Understanding what food labels, claims, and catchphrases mean is an important aspect in the world of healthy eating. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides all organic agricultural products with the official USDA Organic Seal. It assures consumers that the organic agricultural products they purchase are produced, processed, and certified to consistent national organic standards.

These simple facts will help you understand what you are really getting when you purchase raw, fresh products and processed products that contain organic agricultural ingredients.

Agriculture products labeled as “100% Organic” or “Organic”

100% Organic: must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically
produced ingredients and processing aids

Organic: must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt)

Products with these claims cannot be produced using excluded methods, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation

◊ USDA Organic Seal: Yes

Processed products labeled “Made with Organic Ingredients”

◊ Must contain at least 70% organic ingredients

◊ Products cannot be produced using excluded methods, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation

◊ USDA Organic Seal: No

There are no restrictions on the use of other truthful labeling claims such as “no drugs or growth hormones used,” “free range,” “natural,” or “sustainably harvested.”


To check out more information about food claims and labeling, check out USDA.gov and this handout:

National Organic Program: Labeling and Marketing


This, not That compares different types of foods to lead the consumer in the healthier, more nutritious direction.

Breakfast On-The-Go

Have this…

3-Minute Veggie Egg White Breakfast Sandwich

◊ 1/4 cup liquid egg whites

◊ 1 100% whole wheat English Muffin

◊ 1 tablespoon diced green pepper

◊ 1 tablespoon diced onion

1. Cut English Muffin in half and place in toaster

2. Pour liquid egg whites into a microwave-safe bowl

3. Add the diced green pepper and onion into the bowl

4. Microwave contents in bowl for 1-1.5 minutes

5. Scoop cooked veggie egg white patty onto toasted English Muffin

This breakfast sandwich is quick, easy, and very nutritious! You can purchase liquid egg whites at any grocery store. They are cholesterol free, full of protein, and low in calories. They can be fully cooked in a microwave in only one minute– perfect for those of you with little time in the morning to make breakfast. Just toss in some diced up veggies (peppers, onions, spinach, tomatoes, etc.) and enjoy on a 100% whole wheat English Muffin, which is low in fat, high in protein, and has half of the daily recommended amount for whole grains.


…Not that

Dunkin’ Donuts Bagel, Egg, and Cheese

photo credit: DunkinDonuts.com

◊ Plain Bagel

◊  Egg Patty

◊ American Cheese

These Dunkin’ Donuts egg sandwiches have a much higher fat, cholesterol, and calorie content than the veggie egg white sandwich mentioned above. The plain bagel offers no whole grains and has more fat and calories than the English Muffin. In the same amount of time you can run to DD’s and grab one of these sandwiches, you could already have made a quicker, much healthier and nutrient-dense breakfast right in your own kitchen!

Dunkin’ Donuts Nutrition Information

Nothing says “natural” like fresh-picked produce right out of your own backyard. Vegetable gardening is relaxing, rewarding, and good for your health. The food grown in your own garden will be far healthier and packed with more nutrition than anything you could buy in the store (and it will taste better too!). So get inspired and check out these steps for harvesting your own natural goodness:

Creating Your Own Vegetable Garden

Step 1: Choose a location.

Vegetables need at least six hours of full sun per day. The easiest is just to place your garden in full sunlight. Make sure it’s where you can easily water it and get to it.

Step 2: Decide on a type of garden (ground or raised bed).

You don’t have to plow a whole yard to have a garden. You can put one almost anywhere with a raised bed, and they are super easy! Order or build a raised bed, fill it with soil, and plant. Raised beds are ready to go once filled with soil and are pretty low maintenance compared to in the ground gardens.

For a garden in the ground, just turn the earth with a shovel or tiller. Toss out the roots and rocks, mix in a little soil amendment with the dirt for healthy soil, then plant.

Step 3: What to plant and where to plant it.

Plant what you enjoy eating! Popular vegetables for gardening include tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, beans, and herbs. Think about planting vegetables that have different growing times, so that you have a longer period of harvesting.

You can either plant seeds or purchase starter plants. Although seeds are much cheaper, starter plants are way easier, save  time, and are usually more successful. Both seeds and starter plants can be purchased at local garden centers or hardware stores.

As for when to plant, it really depends on your location. The best thing to do is to ask your local experts! Your local cooperative extension service can usually supply a list of recommended vegetable varieties for your area. Garden centers and gardening neighbors are other great sources of information.

Step 4: Keeping your garden alive and flourishing.

Water your garden as necessary to keep the soil consistently moist. For established plants, watering deeply (about 8 inches deep) once a week is usually enough. You may need to water small seedlings more frequently.

Walk by the garden every day to check plant health and keep an eye out for garden pests and bugs.

Weeding should be done regularly, but don’t stress too much about the little ones.

