Organic Diet

There are many things that you can do to improve your health these days, one of the most popular and often beneficial is to switch to an all organic diet. Organic foods are quite simply the best possible source of food that you can take in today. There are no harmful chemicals and no products that are meant to boost the growth of the foods are introduced. With the popularity that is being shown with this type of food, it should be no surprise the amount of stores that are actually starting to offer it.

When you decide that you are going to go with an all organic diet, it is important to understand that you are not going to be losing out on anything. There are simply too many wonderful options that can be had when it comes to food of this kind, that looking back may actually be tough.

Fresh Produce

If you have decided that it is a good idea to take on an organic diet, you will be happy to know that everything that you will be buying is of the best quality. Freshness in produce is going to be one of the biggest attention grabbers for you, as you will immediately notice a difference. Not only does the organic fruits and vegetables taste better than their non organic counterparts, they simply look better too. They tend to be brighter and fuller than non organic fruits and vegetables. They will also have more attention given to them by the produce department in the store.

This is meant to draw you to the produce as it will look more appealing that what you were originally accustomed too. This is not necessarily a ploy to get you to spend more money, as much as it is to get you to see the difference between the products being offered. This is one of the best ways for stores to help you shift to an organic diet.

Great Variety

If the time has come for you to introduce an organic diet into your home for your family, you will be pleased to know that there is a vast and seemingly endless array of choices to be had with organic foods. you are not restricted with just fruits and vegetables when it comes to organics, as milk and even meats are now on board as well. This will make life much easier for you if you have to tell your family that they are making a switch. For the most part however, you would not have to mention anything at all, as much of the food is the same only nicer looking and tasting.

From this aspect, you will be able to place these new additions on the table and most likely not even elicit a response other than that the food tastes great. This will make the entire proposition of going to a full organic diet easier, if the young people in the family can be convinced that the food is better tasting than that of non organic foods.

Buzz Words for Healthy Foods, Good or Nonsense?

Every time we visit the grocery store we are confronted with advertising gimmicks. For example, we see convincing words like All Natural, A Good Source of Vitamins, Natural Ingredients, Healthy, Organic, No Antibiotics, No Hormones, Cage-free, etc. These words are attention grabbers for consumers to believe they are getting something wonderful, healthy and nutritious, but are we really getting something good for us? What do all these words really mean?

To find out more regarding how products are labeled with these words, I researched their definitions on the FDA Food and Drug website; following is what I discovered:

  1. Natural – means the product contains no synthetic or artificial ingredients.
  2. Healthy – means the product has limited fat, cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium and must contain minimum vitamin and mineral requirements or other good nutrients. Although healthy sounds good, the product can still contain fat, sodium, calories and if we eat other HEALTHY products in any given day, we may be getting too much FAT and calories.
  3. Cage-free – hens are allowed to roam freely but conditions can still be similar to caged hens. For example:
  4. Hens are mainly purchased from hatcheries where males are killed immediately after hatching.
  5. Beaks are burned off.
  6. Hens are not allowed to live long lives; they are slaughtered at 2 years old or younger. En route to the slaughterhouse, hens are not provided food or water even when the facility is a substantial distance away.
  7. Hormones – are genetically-engineered growth medication that makes animals grow faster, bigger and produce more milk in many cases. It is injected into animals like cows or added to their feed. Cows in the 1950’s produced 5,000 pounds of milk and today they produce over 18,000 pounds a year. Hormones called rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) have been linked to mastitis a painful udder infection, deformed calves, hoof diseases, open sores and deadly internal bleeding. Synthetic hormones used are Zeranol, Trenbolone, and Melengestrol. Zeranol and Trenbolone are given by injection and Melengestrol is given to animals through their feed. All these hormones are thought to be linked to cancer per European studies. The United States and Canada still use hormones, however Europe does not allow hormone usage nor does it allow for the import of beef from other countries which use it. Other research studies state that hormones cause young girls to mature earlier which increases breast and ovarian cancer risks.
  8. Antibiotics – are medications used to treat udder infections caused in cows. Overuse of antibiotics can cause cows to become nonresistant to bacteria.
  9. Organic – means food which is grown or produced to certain guidelines of the USDA. Organic does not mean that food is better or contains more nutrients, as an example, ice cream can be organic and still contain high levels of FAT.

