Lundberg Organic Sushi Rice 25 lbs

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Posted by David | Posted in Delicious Organic | Posted on 05-02-2013

If you are looking for a great tasting organic sushi rice, the Lundberg Organic Sushi Rice is an excellent choice. Especially, if you are Korean or Japanese and looking for a good tasting organic rice that is affordable, this is it. The price for a 25lb bag normally retails around $49-60 but if you add a whopping $30 UPS online shipping for those 25lbs, the price is way over what you would expect.

 

Lundberg Organic Sushi Rice 25lbs

 

Fortunately, this is where Amazon’s Free Super Saver Shipping comes into place. Along with the low $44.45 rice price and free shipping, this is the best price for the Lundberg Organic Sushi Rice. Also, if you order regularly (like I do), it’s best to select the Subscribe & Save option that brings down the price to $42.23! Subscription delivery can be anywhere from 1 month to 6 months at your convenience.

Black and Decker TL10 Electric Tiller Review

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Posted by David | Posted in Organic Gardening | Posted on 03-04-2012

My first electric tiller purchase, the Sun Joe TJ601E, turned out to be a failure and I placed my bet on the new Black & Decker TL10 electric tiller, a new 2012 product released just weeks ago.

Although there were no in-depth reviews available, I decided to try it out with the 30 day risk free trial and see if it is as powerful as advertised.

The prices online, including Amazon, is $249.99 for the TL10. However, searching further, I noticed a $50 off discount on Black & Decker’s website making it $199.99 (until April 30th, 2012). While the order is processed by Amazon, you need to add the product from Black & Decker’s website for the TILLER50 coupon to actually discount the price.

It’s on the way now so I’ll put up my review in more detail once it arrives.

[Update] My tiller got lost during shipping. UPS is running a tracer for the lost package. Black & Decker will not ship out new product until UPS completes the trace. My gardening and other plans will have to be delayed!

For those who have never experienced a lost UPS package, I’m leaving a timeline to let you know how inconvenient it can be:

April 2nd, 2012: Order Placed.
April 5th: Order shipped from North Carolina. (destination 1 hour north of NYC)
April 9th: UPS misses delivery date, tracking information shows package never left New York processing facility on the 7th.
April 10th: Contacted UPS about delivery. UPS says it can be considered as lost due to no update for the past 24 hours. Instructed by UPS to contact shipper to initiate package trace. Got in touch with Black & Decker customer service which initiated trace immediately.
April 13th: Without any update on tracking information, tiller was suddenly delivered.

Without any notice or update on the tracking info, the tiller was delivered to my house. A bit bruised here and there on the box, but the package was there when I got back from work.

On to the review…

Despite the double and extra taping on the outside box, the inside seemed to be okay. Taking out the parts one by one, I could tell this Black & Decker had higher quality than the Sun Joe tiller that I returned. Assembly seemed slightly complicated at first, but it actually wasn’t. Tools needed were an adjustable wrench and a 10mm socket wrench only. Assemble the handles, put in the wheels and drag bar, attach the tines and everything was good to go! It took about 30 minutes to complete everything.

The unit itself has a bit of weight to it but everything felt solid. The wheels were nice and big and the weight compartment on the top was a bonus. Turning on the tiller, it gave a little loud noise which came slight a bit of a  surprise as there was no mentioning of it but it did seem to show the power of the unit.

My main concern with the unit was basically power. I needed to till an area with heavy sod, lots of rocks and even tree roots. The Sun Joe tiller failed quite miserably, even in rather loose soil. This new unit was advertising power and my expectations were quite high… and it did not disappoint me at all! The Black and Decker TL10 had plenty of power. While it did not rip through the sod immediately, the process was gradual but it did go through all the grass and roots as much as I needed. The rocks that caused so much trouble when shoveling were not a problem any more. Small rocks were not an issue at all and when it hit bigger rocks, the unit would slightly bounce but after moving the tiller forward, digging deeper and then backing up, all the larger rocks were spit out eventually. Some of the rocks were more than twice the size of my fist, too!

The TL10 rarely bogged down and even with a bunch of roots, grass and weeds wrapped around the tines (picture above), the machine seemed to be working fine. I didn’t know there was so much debris on there until I stopped to check it visually. After hitting several rocks and roots was when it bogged down a bit, but the unit itself never overheated or shut down itself during the initial 1 hour and half I used it. I did turn it off every now and then to remove the roots on the tines and to pick up the rocks spit out by the tiller but there was no sign of loss of power. I am quite confident this tiller will do its job.

[Update: 04/22/12 - Problems & Suggestions]

I bumped into a problem during my 2nd major use of the tiller today. The hitch pin clip holding the left tines must have popped out while tilling and I just could not find it.

