Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Travelling to Europe from the Caribbean

Travelling to Europe from the Caribbean.

Some time ago 8 Caribbean countries have been chosen to travel to Europe without a visa. This is great news as many in the Caribbean have a great admiration for the land that once governed most of the islands originally. This is for every category of traveler, whether work or play, only to the Schengen parts of the country. This would allow for more business opportunities and tourism opportunities for all parties involved.

3 Azores Islands - Exclusive Price

The eight Caribbean countries that are now allowed to travel to the Schengen parts of Europe VISA FREE are:

  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • St. Lucia
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Dominica
  • Barbados Bahamas
  • Grenada
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
So, we have compiled a must see list places to visit while touring Europe:

1. The Azores

The genesis of the Azores is found upon 1766 volcanoes, nine of which are still active. Underground, almost three hundred volcanic cavities, including caves, ravines and cracks, have been surveyed. The landscape is filled with dry calderas, craters lakes, fumaroles and thermal water springs. In the sea, there are submarine geothermal springs. The mountain of Pico, majestic and with an intact cone, appears to be protecting all this geological wealth.
The volcanism of the archipelago impresses for its diversity and creates its own magnetism. It is a witness to the power of Nature, and the basis for a very special experience.

2. Hallstatt

The picturesque village on the lake with the same name owes its existence to the rich deposit of salt in the mountain of Hallstatt. 7000 years ago. Rich findings in Hallstatt and the upper valley of Hallstatt gave this village international recognition; even today discoveries are still made in the salt mountain of Hallstatt.  
Among the most beautiful places of interest are the oldest salt mine in the world and the ossuary in Hallstatt, a romantic boat ride on Lake Hallstatt, a trip to the breathtaking cave world in Obertraun and a visit to the Lake Gosau with the mighty Dachstein glacier. Additionally, Bad Goisern is popular in the summer with hikers and bikers. In winter guests are lured in by the ski areas of Dachstein West in Gosau and the Ski and Freeride Arena in neighboring Obertraun with perfect slope conditions.

3. Bonifacio

Bonifacio offer two seas for the price of one!
Unusually, Bonifacio allows you to swim in the Mediterranean Sea (West side) and in the Tyrrhenian Sea (East side).
With 70 km of coasts and 120 km if we include the islands of the Archipelago of Lavezzi, Bonifacio offers a complete collection of all the possible types of beaches: sandy beaches, hidden coves, islands of all sizes and other idyllic locations are available for spending vacations.

4. The Mont Saint-Michel

The 'Wonder of the Western World' forms a tower in the heart of an immense bay invaded by the highest tides in Europe. 

It was at the request of the Archangel Michel chief of the celestial militia that Aubert, Bishop of Avranches built and consecrated a small church on the 16th October 709. In 966 a community of Benedictines settled on the rock at the request of the Duke of Normandy and the pre-Romanesque church was built before the year one thousand.

UNESCO has classed the Mont Saint-Michel as a world heritage in 1979 and this mecca of tourism welcomes more than three million visitors a year.

5. Tuscany

Tuscany is located in central Italy and stretches from the Apennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea. 

Its landscape, artistic heritage and stand-out cities - first among them Florence - make Tuscany an unquestioned protagonist of international tourism.

6. The Douro Valley

The Douro Valley could as easily be called the enchanted valley, such is the beauty and magic that its landscapes offer.

Departing from Porto, where the river flows into the sea and where the Douro wines (table wines and Port wine), produced on its hillsides, also end up, there are various ways to get to know this cultural landscape, listed as a World Heritage Site: by road, by train, on a cruise boat and even by helicopter.

Following a route between the viewpoints that offer the best vistas, you need to cross the river from north to south and back again. But along the way you can admire breathtaking landscapes over the river and visit vineyards, towns and villages until you reach Miranda do Douro, the point at which the river enters Portugal.

7. The Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are the hidden gem of the Scandinavian countries. To a lot of people they are unknown, to others they are this excotic destination in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. With the increasing tendency to seek north for new destinations we believe that the Faroe Islands are the perfect choice for the selective traveler.

8. The Dolomites

The Dolomites are considered one of the largest wellness centres in the world, because you can enjoy yourself a general well-feeling of body and mind. Relax yourself while taking in the breathtaking views of peaks and valleys, breathe in the crystal clear alpine air, bask in the warm sunshine next to turquoise lakes at the foot of inspiring mountains. 

9. The Hallerbos Forest

The 7 to 10 days following the blossoming of the beech leaves are the most beautiful in the wood. The purple blue of the bluebells combined with the transparent bright green of the young beech leaves give a magical effect to the forest. The sunlight still reaches the flowers through the leaf canopy, but a little less each day.

10. The Lofoten Islands

Lofoten is known for excellent fishing and nature attractions, small villages off the beaten track and whale safaris.
Explore Lofoten by foot, go rafting in the Trollfjord and visit Lofotr Viking Museum. Taste stockfish and be amazed by the midnight sun. Experience the bird rocks outside the island of Røst and the cosy fishing village in Nusfjord.

5 Stars Azores from $899

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Summer in the Caribbean

The Caribbean is the place to be this Summer 2016, who doesn't want the sun, sand, and sea to be the theme of their Summer. 

Waves crashing on the shores and the tranquil breeze whispering across your face. Sipping fancy drinks on the beach while your family and/ or friend have fun in the sun. This is not just a dream, but a reality for some, and it could be for you as well. 

