


To read my interview of J. Morris Hicks on Chic Vegan click HERE. 


Filed under Animal Welfare, Books, Education, Farming, General Vegan, Metabolic Syndrome, Research, Research, Vegan, Vegetarian, Weight Issues


I am mesmerized by farms and orchards.  Though I have never lived on a farm, it is in my blood.  My mother comes from a long line of farmers, and my father grew-up working his family’s orange groves…maybe it is their stories that drew me in as a child and maybe that is why I have such idyllic notions of farming.  My logical mind knows that I realistically have no idea what living and working on a farm entails and the hardships that farmers face daily, but that doesn’t change the fact that living on a ranch has always been my dream.  I am called to the land and the animals and I know that ranch life is part of my destiny when the time is right.

Theresa Weir didn’t have that calling, yet apple farming became her life. ¬†I just finished her memoir, “The Orchard,” and I am numb.¬† I appreciate Theresa’s courage in telling the story the apple farm she married in to…a farm and family that never truly allowed her in.¬† While it is common knowledge that farming is backbreaking, constant, and exhausting work, our culture has romanticized it beyond recognition.¬† Theresa had the guts and honesty to tell the story of modern farming with truth and transparency. Farming nowadays is not the farming of our grandparent’s time; big business has taken over. Pesticides rule and people get hurt.

Theresa’s memoir has elevated my respect for organic farmers (a respect that was already sky high).  Organic farmers are literally risking their farms and livelihood to provide us with pure food; they are one infestation, drought, or awful storm away from losing everything. That is the epitome of bravery.

I truly understand the circumstances that push farmers toward the use of pesticides in their attempt to hold on to the land that has been in their family for generations, but chemicals are not the answer.

Please read this book.  The Orchard was so intoxicating that I could not put it down…I read this book so quickly that it was as if I drank it.

We need to reclaim our farmland.


This weekend my lovely little girl turned 6!  In honor of her autumn birthday and my recent completion of The Orchard, my family took a trip to Oak Glen for a fun-filled day of apple picking.

Both of my children share my love of the land which made the day all the more special.

We visited Los Rios Rancho which is my favorite organic apple orchard in Oak Glenn.  While there we ate lunch while listening to a bluegrass band comprised of 4 siblings.  It was heartwarming to listen to their music while their parents proudly looked-on from a table piled high with their cds for sale.

After lunch we went into the U-pick orchards and had a lot of fun taking turns with the apple picker.  Since the orchard is organic, there were quite a few apples with worm holes, but I will take worm holes any day over pesticides!  I was just so darn happy while walking through the orchard with my children, husband, and parents.

After picking apples we made our way back to the main buildings at Los Rios Rancho and had our hand at making our own apple cider the old fashioned way (translation…with man power). ¬†The cider was sooooo good and sweet…the kids went nuts for it!

We really had a wonderful day in Oak Glen. ¬†When we got home we set to work making homemade apple pie and apple crumble. ¬†My daughter was having so much fun baking with her Nana. ¬†It felt great to have three generations in the kitchen creating together. ¬†I can’t think of a better autumn “birthday cake” than fresh baked apple pie and crumble.

I highly recommend taking your family for a day of apple picking.  It is so important for us to support our local farmers.

To learn more about Oak Glen click here.

Oak Glen pictures taken by photographer Tony Tseng


Filed under Books, Education, Farming, Farming, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian