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Living Maxwell

Better Choices

Another Reason to Buy Organic – Conventional Tea Contains Illegal and Highly Toxic Pesticides

While we constantly hear about the tremendous health benefits of drinking tea, one thing that almost never gets mentioned in this message is just how critical it is to drink organic tea.

In a recently released report called Tea Steeped in Toxics, the excellent non-profit Beyond Pesticides gives us an inside look at what is going on in the tea industry. Needless to say, what they uncover is very ugly and very scary.

Here are some highlights of the report:

* The FDA consistently finds that imported tea contains high levels of illegal pesticide residues. These include: permethrin (which is linked to cancer and endocrine disruption), DDE (a metabolite of DDT, which was banned in the U.S. in 1972), heptachlor epoxide (a derivative of the pesticide heptachlor, which was banned in the U.S. due to its carcinogenicity), and acetamiprid (a bee-toxic neonicotoid).

* Until mid-2016, the EPA will continue to allow the importation of tea from China which contains a banned pesticide tea called endosulfan, a chemical that the EPA has said “poses unacceptable risks” to farm workers and wildlife. Additionally, tests on laboratory animals have shown that endosulfan is toxic to the nervous system and can damage the kidney, liver and male reproductive organs.

* There are very weak regulations and a serious lack of enforcement in China and India, two of the major tea producers in the world.

Pesticide residues on tea from India include DDT, which has been banned since 1989 in India, and endosulfan, which was banned in the country as well in 2011. Furthermore, many pesticides which have been found on Indian tea are either illegal or have never been registered.

In China, the situation is equally as grim. Tests have detected 29 different pesticides, including reproductive and developmental toxicants, bee-killing chemicals, and banned pesticides.

* A 2014 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that the FDA tests less than 1/10 of 1% of all imported foods. When it comes to tea, this is especially problematic for two reasons.

One, nearly everything is imported because there is almost no U.S. production of tea.

Two, tea consistently receives incredibly high violation rates from the FDA’s Pesticide Monitoring Program. So, we know that that whatever tea gets imported, there is a decent chance it won’t meet U.S. standards.

For a variety of reasons outlined in the report, this is a complex problem that cannot be easily solved, largely because of a lack of funds, weak regulations and enforcement in developing countries, and poor communication between trade nations.

The bottom line is this: Drinking organic tea is an absolute must.

Organic tea prohibits the use of these super-toxic pesticides mentioned above, and organic certifiers verify that growers are in compliance with organic systems management plans, which protect both farmworkers and the environment.

There are many, many excellent organic tea brands on the market and by no means is this a comprehensive list of all of them. However, a few that I like are:

Runa Tea – guayusa contains twice the amount of antioxidants of green tea, and the company is doing some amazing work raising the standard of living in Ecuadorian communities.

Republic of Tea – this Biodynamic blend offers great flavor, and the turmeric and cinnamon combination provides excellent anti-inflammatory benefits.

Numi Tea – this soothing and calming combination uses South African rooibos along with real vanilla beans, sweet honeybush and rich cacao.

A message from Tradin Organic

Why Tradin Organic is Prioritizing Regenerative Organic Farming

At Tradin Organic, we believe that regenerative organic farming is key to growing healthy and nutritious food ingredients — for now and for future generations.

And in Sierra Leone, we have grown the world’s first Regenerative Organic Certified cacao.

Learn more.

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Living Maxwell

Better Choices

Top 10 Herbs by Nutrient Density

By now, many of you may be familiar with the “ANDI Scores” when you walk into the produce section of Whole Foods Market.

Created by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, ANDI stands for “Aggregate Nutrient Density Index” and ranks a food’s nutrient density on a scale from 1 to 1000.

The ANDI scores are calculated by evaluating an extensive range of micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidant capacities, and by dividing the nutrient level of a food by its caloric content (N/C).

For context, kale, a dark leafy green, scores 1000 while soda scores 1.

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A message from Tradin Organic

How Tradin Organic is Helping Coconut Farmers in The Philippines

For more than a decade, Tradin Organic has been working with local partners in The Philippines to bring a diversified range of organic products to the market, such as coconut oil, tropical fruits and even cocoa.

The company is helping to support local farmers by assisting them with technical support and organic certification, in addition to paying Fairtrade premium on top of the organic premium.

Learn more.

Living Maxwell

Better Choices

New to Organic? – Start with This Inexpensive Breakfast

One question that I get a lot is “How should a person get started with organic food?” One complaint I hear a lot is that organic food costs too much.

Let me both answer this question and address this complaint with a story.

Last week, Brian, a new friend of mine, came to me for some food-related advice. He wanted to know what he could be doing to eat healthier, as he was “crashing” in the middle of the afternoon. Brian was very concerned that his eating habits were negatively impacting his ability to perform at work, which would impact his ability to make money.

He did not know much about organic and was very concerned about the price. When I started talking about organic food, the first words out of his mouth were “Hey, I don’t make $20,000 per month.”

Brian went on to tell me about the fast-food breakfasts that he had been eating and he didn’t think it was the cause of his problem.

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Organic Insider

Better Choices

Another Reason to Eat Organic — Child Labor and Sustainability Issues with Many Conventional Chocolate Brands

For many of us when we eat a piece of chocolate, our biggest concern is how many grams of sugar we are consuming.

Yet, how often do we ask ourselves — was this chocolate bar made with the help of child labor? Or, was the cocoa produced in a way that resulted in deforestation to the environment?

The truth about cocoa – the main ingredient in chocolate – is quite grim.

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livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink