EVOLVh brings simplicity and organics to hair care

No one wants to have a bad hair day

 

Around 65,000 beauty salons throughout the U.S garner almost $17.5 billion in annual sales. Hair care products play an important part, consisting of from 5 to 15 percent of that number. 

“Nobody wants to have a bad hair day,” said Boris Oak, founder and CEO of EVOLVh Inc., a family owned, San Francisco Bay area company that produces top quality, organic hair products. 

Continue reading

Beat It! Insect Repellent stops insects naturally

Summer brings out all sorts of creepy, crawly, and/or pesky flying insects. 

In the past, we’d reach for a heavy duty insect repellent for protection. Remember those TV ads with the guy inside a glass cased-room filled with mosquitoes? 

These days, there a number of natural insect repellents on the market. Some work better than others but most have an incredibly strong scent that can knock you back f you’re the least bit sensitive to smell. 

I recently found a natural insect repellent that not only works well, but its scent won’t announce itself from a distance. 

Continue reading

Walmart misrepresents products as Organic – again

Wal-MartWal-Mart is in hot water again. A Wisconsin watchdog group, The Cornucopia Institute, has filed legal complaints with the USDA alleging that Wal-Mart, and a North Carolina-based company, HOMS LLC, are violating USDA organic standards by using conventional agricultural oils and other USDA Organic sealingredients in pest control products that utilize the word organic and the green “USDA organic” seal. The products in question are marketed under the Bio Block label.

The USDA Organic label by law can only be used by producers that follow the rigorous standards mandated by Congress and administered by the USDA’s National Organic Program.

HOMS' BioBlock - there's nothing organic about it

HOMS' BioBlock - there's nothing organic about it

HOMS apparently violates this mandate by prominently displaying the USDA Organic label on the Bio Block products without specifying what organic ingredients were used, and without disclosing the identity of the organic certifying agent, also required by federal organic regulations. These products were discovered on the shelves of Wal-Mart stores, resurfacing concerns long held by The Cornucopia Institute, and others in the organic industry, that Wal-Mart has failed to take the organic standards seriously.

This isn’t a new situation with Wal-Mart. In 2007, federal investigators found that Wal-Mart’s store “organic” milk, from Aurora Dairy in Colorado, had “willfully” violated 14 organic standards, including confining their cattle to feedlots, instead of grazing, and bringing thousands of illegal conventional cows into their organic operation.

Cornucopia researchers further found inside Walmart stores that the company was mislabeling conventional foods as organic, including yogurt, sugar, rice milk, soy milk and produce. Even after they notified Wal-Mart’s CEO of the problem, no action was taken to fix the problems until until officials of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the USDA took enforcement actions against Wal-Mart in 2007.

Buyer BewareSo, once again, the biggest retail corporation in the U.S. is playing fast and loose with organics, duping American consumers into thinking they’re buying something that’s healthful.  Word to the wise: if it says organic and it’s at Wal-Mart, you probably can’t believe it. A number of organic-minded groups are keeping an eye on this – and turning up the heat on Wal-Mart. But until the feds step in, buyer beware

Healthy Natural Snacks from SunRidge Farms

SRF_bags

SunRidge Farms uses all natural and certified organic ingredients in all their products

Santa Cruz is known for its beaches winding along Monterrey Bay, a boardwalk, its amusement park and the University of California at Santa Cruz. And it’s adjacent to Watsonville, one of the produce capitals of the world.

It’s also home to an award-winning food company, SunRidge Farms, maker of more than 1,000 certified organic and natural snacks and trail mixes it sells in bulk to retail stores and distributors across the country.

For more on this story, go to http://3.ly/DSev.

The sweet (green) taste of Hawaii

Royal Hawaiian HoneysWith these cool mornings and longer days, steaming hot coffee or tea helps start the day. For sweetness, instead of sugar, stevia or the pink-or-blue stuff, my favorite is honey.

I recently came across rich Royal Hawaiian Honey, from Tropical Traders Specialty Foods. This artisan product originates from Hawaii’s Big Island. One of only a handful of family-run apiaries in the U.S., these 100 percent raw honeys are certified organic by the Hawaii Organic Farmers Association.

Most commercial honey is heated, blended and filtered, losing its nutritional properties, unique flavor and characteristics. But heat’s never applied to Royal Hawaiian Honey’s raw product – in harvesting or production – and it’s never blended. To preserve its natural enzymes and nutritional values, the unfiltered honey’s harvested by using gravity and centrifugal force, strained, then bottled immediately.

“It’s a simple process, honoring the characteristics and flavors of the honey,” said Rebeca Krones, Tropical Traders’s co-founder.

In Hawaii, Krones’ father, Michael, breeds queen bees. He used to sell the honey by-product to honey packers until 2005, when Rebeca and her partner decided the product was too high quality to waste.

A centuries-old natural remedy, studies show raw honey helps with weight reduction, boosts immunity, and helps burns and wounds heal more quickly, due to presence of hydrogen peroxide. It’s a good antiseptic and anti-bacterial.

