Why You Shouldn’t Use Conventional Sunscreen (And What to do Instead)

This post was originally published in July of 2014. It has since been updated and re-purposed.
I used to spend a LOT of time in the sun. Between competitive swimming and water polo in high school, life guarding nearly every summer as a teenager, and years of shameless sun bathing in an all-out effort to become the darkest version of myself possible, I’ve definitely had more than my fair share of sun exposure.

Looking back on my years of reckless sun worshiping, I kick myself. Not just for spending more than a healthy amount of time in the sun, but more so for not paying any attention to all of the dangerous chemicals that I regularly applied to my body and face (thinking it was the healthy thing to do).

I’m talking about harsh acne creams, unnatural tanning oils, and…dun dun dun — sunscreen.

“But you NEED sunscreen! Without it, you’ll get skin cancer and die!”

That’s what I thought too. So I spent the majority of my life covering myself in misty clouds of chemical-laden aerosol sunscreen spray in an effort to prevent sun damage and skin cancer.

Back then, I had no idea that everything I had been told about sunscreen and sun exposure was wrong.

All of us have bought into the anti-sun hype at some point or in some way. We’ve been religiously slathering on the ‘screen and spending more time indoors than ever before, yet skin cancer rates continue to skyrocket.

We live in a society that’s civilized beyond common sense. And instead of taking a reasonable and sane approach to subjects like food, medicine, and sun exposure, we rely on quick fixes and listen to what “experts” say we should do to be healthy without ever digging any deeper or figuring out what our bodies intuitively need.

Many of these quick fixes have been created with a greater interest in our bank accounts than in our health. And they just can’t compete with a good ol’ fashioned natural approach to health and wellness.

Conventional sunscreen is one of the quick fixes I’m talking about. It really isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it’s a lot worse (and more dangerous) than it’s cracked up to be. Here’s why:

  • Sunlight is good for you (in moderation). Unprotected sun exposure stimulates Vitamin D production within the body. Vitamin D is a big deal. Trust me — you don’t want to be deficient. Sunscreen blocks the UVB rays that are responsible for stimulating Vitamin D production. Constant use of sunscreen = not enough Vitamin D.
  • No sunburn DOES NOT = no sun damage. As I wrote in a recent post, “Sunscreen is great at blocking the UVB rays that cause us to burn (and produce cancer-fighting Vitamin D). But it does almost nothing to protect against the UVA rays that penetrate much deeper than UVB rays, damaging skin cell membranes and the DNA inside.”
  • Conventional sunscreen is not safe. It contains a number of harsh, hormone disrupting and cancer-causing ingredients that we thoughtlessly slather all over the largest organ on our body before venturing out into the sun. And ingredients like Oxybenzone, Retinyl Palmitate, and Titanium Oxide aren’t the only culprits. According to Chris Kresser,

    For one sunscreen that was analyzed for aluminum concentration, a single application would provide 200mg of aluminum. (1) Another concern is that, as an oxidant, the aluminum in sunscreen might contribute to oxidative damage in the skin, increasing the risk of cancer.

Sunshine is indeed a wonderful thing, but too much of it can also be damaging.

We all have occasions that require us to spend prolonged amounts of time in the sun. And when covering up or finding shade isn’t an option, using a product that offers sun protection is definitely the way to go.

You might be confused (and rightfully so), as I just finished pointing out the dangers of conventional sunscreen. The important word here is conventional (Banana Boat, Coppertone, Bullfrog — I’m talking to you)!

But not all sunscreen is bad.

Sunscreens made from natural, non-toxic ingredients that use non-nano Zinc Oxide as the main active ingredient can be a great option for days when we spend long periods of time in the sun.

Non-nano Zinc Oxide protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Non-nano (or non-micronized) means that the particles are too large to be absorbed by the skin. Because of the large particles, sunscreens with non-nano zinc oxide may leave a slight whitish film on the skin. And since the large particles sit on the skin and aren’t absorbed, they do a much better job of protecting against UVA and UVB rays than products that contain nano particles.