Every Caribbean Island has a lot to offer for internal as well as external tourist. An yes, you can go vacationing in the island even though you live in one. 

Check out these amazing vacation packages and plan your summer holidays in a Caribbean Island:

The Caribbean in summer? It’s a more appealing option than you might think, especially if you’re looking for a bargain vacation this year. Here are a few reasons:

  • Prices are lower, with some hotels and resorts cutting as much as 60 percent off their winter rates.

  • Temperatures are typically only a few degrees higher than they are in the peak travel months of January through March. And they can be even lower than you’ll find at popular beach spots back in the United States. (For example, last Sunday, the temperature hit 93 in New York; it was 88 in Montego Bay, Jamaica and 88 on St. Lucia.)

  • The threat of hurricanes is certainly real, but perhaps not as great as you might imagine. Only one has hit the Caribbean before July 8 in the last decade — Hurricane Dennis, a Category 3 storm, which passed just east and north of Jamaica on July 7, 2005, producing hurricane conditions on the island. (This year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects a “near normal or above normal” hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 with the peak typically occurring from mid-August to mid-October.)

  • Did we mention that prices are lower?

Despite the overall trend in rising airfares, prices of Caribbean packages, including airline tickets, are down 16 percent compared with peak travel, according to 

In some cases, practically entire islands are on sale. St. Maarten, the United States Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands are all offering island-wide summer promotions including a night free at a bevy of resorts and discounts for tourist activities. (Information at,, and

The islands themselves are getting a lot more aggressive about trying to lure visitors over the slower summer months with festivals that show off what the island has to offer in the way of food, history, culture or music. Each summer, for example, Barbados celebrates Crop Over (, a festival that can be traced back to the late 1780s, as a way to mark the end of the sugar-cane cutting season. Today, it’s a tourist draw involving calypso competitions and parades. Last year, Bonaire created the water-oriented Dive into Summer event (, which it plans to repeat this year. Grenada’s Carnival, one of the island’s biggest festivals, begins in July and gains momentum leading up to Carnival Sunday, usually in the second week of August.

Other islands try to draw visitors with big-name stars. In July Jamaica hosts the Reggae Sumfest, which has featured such popular performers as Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent and Missy Elliott. And for the first time this year, the Cayman Islands will host a championship-boxing event — Cayman Knockout, to be held on Friday, June 20. In a super middleweight bout, the Olympic Gold medalist Andre Ward will fight the former Olympian Jerson Ravelo, and in a heavyweight match, Eddie Chambers will take on Raphael Butler. “We want tourism to the Caribbean to be a year-round exciting experience for travelers,” said Hugh Riley, a chief operating officer for the Caribbean Tourism Development Company.

Of course, there can be drawbacks to summering in the Caribbean. Some nonstop flights that run all winter long go on hiatus, requiring travelers who want to fly from Philadelphia to St. Lucia, for example, to make an extra stop or two. Once on the island, travelers may find that a number of restaurants or shops are closed for the season, resorts are undergoing construction, and staffing may not be quite as robust as it is during the winter.

That said, summertime brings some tourist opportunities that are simply non-existent any other time of year. From March to August, visitors to St. Lucia can take a Turtle Watch tour run by Heritage Tours (, where guests camp overnight on the beach and help measure the leatherback turtles and count the number of eggs they lay. Rain showers bring cool respites and lushness to the islands not usually found during the winter. And all deals aside, the dip in tourists during the summer allows for a sense of solitude that has become increasingly rare in the islands.


Looking for a beach? Anguilla, a small, low-lying Leeward Island, has 33 of them, all of which — including the well-manicured sands in front of the fanciest resorts — are open to the public. The increasingly upscale island also has a strong culinary scene, with an impressive array of restaurants (as many as 100) for an island just 16 miles long and no more than 3 miles across at its widest point.

WHAT TO DO From July 31 to Aug. 10, Anguilla will celebrate its annual Summer Festival, ( with 11 days of carnival and boat racing festivities. Or explore the island by horseback. Seaside Stables (264-235-3667; offers group rides for $60 a person.

HOW TO GET THERE From New York, take one of the many flights into St. Martin and catch a ferry. They run about every half hour between 7:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. between Marigot Bay, St. Martin and Blowing Point, Anguilla. Another option: fly nonstop to San Juan and hop a connecting flight into Anguilla on American Eagle.


Located 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba shares the distinction with Trinidad and Tobago, Bonaire and Curaçao of being below the hurricane belt, making it less prone to major storms. Its long white-sand beaches, Las Vegas-style casinos and array of water sports make for an ideal vacation spot for travelers with diverse interests. The island’s many all-inclusive resorts make it easy for budget-conscious travelers to know exactly what their vacation will cost. And strong ocean breezes keep windsurfers aloft and vacationers cool all summer long.

WHAT TO DO Watch windsurfers and kiteboarders freestyle at the Aruba Hi-Winds Competition ( July 2 to July 7. Or try it yourself. Aruba Boardsailing Productions (297-586-0989; runs windsurfing classes ($50 for two hours) and kitesurfing lessons ($100 for two hours). Beyond the beach the island has dozens of quirky attractions from an ostrich farm (297-585-9630; to a donkey sanctuary (011-297-584-1063;

HOW TO GET THERE It takes less than five hours to fly to Aruba nonstop from New York. Many airlines fly there each week, including JetBlue and American, which offer nonstop flights to the island from New York.