I read a review on Amazon about the same problem and I kind of dismissed it but it definitely is a problem. I was planning a good 2-3 hours of tilling today, but without the pin, I failed to work further and my project will have to be on hold. I am planning to contact Black and Decker about this problem and will order 5 more pins to keep my tilling going, but I think Black & Decker should quickly design and supply a replacement pin with a screw cap that can be secured permanently. The quick release pin does come in handy, especially when removing wrapped weeds or roots on the tiller shaft, but I think it should come with an option (or method) to secure it better than this.

[Lost Pin Update 05/01/02] I found out that the hitch pin clip replacement was easy to find and cost only $0.43 at a local hardware store. If it is this easy and affordable, I think it will be okay to keep the quick release pin design.

Another suggestion I’d like to make is on securing the cable. Originally, the cable is supposed to be folded in a U-shape and put through the cord hole from the bottom and hung on the plastic holder. For smaller gauge cables it could be okay, but with the 12 gauge cord recommended for the length I had, it was a bit too tight to conveniently put it through. I just made a knot and hung it but will probably knot it to the handle next time. A slightly larger hole would be good.

Also, a sturdy handle (hand grip) above the main unit would be good, too. Sometimes, especially when the wheel is set higher for deeper tilling, it’s much faster to just carry the tiller than to use the wheels for short moves.

Overall, I am very happy that this tiller had the power and met up to my expectations. I can’t wait to till up all the soil and put my gardening work into full gear.

Building My Own Organic Garden Step 2 – Tilling the Ground

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Posted by David | Posted in Organic Gardening | Posted on 03-04-2012

To loosen up the soil and get rid of the existing grass and weeds, I needed to till the ground. I also plan to mix some of the little compost I made during the past few months while tilling.

I dug up the ground with a shovel today and determined it would take too much time and effort to till a whole 16′x32′ area. I thought about renting a tilling machine from Home Depot but the gas machines they have are heavy and knowing I would have other uses for a tiller, I decided to buy an electric one on my own.

I found one that seemed to have decent power and width, the Sun Joe TJ601E 9-Amp Electric Garden Tiller, but searching further, I found out I could get a refurbished model from the manufacturer at $129. The new model comes with an extra year of warranty (2 years) but I was fine with the 1 year warranty on the refurbished model.

I went ahead and placed the order and received the tiller very quick as it was shipped from NJ. Unfortunately, the tiller purchase was a bad one. I tried to use and keep the Sunjoe tiller, but it just did not work the way I needed it to. The tiller did not have enough power to go through my ground and just kept shutting down, the left wheel kept falling off and the right wheel cover did not hold its place. In addition to that, there was a small minor screw missing, a bolt on the tiller shaft completely loose and multiple other screws loose as well. A sign of poor workmanship or poor inspection on a returned product.

I could anytime tighten any loose parts but most importantly, the tiller barely tilled much and just kept shutting down only to waste my time waiting for it to reset. Contacting the manufacturer, they decided to accept my return on this product, probably less any shipping costs.

I placed my order on the next electric tiller, the Black & Decker TL10. The order is processing so I’ll be updating more when I get the product.

I’ll be shoveling and setting up the fence in the meanwhile…

Making My Own Organic Garden Step 1 – Planning

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Posted by David | Posted in Organic Gardening | Posted on 22-03-2012

I’ve always wanted to have my own organic vegetable garden. There is nothing that tastes better than fresh vegetables and fruits picked straight from the vine and I really felt it was about time I put my gardening ideas into reality.

My Future Organic Garden

Making a vegetable garden in yard with a high outdoor animal population is a challenging task, especially when your house is in the middle of a deer path. My plan is to set up a good deer fence and entrance on my own with minimum costs involved. I take pride when it comes to saving money while accomplishing tasks and I hope my story can give you ideas and possibly help out in setting up a new vegetable garden.

A cost-effective garden comes with good planning and smart spending. Here are the main things that I needed to tackle:

  1. Tilling a garden area of 16′x32′ and setting aside an area for composting.
  2. Setting up a 6 foot deer fence with protection against smaller animals.
  3. Choosing plants, buying seeds, germinating and raising small plants.
  4. Transferring plants and enabling them to grow.

The first thing I want to do is to set an area and till the ground to loosen up the soil and to remove existing grass and weeds. I also want to water the tilled ground and leave it for a week or two to let other weed seeds germinate and then till the ground again to remove them. While waiting for the weeds to germinate and grow a bit, I would prepare the fence, order seeds and plant them.

