The Return of the Veggie Bracket!

Last year in the fever of March Madness, we created our very own “Veggie Bracket.” One of our regular bloggers, Kenny, tried every vegetable on the bracket and went through the pain staking process of picking broccoli as his winner. Check out the final chapter of his saga here: The Veggie Bracket: The Final Four.

Well guess what? It’s back!

Veggie_Madness_Bracket

This year, we teamed up with our pals at Oregon State to bring “Veggie Madness” to the OSU campus. “Oregon State University’s Healthy Campus Initiative looks for entertaining and engaging ways to educate students and staff about living healthy, and Veggie Madness ties in great with two popular programs: National Nutrition Month and March Madness,” said Lisa Hoogesteger, director of Healthy Campus Initiatives for Oregon State University.

Here’s the best part, you can vote too! From March 3-5, you can weigh in by going here: Veggie Madness. Or, if you can make it to Corvallis, OR, you can vote on campus at the MU Quad on March 4-5. So you tell us what’s better, artichokes or asparagus, cucumbers or bell peppers, kale or broccoli. These are heavyweight battles, it’s going to get tense.

So get ready for some true March Madness. We hope to see you in Corvallis next week, and most importantly, good luck with your bracket.

The Affordable Care Act Explained…By a College Freshman

Duckncover screen grabCandace Joyner, a freshman at the University of Oregon, looked around and realized that her fellow Ducks weren’t understanding how the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) would impact them. To no fault of her classmates. Not only is the Affordable Care Act a complicated law to understand, but there’s also been very little advertising and outreach aimed at young adults. With that in mind, Candace decided to do something about it. She teamed up with a few UO student leaders and created a campaign called “Duck ‘N’ Cover,” complete with the website: duckncover.org

The site is designed to give college students a crash course in the Affordable Care Act, and to help young people understand just how important it is to have health insurance. It’s written for college students, because it’s from a college student. Candace isn’t affiliated with an insurance company or the government, she’s just a student trying to help her peers. We absolutely applaud her effort.

Check out a profile from Eugene Oregon’s “The Register Guard” about Duck N’ Cover, Candace, and her team’s education efforts: UO Student Tackles ACA Complications.

What Does Organic Really Mean?

Digging The Vegetable GardenLately I have been really curious about what makes a food completely organic. Personally I try to buy all organic, but if you want the truth I seriously had no idea what ‘Organic’ meant. I don’t recall why I started going organic, maybe it was trending in college, or maybe my mom was on a health kick that stuck, either way, I am excited to pass on what I have learned to you.

The USDA National Organic Program defines organic as:

Meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products, which come from animals that are given NO antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.

To summarize, any farm raised product – animal, fruits, and vegetables – that touches chemicals, hormones or radiation treatment is NOT organic. I’m sure that goes without saying, however, in all the time I have bought organic foods, not once have I thought to look up the definition.

Food companies able to use the USDA organic sticker have to produce food that meets these standards:USDA-Organic-Label

100% Organic: The food contains NO synthetic ingredients.

Organic: The food contains a minimum of 95% organic ingredients.

Organic Ingredients: Products which are made up of only 70% organic ingredients cannot use the organic seal.

Granted, these are not the fleshed out rules and standards farmers have to abide by, but it gives you an idea of what a farm produced product has to go through in order to use those tiny little USDA approved stickers.

What is interesting to note, is that ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are not the same thing. Natural means the product has been minimally processed, and contains no artificial ingredients. However, this standard only applies to foods that contain meat and eggs, it does not include standards for farm practices.

Buying organic or all natural, comes down to preference. Some argue that certain foods should be avoided because they contain pesticide residue which could be harmful to people. Others argue that the amount of processed foods you would have to eat before you had any adverse effects would be substantial. As of now, there just isn’t enough research to prove that one point is more correct than the other. I continue to buy organic because I like supporting local farmers and I like the idea that the animal products I use come from farms where they don’t add hormones to the growth process. Whatever your reason for buying or not buying organic, these are the facts.super-broccoli

1. Natural is not the same as organic.

2. Organic foods are literally grown the old fashioned way.

3. Farmers put in a lot of extra work just to use that sticker!