Natural vs Organic, is there a difference and which one is better?

A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit the Safeway HQ to learn more about Open Nature, a Safeway private label that offers high quality, minimally processed products. 

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We all know the “natural” label is ambiguous, overused and even abused, but Safeway strives to be transparent, specifying four criteria: Raised without antibiotics, No added hormones, fed an all-vegetarian diet and No artificial preservatives. (source) Which I appreciate since the food industry can be so confusing. 

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One of the most frequently asked questions I get from my clients is: “Natural vs Organic, is there a difference and which one is better?”

Answer: Natural and organic both imply that food is healthier and more wholesome than conventional foods, but the terms are not interchangeable. When possible I always suggest to choose organic foods, but natural can be a good option as well. Especially If they are providing transparency on ingredients and where the food is sourced from. 

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During the Safeway blogger tour, one of the chefs who does all the food testing walked us through all the different food offerings provided by Open Nature. The meat and seafood by Open Nature are all natural, fed with all vegetarian diet (no grain finish), no artificial preservatives and seafood was all sustainable and responsibly farm raised. This is a big thing for our family because we’re a lot more conscious about the source of our meat and seafood and how it was treated prior to us eating it. 

We toured the rest of the facility and learned about how they product test and how Open Nature reverse engineers other well-known products to try to recreate the product and make it better. Coming from my tech background I thought that was fascinating. So when you’re shopping at Safeway and happen to pick up an Open Nature toilet paper or one of the other 100 different products know that it’s an economic alternative to one of the more popular brand name items you might normally buy. 

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Do I buy organic food all the time?

When possible, yes. We always shop for organic grass-fed meat, sustainable seafood, and organic produce (especially if it’s on the Dirty Dozen list). If it’s on the Clean 15 list, then we’ll save an extra dollar or two and purchase conventional because the amount of pesticides on the produce is so low that it doesn’t do any harm to the body. If organic options aren’t available I’ll go for all natural, but only if it has simple real food ingredients.

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Although we got to taste the different Open Nature foods during the blogger tour, the real taste test is when you bring it home to the fam. I picked up a package of Open Nature grass fed burger patties and buns. We wanted to taste test them for flavor before our camping trip. I was pleasantly surprised with the ingredients in the buns. Every ingredient listed was something my 8-year-old could read, which for me is the key to simple wholesome food.

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What I loved about the patties was the flavor. I usually make my own grass-fed burger patties fresh when I have time, but sometimes getting something easy, pre-made, and SIMPLE store bought does the trick too.

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Organic vs Natural, what should you choose?

My biggest advice about healthy food choices is: educate yourself on the type of foods you're eating and where it comes from. For some people, organic food choices may not be an option due to where they live and location. A few other things to keep in mind is that some small farms and food purveyors may not be organically certified due to the high cost to maintain the certification, but raise and cultivate their food in the most sustainably responsible way. Other countries outside the US may not label their food organic or natural, but have much higher standards than the US of what is considered natural. 

Always do your research and choose what's right for you. 

This post was sponsored by Safeway, but all the thoughts are 100% my own. 

My July Playlist

Music plays a huge role in #highwoodhaus. When the weather's nice, we have all the windows open to the atrium and we just let the breeze come in through the doors while lo-fi streams through the house. 

When I'm talking on my IG stories I get questions about the music I have playing in the background all the time so I figured I'd share the songs that are moving my heart this month. Hope you enjoy. 

And in case you missed my collaboration with Sonos and Mindbodygreen from a few months back, check it out. It's kinda crazy to look back at our space before we started to really fill it with new furniture. 

CBD Protein Energy Balls Recipe

Ok the recipe you all have been dying to know for the past two weeks. My CBD protein ball recipe. I didn't want to share this until I wrote out my experience with CBD just because it didn't make sense and I knew I'd have a ton of questions about CBD. If you haven't had the chance to read the blog post yet, GO NOW!