A few years ago, I started making and using my own sun lotion with only a few simple and effective ingredients (coconut oil, mango butter, shea butter, non-nano zinc oxide, arrowroot powder, beeswax and essential oils). And after a lot of prodding and encouraging from my husband and other family members, I finally started selling it (along with a number of other products) on our family farm’s website (you can check out Primally PURE Outdoor Lotion and the rest of the Primally PURE line by clicking here).

Of course, you don’t have to buy my products in order to get adequate protection. You can also purchase non-nano zinc oxide and add it to your favorite lotion or creme. Or experiment with making your own using some or more of the ingredients listed in the paragraph above!

But if you don’t want to deal with the hassle and uncertainty of doing it yourself and want a silky smooth product that’s made with organic and fair trade ingredients (and lots of love) I would highly recommend checking out Primally PURE Outdoor Lotion.

Have you tried making your own sunscreen? Or do you already have one that you love? Let me know with a comment!

Chicken Processing – Could You Do It? (Blog Post Round-Up)

A few years ago, chicken processing was just as foreign to me as it would be to most ordinary 20-something gals. But since my family started Primal Pastures, it’s become a very normal part of life/work for us.

I realize that 99% of people don’t see it that way, which is why we started offering Chicken Processing Workshops – to teach folks how to process a chicken while explaining the “why” behind every step. Although hands-on participation is not mandatory, workshop guests also have the opportunity to process and take home their very own bird.

Processing workshops are by FAR the most powerful and life-changing of all the events we hold at the farm. They’re challenging, emotional, and empowering all at once.

If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not chicken processing is something you want to learn and experience, I’d encourage you to check out the blog posts below. Each one offers a very real and personal account of what the process is like (physically and emotionally). Although no two experiences are ever the same, these posts will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Clare from Flame to Fork


“My heart was pounding leading up to this next moment. I placed my chicken into the cone and stepped back. Now don’t make fun of me, but I said a little prayer for this little chickie. I didn’t make a scene or say anything out loud, but I quietly took a moment to give thanks and to ask for strength. I just wanted to make sure that I was as thankful as possible for the sacrifice this bird was going to make in order to feed me. And I also wanted strength to be able to complete this task effectively and efficiently on the first try. I wanted to make sure I did it right and was super focused. I know what I am about to say sounds like an oxymoron… but I wanted to do it correctly so I didn’t hurt the bird in the process.”

Read Clare’s story.

Kathryn from Vivacious Dish

photo 3

“I have a whole new reverence for the process of bringing meat to my plate. I also have a lot of unanswered questions and feelings of remorse that will take some time to process fully. Regardless, if any of you meat eaters ever get the chance to be this close to your meat sourcing, I strongly recommend you do it.

It is no longer appropriate for any of us to be uninformed consumers. Our knowledge and our ability to vote with our dollars are the best tools we have to start fixing a food system that is destroying our environment and making so many of us chronically ill.”

Read Kathryn’s story.

My Guest Post on Mark’s Daily Apple


“In the early 1900s, chicken keeping was extremely common. Processing the birds was simply a part of life — and most people not only knew how to do it, but also processed chickens themselves on a regular basis. It was even normal for young children to help out with the chore under mom or grandma’s supervision.

But today, the thought of killing anything has become so taboo that many would rather believe their meat was grown in a plastic package at the grocery store than associate it with a once living, breathing animal.”

Read my guest post on Mark’s Daily Apple.

What do you think? Could you process a chicken? Have you ever experienced anything like this? Share your thoughts, opinions, and questions in the comment section below! And if you’re ready to give chicken processing a shot, click here to check out our upcoming workshops!

9 Tips for Real Food Newbies

When I first started this blog, one of my good friends asked me to write a post about how to get started with eating real food (also known as the paleo diet). It took me almost a year, but I finally did it! Yay!

Switching from the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) to eating real, nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods is hard. It can be extremely challenging to change our habits and ditch the “you must eat 6-8 servings of whole grains a day” mindset that has been ingrained into our psyches for decades.

