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Rudy Miss Coco's dog treatsMy dogs deserve organic food and Miss Coco’s One Lucky Dog treats.

By Jan Walsh

Dog Photography by Beau Gustafson 

My mission for my family to eat Non-GMO and organic includes my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Thus they are not fed any GMOs knowingly. I know where my food and my dogs’ food and treats come from, and prefer locally made or made in my own kitchen. I trust and buy Idie Hastings’ new line of dog treats, Miss Coco’s One Lucky Dog. And I buy organic foods, such as organic, local pasture raised chicken, eggs, and organic vegetables, which I supplement with organic dog foods.

Miss Coco's dog biscuits ingredients Miss Coco’s One Lucky Dog Treats combines founder, Idie Hastings’ passion for dogs and her charitable work. The treats are named for her rescue dog, Coco Chanel, that is highly motivated by food. As a board member and Vice President of Hand in Paw, a portion of the proceeds benefits Hand in Paw. Hand in Paw is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Birmingham, with a mission of improving human health and well-being through animal-assisted therapy. Hastings’ dog Nigel, a rescue from Cavalier Rescue of Alabama, will be training to be a therapy dog. “I decided to make my own dog treats about ten years ago because of the health scare to dogs from eating store bought treats. The industry doesn’t seem to be very well regulated and too many dogs were getting sick and even dying from store bought dog food and treats,” Hastings explains. Making and producing the line of biscuits is both a hobby and passion of Hastings, whose ultimate goal is to eventually start a dog food company. Hastings sources all natural, whole ingredients. The treats are Non-GMO and most of these products consists of five or less ingredients and are even safe for human consumption. In addition to the biscuits and granola, Hastings is working on Coco’s kisses, a dog friendly carob, and safe chocolate option for special occasions. My two lucky dogs, Rudy and Wyckie love and highly recommend both the biscuits and granola! The treats are available at OvenBird and OneLuckyDogTreats.com. And they will soon be found in boutique hotels and specialty stores. Hastings shares her love of food with her husband, chef Chris Hastings. The couple owns two local restaurants, Hot and Hot Fish Club and OvenBird.

Miss Coco's One Lucky Dog treatsWhen buying commercial dog foods and treats, don’t necessarily buy what your veterinarian sells. You must read the labels, including USDA Organic and Non-GMO dog foods. Carrageenan is found in 70 percent of canned pet foods and is linked to intestinal inflammation. Synthetic preservatives such as, BHA, BHT, propyl gallate, propylene glycol, or ethoxyquin are common preservatives in pet food and are linked to organ damage and cancer. Look for Non BPA cans. The lining inside cans of pet food contain this endocrine disruptor that can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Avoid artificial food dyes, such as red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, and blue 2, and CSPI. Dyes can cause allergic reactions, hyperactivity, organ damage, and cancer. Avoid Rendered Meat Byproducts. Pet food regulations allow the use of meat from animals that died “otherwise than by slaughter.” The FDA has also found residues from a drug used to euthanize animals in 30 different samples of pet food (evidence of euthanized animal parts in pet foods, including dogs and cats). In some states, rendering facilities that process dead animals are also authorized to process roadkill and rotten meat, along with the remains of animals that died of disease. According to Cornucopia Institute, this can possibly lead to degenerative neurological diseases in pets. And just as in people food, the ingredients listed first make up the largest percentage of ingredients. I want to see organic poultry and meats as main ingredients and do not buy products with GMO grains of corn and soybeans and avoid fillers such as wheat, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, and brewer’s rice, as moldy grains, containing carcinogenic mycotoxins, are still allowed in pet food. 

Published, B-Metro magazine, October 2016

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By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Coconut oil is extracted from the “meat” of coconuts.  It is high in saturated fats. Yet these are not typical saturated fats, such as those found in meat and cheese. It contains lauric acid, a type of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which are metabolized differently than long chain fatty acids. It has been shown that lauric acid increases the good HDL cholesterol in the blood to help improve cholesterol ratio levels. MCTs can also increase energy, kill harmful pathogens, and reduce appetite. Coconut oil is good for your skin, hair, mouth, and can also be used as a mild sunscreen, blocking harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.