These CBD protein balls are something I typically take before or after my workout, depending on what other sorts of a meal I decide to eat before I train or SoulCycle. Some days I have this as an evening dessert when I want something sweet, clean, and tasty to eat. 

CBD Protein Balls Recipe

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Ingredients:

  •  1 1/2 cup of oatmeal (rolled or old-fashioned)
  • 1 cup of protein powder
  • 1/2 cup of nut butter butter
  • 1/4 cup of ground flax seed
  • 1TBS of chia seeds
  • 2TBS of liquid stevia
  • 3-4 full droppers of Lit from Within CBD from Mowellens
  • 2 TBS of Keeper's Stash Honey from Mowellens (optional for sweetness and a little more CBD)
  • 1/4 cup of dark chocolate (added when making these for the kids/left out for me when keeping it clean)

Directions:

  1. Stir all the ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Pop into the fridge for 20-30 minutes, this will make it easier to roll into balls.
  3. Then once mixture is cooled, roll into shape, devour, and enjoy.
Yield: 4

CBD Protein Balls

prep time: 25 minscook time: total time: 25 mins

These CBD protein balls are something I typically take before or after my workout, depending on what other sorts of a meal I decide to eat before I train or SoulCycle. Some days I have this as an evening dessert when I want something sweet, clean, and tasty to eat.

ingredients:

  •  1 1/2 cup of oatmeal (rolled or old-fashioned)
  • 1 cup of protein powder
  • 1/2 cup of nut butter butter
  • 1/4 cup of ground flax seed
  • 1TBS of chia seeds
  • 2TBS of liquid stevia
  • 3-4 full droppers of Lit from Within CBD from Mowellens
  • 2 TBS of Keeper's Stash Honey from Mowellens (optional for sweetness and a little more CBD)
  • 1/4 cup of dark chocolate (added when making these for the kids/left out for me when keeping it clean)

instructions:

  1. Stir all the ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Pop into the fridge for 20-30 minutes, this will make it easier to roll into balls.
  3. Then once mixture is cooled, roll into shape, devour, and enjoy.
Created using The Recipes Generator

 

You can store this in the freezer for up to two weeks if you'd like. Enjoy! 

Are you using CBD with your foods? Share some recipes with me below!

My Experience using CBD

My Experience using CBD

I'M OBSESSED! I 100% support the plant healing power of cannabis and CBD. I've never felt addicted to any of the products I've tried and its enhanced my life in so many ways. I've recommended it to friends and to some coaching clients to try while dealing with their own pain, inflammation, or anxiety issues. Of course, the effects are always different based on the person and product. It's been my substitute for traditional pain relief medications and unless I deal with something more severe I don't think I'll be going back.

JUST ASK JO: How are your photos so perfect!?

This week's JUST ASK JO is another one on photography and it's short and sweet. I've shared some technical knowledge on photography in my first blog post on the Basics of Photography, Then on the second JUST ASK JO post I went a little more in-depth on equipment and gear. This one we'll talk a little bit more about visual creativity and where I draw my inspiration from.

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Question:

Hey Jo!

How are your photos so perfect?

- Nina


I'm flattered you think my photography work is perfect because like most artists and creators I'm really hard on myself. Along with having a strong understanding of lighting, composition, and the type of camera I'm using; I'm always looking for ways to improve my work and train my eye to see things differently.

I once read in a book, “Don’t look. See!” At first, I didn't get what that meant, but the more I kept repeating it in my mind when I was out and about I started to "see". I've always had a love for street photography. To me when I see it, it's life in the moment nothing that's overly curated or posed. It's truly a stolen moment in time. When I shoot weddings and couples this is how I approach my subjects.  

“Don’t look. See!”
— Henry Carroll

I've been a professional wedding photographer for over 9 years now. As a wedding photographer, I'm constantly shooting with different lighting scenarios and have that extra pressure of not being able to recreate a shot or moment again because a wedding day is just one day out of their lifetime. Since I'm not huge on using flash or artificial light I really have to rely on how natural light affects what I'm photographing. 

