A little bit about Organic and Biodynamic Wines…

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I didn’t know much about Organic wines until I had a conversation with my cousin’s husband, who happens to be a wine seller.  He explained that organic wines are grown in a healthier and richer soil without the use of many harmful chemicals, pesticides or herbicides.  And, he recently mentioned that biodynamic wines are basically organically farmed wines that include an even more spiritual, holistic, and sustainable approach to farming…  So, I started to do more research and created this quick reference with links and information that I think are helpful for anyone who might want to know more about how to make healthier choices when it comes to buying wine…

Here is just one article about the health benefits of organic wine: https://www.organicfacts.net/organic-products/organic-food/organic-wine.html

Here is a link that I think gives a good explanation of the difference between biodynamic and organic wines:  https://www.organicwine.com.au/organic-compared-to-biodynamic

Here is a list that I put together of some of the additives in many non-organic wines on the market today:  

Sulfites: Sulfites (or sulfur) are added to most non-organic wines as a preservative and to kill things like yeast and bacteria.  I’ve also read that they act as an antimicrobial and antioxidant, which can be a good thing.  However, too many sulfites in wine is not a good thing…  All wines have naturally occurring sulfites because I guess nature knows what it’s doing, right?  Most non-organic wine makers put additional sulfites in their wines.  Exposure to too many sulfites has been linked to many health issues, such as allergies, respiratory problems, and most importantly, inflammation.  Inflammation is linked to many illnesses, including cancer (Here is more information about this: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/chronic-inflammation).  Some people are more sensitive to sulfites than others but as with anything else we eat or drink, if you can avoid things that are more apt to causing inflammation or other health issues, then it’s probably a good thing to avoid.  Biodynamic wines do not add sulfur to their wines, making them much healthier to drink, especially if consumed in moderation. Organic wines may contain added sulfites but they are much lower than non-organic wines and they are made from organically grown grapes.

Artificial Coloring:  I recently read that there is something called Mega Purple added to most non-organic wines to make the wine look and taste better.  So, it’s basically covering up whatever flaws there are in the wine that could prevent people from drinking and ultimately buying it.  Organic and biodynamic wines do not add artificial coloring to their wines.  Why?  Probably because they do not need it.

Added Sugar: Sugar or corn syrup is often added to some common wines and increases alcohol content.  Too much sugar in wines is linked to “wine headaches” and too much sugar is linked to many illnesses like cancer.

Chemicals, Pesticides and Herbicides: I think that most people know that these things are bad for you so I’ll just cut to the chase…  Organic and biodynamic wines do not add these things.  So, simply put, this is one more reason to buy organic.

Here are some links to find Organic and Biodynamic Wines: 

http://www.bonterra.com

https://www.dryfarmwines.com

http://theorganicwinecompany.com

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Mom’s Oaty Banana Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup organic oat flour
  • 1/2 cup organic old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon himalayan sea salt
  • Zest of 1 small organic lemon
  • 1 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ceylon cinnamon (Or, freshly ground organic cinnamon stick)
  • 1/2 tablespoon organic coconut sugar (Or, organic raw sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons organic apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups organic milk or almond milk
  • 1 ripe organic banana, mashed
  • 1 tablespoons organic cold pressed grape seed oil, plus a small amount, for cooking.
  • 2 large organic eggs, separated (beat egg whites separately, until stiff)
  • Organic Maple syrup
  • Frozen Organic Blueberries
  • Organic Grass Fed Butter (Optional)
Directions
  1. Heat Non stick ceramic pan on medium low (On my stove, it’s number 4)
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, mix the lemon zest, honey, egg yolks, milk, mashed bananas, apple cider vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons grape seed oil.
  4. In a small bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until light and fluffy and peaks start to form and then gently fold into batter.
  5. Stir into dry ingredients, just until moistened.  (If the batter seems too thick, just add a little more milk until the batter reaches a consistency that pours easily into a pan but holds a round shape — So, don’t over do it!)
  6. Fill a 1/4 stainless steel measuring cup with batter.
  7. Pour batter onto a lightly greased (with grape seed oil) hot griddle.
  8. Turn when bubbles start to form around the edges and look slightly firm — About 2 minutes.
  9. Flip over and cook on the second side until it is golden brown — About 1-2 more minutes.
  10. Pour frozen blueberries into a separate pan and sauté for about 1 minute in grape seed oil or water, just until defrosted a bit.
  11. Pour organic Maple syrup into a glass measuring cup and then gently stir in defrosted blueberries (I don’t heat the maple syrup and I gently stir in blueberries to keep the consistency of the syrup).
  12. Add butter to pancakes (optional)
  13. Pour blueberry syrup over pancakes and enjoy!