I’ve personally experienced honey’s ability to help balance blood sugar. A teaspoon helps me prevent a blood sugar drop, and tastes great!

Royal Hawaiian Honey comes in three varieties – the 3 main blooms on the Big Island. Only one of these isn’t organic – the Macadamia Nut Blossom honey – because no macadamia nut orchards are certified organic. This dark amber-colored honey has a rich, caramel-like flavor I loved.

The Christmas Berry – a pink peppercorn plant with white flowers that bloom in the Fall – is a light amber-colored, slightly grainy honey rich in antioxidants. Its flavor hints at brown sugar and molasses.

The third variety is the Lehua honey, from the lehua flower.

“The Lehua flower is one of the last surviving native species in Hawaii,” said Krones. Known as a “pioneer species”, the lehua’s one of the first plants to put roots down into lava after a lava flow, a regular occurrence in the Hawaiian islands.

Light golden Lehua Honey tastes of a creamy butterscotch with a floral scent.

Hawaii’s the only state to produce certified organic honey, due to being an isolated landmass. But the handwriting may be on the wall.

An aggressive Asian mite was found in 2008 on Oahu. Eradicating it through chemicals would eliminate Hawaii’s organic certification. There are some plant-based remedies, Krones said, but they’d affect both the mites and the bees, and the national organic program won’t allow these yet.

As a queen bee breeder, Krones’ father has been working on genetics and hopes his selective breeding will give him a leg up with this situation.

Tropical Traders is the first U.S. food company to be certified CarbonFree, offsetting their carbon footprint. They pay Carbonfund.org for their carbon emissions – from harvest through production, shipping and distribution. Carbonfund then invests in reforestation, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects around the world.

These delicious honeys range from $12 to $15 and are available at natural food stores in Hawaii and California and Whole Foods in Florida. Costco wholesale will offer them soon in the Bay area. They’re also available online.

Organic Curry Love sauces make for great grilling

Curry - a flavor for all seasons

Curry sauce - a flavor for all seasons

Many folks are still using outdoor grills and barbecues to celebrate our continuing summer-like weather.

With the many choices of marinades and sauces, curry may not a top pick. People often equate curry with cooler weather. Yet, says Chef Michael Buechi, curry’s quite versatile.

“Curry’s not just a dish to enjoy in winter,” Buechi explained. You can add it to grilled food or barbecue, marinade with it or drizzle it.

Buechi, a professional chef and entrepreneur, is the founder and CEO of Curry Love. His fascination with curry came after a trip to Thailand. Falling in love with the culture and especially the food, he thought he’d recreate and bottle some of it for non-chefs to use.

His Passion Red Thai Curry and Luscious Yellow Thai Curry, introduced in 2008, were his first “heat and serve” sauces. Using only USDA-certified organic ingredients like coconut milk, onions, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, lemongrass and garlic, these sauces were a big hit.

His next sauce – Blissful Banana Ginger Curry – soon followed.

Another great curry sauce - with more to come

Curry Love organic sauces - three and counting!

This was Chef Michael’s re-creation of a sweet and fruity sauce he’d had years before. With ingredients including coconut milk, dried bananas, rice flour, onions, ginger, lemongrass, garlic and ground chile peppers, this pungent, flavorful sauce is great with chicken, steak or fish.

I tried both the Red Thai Curry and the Banana Ginger Curry. Both were tasty, easy to use and went well with chicken or veggies, though I leaned more towards the banana-ginger combination.

The lightness of the sauces surprised me, having been used to heavier type curries. Still they held up to cooking and never disappointed. I even had a variety of recipes to try from Curry Love’s website (www.mycurrylove.com).

Along with great sauces, Chef Michael has a strong commitment to health and the environment.

“It’s real important to support a healthy lifestyle,” he said. Going organic from the beginning was a natural choice, he said, having grown up on an organic farm. All his sauces are vegan vegetarian.

The three sauces will soon be joined by new flavors, Buechi says, though he won’t say what they are. He did say that they’re “really nice, great and yum!”

Using only biodegradable packaging, Buechi takes his environmental commitment further. He donates a portion of the company’s profits to “1 % for the Planet“, a non-profit that so far has inspired over 1,200 businesses to donate one percent of sales to a global network of over 1,800 environmental organizations.

With his focus on projects that are good for the environment, Buechi gets to choose which project the money goes to.

Curry Love products are available in Los Angeles and San Francisco – at over 20 Whole Foods so far – and at Real Foods. They’re also available through foodzie.com. Buechi plans to expand further into northern California retailers.

Individual sauces are priced at $6.99. They’re also available in a Gift set, boxed in recycled, biodegradable packaging and printed with eco-friendly soy inks, The set, priced at $25.50, also contains a candle and set of matches, adding some romance and fun to your meal.

You can find all this and more at MyCurryLove.com.