The vaccination debate
Few health debates have raged more fiercely in the past several years than the vaccine debate. Even well-known celebrities and late-night talk show hosts have debated the topic on both sides - and with good reason.

While the mainstream medical establishment asserts unequivocally that vaccines are completely safe, and every child should be fully vaccinated, a growing number of concerned parents and natural health experts have warned against various health issues that may be caused or worsened by vaccines - particularly the rise in the incidence of autism. There are literally thousands of anecdotal stories of children showing autistic symptoms immediately after receiving a battery of vaccines - though medical science denies these claims. Other citizens simply don't wish to feel forced by the government or medical establishment to medicate their children.

Whatever the reason is, there are a growing number of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children - and some health officials are becoming concerned about the potential risks to public health, such as the resurgence of diseases that have been mostly eradicated by widespread vaccination, including polio and others.

The interesting video below explores both sides of this debate in detail, and sheds light on the pros and cons of vaccinations.

Community Supported Agriculture
I haven't mentioned CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture programs) in a while, but even though we now get the majority of our summer produce from our own garden, we do still participate in a winter CSA program from a local organic farm that uses unheated greenhouses and high tunnel techniques (a la Eliot Coleman) to grow fresh greens and other veggies throughout the winter months. They also provide a number of partner items from other local businesses and farms - including apples, honey, maple syrup, natural soaps, dry goods such as beans and flour, and more. Participating in this program allows us to eat mostly local year-round! (We also buy almost 100% of our meat from various local small farms which raise animals humanely on pasture.)

While not everyone necessarily has access to these resources, there are now thousands of CSA programs throughout the U.S., so unless you live in a very rural area, you most likely have at least one near you!

We share some helpful information about Community Supported Agriculture on our CSA page, but I recently stumbled across this comprehensive infographic, and thought it might be fun to share it with you... Check it out below to learn lots of interesting and informative tips about CSAs including the benefits of participating, questions to ask when choosing a CSA, and how to make the most of your share, as well as some recipes for using some of the more uncommon vegetables that you may find in your CSA!

Note: We will be taking a blogging break next week to enjoy spring! However, we will be sending out an important email with a FREE resource that you won't want to miss if you care about your health... If you aren't already subscribed to receive our updates, please do so now via the box to the right, so you don't miss out!

Cell phone dangers
Ah yes, the cell phone debate... For years, people have been debating whether cell phones are bad for your health...or perfectly safe.

While many in the natural health community have remained leery, most people simply think of cell phone warnings as hyped-up scare tactics from "health nuts." However, a recent ruling in California may begin to change the tide of public opinion.

If you have ever wondered about the safety of cell phone use, this new official warning may make you think twice about sleeping with your cell phone next to you on your night stand, or wearing your wireless headset all day...

Fermented ginger ale
If you are at all interested in health, you almost certainly know how bad soda pop is for you. Most commercial sodas are packed with sugar - or even worse - high-fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, and of course, weight gain. The "diet" versions are even worse, if that's possible, containing cancer-causing chemical sweeteners such as aspartame.

So what is a soda lover to do? Must you give up those cold, refreshing, fizzy drinks forever?

Not at all! In fact, it is surprisingly easy to make your own healthy, homemade soda pop at home. When you make your own, of course you can control what goes in it, and even better, you can also use a natural fermentation method to create that fizzy sparkle, while actually turning your soda pop into something that is GOOD for you! That's right - natural fermentation creates healthy bacteria that support a healthy immune system and improve digestion. We've talked before about the many health benefits of probiotics, and fermenting your own beverages is just another way to get more of these healthy probiotic bacteria into your diet.

There are all kinds of fizzy fermented beverages that you can make at home - from juice-based sodas, to root beer, and more. If you want to take it to the next level, you could even make hard cider (something that I have been experimenting with over the past few years, with varied but generally delicious results), but today we're keeping it simple, and sharing a delicious recipe for a refreshing, bubbly, and healthy (non-alcoholic) ginger ale.

Below is my favorite recipe - I have made this several times, and I think I have finally gotten it down to the appropriate ratio of ginger for me; my first batch was not quite gingery enough for me, and the second was way too potent! I think the third time was the charm... You can of course experiment to find the right level for yourself.

Miracle of Garlic
Whew! Things have been pretty serious around here for the past couple of weeks (if you haven't checked out the last 2 posts, I highly encourage you to do so - it's a very important topic for everyone), so I thought we'd take a little break this week with a fun giveaway!