And as you probably already know, the idea that “food” made in a factory is better for us than food found in nature is just plain WRONG. That’s why myself (and hundreds of thousands of others) have been able to thrive on a diet of real food. And while giving up “healthy” whole grains, pasteurized dairy, and other processed foods may sound kind of insane and incredibly inconvenient at first, it’s actually SUPER simple.

I absolutely LOVE this cute info-graphic from Real Food Liz, which breaks down the concept of eating real food perfectly.


Pretty cool, right? What I like about this way of eating is that it just makes sense. No gimmicks, nonsense, sales tactics, or false promises. Just real information for real people.

But because the paleo “diet” isn’t a quick fix or easy solution, it does require some time, work, and commitment (especially in the beginning). Here’s some tips on how to make the transition towards better health easier.

9 Tips for Real Food Newbies

  • Tip #1: Start slow. Committing to a complete overhaul of your eating habits is a huge shift to make. And if you’re confident in your ability to do that all at once, awesome!

    I didn’t have the discipline to switch to real food overnight. Instead, it was a process that took about 6 months for me to make and really stick with. I started by just going gluten free, then grain free, and finally dairy and legume free (but have since added some raw dairy back into my diet).

    If you’re comfortable with making a 180-degree switch to real food as fast as possible, that’s GREAT! But if not, don’t feel bad about doing it in stages.

  • Tip #2: Focus on what you CAN eat, not what you CAN’T. At first, paleo can seem more like a long list of “don’ts” rather than a new and exciting way of eating.

    Try not to get overwhelmed by all of the things that are suddenly off limits. Because even though it may not seem like it at first, the list of foods that are okay to eat is a pretty darn extensive. And if you need help finding creative ways to make real food-friendly meals, click here for a list of my favorite healthy cookbooks!

    General rule of thumb: If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it!

    General rule of thumb: If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it!

  • Tip #3: Don’t stress. Stressing over food choices (or anything) is arguably just as harmful as a poor diet.

    Try not to worry too much about what is and isn’t okay to eat at first. The longer you eat real food and educate yourself on its benefits, the easier it will be to make nourishing and healthy choices. And after awhile, it will become second nature.

  • Tip #4: Pay attention to your body. Your body will undergo a lot of changes as you start feeding it differently.

    Pay attention to how this new way of eating affects you. Do you have more energy? Are you less susceptible to getting sick? Has your mood improved? These subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) positive changes will make your new lifestyle all the more rewarding and easier to stick to.

  • Tip #5: Don’t get discouraged. You may not see/feel changes right away. And especially if you make the transition slowly (which is totally OK), you may not get the results you want as quickly as you’d like.

    When I started eating real food, the changes I noticed were subtle, yet encouraging. And it wasn’t until I went “all in” with a strict 30 days of paleo that I felt/saw changes that were truly remarkable.

    If experiencing change is taking time, don’t panic. Stick with it! And if you start to really feel frustrated with your lack of progress, consider seeing a trustworthy medical practitioner to help you along in your journey.

  • Tip #6: Use resources. There are SO many wonderful resources out there (books, foods, gadgets, etc.) aimed at getting YOU healthy. I made a list of my favorites a few weeks ago — click here to see it!

  • Tip #7: Look at ingredients, not calories. This is a tough one for a lot of people, and it takes time to stop obsessing over how many grams of fat are in coconut milk or how many carbs are in a banana.

    While calories do matter, they’re not nearly as important as the ingredients in our food. And when we eat the right foods (that don’t contain cheap chemical colorings, appetite stimulants, fillers, preservatives, etc.), we allow the body to naturally regulate how much food it needs and when to stop eating.

  • Tip #8: Join a challenge group. For many of us, it helps to have support and encouragement from others when making a major lifestyle switch. That’s why it can be very beneficial to join a challenge group that comes with built-in support when making the shift towards real food.

    I can’t recommend 21 Day Sugar Detox program enough. If you’re someone who struggles with sugar and processed carb cravings (like I did), this program might be a great option for you.

    Click on the banner below for more information on the program and how to get started!