Choosing plants was quite easy. I prepared a list of the things my wife and I wanted and came up with this:

  • Green Onions
  • Cucumbers (regular and Persian)
  • Cantaloupe or Honey Dew
  • Tomatoes (regular and Cherry)
  • Lettuce
  • Basil
  • Zucchinis
  • Watermelon
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Sesame Leaves

I’ll probably want to add more but this seemed already enough for my not-too-large garden. Now it’s time to put some gloves on and get to some action!

Is That Wild Caught Fish Really Wild?

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Posted by David | Posted in Organic Facts | Posted on 20-02-2012

When you are at the fish market, many of the fish are marked either “wild caught” or “farm-raised”. Wild caught fish is preferred by most health-conscious people and is usually more expensive than their counterpart farm-raised fish.

However, while reading through articles on the internet, I came up with a strong urge to question the validity of these wild fish.

A huge number of fish are hatched in fish hatcheries scattered throughout the U.S.. It would be good if these hatcheries just “hatched” the fish and released them, but in reality, most of these fish are brought up on fish pellets until they are a few inches larger and then released into the wild.

Of course, this is probably the only way to keep the fish abundantly stocked in local waters to keep anglers and fishermen happy, but with these fish out in the wild mixed up with the “real wild fish”, it really makes me wonder if there are any 100% pure wild fish in our waters today.

Another downside of these hatcheries is contamination. Here’s an article on how hatcheries have a possibility to ruin our waters:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002269291_hatchery10m.html

Genetics also seem to be changed with hatchery born fish:

http://marinesciencetoday.com/2009/06/24/the-fish-hatchery-solution-leads-to-more-problems-than-solutions/

This is another sad, sad story. Let’s keep our nature, as it is, as much as possible. If we do need to use hatcheries, let’s make and keep them completely non-toxic and just use them to hatch, not to raise.

Galvanina Organic Italian Blood Orange Soda

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Posted by David | Posted in Delicious Organic | Posted on 09-02-2012

If you’ve tried blood orange soda in the past and weren’t impressed, I can totally understand you. Regular Italian blood orange soda sold on the shelves of most stores don’t have that flavor and sweetness of a good soda. However, this organic blood orange soda I first tried out in a store in California was quite amazing!

While this soda comes in various names in different stores, the original source is the Organic Italian Blood Orange Soda made by Galvanina from Italy.

This is pretty much my favorite fruit soda. It has an excellent burst of blood orange flavor and sweetness that is just delightful. When served to many friends around me, there was not one person who did not seem to like it and many asked where they could get it from.

I like to keep a good source of delicious organic products but keeping the supply for this soda came in a bit tricky.

So far, the stores I’ve found with this blood orange soda in the past are:

Safeway/Vons – O Organics Blood Orange Soda
A&P – Greenway Organic Blood Orange Soda
Costco – Galvanina Organic Blood Orange Soda
DeCicco’s – Galvanina Organic Blood Orange Soda (orginal packaging), $3.99

Our local A&Ps do not carry this anymore and I’ve heard that Costco discontinued them as well. (Why???)

Costco's Galvanina Blood Orange Soda

Contacting Galvanina’s US distributor, I received notice that their products are sold in Safeway stores and also at Whole Foods under the 365 brand! I will definitely pick one up on my next visit to Whole Foods. [Update: Our local Whole Foods does not carry the 365 branded Blood Orange Soda, only a non-organic one that I avoided purchasing.]

Another secret I would like to mention is that the grapefruit flavor is equally awesome! It has the crisp, tinge and sweet flavor of a good grapefruit without the bitterness. If you like grapefruit soda, you should definitely give it a try! (note: the other flavors, such as pomegrenate and blueberry weren’t much satisfying)

I’m still searching for a place to buy the grapefruit flavor in New York. I’ll post it here when I find it!

Is Your Drinking Water Safe?

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Posted by David | Posted in Organic Facts | Posted on 07-06-2011

Here are a few lines quoted from a NY Times article about the poor condition of tap water in the States.

Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show

…the E.P.A. has reported that more than three million Americans have been exposed since 2005 to drinking water with illegal concentrations of arsenic and radioactive elements, both of which have been linked to cancer at small doses.

But federal regulators fined or punished fewer than 8 percent of water systems that violated the arsenic and radioactive standards.

But many systems remained out of compliance, even after aid was offered, according to E.P.A. data. And for over a quarter of systems that violated the arsenic or radioactivity standards, there is no record that they were ever contacted by a regulator, even after they sent in paperwork revealing their violations.