This free gift actually ties in quite nicely with the new model of health we've been discussing over the past two weeks, in which individuals will play a greater role in their own healthcare through learning about and using more natural and traditional means of healing.

You probably use garlic in the kitchen quite often (I know I do!), but did you know that garlic has many healing properties, including the ability to help boost your immune system and fight off infections like colds and the flu?

Learn more below, and grab your FREE copy of this awesome e-book today!

Holistic health
As we discussed last week, our current model of health care simply isn't working. This is obvious on a personal level if you think about all of the people you know who are suffering from chronic diseases and conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, cancer, dementia, the list goes on...), as well as the amount we collectively spend on health care as a nation, and the fact that our country is now one of the lowest ranked industrialized nations in both health and longevity.

It is time to design a more effective healthcare system - one that takes into consideration not only our own health, but the health of the planet as well. Many call this holistic or integrative health care.

Today we will address the 5 aspects that will need to be taken into consideration when creating a more sustainable and holistic model of health care.

New model of holistic health
If you pay attention to trends around the world, the fact is inescapable that a  number of the systems we have relied on (and taken for granted) for the past several decades are beginning to break down. From healthcare, to agriculture, to the environment, there are some truly massive problems facing our planet and our species.

But far from being all "doom and gloom" about this, I'm actually encouraged to see that there is a way out of this mess - and it's actually simpler than you might think - at least on the surface. The answer to many of our problems are one and the same, that is, they are connected to each other. In order to find answers, we must start taking a more holistic view, and begin recognizing the interconnectedness between these systems.

The truth is, nothing in this world exists in a vacuum. In today's global marketplace, these connections are more visible than ever before. Climate change affects us all. Agricultural policies in one part of the world can impact the availability of food in another country. Health epidemics can quickly spread across the globe. Nothing and no one is truly separate anymore.

Instead of relying on our current bio-medical allopathic medical model of health, if we are to survive as a healthy and thriving species, it is time to move to a more interconnected and holistic understanding of health and well-being.

Here are a few ideas on why and how we can achieve such a thing.

Tapping Meditations
A few months ago, I shared with you a unique method for reducing stress, alleviating pain, and improving your overall health and well being. This method, called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), or "Tapping," is a great way to release negative emotions and find a calm, centered state of mind - often in just a few seconds.

Whether you were feeling a bit skeptical, haven't had the time to look into it yet, or  just want to learn more, I've got a great free resource for you this week!

As an introduction to the upcoming Tapping World Summit event, The Tapping Solution is sharing some wonderful FREE videos on how using EFT can help you release stress, anger, anxiety, and other negative emotions, and find a greater sense of peace and well being.

Check out the 3 meditations below to experience the awesome power of tapping for yourself!

Exercise results
I was recently talking with my mom, and she expressed some frustration at the fact that her upper body workouts seem to have plateaued, and she is no longer seeing improvements.

A new term used by fitness experts to describe people like my mom, or those who fail to see results from typical workout routines, is "exercise nonresponders."

Personally, I don't care much for this term. It sounds like they are blaming the person, rather than the workout, when in fact, there is a lot of new research that shows that the type of workout you do actually has a lot to do with your results (or lack of them).

If you've experienced the frustration of not achieving the results you want through your workouts, this might be the reason...

Natural fermentation recipe
I have talked at length before about the benefits of probiotic bacteria for good health. A healthy gut bacterial balance is essential for overall good health - something that most people in the modern world seem to have forgotten!

One of the best ways to establish and maintain healthy gut bacteria is to eat fermented foods on a regular basis. This is something that we in America rarely do anymore. In fact, the only fermented food that still remains popular in our culture today is yogurt, and often store-bought yogurts are packed with so much sugar and contain so little live bacteria as to be all but useless.

I highly encourage you, for the sake of your health, to start consuming more fermented foods! The recipe below is a great way to do so. If you don't like cabbage, you can also pickle other vegetables using natural fermentation methods. And there are plenty of other fermented foods you can make as well, including yogurt (which is super easy to make at home), kefir, and kombucha tea.

Natural fermentation is not only easy to do at home, but it is also safe, and really fun! And once you develop a taste for fermented foods, you'll probably start to crave them like I do. :-)

Here's how to make a classic naturally fermented sauerkraut - plus a variation for spicy kimchi if you're feeling more adventurous. (Note: This recipe makes approximately 1 quart, but may easily be doubled if desired. The kimchi recipe may make about 1 1/2 quarts due to the additional ingredients. To make a half-gallon, use a larger head of cabbage, and double the salt.)