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By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


I have enjoyed fresh caught fish and seafood since I was a child. I can recall my “Daddy Joe” taking me on my first fishing adventure to Highland Lake, near Oneonta. I threw my line from the bank straight into the limbs of a tree hanging over the water. I was not concerned about the line but was worried that the worm was afraid being up so high, given his home was in the earth. I have fished a couple of times since that time—before deciding to leave fishing to the pros. Read Review

 

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By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

One of the most important staples in your pantry is your cooking oil. What is it? If you buy an organic potato and cook it in GMO oil, it is no longer organic food. It is a GMO potato. Read Review

 

 

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Most egg labels are intended to confuse you.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Which eggs do you buy?  With so many descriptors on the labels, you might be fooled into thinking you are buying clean, Non-GMO eggs when you purchase eggs with the following labels: all natural, farm fresh, no hormones, vegetarian diet, omega-3, cage-free, and free-range. Whenever possible I buy my eggs from local farmers, who I know have pastured raised their hens and not fed them GMO feed. In spring and summer months it is easy to find these eggs at local farmers markets. The eggs have bright orange yolks and are full of flavor verses dull pale yellow yolks eggs, which come from caged hens that are not allowed to forage for a natural diet. These local farm eggs are also far more nutritious than commercially raised eggs. But in fall and winter months my access to these farmers at local farmers markets is reduced leaving me to rely on labels in the grocery store. Read Review

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Know where your meat comes from, Marble Creek Farmstead.


By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Marble Creek Farmstead is a small, sustainable family farm located in Sylacauga, Alabama. The owners Jesie and Matthew Lawrence named the farm after Sylacauga, the Marble City. Marble Creek Farmstead grows fruits, vegetables, and flowers—all free from pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. And their forest, garden-style orchard is in the planning stages. Marble Creek Farmstead also has a line of all humanely raised, natural, pastured raised meats.  If you do not know the difference between family farms and factory farms, Goggle “factory farms,” or watch Food, Inc. documentary. Unlike many factory farms where chickens are jammed in chicken houses, cattle never see much less eat grass from their muddy pens in their own filth, and pigs are kept in windowless sheds with no sunlight or fresh air, Marble Creek Farmstead’s animals are never fed genetically modified organisms GMOs. The farm raises pastured Cornish cross and red ranger broiler chickens for meat and has approximately 80 egg laying birds in mobile chicken tractors with a chicken moat coming soon. They are fed non-GMO chicken feed, some of the spent brewer’s grain from Druid City Brewing, and what they find in the pasture. Read Review

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Samuel Smith is Yorkshire’s oldest beer and USDA Organic.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Samuel Smith is among the few independent breweries remaining in England. They brew at The Old Brewery at Tadcaster, Yorkshire's oldest brewery founded in 1758 when its original well was sunk. The well is still used today for drawing brewing water from 85 feet underground. Traditional brewing methods have also been retained here including making its own copper, repairing its oak casks, and hand-weighing hops by the master hop blender. Its naturally conditioned, draught beer is hand-pulled from oak casks. And the brewery has used the same strain of yeast since the 19th Century. Samuel Smith’s ales and stouts are fermented in “stone Yorkshire squares,” made of solid slabs of slate. The brewery also keeps tradition with its team of Shire horses, among the last active dray horses in the world, delivering beer in Tadcaster. Samuel Smith also operates over 300 pubs, offering only beers produced by the Tadcaster brewery and serve no large corporation spirits or soft drinks. Read Review

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By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


I am a tomato snob. I admit it. If I had to choose one fruit that I could have in season—all the time—it would be tomatoes. And it would be heirloom tomatoes of all shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. If you are new to heirlooms, don’t expect them to all be round and red.

Heirloom tomatoes do not have the genetic mutation that gives tomatoes a uniform red color. And unlike the seeds of hybridized plants, Heirloom seeds “breed true.” And unlike the seeds of hybridized plants, Heirloom seeds “breed true.” Both sides of an heirloom variety’s DNA are derived from a stable cultivar, whereas hybridized seeds combine different cultivars. People often ask how grocery store tomatoes can look so pretty and taste so awful. The same mutation that makes tomatoes red also ruins a tomato’s historic taste and texture. So unlike thick skinned, mealy grocery store tomatoes, heirloom skins are thin, bruise and crack easily, and shelf life is shorter. So grow your own or purchase local heirlooms. Read More


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Photography by Beau Gustafson

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Photography by Beau Gustafson


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Photography by Robin Colter

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Photography by Robin Colter

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Photo By Robin Colter


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