Do you think your tap water is safe? I use well water as most residents do in the upper Westchester area of New York, but I myself don’t think it is safe. Do you still think your water is clean because otherwise, it would be illegal? You may want to think again. Try reading these articles, too:

Debating How Much Weed Killer Is Safe in Your Water Glass

That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy

I wish we could have kept the environment clean so we wouldn’t have to worry about what goes into our water… we need to preserve our natural environment, not just for us, but for future generations to come!

Blue Sky Organic Cola

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Posted by David | Posted in Delicious Organic | Posted on 21-05-2011

Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola are probably the 2 most enjoyed soft drinks ever. I can only imagine that there are only a few pizza lovers or spicy food lovers who are able to resist the temptation of an icy cold refreshing cola next to their food. However, very few are aware of the not-so-healthy and even carcinogenic ingredients of these products.

If you’ve already switched to natural or organic food, you know you want an alternative drink somewhat comparable to these 2 drinks.

Unfortunately, Whole Foods, the largest organic retailer in the States, carries only tea based cola or natural cola types that really aren’t that satisfying at all and the prices aren’t appealing, either. In my opinion, Blue Sky Organic Cola is the closest organic beverage to conventional cola products. I know Coke lovers won’t be completely satisfied but with the USDA organic certification there, I’m sure it’s a much more healthier choice.

Blue Sky Organic Cola is sold at Vitamin City in San Dimas, California or at Clark’s Nutrition located throughout Southern California. Online, you can purchase in 24 packs (as low as 64¢ a can, free shipping) from Amazon.com.

On the East Coast, Amazon.com orders are shipped from PA and they ship fast! If you are in New York City, you can probably receive these the next day!

Stonyfield Organic Chocolate Ice Cream

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Posted by David | Posted in Delicious Organic | Posted on 15-05-2011

A good organic ice cream isn’t that easy to find. I used to enjoy the organic Vanilla and Strawberry ice cream from Breyer’s but I just cannot find their organic line of ice cream anymore. My next choice comes to Stonyfield’s Organic Chocolate Ice Cream.

 

Stonyfield Organic Chocolate Ice Cream

Stonyfield Organic Chocolate Ice Cream

This chocolate ice cream doesn’t have that somewhat artificial chocolate taste you find in normal ice cream. It’s very smooth and quite satisfying even though I’m not a chocolate fan myself. Our kids love it! The ice cream on this picture was bought during a special for $2.50 each (2 for $5) at Mrs. Greens, a local natural food store. Most stores selling organic ice cream should carry them in stock as their drinking yogurts are also popular.

I like their vanilla flavor, too. Other flavors are strawberry, caramel and coffee. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend giving it a try.

Two More Reasons to Avoid Mass Produced Honey

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Posted by David | Posted in Organic Facts | Posted on 19-04-2011

 

I passed by a part of an article on CNN on bees and mass-produced honey. It’s quite sad to hear most people, unknowingly, don’t eat honey that was produced and collected the natural way:

 

Hives in danger

Backwards Beekeepers are advocates of chemical and pesticide-free beekeeping — far different, they say, from the commercial beekeeping industry.

An alarming number of hives have disappeared in what scientists call colony collapse disorder. The worker bees simply vanish leaving the hive empty except for the queen and drones.

More than 29% of bee colonies were lost between fall 2008 and winter 2009, according to the USDA. The agency said that represented between 580,000 and 770,000 hives. Between 2009 and 2010, about 34% of hives were lost.

Read the USDA report

It’s devastating the commercial beekeeping industry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates more than one third of the world’s crops, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts, are pollinated by bees.

Bates calls it “chemical collapse disorder” because the commercial beekeeper is using miticide and antibiotics inside the hive to control Varroa mites and stress — all characteristics of CCD.

Eric Mussen, a honey bee expert at UC Davis agrees: “The majority of commercial beekeepers do put chemicals in their hives mostly to control Varroa mites.”

“Bees are stressed,” says Bates, “when they’re transported thousands of miles (by commercial beekeepers) and not allowed to leave the hive. They’re starved between trips and they won’t poop in the hive. When they get there, they’re fed corn syrup and artificial pollen.”

Bates says he’s not vilifying the commercial beekeeper, but he does point out that the methods and practices aren’t sustainable.

 

Next, another article from CNN states the 76% of the honey on grocery store shelves are absent from pollen.

http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2011/11/09/most-honey-sold-in-u-s-grocery-stores-not-worthy-of-its-name/

According to this article, a third of honey sold in the US is likely to be smuggled in from China where harmful antibiotics are frequently used. The following link details this unfortunate story.

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/08/honey-laundering/

Here’s another article that confirms links between pesticides and Colony Collapse Disorder:

Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought

http://www.qz.com/107970/scientists-discover-whats-killing-the-bees-and-its-worse-than-you-thought/