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Mom’s 10 Coffee Rules!

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Whenever I learn something new about healthier ways to enjoy the food and beverages I love, I get so excited that I want to share it with everyone I know!  After I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and began my healing journey, one of the things that I thought I might have to give up is coffee.  However,  I am learning that there may be many health benefits to drinking coffee, when you know which coffee to buy, and the proper ways to brew it.

So, I put together the following list, as a quick reference, and what I believe are good rules to consider when you want to enjoy a nice coffee brew.

Rule #1 – Make a Switch and ditch…  The Traditional Coffee Maker:

Most of the traditional coffee makers that I’ve seen and used contain plastic and when the water gets too hot, these plastics can seep harmful chemicals into the coffee that we drink.  And, if a coffee pot is not properly cleaned and dried, it can become a perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria.  Even if you clean your coffee pot (which, face it, some of us don’t do often enough), it can be difficult to properly dry every little nook and cranny inside of it to remove all of the contaminants that could be going into your body every time you take a sip!  I’ve also learned that for those who use Keurig type coffee makers, the little plastic kcups contain synthetic estrogens that can cause cancer – Even BPA free plastics have synthetic estrogens.  Since my particular breast cancer was Estrogen receptor positive (most breast cancers are), meaning it used estrogen to grow, I am trying to reduce the amount of fake estrogens (also called xenoestrogens) that I am exposed to.  So, for me, it just makes sense to use a “fake estrogen free” coffee maker.  Here are the ones that I am using now but I am still doing as much research on this as I can to find the best products…

https://www.amazon.com/Bialetti-6-Cup-Stovetop-Espresso-Maker/dp/B000CNY6UK/ref=sr_1_3?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1488001676&sr=1-3&keywords=italian+espresso+maker

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018WDAQBE/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A3GFNB8O5JJQGP

https://www.amazon.com/Chemex-6-Cup-Classic-Glass-Coffee/dp/B0000YWF5E/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1488179954&sr=8-4&keywords=glass+pour+over+coffee+dripper

Rule #2 – Choose your Coffee Filters Wisely!:  

The rules on this are a little unclear to me so please do your research.  I’ve read that paper coffee filters can help with reducing the amount of bad cholesterol because it filters out a lot of the coffee oils, which seem to be the main culprit.  However, I’ve also read that metal coffee filters might allow more nutrients into your coffee that could help fight against certain types of illness.  For me, since I am trying make smarter choices these days, I’ve decided to start off by using organic coffee (which has more nutrients and less toxins).  Then, I sometimes use metal filters or coffee makers (like a basic stovetop, stainless, italian espresso maker).  Or, I will use unbleached paper coffee filters with a glass pour over coffee dripper, like this…

https://www.amazon.com/Chemex-6-Cup-Classic-Glass-Coffee/dp/B0000YWF5E/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1488179954&sr=8-4&keywords=glass+pour+over+coffee+dripper

https://www.amazon.com/If-You-Care-Unbleached-Filters/dp/B005P0FTYM/ref=sr_1_1?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1488180417&sr=1-1&keywords=If+You+Care+FSC+Unbleached+No+2+Coffee+Filters

Rule #3 – Store for Freshness!:  

I’ll keep this very simple…  The best way that I’ve found to store whole organic coffee beans and keep them fresh is in a glass air tight container and keep them in a dark, cool cabinet, away from direct sunlight.  See, simple!  As for putting coffee in the refrigerator or freezer I’ve learned it can change it’s cellular structure and that could impact it’s freshness and flavor.  And, it might be better to only store the amount of coffee, that you will consume in a week or two, for optimum freshness.  However, I don’t really follow this rule because I typically buy the large bag of organic coffee from Costco.  And, here are the types of storage containers that I like to use…

https://www.amazon.com/Kinetic-Rectangular-Container-Containers-55093/dp/B00XEO2F84/ref=pd_sim_79_5?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B00V3K8TZY&pd_rd_r=DDHBATFFWFAV18WBBP24&pd_rd_w=ne0Zv&pd_rd_wg=MRnFK&refRID=DDHBATFFWFAV18WBBP24&th=1

Rule #4 – Grind your Beans!: 

Buy whole beans and grind them just before brewing coffee to maintain freshness and quality…  At least that’s what I do!  There are several reviews out on the Internet about burr grinders vs. blade grinders and for me, the burr grinder seems to be the best choice.  The reason is, a blade grinder actually cuts or chops the coffee beans, causing the grind to be more inconsistent. However, a burr grinder actually grinds them, making the beans more consistently ground. As a result, this should maintain the coffee’s freshness and quality as well!  See where I’m going with this?  If you’re convinced, here is an affordable stainless steel burr grinder that we’ve used but we are currently searching for other options…

https://www.amazon.com/Decker-CBG100S-Smartgrind-Grinder-Stainless/dp/B000BHIQPI/ref=sr_1_26?ie=UTF8&qid=1488182011&sr=8-26&keywords=stainless+steel+burr+grinder

Rule #5 – Buy Organic!:  

I believe that everyone should switch to an organic diet to reduce the amount of toxins in our bodies and I am learning that coffee fields that are not organic have some of the most toxic chemicals sprayed on them, in comparison to other crops.   This is not only bad for people but also bad for the environment.  Organic coffee does not have synthetic chemicals or GMOs.  And, studies show that drinking organic vs. non-organic coffee provides so many more benefits.  Not only does it taste better but your body processes organic foods more easily, because it is not working so hard on getting rid of toxins.  If that’s not enough, organic coffee has a lot of antioxidants which is known to help with boosting overall health and prevent disease!  So, going organic sounds really good to me!

Rule #6 – Manage your Temperature!:  

I recently read that the National Coffee Association says that the best range to brew coffee is between 195°F to 205°F to best desolve water-soluble flavor compounds.  And, you should try not to go above or below this range.  So, I decided to buy a pour over coffee maker with a built-in thermometer (see above) to help with getting the temperature of my brew just right.  With this said, I don’t think that it’s necessary to use a thermometer at all.  What I’ve typically done is bring water to a boil in a stainless steel pot.  Then, I remove the lid, and wait about a minute before I pour it over my ground beans.  Based on my research, this seems to be a good and safe rule of thumb.

Rule #7 – Make a Colorful Choice!: 

I have read that darker whole coffee beans contain more antioxidants and I don’t have a clear rule on this yet.  But, below is one of several articles that I’ve found about this and there are many more so I guess the fast rule is…  Research away and decide what’s best for you!

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/08/18/can-drinking-darker-coffee-improve-your-health.aspx

Rule #8 – Don’t just Take my Words for it!:  

There is so much information out there about what is and is not good for you.  I’ve tried to do as much of my own research as possible to come up with this quick reference guide.  And, I’ve spoken with my own healthcare experts, and those who I trust, to confirm some of the questions or opinions that I’ve had.  And, I think everyone should do the same.

Rule #9 –  Read Rule #5 Again!: 

I cannot stress enough to buy organic, whenever possible.  I’ve read a quote that always sticks with me and that is, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”  I believe this and think that choosing to support organic farming and any small thing that I can do, like buying organic, to help make this world a better place, especially for my daughter, are so important.  I didn’t always think this way though but being diagnosed with breast cancer is one of the main reasons I am so passionate about this now.  I understand that organic foods can get expensive but I’ve learned that changing to a healthier diet can actually help with balancing out the cost.  This means, cut out processed foods, dairy, white sugar and meats, as much as possible. For me, I’ve decided to reduce these things down to about 10-20% of my diet.  And, if you think organic is expensive, believe me, medical treatments are much more costly!

Rule #10 – Try a Little Moderation, Would ya!?:  

Many people may know that a healthy diet and lifestyle are very important and that you should never over indulge on any one thing, if you want to maintain a good healthy balance in your life.  So, it’s a no brainer that you should drink coffee in moderation.  I believe that using organic whole beans that are stored, ground and brewed properly, and drinking in moderation, can be very beneficial in terms of health. So, I’ve decided to limit my coffee intake to 1 cup every other day.  But, that’s just me.  Here are a few studies and articles on the health benefits of coffee that may help with deciding on how much well made coffee to enjoy!

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390701522445

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/beverage/health-benefits-of-coffee.html

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/08/31/benefits-drinking-coffee.aspx

Okay, so it wasn’t really 10 rules per se, but I created this blog as a simple reference for a better informed coffee experience!

Mom’s Favorite Juice Recipes for health!

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I’m sharing a couple of my favorite juice recipes.  I ALWAYS use organic produce when juicing because not only do they contain more antioxidants and nutrients, but they have less pesticides, no GMO, and some people (including me) claim that they just taste better.  Bottom line is, juice organic because it’s just better!

