Organic Water Is A Thing Now Because, Well, We Don’t Know


By Cooking Panda

Americans are becoming increasingly choosier about the fuel they put into their bodies. They want zero added sugar, healthier fats and clean, whole foods. Most recently, they’ve demanded organic water. 

And believe it or not, they got it. 

Asarasi has unveiled the country’s first certified organic H2O, a sparkling beverage filtered straight from trees.

The product boasts mild carbonation and a silky finish on the tongue. Where does this “purest form of water in the world” come from? It’s pulled from the sap of maple trees and filtered until all of the sugar is gone. It is then, of course, carbonated for our enjoyment. One caveat, though: There’s no guarantee that the water going into the maple trees is totally pure.

Maybe you thought non-GMO, untainted water was a given, but this is a nation scarred by the Flint water crisis — so scarred, in fact, that people are willing to shell out $15 a bottle for Asarasi water.

Technically, water shouldn’t even be able to be labeled as organic, according to Grub Street. The USDA says organic foods come from living things, meaning they contain carbon. Water is just a simple combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Asarasi, the clever dogs, fooled the system because their water comes from a tree.

This is proof that Americans are going absolutely nuts for premium water. It’s not enough that the elixir of life be clear and packaged in some kind of bottle; it must sparkle, taste like a tropical fruit but have no calories, come from a nut, be infused with charcoal, or some combination of those criteria. And most recently, it must be organic.

That’s no joke. Market research by Mintel shows that a quarter of Americans want organic water, Food Navigator reports. 

Asarasi is the first company to satisfy that need, and as CEO Adam Lazar told Food Navigator, they’re “flying like a bat out of hell.” The bottles will hit 1,500 locations across the country during the summer, and, so far, sales are solid.

Lazar suspects that the water will be a hit not only for people who want to drink it, but for companies who want to cook with it so their products can be 100 percent organic.

“Our goal is to replace what is used as water in the organic food industry,” he told the site.

Feeling a need to cleanse with organic water? Find out where to buy Asarasi here.

Sources: Grub StreetFood Navigator / Photo credit: Myrtle Beach TheDigitel/Flickr

Tags: asarasi, organic, water
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Bad News: Your Organic Milk Might Not Be Organic


By Cooking Panda

What would you say if I told you that if you buy and consume lots of “organic” milk, the chances may be slim that your dairy is actually organic?

Unfortunately, it’s true. Because the U.S. organic market is so gargantuan (it rakes in more than $40 billion in annual sales, which includes imported products from roughly 100 other countries), the USDA allows farmers to actually hire and pay their very own inspectors to certify them as “USDA Organic.” 

Basically, many dairy complexes, such as the High Plains dairy in Greeley, Colorado (a main facility of Aurora Organic Dairy), are so large, it’s difficult to make sure that every complex is abiding by all the strict rules and regulations to meet the USDA organic regulations.

The Washington Post reports that when it comes to milk, organic dairies are required to allow their cows to grass-feed throughout the growing season, rather than get their nourishment in barns and via feedlots.

However, apparently even though companies like Aurora Organic Dairy, which supplies milk to Walmart, Costco and other big retailers, claim that their cows are always grazing, when the Washington Post visited Aurora, that didn’t appear to be the case.

“The requirements of the USDA National Organic Program allow for an extremely wide range of grazing practices that comply with the rule,” Sonja Tuitele, an Aurora spokeswoman said in an e-mail, in defense of this observation.

“We take these assertions very seriously, as we are a 100% certified organic producer, and our organic practices are the cornerstone of our operations,” she continued.

Most consumers pay up to two times as much money for organic milk; in fact, the Washington Post reports that organic dairy sales actually amounted to a hefty $6 billion last year in America alone.

How does this make you feel about shelling out your cash for allegedly organic dairy products? Is it enough to make you want to switch over to a plant-based alternative?

Source: Washington Post / Photo Credit: Pexels

Tags: dairy, grass fed, milk, organic, usda
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These Islands Just Banned All American Junk Food


By Cooking Panda

If you always vow to start eating healthier “tomorrow,” and really want to nourish your body more mindfully but tend to reach for junk food instead, then you might want to just consider moving to the islands of Torba Province, because the tourism council plans to impose restrictions on the import of western junk food.

According to the Guardian, as a way to preemptively nip a slew of potential health problems in the bud, Torba Province, which is part of the island nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean, is trying to make sure its citizens are all following all-local, organic diets; to help that happen, the islands are banning foreign junk food totally.

Most of the 10,000 people who live in Torba Province are subsistence farmers, which means that there is actually no shortage of locally grown and sourced food; we’re talking shellfish, crabs, yams, paw paw, pineapples, taro and fish.

Besides, when foods are imported (rice, tinned fish, sweets and biscuits are among the most popular), Father Luc Dini, a community leader and head of the local tourism council, wants to ensure that the good health of his people remains that way.

“In other provinces that have adopted western diets you see pretty young girls but when they smile they have rotten teeth, because the sugar has broken down their teeth. We don’t want that to happen here and we don’t want to develop the illnesses that come with a western junk food diet,” says Dini.

Torba’s aim is to be Vanuatu’s very first organic province by the year 2020; and to achieve that goal, Dini and local chiefs are making sure that tourism bungalows serve guests strictly organic and locally grown fare. Additionally, legislation to help enforce the new rules will likely be introduced within a two-year time frame after the importation of junk food ban is implemented.

What do you think of the province’s ambitious plan?

Source: The Guardian / Photo Credit: Derek Paterson/Instagram

Tags: junk food, junk food ban, locally grown, organic, torba province
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Campbell Has A New Line Of Organic Soups


By Cooking Panda

Great news for health-conscious foodies! Campbell’s is introducing a soup line called Souplicity, which distributes beautifully organic refrigerated soups.

According to Foodbeast, the soups are certified organic, GMO free and preservative free, and maintain freshness by going through high-pressure processing. This method kills bacteria without chemicals in order to be kept organic. Brilliant!

Refrigerated soups are trending lately, with annual sales rising to $200 million just over this last year. What else is trending? Healthy and organic foods, of course. That’s why this new Campbell’s line is such a great idea — and also why it’s taking the lead in the refrigerated soup market already. Who better than Campbell’s to take advantage of a new soup trend, anyway?

The four flavors currently available are Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Gouda, Carrot Curry Ginger, Broccoli Parmesan Lemon and Corn Poblano Lime. My favorite thing about these flavors is that they are vegetarian friendly, something that can be difficult to find, since so many soups incorporate chicken into their recipes.

Souplicity also reports on the ingredients of each soup on its website. The Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Gouda features roasted red peppers blended with tomato, olive oil and basil and finished with a savory Gouda cheese.

The Carrot Curry Ginger variety blends carrots and ginger, adds a touch of curry for heat and finishes the flavor off with a spritz of zesty lime, to pull the sweet and spicy flavors together nicely.

The Broccoli Parmesan Lemon soup offers a twist on the original broccoli and cheddar favorite by using parmesan cheese instead of cheddar, and by adding subtle hints of thyme, black pepper and a splash of lemon. Yum!

Last but not least is the Corn Poblano Lime flavor. This flavor is inspired by the southwest, and blends (as the title states) organic corn and poblano peppers with cilantro, cumin and lime juice. Sounds refreshing!

This new soup line is available in Earth Fare stores, which are mostly located in southern and eastern parts of the country. Check for locations near you if you want to find these tasty new soups!

Sources: Foodbeast, Souplicity / Photo Credit: Souplicity/Instagram

Tags: Campbell's Soup, organic, Soup, Souplicity
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Um, OK: Gatorade Is Now Slinging ‘Organic’ Versions Of Its Neon Sugar Water


By Cooking Panda

What comes to mind when you think of the product called Gatorade?

For many people, images of neon colors, sugary flavor profiles, the word “electrolytes,” and those commercials of athletes sweating acidic-colored droplets are immediately conjured.

Apparently, however, the sports-drink would like for you to associate it with the word “organic.”

After two years of research, PepsiCo Inc. is now rolling out a U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic version of Gatorade, which will be sold in strawberry, lemon, and mixed berry G Organic flavors. 

Per Bloomberg, Brett O’Brien, Gatorade’s senior vice president and general manager, says that while right now the product is available in some Kroger Co. supermarkets, Gatorade plans to expand the rollout to select grocery, natural and convenience stores in the coming weeks. For now, the suggested retail price is $1.69 for a 16.9-ounce bottle, which is 50 cents more than Gatorade Thirst Quencher, the nonorganic equivalent, will run you.

When I was growing up, if you referred to something as a sports-drink, you were almost surely talking about Gatorade; indeed, it controls 70-percent of the sports-drink market even today, per Bloomberg.

However, with competition like coconut water on the rise, and with organic food industry sales in the U.S. reaching $43.3 billion in 2015, consumers are clearly attracted to drinks comprised of more healthful and whole ingredients.

“We heard pretty loud through the locker rooms, through our work with nutritionists, that there is an interest and a desire among athletes to go organic,” O’Brien said in an interview, per Bloomberg. “Somewhere around 10 to 12 percent of athletes are saying they’re interested in purchasing organic products.”

“In as much as they can focus on the potential to change ingredients without changing the taste, that’s sort of a win-win,” said Adam Fleck, a beverage analyst at Morningstar Inc., per Bloomberg. “But you have to be very careful about alienating your current customers in a bid to attract lapsed customers or new customers.”

Source: Bloomberg / Photo credits: Bloomberg, Gatorade

Tags: gatorade, organic, sports drink, usda
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The People Have Spoken, And They Want Organic Produce — Here’s How Farmers Will Make It Happen


By Cooking Panda

Do you shop organic?

Even if your answer is no, consumer desire for organic and non genetically modified foods is at an all-time high right now — in fact, the desire and demand for these crops actually outstrips many farmers’ supply, resulting in many farms scrambling to convert their land to produce organic crops.

The problem? Converting land to organic production takes time, and a lot of money.

“Customers are asking for it,” Wendell Naraghi, a farmer who is currently transitioning 300 of his 3,000 acres of orchards this year, told The New York Times. “And we listen to our customers.”

Kellogg, General Mills, and Ardent Mills are among many major food brands that have signed deals to help convert acres of farmland to fields conducive to organic production and animal feeds. 

“Some of our big flour customers were coming to us and asking what they could do,” said Shrene White, director of specialty grains at Ardent Mills. “They had concerns about not having enough organic flour to back up new products as they expand their presence in organics.”

“We’re seeing more land than ever before going through transition, both among new growers and existing organic operations looking to expand their production,” added Kelly Damewood, policy director at CCOF, a large organic certification organization.

Because consumer demand for organic actually exceeds the supply, the conversion process has accelerated; organic product sales saw an 11% rise last year, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), accruing a new annual record of $43.3 billion.

That being said, it remains unseen whether or not the move toward organic farming — which means an increase in available organic products — will result in a price increase of said food. Consumer Reports noted in 2015 that the price of organic products is on average 47% higher than their non-organic counterparts (keeping in mind that the average was skewed by organic meats, which are often two times as expensive as conventional meats).

“Almost every consumer today says she wants organic,” said John Foraker, president of Annie’s. “But the reason she’s not buying it is the price.”

Sources: The New York Times, Consumer Reports via The New York TimesOTA / Photo credit: Kahumana

Tags: farm, organic, ota
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