Dominican Republic

This country, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, has seen a surge in luxury developments in the last few years, with hotels offering $600-a-night rooms to go with their championship golf courses. But a wide range of all-inclusive resorts, affordable beachfront cabanas and relatively low-cost flights continue to keep the D.R.’s reputation as a bargain-hunter’s paradise intact.

WHAT TO DO For a pure beach vacation, Punta Cana’s powder-fine sands are some of the most popular, with tall, swaying palms and a wide range of resorts. Outdoor adventurers tend to favor the north coast, which features jungle forests, rolling mountain ranges, blue waters and golden beaches. Using the towns of Puerto Plata, Cabarete and Sosua as a base, travelers can go mountain biking, rock climbing or kiteboarding or just enjoy the sun. And culture-seekers can head for the capital, Santo Domingo, for a vibrant mix of night life, modern boutiques and Old World charm.

HOW TO GET THERE The Dominican Republic has seven international airports throughout the country, and there are many nonstop flights from the East Coast. For example, JetBlue has daily nonstop flights from Kennedy Airport to Santiago, Puerto Plata and Santo Domingo. Continental flies to Puerto Plata, Punta Cana and Santo Domingo nonstop from Newark. And American flies nonstop to Santo Domingo, Santiago and Punta Cana from Kennedy.


Among the largest islands in the Caribbean, Jamaica, with its beautiful beaches, lush mountains, secluded waterfalls, clear waters, plentiful snorkeling spots and melodic grooves, offers something alluring for pretty much any traveler. There are a dozen golf courses, raucous nightclubs, quiet beaches and a wide range of resorts from adults-only playgrounds to all-inclusive havens to quiet boutique hotels perched on cliffs.

WHAT TO DO Music lovers can check out Reggae Sumfest (876-953-8360; at Catherine Hall in Montego Bay from July 13 to 19. Explore the Green Grotto Caves (876-973-3217;, said to have been a haven for runaway slaves in the 18th century and featuring large rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites. A 45-minute guided tour costs $20 or $10 for kids 4 to 12. Go horseback riding, mountain biking, river tubing or even dog-sledding on wheels. Chukka Caribbean Adventures offers these and other tours (876-979-6599;

HOW TO GET THERE A wide range of flight options helps keep airfares to this island lower on average than to some of its smaller Caribbean counterparts. Air Jamaica has the most nonstops from the United States to Jamaica, including daily service to Montego Bay from Atlanta, Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, New York, Orlando and Los Angeles. In addition, there is daily service to Kingston from both New York and Miami.

St. Kitts & Nevis

This twin-island federation, located in the northern Leeward Islands of the eastern Caribbean, was made more accessible from New York last year when American Airlines began flying nonstop to St. Kitts in November. Now, travelers can leave New York in the morning and be on the beach, daiquiri in hand, by dinner time. Any one of four ferry services can take you to Nevis in about 45 minutes from $4 one way.

WHAT TO DO Hike Mount Liamuiga, St. Kitts’s dormant volcano. Cost is $65 for five-hour trip with the Tour Store. Take a three-hour railway tour ($90 a person) around the island by narrow-gauge railroad, built a century ago to haul sugar cane from the island’s plantations to the sugar mills (869-466-0413; Or just wander around the historic capital of Basseterre and take in the Creole and West Indian architecture. On Nevis, take a two-hour hike into the rain forest in search of vervet monkeys, also called green monkeys by the locals. (869-469-2758;

HOW TO GET THERE American flies to St. Kitts from Kennedy Airport in New York twice a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays, and five times a week from Miami. In February, Delta added a Saturday flight from its hub in Atlanta.

St. Lucia

Nestled halfway down the eastern Caribbean archipelago, this Windward Island, marked by the twin peaks of its dramatic Piton Mountains, has been gaining ground as a luxury destination with several high-end resorts to choose from in just the last few years. During the summer, however, even the Star, Moon and Sun suites at Jade Mountain (, which have private infinity pools and a fourth wall missing for maximum views of the mountains and sea, come down by $300 from peak season to $1,150, $1,300 or $1,600 a night.

WHAT TO DO During the summer, the island’s lush rain forest and secluded waterfalls are in full effect. Nature hikes ($10) and bird watching tours ($30) can be arranged with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (758-468-5645; From March to August, night tours are organized by the Heritage Tours (758-458-1454; to witness the arrival of leatherback turtles as they come ashore to lay eggs on Grand Anse Beach. Cost: $90 a person, tents and including transfers to and from hotel.

HOW TO GET THERE American Airlines flies to St. Lucia nonstop daily from Miami and three times a week on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays from Kennedy Airport (except during September and October). Delta flies to the island from Atlanta as does US Airways from Charlotte, N.C.

Turks and Caicos

Though technically in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea, the Turks and Caicos has pretty much everything you could want in a Caribbean vacation. Made up of some 40 islands and cays, of which only eight are inhabited, the archipelago has an extensive national parks system with 33 protected areas, excellent sailing and exceptional diving, especially along the Wall — the face of a 7,000-foot trench separating Grand Turk and Salt Cay from East Caicos and South Caicos.

Providenciales, or Provo as it’s often called, is the most developed of the islands, with a growing list of restaurants, resorts and spas — most of which are on the north shore, along the 12-mile stretch of Grace Bay Beach. The Turks and Caicos Music and Cultural Festival ( takes place on the island July 28 to Aug. 4 with performances by Lionel Richie and Anita Baker among others.