    Balanced Bites

  • Tip #9: Don’t beat yourself up. You WILL make mistakes. It’s going to happen. Don’t be too hard on yourself when it does.

    Instead, try to understand the factors that led to you eating [insert unhealthy food here] and think about how to better prepare yourself next time. And if all it comes down to is that you, as an adult, chose to eat something that wasn’t necessarily the best thing for you, who cares! Accept it and move on.

Thanks so much for reading! Anything you’d like to add to the list? Feel free to share a tip or story from your real food experience in the comments section below!

Disclaimer: Bethany McDaniel/From the Pasture is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please know that I ONLY recommend products that I wholeheartedly support and believe to be of value to my readers.

Make it Paleo II (Review + Recipe)

Something exciting happened last week…


This came in the mail — Make it Paleo II by Hayley Mason and Bill Staley!

This is probably the most good-looking book I’ve EVER laid eyes on. It’s just gorgeous. But there’s a lot more to this cookbook than its just its crazy good looks!

Make it Paleo II is filled with more than 400 pages of mouth-watering recipes (did I mention the pictures are amazing?), shopping guides (in which they discuss the importance of buying from local farms – yes!), nutrition information, and cooking tips & how-to’s.

This book really has it all — there’s something (scratch that — a LOT of things) in it for paleo newbies and real food veterans alike!

Make it Paleo II is the second edition of Bill and Hayley’s first cookbook, Make it Paleo (one of the first paleo cookbooks ever released)! The biggest difference between the two is that Make it Paleo II comes with the added expertise of Hayley’s sister Caitlin, an expert cook and trained sushi chef who helped to create many of the book’s diverse and unique assortment of recipes.

This must-have cookbook releases February 17, but you can save $10 by pre-ordering it today (or tomorrow, or anytime before the 17th).


Last week, I made the breakfast casserole from Make it Paleo II. Living/working on a farm, there’s always a lot of work to be done starting at the crack of dawn. And unfortunately, breakfast often gets put off or skipped completely (I know — I’m working on it!).

That’s why I’m such a fan of making breakfast foods that can be cooked in advance and enjoyed over the course of the next few days — and that’s exactly what we were able to do with this dish. The fact that the dish tasted uh-mazing was also a major bonus. Seriously. I never knew leftovers could be so scrumptious! Here’s the recipe (one of the few that was pre-released)!

MIP2_Bethany (1)


  • 1/2 batch Nightshade-Free Breakfast Sausage from pg. 88 (I just used ground pork with spices)
  • 5 strips bacon
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and shredded
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, for greasing the dish
  • 1 tbsp ghee, store-bought or homemade
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 tbsp sliced scallions (2 scallions) divided
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk


  1. Prepare the sausage.
  2. Fry the bacon in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat until slightly crispy, about 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour most of the excess bacon fat from the skillet into a small, glass mixing bowl and reserve for later use.
  3. Add the sweet potato to the skillet and season with a pinch of salt, several grinds of pepper, and the oregano. Saute the sweet potato over medium heat until softened and slightly browned, adding more bacon fat as needed during cooking to prevent it from sticking.
  4. Scoop the browned sweet potato into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool. Chop the sausage patties into small bits, reserve 1-2 Tbsp for garnish, and add the remainder to the bowl with the sweet potato.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 10-inch round casserole dish with the coconut oil.
  6. Warm the ghee in a clean skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and bell pepper to the bowl with the sweet potato mixture and allow to cool. Add 3 Tbsp of the scallions to the bowl, reserving 1 Tbso for garnish. Pout the mixture into a greased casserole dish.
  7. In a small mixing bow, whisk together the eggs and coconut milk. Add a pinch of salt and 5 grinds of pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetable and meat mixture and stir lightly to evenly combine. Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes, until the eggs are firm.

Disclaimer: Bethany McDaniel/From the Pasture is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please know that I ONLY recommend products that I wholeheartedly support and believe to be of value to my readers.

Why I Stopped Caring About Being Skinny


During my late teens and early 20’s, I desperately longed for a slim waistline, lean arms, and a bunch of other idealistic things that I thought were important at the time.