The FDA claims that all the various chemicals used to raise livestock or to grow crops are okay for us but if we are eating products which contain these hormones and antibiotics, there has to be some long-term damage. If these products are causing problems in cows and cause them to grow bigger faster, maybe these hormones are causing our obesity issues and other health problems. Polluting our bodies with synthetic chemicals does not make sense to me.

What does make sense to me is eating organically. The FDA has strict guidelines for organic labeling for produce that is raised or grown organically, i.e. no chemical fertilizers, no insecticides, no herbicides, no growth hormones and no antibiotics. Farmers generating revenue greater than $5,000 are subject to a certification process. Products that have been certified will display the green and white, USDA/Organic seal. This seal guarantees that 95 % of the production cycle contains no chemicals. To become a chemical free society, we must buy only organic. Once there is a demand for organic, chemically produced products will decline. Let’s get healthy together, go ORGANIC. Thank you, Kathryn Alexander.

Chiang Mai Deals – 10 Ways to Eat Cheaper in Thailand’s Cultural Center

Known for rock-bottom eating expenses, most visitors to Thailand nevertheless overspend on food, but in Chiang Mai, deals are just around every corner. The more adventurous traveler who seeks a more authentic Thai experience or wants to make his/her travel money go even further can find cheaper, and often tastier, alternatives if they know what to look for. Many other long-term visitors are baffled when I tell them of my favorite venues, where I get a huge plate of yellow rice with fried chicken, a cup of fish soup, half of a sliced cucumber, and ice water for 50 baht (1.43 USD). And that is on one of the most Westernized islands in Thailand!

In Chiang Mai, it gets even better. There is no reason why you cannot eat a full meal for 30 baht (86 cents) in this town, but I have also managed to hunt down places where you can eat a full meal with ice water included for 10 baht (10 cents) or get noodle soup for 3 baht (9 cents)!

After living here for eight and a half months, I have come up with these ten tips:

1: Take a Hike–
Forgo the motorbike or tuk tuk your first day or two in a new location. Skip the taxis and walk. This slows you down and gives you a feel for the place like no motorized transport ever can. The cheap eateries are often barely noticeable, as they are often in people’s homes, and signs which whizzed by on the bike are attention grabbers at a walking pace. Whoah–noodle soup for 20 baht! Know your surroundings, and you will know how to best take advantage of them.

2. Avoid the Tourist Traps–
This should go without saying, but most people are too tempted by the wide array of options in the main tourist junctions to bother venturing beyond the action. Even in chaotic Bangkok, all one has to do is walk one block either direction from Khao San Road to find delicious meals for around 30 baht and walk away full (free water or iced tea included). Did you come to Thailand to eat Thai food or hamburgers and pasta?

3. Don’t Judge a Book by…
Yawn. That age old adage once again…If you have heard it once…Ahem. Anyhow, it rings true yet again. In Thailand, the extra dollar or two in pricier restaurants is usually a reflection of increased decor rather than increased quality. In fact, the vice versa is sometimes a better rule of thumb. When you pay more, you are paying for ambience. That’s is great if this is what you want, but if you are looking for better food at lower prices, look for establishments with the bare necessities. Plastic furniture that doesn’t match. An absence of music. An antique television set blaring Thai soap operas. Hokey thrown-together decor. Many of these places are just extensions of the Thai entrepreneur’s home, and dining there will give you a much closer look at Thai culture.

4. You Just Can’t Beat the Streets–
The entire world over you will find open-air street food, and it is usually the best value in any given area. This is particularly true in Southeast Asia. Sometimes you will find the usual collection of plastic furniture out front and full service, but often you will just get a small, disposable dish or be expected to eat out of a plastic bag. If it is close enough to finger food, I tell them to save the plastic and eat it out of my hands, but of course it depends on if I’m eating a piece of barbecued chicken or chicken curry.