WHAT TO DO Provo’s calm, reef-protected waters and constant easterly trade winds make for good sailing, windsurfing or kitesurfing. Abuv-It-All, also known as Windsurfing Provo (649-241-1687; offers beginners’ windsurfing lessons starting at $90 a person. Visit the Caicos Conch Farm (649-946-5643; to see how conch are raised. Conc i6s a specialty on the island, served at fine-dining restaurants and casual establishments like Da Conch Shack on Blue Hills beach (649-946-8877; In search of solitude? Check out the extremely calm waters of Sapodilla Bay on the island’s southern tip.

HOW TO GET THERE American flies nonstop to Providenciales from New York and three times a day from Miami. There are also nonstop flights from Atlanta on Delta.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

St. Lucia Carnival 2016

Fresh out of St. Lucia's epic Jazz event, we step into St. Lucia Carnival 2016. 

Light! Camera! Action!

The premier event of the Summer, St. Lucia Carnival is a Carnival Event you do not want to miss. It launched on May 1st and will be having the major road display from the 16th to the 19th of July. That's 3 non stop months of Caribbean Carnival madness. And if you have ever partied in the Caribbean, you would know, no one parties like us!

Of course, the attendees of this Carnival can expect St. Lucia's usual world class level of entertainment ,and accommodation. You will be treated to the deepest roots of the island's culture straight from the heart and unlike any other.

Over on the official site for the event you will get all the information on the several shows, events, parties, competitions, cultural displays, and culinary throw downs that are to take place for the Lucian Carnival Extravaganza. 

So, what are you doing this summer? We know what we will be doing........St. Lucia, here we come!

Hop on over to the official site and book your ticket with some friends today! St. Lucia Carnival Site!

For all the party highlight check out Lucian Carnival
Beauty Best Sellers style=

Vacationing in Florida this summer

Florida which is Spanish for "land of flowers" is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. The state is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida and the sovereign state of Cuba. Florida is the 22nd most extensive, the 3rd most populous, and the 8th most densely populated of the United States. Jacksonville is the most populous city in Florida, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The Miami metropolitan area is the eighth-largest metropolitan area in the United States. Tallahassee is the state capital.

A peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Straits of Florida, it has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 km), and is the only state that borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the state is at or near sea level and is characterized by sedimentary soil. The climate varies from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south. The American alligator, American crocodile, Florida panther, and manatee can be found in the Everglades National Park.

Since the first European contact was made in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León – who named it La Florida ([la floˈɾiða] "land of flowers") upon landing there in the Easter season, Pascua Florida – Florida was a challenge for the European colonial powers before it gained statehood in the United States in 1845. It was a principal location of the Seminole Wars against the Native Americans, and racial segregation after the American Civil War.

Today, Florida is distinctive for its large Cuban expatriate community and high population growth, as well as for its increasing environmental issues. The state's economy relies mainly on tourism, agriculture, and transportation, which developed in the late 19th century. Florida is also renown for amusement parks, orange crops, the Kennedy Space Center, and as a popular destination for retirees.

Florida culture is a reflection of influences and multiple inheritance; Native American, European American, Hispanic, and African American heritages can be found in the architecture and cuisine. Florida has attracted many writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, and continues to attract celebrities and athletes. It is internationally known for golf, tennis, auto racing and water sports.

Florida's hottest attraction, and not just for kids and families any more, is Walt Disney World in Orlando. The magic of Disney has not worn off over the decades as millions of visitors flock here each year to enjoy the Magic Kingdom and the many other attractions of this mega amusement park.

Official site:

Universal Studios in Orlando is often much more than what most people are expecting. This huge theme park and working film and TV production studio offers all kinds of rides and experiences based on well known movies and shows. There are rides to entertain all ages. In addition there are hotels, restaurants, excellent shows, live music and more.

Official site: Universal Orlando

Everglades National Park

The Everglades National Park is the second largest in the country after Yellowstone and the largest subtropical wilderness in the continental U.S. It is a 1.5 million-acre tract of marshy land and swamp and an important and fragile ecosystem that supports alligators, American crocodiles, Florida panthers, deer, turtles, egrets, manatees, river otters and many other species.

The whole area is composed of a wide, shallow river that flows from Lake Okeechobee to the Bay of Florida. The bottom of this river is porous limestone over top of a bedrock base called the Tamiami Formation. It catches rainfall and acts as southern Florida's main water reservoir.

The park was created in 1947 after environmentalists finally convinced the government that the Everglades were vitally important to the balance of nature.

Official site:

Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Station, located near Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic Coast, is a 140,000 acre complex which has been the site of many space shuttle launches. Visitors can take a bus tour to see this large facility and explore the displays at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Official site:

Daytona 500

The Daytona 500 Nascar race is one of the most famous and considered the most important in the Cup series, kicking off the racing season in February. It is held in Daytona Beach at the Daytona International Speedway where it draws huge crowds every year. The Speedway was built in 1959 to move auto racing off the beach. Previously, races and land-speed competitions were held on the hard-packed sand of Daytona Beach.

Official site:

SeaWorld Orlando

Much like Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando has long been an important part of family vacations to Florida. This huge amusement park features to dolphin and whale shows, opportunities to experience close up encounters with marine life and see a wide variety of species in the various tanks, and also offers thrill rides for all ages.