I also try to juice more vegetables than fruits because juicing too much fruit causes the body to consume more sugar, than it would if you just eat the whole fruit.  Eating the whole fruit allows your body to metabolize it much better because you are not removing it’s fiber.

Here are two of my favorite Recipes:

(Note: I wash all of my fruits and veggies with Organic Apple Cider Vinegar and give them a final rinse with filtered water)

1. Carrots are your friend…

  • 5 Organic Carrots, (leave skin on)
  • 2 ribs of celery
  • 2 leaves or romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 green apple
  • 1 thumb of Ginger

This recipe is delicious and has a bit of a kick from the ginger.  I started drinking this for cancer prevention but now I just drink it because I love it!

2. So Much More than Celery!

  • About 5-6 Ribs of Organic Celery, leaves and all!
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 green apple
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1 thumb of Ginger

I started to juice with celery after I found out about it’s cancer fighting properties.  Studies have actually shown that it kills all types of cancer cells and it is amazing for cancer prevention as well!  So, don’t forget to eat your celery!

P.S.  I’ll add more of my favorite recipes soon!

 

Mom’s Favorite Juice Recipes for health!

Mom’s 12 Simple “Rules” to make life better EVERY DAY

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1.) Drink 1 Cup of quality organic Green Tea

2.) Eat five servings of raw organic fruits and veggies

3.) Drink at least two 8 oz glasses of fresh organic juices: Mom’s Favorite Juice Recipes for health!

4.) Exercise to get your heart rate up, for at least 30 minutes

5.) Drink 1/2 of your body weight, in ounces of filtered water (reverse osmosis is the best but here is the one that I use at home that costs around $70: https://www.amazon.com/Aquagear-Water-Filter-Pitcher-Fluoride/dp/B016LLLXJS)

6.) Get outside for at least 30 minutes

7.) Take deep breaths throughout each day

8.) Work on cutting out white sugar and as many processed foods as possible

9.) Get 8 hours of sleep

10.) Do at least one selfless act

11.) Be involved in your local community

12.) Stop focusing on what you can’t do and focus on what you can do!

Mom’s Super Cheesy Cast Iron Skillet Frittata Recipe…

Mom’s Super Cheesy Cast Iron Skillet Frittata Recipe..
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Ingredients:
8 small organic red potatoes cut into very small cubes
1 Organic Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Organic Orange Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 Small Organic Onion, chopped
5 Cloves of Organic Garlic, crushed
1 Cup Organic Fresh Spinach, chopped
1 Organic Red Tomato, chopped (squeeze out juice with paper towel) and stir in with the veggies.
Fresh Ground Pink Himalayan Sea Salt to taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste
Organic Dried Oregano or Italian Seasoning
Directions:
Saute the following veggies on Medium Heat, in about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, in a large cast iron skillet:

8 small organic red potatoes cut into very small cubes
1 Organic Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Organic Orange Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 Small Organic Onion, choppedEvenly season veggies with the following:
Sea Salt
Pepper
Organic Dried Oregano or Italian Seasoning
Saute all veggies in cast iron skillet until potatoes are tender, then turn the heat down to medium low

Chop 5 Cloves of Organic Garlic, and stir in with the veggies (you can add garlic earler, just make sure it doesn’t burn)

Chop 1 Cup Organic Spinach and stir in with the veggies

Chop 1 Organic Red Tomato (squeeze out juice with paper towel) and stir in with the veggies.

Season Veggies, a little more, with Salt, Pepper, and Organic Dried Oregano and I also stir in about a heaping teaspoon of Organic Pesto but this is optional…

In a bowl, beat about 8 eggs with a splash of organic heavy cream and another splash of water. Season, a little, with salt and pepper and dried oregano.

Make sure veggies are cooked and tender, then evenly pour egg mixture over veggies and cook in skillet over medium heat. Continue shaking the skillet just until the edges of the frittata starts to look cooked. About 10-15 minutes, just keep an eye on it.

Once the edges of the frittata look cooked, sprinkle the following on top:

Fresh Mozzarella Cheese,
Fresh basil, chopped finely

See, Just like this..
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Layers of fresh mozzarella cheese on top!

After Adding the mozzarella and basil over the top, remove Skillet from the stove and place it in the oven under Broil for just a few minutes, just until the cheese melts and browns slightly. Watch closely because it will burn fast!

WAIT!!!!  Please Be sure to remove the skillet with oven mitts!  I had to learn the hard way!

This is the way mine looked…

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Buon Appetito!