Light is your subject

One other thing is to learn to see light as your subject and observe it frequently! Look at how light affects the space around you and the objects around you. Notice how it draws out certain textures, colors, and detail. Does it attract you to look at a specific point on the subject or scene? You've got to start looking at light the way you look at life, you've got to take it all in.  Below are some lighting examples.

The photos below are all taken by me unless mentioned otherwise. You can see more on my VSCO.

Hard Light

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Hard light is probably my favorite light to shoot. I love the contrast between the light and the darkness. It's dramatic, a little unforgiving, and exposes all. It creates depth and packs an intense punch.

Soft Light

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Soft light is more even and can still cast a shadow like hard light, but is not as intense because the light is coming from multiple directions. It's one of my favorite lighting scenarios to photograph portraits and food because it still provides a little bit of depth, but you have the ability to still see the things that are in the shadows. The eye naturally travels through the entire photograph rather than in hard light it might only travel where the light wants you to travel. In soft light, you view the whole story rather than bits and pieces.

Learn to see light as your subject and observe it frequently!

One thing to note is that soft light can be flat which means that there are no shadows or highlights to create depth in an image leaving the photography to feel very matter of fact. Compare the two below and see if you can notice which one looks and feels flat while one makes your eye travel throughout the photograph?

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My favorite soft light to photograph in would be most commonly known as open shade. Open shade is found in an area that is shaded from direct sunlight but is not falling directly on your subject. The light is typically reflecting onto your subject.  Some photographers emulate this by using a lighting device called a softbox, but you can also do this by using window light

Here's an experiment: place your subject at different angles to the light. Notice how the shadows change, giving your subject a different feeling.

There are plenty of other lighting scenarios and each photographer might call it a different name, but keeping it simple allows you to be open to learning how to play with it as you see it. Be aware of how natural light changes throughout the day. Just like my nutrition philosophy on not labeling food good or bad, I do the same with light. A lot of photographers and creators get stuck in thinking that the best light is golden-hour and although its an absolutely stunning light to shoot in, you can limit your creativity by only wanting to shoot during this time of the day. 

Photo composition tip: Get close. Then get closer. 

When taking photos I always think of the story the subject in the photo is telling. Even inanimate objects tell a story. So here's what I mean. 

 1. take a photo of the entire scene

1. take a photo of the entire scene

 2. then get close

2. then get close

 3. then get closer

3. then get closer

 4. even closer.

4. even closer.

When you start to see things in this manner you can begin to create a better story with what your eye is trying to convey. If you're ever with me when I'm shooting something, you'll hear me say things like "We need to give it some life." In other words, give it a story to tell. You can do this by stepping in and getting more intimate with your subject, even inanimate ones. 

Photographers rarely nail the shot the first time. So give yourself time to learn. Practice practice practice

Where I find photography inspiration?

Pinterest and VSCO are two places I pull a lot of visual inspiration from. Many people don't know but VSCO has an extension in their app where you can explore images from other VSCO community members. I have always found the images on there a whole lot more thought-provoking than the ones I discover in my Instagram explore feed. I spend a lot of time people watching when I'm out and about. Doing that helps me see what people do naturally and how they interact with one another. It also helps that I'm a wedding photographer.

Oddly enough my inspiration for portraits is typically from old black and white war photography. To me the images are raw, they speak volumes of truth and emotion. When I photograph people, I try to capture the feeling they have inside, freeze the moments in time, and give them a moment in their life to go back to.

A tip I got from my friend Elana was to create a visual mood board of inspiration. You can use Pinterest or Instagram and bookmark things to a saved collection. Start adding photographs and visual media that speak to you on these boards. This will help you begin to understand what your eye really loves to see and what speaks to you. 

I've been loving this JUST ASK JO series on my blog. So keep the questions coming. I hope these have been extremely helpful to you!