Official site:

Busch Gardens Tampa

Busch Gardens is one of the most popular attractions in the Tampa area. This African theme park allows visitors to go on safaris and see all kinds of exotic animals as they roam through natural environments. Rides and other amusements are also a big part of the experience.

Official site:

Miami Beach

Miami Beach, including both the town and the actual beach, is the main attraction for most tourists heading to Miami. Located on an island connected to the mainland by bridges, Miami Beach features an historic Art Deco District and a wide swath of sand stretching along the oceanfront. The Art Deco buildings along Ocean Drive contain hotels and restaurants with nice views over the beach.

Dry Tortugas National Park

The beautiful reef islands that make up Dry Tortugas National Park are not accessible by car. Most people visit as a day trip from Key West. The Park is home to Fort Jefferson, an impressive complex built by the US Government in the 1800s. Visitors can tour the fort and then spend some time on the beaches, snorkeling, or enjoying a picnic.

Official site:

St Augustine's Historic District and the Castillo de San Marcos

Known for being one of the oldest settlements in Florida, St Augustine's historical sites and beautiful old architecture definitely make it worth a visit. At the top of the list of things to see is the late 19th century Flagler College, one of the most photographed buildings in the city. It was originally built as a hotel by railroad magnate Henry Flagler. Also not to be missed is the Castillo de San Marcos, famous for being the "oldest masonry fort in North America," according to the National Parks Service. Built in the 17th century, it is remarkably well preserved and an impressive site, even for those with little interest in history. The view over the coast is also quite spectacular.

Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg

The Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg is housed in a unique modern building designed to match the creativity of the artist himself. Curving glass appears to envelope the otherwise box-like structure, giving the building a very striking appearance. Inside, the museum showcases pieces from throughout Dali's career, providing a complete overview of his development as an artist. Even those with little knowledge of art will find this museum interesting and thought provoking.

Address: One Dali Blvd, St Petersburg
Official site:

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Organic Food in 2016

What is organic food?

Making a commitment to healthy eating is a great start towards a healthier life. Beyond eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and good fats, however, there is the question of food safety, nutrition, and sustainability. How foods are grown or raised can impact both your health and the environment. This brings up the questions: What is the difference between organic foods and conventionally grown foods? Is “organic” always best? Are GMO's safe? What about locally grown foods?

What does “organic” mean?

The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Specific requirements must be met and maintained in order for products to be labeled as "organic."

Organic crops must be grown in safe soil, have no modifications, and must remain separate from conventional products. Farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.

Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and be given organic feed. They may not be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal-by-products.

The benefits of organic food

Organic foods provide a variety of benefits. Some studies show that organic foods have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally grown counterparts. In addition, people with allergies to foods, chemicals, or preservatives often find their symptoms lessen or go away when they eat only organic foods. In addition:

Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Pesticides are chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. These chemicals are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat.
Organic food is often fresher. Fresh food tastes better. Organic food is usually fresher because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer. Organic produce is often (but not always, so watch where it is from) produced on smaller farms near where it is sold.

Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution (air, water, soil), conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. Farming without pesticides is also better for nearby birds and small animals as well as people who live close to or work on farms.
Organically raised animals are NOT given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts. The use of antibiotics in conventional meat production helps create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. This means that when someone gets sick from these strains they will be less responsive to antibiotic treatment. Not feeding animal byproducts to other animals reduces the risk of mad cow disease (BSE). In addition, the animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, both of which help to keep the animals healthy.
Organic meat and milk are richer in certain nutrients. Results of a 2016 European study show that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50 percent higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally raised versions. This may be because organic milk and beef come from cattle that graze on a natural diet of grass, while conventional meat and milk usually comes from animals fed with grain.
Organic food is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants or animals whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide. In most countries, organic crops contain no GMOs and organic meat comes from animals raised on organic, GMO-free feed.
The controversy surrounding GMOs and pesticides

The ongoing debate about the effects of GMOs on health and the environment and whether GM food in the U.S. should be labeled is a controversial one. In most cases, GMOs are engineered to make food crops resistant to herbicides (weedkillers) and/or to produce an insecticide. For example, much of the sweet corn consumed in the U.S. is genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup and to produce its own insecticide, Bt Toxin.

As well as corn, GMOs are commonly found in U.S. crops such as soybeans, alfalfa, squash, zucchini, papaya, and canola, and are present in many breakfast cereals and much of the processed food that we eat. Take a look at your favorite canned or packaged food. If the ingredients include corn syrup or soy lecithin, chances are it contains GMOs.

Are GMOs safe?

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the biotech companies that engineer GMOs insist they are safe, many food safety advocates point out that these products have undergone only short-term testing to determine their effects on humans and the environment. Since the technology is relatively new, no long term studies have ever been conducted to confirm the safety of GMO use, while some animal studies have indicated that consuming GMOs may cause internal organ damage, slowed brain growth, and thickening of the digestive tract.

GMOs have been linked to increased food allergens and gastro-intestinal problems in humans. Many people think that altering the DNA of a plant or animal can also increase the chances of developing cancer. However, so far research into the link between GMOs and serious disease has proven inconclusive.

