Organic Melinda

healthy living with a Latin twist

Last Chance for YOU to enter this Book Giveaway

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Farm to People: Buying Locally Grown Food – Review of Nourishing Newark Farmers’ Market

Many of the supermarkets in Newark do not have a large supply of fresh fruits and veggies. Instead, most of the supermarkets are full of processed and packaged foods. Access to healthy and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables is one of my main concerns when it comes to food justice, and programs like Nourishing Newark Farmers’ Market exist to address this concern.


Figure 1

While walking to Question Mart a few weeks ago, I noticed what appeared to be a festival in Washington Park (across the street from the Main Public Library in Washington Street, Newark, NJ). It was not a festival at all; it was the Nourishing Newark Farmers’ Market. I felt like I hit a gold mine. I really, really love fresh foods, and it does not get much fresher than a Farmers’ Market when you don’t own your own garden.

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  Figure 2                                                                        Figure  3


Figure 4

I walked into the park seduced by the live Jazz music, and immediately noticed the large crates of romaine lettuce, garlic, potatoes, watermelon, corn, peppers, herbs, tomatoes, zucchinis, and various greens (See Figures 1-4). The farmers’ market had all of the fresh veggies that Question Mart was lacking on my visit there. I, immediately, noticed a white sign that read “No GMOs” (See Figure 5) on the Matarazzo Farms stand. Before purchasing food, I walked around and spoke to the various stand employees, but most of the employees did not have opinions on GM foods. When I asked an employee of one stand where he sourced his seeds, he said, “I don’t know. The regular way?” Unconvinced by this response, I went back to the Matarazzo Farms stand.

nongmo sign

Figure 5

The employees at the Matarazzo Farms stand had a lot to say about GMO foods, the politics of USDA Organic labeling, and the need for people to buy locally grown food. I was told that Matarazzo Farms has been run by the same family for almost 100 years. The current head farmer is Jim Matarazzo, who I met on a subsequent trip to the Nourishing Newark Farmers’ Market. Jim is very knowledgeable on the food industry and the infiltration of GM foods into supermarkets. He was very patient with my many questions and provided me with a list of organizations that I should research in order to have a deeper understanding of USDA Organic labeling, which I was informed is very expensive in New Jersey. Many New Jersey farmers grow foods in a way that would be considered organic, but they cannot afford the certification of USDA Organic labeling. In other words, many farms in New Jersey are GMO-free and pesticide-free even though their foods are NOT labeled USDA Organic.

Not only were the employees of Matarazzo Farms well informed on the issues that interest Organic Melinda and my readers, their prices were significantly cheaper than what I have been paying at Whole Foods Market, Pathmark, and Trader Joe’s. It appears that one of the main reasons organic food is more expensive than non-labeled food is to cover the costs associated with Organic Certification. On a Wednesday trip to the Nourishing Newark Farmers’ Market, I spent only $10.00 on a nice amount of produce (See Figure 6). On a Thursday trip, I bought some fresh fruits and vegetables for only $18.50 (See Figure 7). I have paid upwards of $50.00 for the same amount of produce. I am, now, exclusively, buying produce in the Nourishing Newark Farmers’ Market until it ends for the season. The market is inspiring quite a few of the recipes for my upcoming cookbook.

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Figure 6                                                                             Figure 7

The Nourishing Newark Farmers’ Market is available in Newark three times a week. I attend on Wednesdays or Thursdays before 3:00 p.m EST. The Wednesday market is located at Washington Park across the street from the Newark Main Public Library. On Thursdays, the market is located on the corner of Raymond Blvd and Broad Street in the PSEG Plaza.

On my visits, I find that the Wednesday market is smaller than the Thursday market. On Wednesday, I only saw 2 farm stands, a smoothie stand, a honey stand, and a snack stand. On Thursday there were three farm stands and various stands of cooked food and desserts. Both days feature live music.

I am very happy to report that Nourishing Newark Farmers’ Market is available to Newark residents. They accept SNAP/Food Stamp benefits, WIC benefits, and, of course, cash, debit and credit. The Farmers’ Market most definitely received the Organic Melinda stamp of approval!

For more information and to locate a Farmers’ Market near you, visit:

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Which Diet is Right for me?

Dear Organic Melinda,

I recently learned about GMOs and have been trying to eat/cook/drink non-GMO and organic. However, I am overwhelmed with all the information I have been reading that sometimes even contradicts each other.

Also, there are so many “diets” (blood type/paleo/vegetarian/etc) so how do I know which I should do? I have also found so many recipes but I don’t have time to cook every single meal from scratch so I get very discouraged because it seems like too much work. I would love simple meals and snacks that take little time to prepare. What would you suggest?


Debt Free Annie

Dear Debt Free Annie,

First, I want to start by congratulating you on your journey towards becoming a healthier you.  I, too, was very overwhelmed in the beginning.  When I discovered that most of the soy in the world was genetically modified with RoundUp Ready, I was terrified.  “What had I been putting into my body,” I thought.  But, let us start with baby steps.

  1. Keep following my blog.  Over the next few weeks, I will post up a list of food items that contain GMO ingredients or are suspected of doing so.
  2. Start by purchasing non-GMO Project verified foods.
  3. Buy at local farmer’s markets from farms you know and trust that do not use GMO crops or chemical pesticides.  I will, also, be providing a list of non-gmo farms in the New Jersey area in the next few weeks.
  4. As you familiarize yourself with which food items actually contain GMOs, you can simplify your life by buying organic produce.   Click here for my blog post on How to Eat Organic on a Budget.