Cool for about 15 minutes and slice it like a pizza, just like this…

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Mangia!

Organic Ginger Oatmeal Choco Chip Cookies…

Mom’s Organic Ginger Oatmeal Choco Chip Cookies

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Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Coconut Oil

1/2 Cup Organic Butter, softened

1/2 Cup Organic Coconut Sugar

1/4 Cup Organic Light Brown Sugar

1/3 Cup Raw Organic Sugar

2 Organic Eggs

2 Teaspoons True Organic Vanilla

1 Teaspoon Grated Organic Ginger

1/4 Cup Organic Almond Milk

2 Teaspoons Ground Ceylon Cinnamon (true cinnamon)

1 1/4 Cup Organic All Purpose Flour

1/2 Cup Organic Coconut Flour

3 Cups Organic Rolled Oats

1/2 Cup Semi Sweet Organic Chocolate Chips

1/2 Cup Organic Dark Chocolate Chips

 Directions:

• Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.

• In a large bowl, sift together: flours, baking soda, and salt and set aside…

• In a medium bowl, cream together: coconut oil, butter and sugars — Mix with an electric hand mixer, until creamy and smooth.

• Beat in: one egg at a time and then add vanilla, ginger, apple cider vinegar and milk — Mix until light and silky.

• Gradually add: dry ingredients — Mix until incorporated.

• Stir in: the rolled oats and cinnamon with a large spoon — Mix until incorporated.

• Stir in: chocolate chips with a large spoon — Mix until incorporated.

• Using a tablespoon, scoop out: dough and place them onto a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper

• Shape dough into round balls and flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand.  Note: Dough will a little more wet than normal cookie dough, but that is okay.

• Bake for 12 minutes or until middle of each cookie looks cooked and the edges are light golden brown.

• Cool cookies for a few minutes on a cookie sheet, then move to a wire rack.

• Serve and enjoy with some ginger spiced tea!  http://www.davidsonstea.com/Ginger_Spice_Loose_Leaf.aspx

 

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Why do I buy Organic?  

I created a list of some Q&A’s that that I found to be useful, before making my decision about whether or not to buy organic products whenever I possibly can…

Q: What is organic food?

A: Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without using pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), or ionizing radiation. Organic meat and dairy products do not have any antibiotics or growth hormones.  Fertilizer and pesticides pollute groundwater, which can cause diseases and are extremely harmful to our wildlife.  In addition, certain types of cancer may result from exposure to polluted water.

Q: How is organic food grown? 

A: Organic agriculture, which is governed by strict government standards, requires that products bearing the organic label are produced without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering or other excluded practices, sewage sludge.  In addition, organic foods are exposed to things like insects which prompts them to form protective compounds and as a result these compounds make the organic foods healthier.

Q: Is organic food more expensive? 

A: Yes, most times, buying organic can be significantly more expensive than non-organic.  However, one thing that most of us can do to save money is to buy less processed or pre-packaged foods, meat and dairy, and instead buy more fresh organic produce.  My goal is to move towards an 80-90% fresh fruit and vegetable diet and reduce the amount of pre-packaged foods and my meat and dairy intake, while eliminating processed foods all together.  Meat, dairy, processed, and packaged foods are all very expensive. Therefore, reducing these items is not only more healthy but saves money.  And, an important thing to note is, serious illness, like cancer, are much more expensive and difficult to deal with (I know this first hand) than switching to eating organic and living a healthier lifestyle to support a healthy immune system.  And, a healthy immune system is designed to fight illness.

Q: Are there studies that prove Organic is actually better than non-organic food? 

A: Studies have shown that organic dairy and meat contain more omega-3 fatty acids because they feed on grasses rich in omega-3s. “Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function.  Other studies show that there are higher concentrations of antioxidants and something called called polyacetylene compounds, in organically grown fruits and vegetables.  Polyacetylene compounds are formed as a protection against things like insects.  These compounds are beneficial for humans because they could play a role in reducing inflammation and cancer risk.

A 12-year study which shows that fields under organic management had half the annual nitrate leaching losses than fields under conventional management.  Using excessive quantities of nitrogen fertilizers increases nitrate pollution and contributes to the release of more carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere, carbon dioxide being one of the greenhouse effect gases.

Referential Studies:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24968103  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26878105 http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v418/n6898/full/nature01014.html

My conclusion:  Buying organic is not only healthier for me and my family but it supports organic farming which is healthier for the environment.  Bottom line is, if everyone bought organic food then it could significantly reduce the amount of toxicities that we consume and put into our environment because of conventional farming.