GMOs and the increased use of pesticides

The introduction of GMOs has had a profound effect on the level of pesticides present on and in our food, and potentially on the health of human beings and the environment. Since many GMOs are engineered for herbicide tolerance—including most U.S. corn and soybean crops—the use of toxic herbicides like Roundup (glyphosate) has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. While the World Health Organization announced that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” there is still some controversy over the level of health risks posed by the use of pesticides.

What are the possible risks of pesticides?
Some studies have indicated that the use of pesticides even at low doses can increase the risk of certain cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Children and fetuses are most vulnerable to pesticide exposure because their immune systems, bodies, and brains are still developing. Exposure at an early age may cause developmental delays, behavioral disorders, autism, immune system harm, and motor dysfunction.
Pregnant women are more vulnerable due to the added stress pesticides put on their already taxed organs. Plus pesticides can be passed from mother to child in the womb, as well as through breast milk. Some exposures can cause delayed effects on the nervous system, even years after the initial exposure.
Most of us have an accumulated build-up of pesticide exposure in our bodies due to numerous years of exposure. This chemical "body burden" as it is medically known could lead to health issues such as headaches, birth defects, and added strain on weakened immune systems.
The widespread use of pesticides has led to the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs,” which can only be killed with extremely toxic poisons like 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (a major ingredient in Agent Orange).

Instead of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, organic farmers rely on biological diversity in the field to naturally reduce habitat for pest organisms. Organic farmers also purposefully maintain and replenish the fertility of the soil.

Organic vs. Non-organic Produce
Organic Produce
Organic produce:
No Pesticides in production

Grown with natural fertilizers (manure, compost).
Weeds are controlled naturally (crop rotation, hand weeding, mulching, and tilling).
Insects are controlled using natural methods (birds, good insects, traps).
Non-organic Produce
Conventionally grown produce:
Pesticides used
Grown with synthetic or chemical fertilizers.
Weeds are controlled with chemical herbicides.
Insecticides are used to manage pests and disease.
Locally grown fruits and vegetables

What is local food? Unlike organic standards, there is no specific definition. Generally local food means food that was grown close to home. This could be in your own garden, your local community, your state, your region, or your country. During large portions of the year it is usually possible to find food grown very close to home at places such as a farmer’s market.

Why people buy locally grown food:

Financial benefits: Money stays within the community and strengthens the local economy. More money goes directly to the farmer, instead of to things like marketing and distribution.
Transportation issues: In the U.S., for example, the average distance a meal travels from the farm to the dinner plate is over 1,500 miles. This uses a lot of fossil fuels and emits carbon dioxide into the air. In addition, produce must be picked while still unripe and then gassed to "ripen" it after transport. Or the food is highly processed in factories using preservatives, irradiation, and other means to keep it stable for transport and sale.
Fresh produce: Local food is the freshest food you can purchase. Fruits and vegetables are harvested when they are ripe and thus full of flavor
Small local farmers often use organic methods but sometimes cannot afford to become certified organic. Visit a farmer’s market and talk with the farmers. Find out how they produce the fruits and vegetables they sell.

Fruits and vegetables where the organic label matters the most

According to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that analyzes the results of government pesticide testing in the U.S., the following 14 fruits and vegetables have the highest pesticide levels on average. Because of their high pesticide levels when conventionally grown, it is best to buy these organic:
Sweet Bell Peppers
Cherry Tomatoes
Kale/Collard Greens
Summer Squash
Nectarines (imported)
Hot Peppers

Non-organic fruits and vegetables with low pesticide levels

These conventionally grown fruits and vegetables were found to have the lowest levels of pesticides. Most of these have thicker skin, which naturally protects them better from pests, and which also means their production does not require the use of as many pesticides.
Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas (frozen)
Sweet Potatoes
Does washing and peeling get rid of pesticides?
Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate pesticides. Peeling sometimes helps, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the skin. The best approach: eat a varied diet, wash and scrub all produce thoroughly, and buy organic when possible.

Source: Environmental Working Group

Organic meat and dairy

Organic meat, dairy products, and eggs are produced from animals that are fed organic, non-GMO feed and allowed access to the outdoors. They must be kept in living conditions that accommodate the natural behavior of the animals. Ruminants must have access to pasture. Organic livestock and poultry may not be given antibiotics, hormones, or medications in the absence of illness; however, they may be vaccinated against disease.

Use of parasiticide (a substance used to destroy parasites) is strictly regulated. Livestock diseases and parasites are controlled primarily through preventative measures such as rotational grazing, balanced diet, sanitary housing, and stress reduction.

Organic vs. Conventional Meat and Dairy
Regulations governing meat and dairy farming vary from country to country. In the U.S., the major differences include:

Organic meat and dairy:
No antibiotics, hormones, GMOs or pesticides are given to animals
Livestock are given all organic feed.
Disease is prevented with natural methods such as clean housing, rotational grazing, and a healthy diet.
Livestock and milking cows must graze on pasture for at least four months a year, while chickens must have freedom of movement, fresh air, direct sunlight and access to the outside.
Conventionally raised meat and dairy:
Typically given antibiotics, hormones and GMO feed grown with pesticides
Livestock are given growth hormones for faster growth.
Antibiotics and medications are used to prevent livestock disease.
Livestock may or may not have access to the outdoors.
What’s in American meat?
It is helpful to understand what the U.S. government allows in feed or to be used in conventional production:

Dairy cows – antibiotics, pig and chicken byproducts, hormones (for growth), pesticides, sewage sludge
Beef cows – antibiotics, pig and chicken byproducts, steroids, hormones, pesticides, sewage sludge
Pigs – antibiotics, animal byproducts, pesticides, sewage sludge, arsenic-based drugs (growth hormones are prohibited)
Broiler chickens – antibiotics, animal byproducts, pesticides, sewage sludge, arsenic-based drugs (growth hormones are prohibited)
Egg laying hens – antibiotics, animal byproducts, pesticides, sewage sludge, arsenic-based drugs
Source: Animal Feed

Understanding organic food labels

What do the food labels such as “organic,” "natural," "free-range," and "non-GMO" really mean? Understanding this terminology is essential when you’re shopping for organic foods.

