Give your kitchen and diet an organic makeover

Renee Loux, author of  “The Balanced Plate,” lists eco-friendly advice for your home and shares a delicious recipe for organic apple cobbler:

Organic food doesn't contain chemicals and pesticides and it's better for us, our kids and better for the planet. Two reasons to go organic:

Tastes better: One of the standards of organically grown food is keeping soil healthy and fortifying it naturally, not with synthetic fertilizers. Healthy, fortified soil means healthy, strong plants, which translates to better-tasting food.

More nutrients: Healthy soil of organic farmland also provides more nutrients for growing plants. I've looked at studies comparing nutrients in some conventional versus organic foods that show that there are more nutrients in organically grown food. They have more vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C and iron.

So, there are clear benefits of going organic, especially if the cost of some organic foods is a little more expensive. You get more for your money in terms of taste and nutrition.

Three ‘green’ basics

There are a few simple things everyone can do at home to be “green.” It doesn't require giving up convenience and comfort — it's like the old proverb, "Many hands make light work" — it's all the little things that add up to great change, things we use on a daily basis, like dish soap.

1. Nontoxic, natural cleaning products

Biodegradable dish soap and detergent: Consider natural dish soap (which is plant-based and biodegradable) instead of a synthetic soap (which ends up causing harmful imbalance in the ecosystem).

Dish soap: Seventh Generation Liquid Dish Soap Lavender (25 fl. oz.)

Dish detergent (automatic machine): Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Powder - free & clear (45 oz.)

All-purpose cleaner and glass cleaner: For surfaces, floors and counters, look for an eco-friendly product that doesn't contain chemical solvents or colorants. When we talk about something being biodegradable, it's not just outside in the environment or in the water eco-system, it's also inside our homes — chemical cleaning products build up inside, too. Using biodegradable, eco-friendly cleaning products improves indoor air quality and the general quality of life at home.

All-purpose surface cleaner: Seventh Generation Natural Citrus Kitchen Cleaner; Seventh Generation All Purpose Cleaner

2. Recycled paper products, paper towels for the kitchen

The higher the recycled content, the better. Look for paper products that have been bleached without chlorine, since products bleached with chlorine create some very harmful byproducts like dioxins. Dioxins are very nasty chemicals that don't biodegrade and actually accumulate in the environment and our bodies.

Coffee filters:  Look for recycled coffee filters that are naturally bleached (or not bleached at all) and avoid chlorine residue for a better cup of coffee.

Recycled paper products: Seventh Generation Paper Towels (white)

3. Organic food — no chemical pesticides or fertilizers

The best is locally grown, seasonal food (which means it doesn't require a lot of fuel and energy to travel). This time of year that means apples, pears, squashes, pumpkins, walnuts, pomegranates — since we have to eat several times a day, it's a great opportunity to make a choice that is better for us, our kids and the planet.

Everyone is talking about organic food — it's become a household word and it's on the shelves of most grocery stores — but everyone wants to know if it's really better for us, why and which foods are most important to buy organic.

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8-10 servings
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