Organic Melinda

healthy living with a Latin twist

Last Chance for YOU to enter this Book Giveaway

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Here’s your chance to win a #FREE copy of my #book!!

Share this image to your social media networks and make sure to tag Organic Melinda (@organicmelinda #organicmelinda).

Please, link to my website:

where you can find FREE information on #organic,#nongmo, #vegan living and #tips on how to #save #money and #balance your #home and #family #life.

Entries will be accepted until Monday, September 16.

#Winners will be selected, randomly.

Make sure to #tag me and #share publicly to win!
#fitfam #giveaway #freebies #organicliving #fitspo


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In honor of Artemis saying what I want to believe is “I love you” for the first time, today, I am offering a 45% (Yes. FORTY-FIVE PERCENT) discount on my book, L.I.V².E. (Latin-Inspired Vegan & Vegetarian Eats): Local & Organic Recipes to Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle for the next 24 hours.

Yes – for only 24 hours, you can get a copy of L.I.V².E. for the super cheap price of $10.99 ($19.99 value).

Get your copy, TODAY at

Use the discount code wp50.

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What do you mean by Organic?

Recently, a friend asked me what I meant by living an organic lifestyle, so I thought it would be a good idea to write a blog explaining my answer to this question.

The word organic derives from the Greek word organikos, which is related to organs.  In chemistry, the word organic is used to describe all items that contain the element carbon.  Following the development of a raise in consciousness about food, the word organic has become synonymous with food that is grown in a natural and chemical-free way.  In other words, it is food as nature “intended” it to be.

When I speak of organic food, I am not just discussing food that has the label USDA ORGANIC.  Actually, I have learned that there are major politics involved in USDA labeling that favor the wealthy as the process, especially in the state of New Jersey, is really expensive.  In an interview with one farmer, he explained to me that all of his products are organically grown, but in order to pay for the labeling, he would wind up going bankrupt.

For me, being Organic Melinda is about living life as naturally as possible.  That is, I aim to avoid synthetic chemicals in my food, the products I put on my body and clean my apartment and clothes with, and I aim to live a lot closer to nature than my urban existence allows at the moment.

I see human beings as being part of the animal kingdom and I do not exactly subscribe to complete distinctions between man and nature.  I actually believe that our material separation from nature is the cause of many of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual illnesses.  I know that when I hike, go to the beach, or spend a long time surrounded by trees, waterfalls, and sand, my spirit feels renewed.  Any anxiety or bad feelings that I feel, immediately, go away when I surround myself with nature.  That is a testament to me that we need to live closer to the earth as we once did pre-concrete.

I am a poet and a writer at heart, and I have always felt a deep connection to the world around me.  So, being organic also takes the connotation of being my true and authentic self.  What does that really mean?

Well, personally, I love to hug trees. It makes me happy, so I do it. I like to twirl like a ballerina at random moments, so I do it. I try to live in the moment as much as possible.  My teachings have taught me that much of the anxiety of our times is related to worrying too much about the future or thinking too much about the past. So, in true Buddhist fashion, I try to stay in the now as much as possible.

I avoid modern medicine, most of the time. I try to move away from medical interventions and rarely take any prescription medications.  I strive to do the same for my daughter.

So, for me, being organic also meant experiencing the pains of child birth, stalling medical intervention as long as possible, performing vaginal birth, and breast feeding my daughter.

But, what is most important for my readers is to understand is that I do what feels RIGHT for ME and I research to ensure the best possible decision making processes for myself and my family.

I am a vegan, because I do not separate myself from animals. I believe they have a right to life, to love, to feel, and have experiences.

You have to do what feels right for you, and as a blogger and woman on my own journey, I can only provide an example of what it might mean to be organic.

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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.

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6 Tips to Eating Organic on a Budget

With food justice concerns on the rise as obesity and the rate of cancer escalate during the recession, people on a budget are always wondering if they, too, can afford to eat healthy organic food. While it may seem impossible to eat organic on a budget, I am here to tell you that it is completely doable. Here are six quick tips to eating organic on a budget:

1. Buy bulk.

Whole Foods Market has a great bulk dispenser section that is full of an array of beans, different types of rice, grains, and fruits and nuts at affordable prices.

Example: A 16 oz can of Goya beans costs about $2. A 2lb bag of dried Organic beans cost 3.24$. With the bag of dried beans, I am able to get about 8 times more beans than with a can of beans. It’s just a little bit more work because you have to soak the beans overnight. However, you save a lot of money and get healthier food.

2. Shop in the middle or end of the month.

There are always specials in the middle of the month at supermarkets because people are more likely to go shopping at the beginning of the month.

Example: I am obsessed with Kale. It’s my favorite leafy green. Organic Kale tends to be on the pricier side of items at about 3.49$ for a pound. In the middle of the month it goes down to about 2.89$ a pound. Those 50 cents add up!

3. Eat all of your meals at home and pack lunch.

Many of us have very intense work schedules, but if you add up all of the money that you spend eating out in a month, it can easily be in the hundreds. By packing your own lunch, you can save about 200$ a month.

Reminder: An easy way to make sure you pack your lunch is to add extra food when you make dinner and pack that.

4. Join a food cooperative.

Co-ops are a great way to get your hands on fresh food right from the farm without having to pay supermarket prices. You pay a fixed amount and get a few pounds of food weekly or every 2 weeks. They are great way to try new foods as well.

To find a co-op near you, go to:

5. Grow your own food.

Even in the city, it’s very easy to grow a few items, especially herbs. I am currently growing Basil on the windowsill in my apartment. All you have to do is water the plants and change the soil from time to time.

Example: Organic basil is generally quite pricey, but I was able to purchase a plant from Wholefoods for 1.99$ and have been eating basil from the same plant for about 3 months.

There are a lot of food items that you can grow from your apartment as long as you have a
window that lets in some sunlight! For a list of items you can grow at home check out:

6. Recycle your shopping bags.

Supermarkets that sell organic food and are committed to healthy living often offer discounts for customers who reuse their shopping bags.

Example: Whole Foods Market offers $0.10 for every bag that you reuse!

For more information on how to eat organic on a budget and for healthy recipes, check back on the blog periodically.

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Healthy Food Ideas

When I was 9 and a half years old, I shocked my mother and family when I declared that I would never eat meat, again, while spending the summer in Puerto Rico.  My mom was convinced that it was just a phase.  A Vegan Puerto Rican? Hah! Yeah, right.  Almost 20 years later, she still tries to sneak in animal products in my food hoping that I will eventually give up my herbivore ways.

So, how did a 9 and a half year old child decide to become a vegetarian?

Well, it started when my uncles who owned a restaurant in Puerto Rico brought a pig to my abuelo’s house in Moca, Puerto Rico.  As an animal-loving child, who often let bugs feast on me (because they were just hungry), I was excited to see this really, really big, pink pig in my uncles’ car.  Maybe, scenes from Charlotte’s Web were playing in my head at the time, but all I could remember was the excitement to touch him and listen to him snort.

I walked down the blue and white cement stairs of my abuelo’s house, ran to the pick up truck, and BANG!! before I could get any closer, I heard the pig scream and watched it fall to the floor.  My uncle shot it in the forehead.  I assumed it was a gun, but as an adult, I imagine it was probably a device used for such things.  I stood there paralyzed from shock and disbelief. I loved pork, chuletas, pasteles, guisados, pernil, and so many more dishes made from the flesh of pigs.  I could not move my eyes when my grandfather grabbed the lifeless pig and cut open its stomach.  Somehow, I had moved from my original spot by then, and I was sitting on a ledge on the side of the house.  I could see the downward slope of the cliff, the trees, hear the coquis, but I sat there watching him remove the guts from the inside of the pig.  Every white tissue, pink fiber, organ, and heart was taken out and placed in a bucket.  My abuelo and tios proceeded to cut it apart and get it ready for dinner.

Moments passed that seemed like seconds.  Apparently, it had been hours.  When mami came with the giant plate of food that my abuelo’s wife made for our dinner, I just stared at the piece of meat on the plate.  I begged her to take it away.  I ate my arroz con gandules, and that was it.  I never ate meat, again.

For many years, eating vegetarian just meant removing the meat from my plate. I would eat the rice, the beans, the mofongo, and salads, but I wouldn’t touch anything that ever had eyes.  As I got older and learned more about food and balanced eating, I began to learn that there was an entire world of food that I was missing out on.

When I was 19, ten years after starting my vegetarian lifestyle, I began to experiment with food and to develop my palate.  I learned about kale, flax, chia, vegan desserts, quinoa, and so many other amazingly healthy foods that were actually birthed from Latino America and pueblos indiginos.

I’ve started this blog to share my journey with others, to say that yes, you can be vegan and Puerto Rican and/or Latino, Boricua, Afro-Caribbean,  etc.  Many of our foods already lend to a vegan lifestyle. My mom taught me how to make vegan pasteles and empanadas and other goodies.  You can also find very creative ways to make cultural foods healthier for you, your body, and your children without having to become a vegetarian.   Veganism is my choice, but I know it isn’t everyone’s.

With this blog, I will share my journey with you, introduce you to different food concepts, like the current debate over organic and genetically modified foods, and so much more.  It is also a precursor to my upcoming cook book, which will be released by the end of the summer.

Please follow, subscribe, look me up on tumblr, Facebook, Instagram,  and Twitter and embark on this journey with me.  Username will always be OrganicMelinda.


Me in El Yunque a few years ago.