The most important point to remember is that "natural" does not equal organic. "Natural" on packaged food is an unregulated term that can be applied by anyone, whereas organic certification means that set production standards have been met. These production standards vary from country to country—in the U.S., for example, only the "USDA Organic" label indicates that a food is certified organic. Similar certification labels are also offered on organic products in other parts of the world, including the European Union, Canada, and Australia.

USDA certified organic food labels in the U.S.

When you’re shopping for organic foods in the U.S., look for the “USDA Organic” seal. Only foods that are 95 to 100 percent organic (and GMO-free) can use the USDA Organic label.

100% Organic – Foods that are completely organic or made with 100% organic ingredients may display the USDA seal.
Organic – Foods that contain at least 95% organic ingredients may display the USDA seal.
Made with organic ingredients – Foods that contain at least 70% organic ingredients will not display the USDA seal but may list specific organic ingredients on the front of the package.
Contains organic ingredients – Foods that contain less than 70% organic ingredients will not display the USDA seal but may list specific organic ingredients on the information panel of the package.

When shopping for GMO-free food products in the U.S. and Canada, look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal, which means that no more than 0.9% of the product is genetically engineered.

“GMO free” or “Non-GMO” – without the seal, foods labeled with these terms have not necessarily undergone independent verification.
What does "Certified Organic" mean in the U.S.?
Keep in mind that even if a producer is certified organic in the U.S., the use of the USDA Organic label is voluntary. At the same time, not everyone goes through the rigorous process of becoming certified, especially smaller farming operations. When shopping at a farmers’ market, for example, don’t hesitate to ask the vendors how their food was grown.


Meat and dairy labels in the U.S.: other terms you need to know

The organic label is the most regulated term, but when it comes to meat in the U.S., we often see many other terms used. In order to make informed choices, it is helpful to know what some of these terms mean.

Natural or all natural – This label means “minimally processed” and that the meat can’t have any artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, or any other artificial ingredients in it. Animals can still be given antibiotics or growth enhancers and meat can be injected with salt, water, and other ingredients. For example, this term can be applied to all raw cuts of beef since they aren’t processed. The natural label does not reflect how the animal was raised or fed, which makes it fairly meaningless.
Naturally raised – This claim should be followed by a specific statement, such as “naturally raised without antibiotics or growth hormones” in order to obtain USDA approval. Read different labels carefully to understand what naturally raised really means to the piece of meat you’re buying.
Grass-fed – This term claims that the animals are fed solely on a diet of grass or hay and have continuous access to the outdoors. Cattle are naturally ruminants that eat grass, so they tend to be healthier and leaner when fed this way. In addition, grass fed beef has been shown to have more of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids. However, if meat is labeled as grass fed but not certified organic, the animal may have been raised on pasture that was exposed to or treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
Free-range or free-roaming – Broadly, this term means that the animals weren’t confined to a cage and had access to the outdoors. Unfortunately, there are no requirements for the amount of time the animals spend outdoors or for the size of the outdoor space available. The terms free-range or free-roaming also don’t apply to egg-laying hens. While it’s difficult to tell exactly what free range means on meat packaging, you can contact the producer directly for clarification.
Cage-free – The term means that egg-laying hens are not raised in cages. However, it does not necessarily mean they have access to the outdoors. Some eggs may carry the American Humane Certified label but many cage-free claims are not certified, making it a very misleading label.

Pasture-raised – This claims that the animals were not raised in confinement and had year-round access to the outside. Again, there are no requirements for exactly how much time the animals spend outside or the size of the outdoor space available, so it can be misleading.
No hormones added or hormone-free – This term indicates that animals are raised without the use of any added growth hormones. For beef and dairy products it can be helpful, but by law in the U.S., poultry, veal calves, and pigs cannot be given hormones, so don’t pay extra for chicken, veal, or pork products that use this label.
Certified Humane Raised and Handled – This is a voluntary certification regulated by the Humane Farm Animal Care, a non-profit organization aimed at ensuring the humane treatment of farm animals. The label means that animals have ample space, shelter, and gentle handling to limit stress, ample fresh water, and a diet without added antibiotics or hormones. Animals must be able to roam around and root without ever being confined to cages, crates, or tie stalls.
For more on meat labels, see the Resources and References section below.

Keeping the cost of organic food within your budget

Organic food is often more expensive than conventionally grown food. But if you set some priorities, it may be possible to purchase organic food and stay within your food budget. Purchase the organic versions of the foods you eat the most and those that are highest in pesticides if conventionally grown.