5. Forage at the Food Markets–
Chiang Mai’s cheapest venues offer an amazing culinary adventure, and the markets are a revelation to anyone who has never had the pleasure. Pick your way through the various stalls, sampling new dishes, or hit the collection of cheap roadside eateries which often accompany traditional markets. My favorite part about the markets is they stay open until the early hours of the morning, so if I am on my way back from the disco I can stop and fill up. I’ll tell you what–it’s a lot better than pulling through the late-night Burger King drive-throughs in America…The best Chiang Mai deals are found in the marketplaces.

6. Compare Prices–
Do not be shy about walking in to a restaurant, browsing the menu, and then leaving. Thais appreciate competition. If you feel guilty, simply smile and say, “Pop kan mai (see you again).” Do this on your walking tours to get a grasp of the local prices and to see what your options are.

7. Be Adventurous–
Try new things, even if they scare you. You might be surprised. Many foods which seem alien to Westerners will be cheap because tourists avoid them. Also, reconsider your notion of cleanliness. In your home country clean may mean pretty, but, to Thais, clean is simply clean. If a lot of people are eating there, you can rest assured the food is likely safe. Don’t blame me if you get Bangkok belly–it is going to happen to you whether you follow my advice or not. Stomach problems in Thailand are an initiation every Westerner experiences, but it is far more often the result of bacteria or spices your body is not used to rather than sanitation issues. Don’t worry. 🙂

8. When in Rome…
Ah! Not another cliché…Go where the locals go! This is probably the most important, and most often overlooked, guideline to eating cheaply. Many of the local Thais are living on less 10,000 baht or less a month, and even those with more money naturally seek out the best food at the lowest prices. If I want to find a new place to eat with delicious and sanitary food, I just drive around and look for a small crowd of Thai people eating outside, but it is even better if you have a Thai friend from Chiang Mai to show you around.

9. Speak Thai–
In Thailand, there is almost always a Thai price and a “farang” price. No matter how long you stay, this will apply to you as well–you will never “become” Thai in any sense. However, open up to people and try to speak their language and you may often receive a discounted price or larger portions, especially if you’re a regular customer. One time at the Chiang Mai Aquarium, I received a major discount off the stated entrance fee after attempting broken Thai. “Raakha thourai (how much)?” I repeated, thinking I had misunderstood. “Speak Thai–get Thai price,” the young girl said with a smile.

10. Manipulate the Menu–
Do you really have to eat meat with EVERY dish? I opted for a pad thai with vegetable instead of with chicken one time, and it was topped with an omelette so big it covered the entire dish to compensate (not exactly vegetarian, afterall lol). It ended up being one of the best pad thais I’ve ever had. Do they offer special dishes served on rice for individuals (always a fantastic bargain)? Sometimes, there is no apparent price motive between different dishes, and the reasoning is a mystery. If you are on a budget, choose wisely. Let’s face it-everything on the menu is delicious!

And one more, just for good measure…

11: Eat with the Thais–
Though you should never purposely take advantage of this, Thais are some of the most generous people in the world. Stumble upon a Thai party and you will be ushered into a chair to be force-fed Thai whiskey and delicious food, even if you have no reason to be there. Say you are full and you’re plate will be repeatedly refilled. If this happens to you, DO NOT offer to pay. It would be an insult, although, if you accompany less well-off Thais to a restaurant you are expected to pay. One night, while waiting to catch the morning boat across the river to Laos, I crashed a Teacher’s Cub karaoke party and ended up buddying up with the school director. We got wasted, sang “Stand by Me” for the crowd, and he invited me to come stay with his family for an extended period. If you really get in well with Thais you may have the pleasure to attend a delicious Thai home BBQ. Bring a bottle or two of beer. If you are settling in for the long-term, you may even end up throwing a few of these at your place. Not to worry–there are plenty of places to purchase heaps of cheap meat and vegetables.

In Chiang Mai, deals are not hard to come by, no matter what kind of bargain you are looking for. Even if you prefer fine dining, classy clubs, and luxury hotels, you will surely find a value that far exceeds the money you spend.

Chok dee khrab!