Now, let’s move on to your second question.  Which diet is best for you?

Diets tend to ebb and flow with the times.  What was popular ten years ago is not the “in” thing, today.  When approaching a new dietary lifestyle, you need to do what makes the most sense for you and your family.  My first piece of advice is to eat WHOLE foods, which are foods that have not been processed, come in a box, or contain synthetic chemicals.

The premise of many diets, such as the blood-type diet and the paleo diet is to get back to a base level of real foods.  Many people lose hundreds of pounds on these diets, which make them appear to be miracles, but it is a lot simpler than that.

If you were consuming a lot of highly processed foods with added sodium, oils, and sugars, and you replace processed foods with fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, of course, you are going to lose weight! It doesn’t take a lengthy scientific explanation to see why this would be the case.  Our bodies can more easily digest food in its natural state, and the elimination of added sugars and fats reduces our caloric intake.  The paleo diet and blood-type diets also emphasize exercise and sleeping in healthier cycles.  These, too, contribute to dramatic weight loss.

So, what are your goals? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to eat healthier? Do you want to help save animals and not contribute to the factory farming industry?

All of these questions can influence your dietary choices.

I have chosen the vegan lifestyle, because I am not comfortable with taking the lives of animals.  Furthermore, I do not want to contribute to the cruel industry of factory farming where animals live in miserable conditions and are tortured their entire existence.  I believe that, because I do not feel comfortable taking the life of an animal, I have no right to consume its flesh.  This is my opinion, but it might not be yours.

So, how do you know which diet is right for you? I suggest that you sample the ones that interest you for 30 days, and see how your body reacts to each. This will be a better indicator than any advice I can give you.

I tried a vegan version of the paleo diet and eliminated all grains.  Through trying paleo, I discovered that I am gluten intolerant. After a few months, however, I began to add some grains back into my high-raw, vegan diet.

You might find that your dietary lifestyle fits somewhere in between two diets, where you borrow from both as mine did.

The goal should be to live a long, happy, and healthful life.  I know this process seems overwhelming, but just take it one day at a time.

I hope to help guide you on this journey as I embark on it myself.

For healthy and easy snacks, you can look forward to my upcoming cookbook, which will be released by summer’s end.  The recipes will be simple and not require many exotic ingredients.  You will learn over 30 easy recipes to help your family eat more fruits and vegetables and live a healthier lifestyle.

I hope I have answered all of your questions.  If you have more questions, please email me at  I will be answering questions every week from one lucky reader.


Organic Melinda

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Introduction to GMOs

Through this blog, I aim to educate readers on genetically modified food (GMOs), discuss the politics and debates surrounding GMOs, and talk about healthy eating, in general. Further, I aim to provide resources for individuals trying to avoid GMOs and document the budding “Grow Foods, Not Lawns” movement in the United States. I will, also, be looking at food rights and food justice, in general, in hopes to bring light to the challenges people in the U.S.A face in accessing healthy and affordable food.

In this blog post, I will begin by introducing a few of these topics, which will be further developed in weeks and months to come.

What are GMOs?

GMOs are genetically modified organisms. These are plants or animals that have been genetically altered by scientists.  Sometimes, GMOs are referred to as GE products, meaning genetically engineered, or simply as GM products to designate that they are genetically modified. GMO, GE, and GM are often used interchangeably.

Examples of crops that have been Genetically Modified:

  • Strawberries spliced with the genes of peanuts or fish
  • Tomatoes altered with the genes of fish
  • Corn that produces its own pesticides when touched by insects
  • Bananas with the rotavirus vaccine
  • Roundup Ready* Soybeans, Sorghum, Canola, Alfalfa, and Cotton

*Roundup is a pesticide created by Monsanto.

Who created GMOs?

There are various biotech companies that have created different types of genetically modified foods.  Two of the biggest agri-corporations are Monsanto and Dupont.  Monsanto is most famous for creating Agent Orange and DDT, two pesticides that were later found to be highly cancerous.

What’s the big deal with GMOs?

GMOs were released into our food supply sometime in the late 1990s.  GMOs were not adequately tested in the United States before they were made available for human consumption.  Many people are worried that the high rates of cancer and other medical problems that many Americans are now facing, have been caused by GMOs.  The big deal is that GMOs have been approved for human consumption without adequate testing.

Are GMOs safe?

There’s no way of really knowing without adequate testing.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the sale of many GMO foods stating that the food is genetically close enough to the original crop. It is important to know that about 20 other countries have banned or severely limited GMO foods.

Studies in Italy with lab mice eating GMO feed found that the mice developed very large tumors. The mice that did not eat GMO foods did not develop any tumors.

Do I eat GMOs?

If you eat at fast food joints, ingest pre-packaged food in supermarkets, or eat anything NOT labeled organic, there’s a huge chance that, YES, you are eating genetically modified food. Right now, the U.S.A. does not require the labeling of GMOs.

Should GMOs be labeled?

Yes, I believe that GMOs should be labeled.  They are labeled in many other countries, including Brazil, Russia, Colombia, Chile, Australia, the European Union and Japan.  Consumers should have the right to choose whether or not they want to eat food that has been tampered with scientifically.

How can I avoid GMOs?

Because GMOs are not labeled in the USA, we have four main options to avoid them.

  1. Grow your own food from organic/non-GMO seeds.
  2. Buy from a farmer you trust that grows non-GMO crops.
  3. Eat food that has the Non-GMO Project logo on it.
  4. Eat only organic foods.