Venture beyond the grocery store. Consider the following ideas for finding organic food:

Shop at farmers' markets. Many cities, as well as small towns, host a weekly farmers' market, where local farmers bring their wares to an open-air street market and sell fresh produce direct to you. Often you will find items for less than you'd pay in the grocery store or supermarket.
Join a food co-op. Find out whether there is a natural foods co-op, also called a cooperative grocery store, in your area. Co-ops typically offer lower prices to members, who pay an annual fee to belong. However, you do not need to be a member to shop at a food co-op.
Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, in which individuals and families join up to purchase "shares" of produce in bulk, directly from a local farm. Local and organic!
Organic food buying tips

Buy in season – Fruits and vegetables are cheapest and freshest when they are in season. You can also find out when produce is delivered to your market. That way you know you're buying the freshest food possible.
Shop around – Compare the price of organic items at the grocery store, the farmers’ market and any other venue (even the freezer aisle).
Remember that organic doesn’t always equal healthy – Junk food can just as easily be made using organic ingredients. Making junk food sound healthy is a common marketing ploy in the food industry but organic baked goods, desserts, and snacks are usually still very high in sugar, salt, fat, or calories. It pays to read food labels carefully.
Why is organic food often more expensive?
Organic food is more labor intensive since the farmers do not use pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or drugs. Organic certification and maintaining this status is expensive. Organic feed for animals can cost twice as much. Organic farms tend to be smaller than conventional farms, which means fixed costs and overhead must be distributed across smaller produce volumes. Most organic farms are too small to receive government subsidies.

Enjoying the benefits of fish without harmful side effects

Fish is low in saturated fat and can be a good source of high-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients. Yet common toxins such as mercury are also found in fish. What does this mean? How much is okay? Which fish are safe?

Each year dangerous quantities of mercury are emitted into the air (an aspect of widespread industrial pollution). When it rains, this pollution goes into our lakes and oceans where it contaminates the fish and shellfish that live there. Eating fish contaminated with mercury, a poison that interferes with the brain and nervous system, can cause serious health problems. The top predators, such as sharks, contain the highest levels of these contaminants. Nursing mothers, pregnant women, and young children have the highest risk, so should avoid all large fish (shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, etc.).

In recent years there has been a huge decline in many species of fish, caused by unsustainable fishing and farming practices. This means that if changes are not made soon, many wild populations of fish may become extinct.

Sustainable seafood choices

Seafood can be part of a healthy diet if you know what type of fish to choose. There are a number of smartphone apps and downloadable wallet-cards for you to keep on hand to use in the grocery store or a restaurant. These guides are updated often and contain the latest information on healthful and sustainable seafood choices. Find links in the Resources section below.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Unique Chicken Recipes

Chicken we eat it all the time and most of us could use some new ways to spice things up in the kitchen with our native meat of choice.

So, here we will post delicious new and interesting ways to have our favorite meat the chicken. Will be updated frequently.

First up!

Maple mustard Chicken


4-6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
1/2 cup of maple syrup
1/3 cup of stone ground mustard
2 Tbsp quick cooking tapioca


Spray a shallow cooking pan with cooking spray and place chicken breast inside. In a bowl combine, maple syrup, mustard, and tapioca, pour over chicken. Bake for 45 mins to 1 hour and serve with rice, quinoa, or even mashed potatoes.

Slow Cooker Asian Glazed Chicken


1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce* (more of less, depending on how hot you like it)
1/2 cup water
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sesame seeds


Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place chicken in crock pot. Combine soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, sugar, garlic, ginger, hot sauce, and 1/2 cup water in a bowl and pour over chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours OR high for 3-4 hours. Once done cooking, pull chicken out and place on large plate. Mix together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and pour into remaining liquid in the slow cooker. Turn heat to high (if it wasn’t already) and cook for another 15 minutes (or until sauce thickens a little bit). Shred chicken and add back into liquid in slow cooker. Serve over rice, topped with green onions and sesame seeds.

Hawaiian Grilled Chicken


3 pounds chicken thighs
2 cups soy sauce, If using Kikoman's, make sure its low sodium
2 cups water
1½ cups brown sugar
1 bunch green onions, reserve some for garnish later
¼ cup sweet onion, finely chopped
½ tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk


Trim chicken of any fat. For chicken breasts, since they are thicker, I poke them with a fork all over so the marinade can soak in. In a large bowl, mix soy sauce, water, brown sugar, onions, garlic, sesame oil, and coconut milk. Pour marinade over chicken and marinate for at least four hours, overnight is preferred. (for chicken breasts, I would definitely say over night is best to ensure the flavor is greatly absorbed) Grill chicken until chicken is cooked through, switching sides half way through. It is delicious over coconut rice, garnished with green onions and any additional soy sauce if needed! To make coconut rice: Replace half of the water in your rice recipe with coconut milk.

Chicken Cacciatore

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 tbsp (30 mL) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet green pepper, chopped
1 tsp (5 mL) dried Italian herb seasoning
1 28 oz can (796 mL can) diced tomatoes
1/2 cup (125 mL) sodium-reduced chicken stock
1/3 cup (75 mL) tomato paste
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley


Toss chicken with flour, salt and pepper. In large shallow Dutch oven, heat half of the oil over medium-high heat; brown chicken, in batches and adding some of the oil if necessary. Transfer to plate. Drain fat from pan.

Heat remaining oil in pan over medium heat; fry onion, garlic, green pepper and Italian seasoning until tender, 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, stock and tomato paste; bring to boil.

Return chicken and any juices to pan; reduce heat and simmer until thickened and juice run clear when chicken is pierced, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.