Step 5: Harvest what you’ve got.

Fresh vegetables taste absolutely amazing- just wash and enjoy! If you have too much to harvest from the garden, don’t let it rot. Instead, donate the extra produce to local food banks, or give some away to friends or neighbors.



National Gardening Association

University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension

Happy Earth Day!

For over 40 years, Earth Day (April 22) has inspired and mobilized individuals and organizations worldwide to demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection and sustainability. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

This year, Earth Day Network is promoting the Billion Acts of Green campaign, where people around the world can submit pledges to commit to better our planet. Here are the top five pledges:

Top 5 Acts

1. Plant a garden at school/home

2. Change out my light bulbs

3. Organize an Earth Day Event

4. Eliminate the use of pesticides and toxic cleaning products

5. Eat more local food

What are YOU going to do to better our planet?

My pledge was to pick up trash around the University of New Hampshire campus today. My roommate Molly and I walked around and gathered multiple bags of trash, cigarette butts, beer cans, and more. Small acts like this make a huge difference, and you don’t need to be part of an organization to do so. For more inspiring ideas (and to share yours) visit act.earthday.org

Scientific studies overwhelmingly support both meditation and breathing exercises as ways to reduce stress, reduce or prevent certain diseases, and to improve overall health. These practices, including Yoga, TaiChi, and Diaphragmatic Breathing, can help you develop a sense of self awareness that can increase your mind-body awareness.

photo credit: Urban Bliss Yoga

The following research article looks at the connections between body awareness and mind-body practices. Leading  teaching faculty of these approaches and their patients were invited to participate in focus groups, where they described their understanding of body awareness through these practices. For them, body awareness is an inseparable aspect of embodied self awareness realized in action and interaction with the environment and world. One of the patients from the research article describes how integrating these mind-body exercises affected her life:

“It’s more than physical. It was, sort-of, an intellectual and emotional response to understand what was appropriate for my body. So I just became much more sensitive to listening to what was going on with my body and the cues that it was giving me.”

Feeling connected to the world around you allows for an incredible sense of relaxation, serenity, and peace of mind. These mind-body practices are not only beneficial for your health, but they can also allow for mindfulness– a way of being that cultivates self-awareness and inner steady calmness. Below are some resources for mind-body exercises to help you gain that calm, collected, harmonious sense of being.


Article: Body Awareness: a phenomenological inquiry into the common ground of mind-body therapies.

Mind-Body Resources: YogaBasics.com / Diaphragmatic Breathing / Meditation for Beginners

Organic.org is a great source for everything natural. It provides information and resources to help the consumer understand the benefits of organic foods while providing resources and links to make organic living easier.

Under the Education section of the website I stumbled upon this intriguing article, Top 10 Reasons to Support Organic in the 21st Century, which discusses some of the major reasons why going organic can have vast benefits on our health, economy, and mother Earth.

While all the points are valid, I took a particular interest in Reason #8: Eating with a Sense of Place. This might be one of my favorite arguments for organic eating, because it connects the food we eat with our natural, living Earth. When we choose to eat organic, locally grown foods we are supporting our communities while doing something good for our environment and our bodies. It’s a natural cycle that allows us thrive on this beautiful planet of ours.

So for all you skeptics out there, check out these reasons and think about giving organic a second chance!

Top 10 Reasons to go Organic

1. Reduce The Toxic Load: Keep Chemicals Out of the Air, Water, Soil and our Bodies

2. Reduce if Not Eliminate Off Farm Pollution

3. Protect Future Generations

4. Build Healthy Soil

5. Taste Better and Truer Flavor

6. Assist Family Farmers of all Sizes

7. Avoid Hasty and Poor Science in Your Food

8. Eating with a Sense of Place

9. Promote Biodiversity

10. Celebrate the Culture of Agriculture

This, not That compares different types of foods to lead the consumer in the healthier, more nutritious direction.


Have this…

Dark Chocolate-Covered Strawberries


◊ 8 ounces dark chocolate chips

  • ◊ 1 pound organic strawberries, washed and dried well

1. Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30 second intervals, stirring well in-between.

2. Once chocolate is smooth and just melted, remove from microwave and stir.

3. Take each strawberry and dip halfway into melted chocolate, twirling to coat.

4. Place strawberries on wax paper and chill for 15 minutes.

Strawberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C and dark chocolate offers a high amount of antioxidants- both which help to support your immune system. Believe it or not, dark chocolate contains nearly 8 times the number of antioxidants found in strawberries! Plus, these little dessert treats are quick and easy to make. Dig in!


…Not that

Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake


Although delicious, cheesecakes’ main ingredients are cream cheese and butter, making this desert high in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. You’re much better off satisfying your chocolate craving with the all-natural chocolate covered strawberries mentioned above!

Cheesecake Recipe