But since I’m not naturally built like a stick, getting the slim figure I wanted was a struggle. And I was willing to try just about any diet or quick fix I could find in order to achieve a body type that I was never meant to have.

It didn’t help that during the times I was able to get down to what I thought was my ideal weight (which usually only lasted a few months or as long as I could stand to deprive myself before going on an eat-everything-in-sight binge), I would always get positive feedback from others.

Isn’t it funny how skewed the correlation is between how healthy we are and the amount of fat we have on our bodies?

By most people’s standards, it probably seemed like I was healthy and thriving when I was at my thinnest. But in reality, I was more unhealthy than I’ve ever been during those times.

I was sick with a cold or sinus infection at least every other month, had constant stomach issues (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation), and terrible allergies. I got very little sleep (4-7 hours most nights), and energy drinks were the only reason I was still able to get up for class in the mornings.

But instead of focusing on improving my health, I continued on in my futile attempts to control my weight the only way I knew how — restrictive and nonsensical fad diets.

I jumped on a number of different bandwagons (cabbage soup diet, the Kellogg’s cereal diet, Atkins, etc.) hoping they would help me lose that extra 3 pounds (or whatever trivial number my heart was set on losing at the time). I did obscene amounts of cardio just to stay thin and had no interest in lifting weights or getting stronger — because then I might get bulky, and that was definitely not something I wanted.

Before I continue, it’s important to note that there’s nothing wrong with being skinny, doing cardio, etc. But the reasons behind why I was doing these things, the way I was doing them, and my mindset at the time made for a disaster that it would take me years to fully recover from.

Skinny Doesn’t Always Equal Healthy

Weight and body fat can certainly have an impact on health. There’s no denying that. But it isn’t always so black and white.

Like I said above, I was actually pretty unhealthy during the times when I looked my “best” (by other people’s standards). Today, I weigh a good 10-15 lbs. more than I did when I was at my thinnest. A lot of that is muscle, but not all of it. And I’m a-okay with that! These days, performance-based goals (like how much weight I can overhead squat) are a heck of a lot more important to me than appearance-based goals.

And you know what else? I actually like myself.

But let’s back up a bit. In a way, I’m glad that I was so set on getting skinny at one point. Because if it wasn’t for my desire to lose weight, I never would have found paleo.

Yes — I’ll admit it. I started doing paleo to lose weight. That was pretty much all there was to it. And although the concept of eating the sorts of foods our ancestors ate for thousands of years made a lot of sense to me, my true intentions didn’t go too far beyond shedding belly fat and getting a thigh gap.

Making the transition to paleo was hard. And I wasn’t able to do it all at once. Instead, I started by just going gluten free. Within a few weeks, I lost 5 lbs. This was encouraging. But what really had me excited was the difference in how I felt (something I didn’t even know I cared about until I experienced what it was like to not feel like crap all the time). I was no longer constantly tired. My digestion was improving. My allergies were getting better.

For the first time ever, feeling good started to matter more than looking good.

This motivated me to take my new “diet” to the next level and eliminate all grains, dairy, legumes, and processed junk. After 30 days of this, I knew there would be no going back. Ever. My energy was through the roof. My digestive system started functioning how it was supposed to. My allergies ceased (only to flare up again after moving to a farm, but that’s another story). Colds and infections became rare occurrences. My mood improved. I could really go on and on.

Real food transformed my health in big ways. But it also changed my relationship with food and how I saw myself. It empowered me to stop chasing society’s impossible ideals of perfection and start appreciating, loving, and supporting my body and health in ways I had never even conceptualized before making the switch.

Negative Self-Talk — Breaking The Cycle

Goals based on negativity and self-sabotage will never yield positive results. For awhile, my dieting philosophy was based on a series of successes, rewards, failures, and punishments which usually went something like this: If I ate the wrong thing or too much of something, I forced myself to do an extra 30 minutes on the elliptical, another mile of running, or extra of whatever else I was into at the time.

But if had been “good”, I would allow myself to have a treat of some sort. At one point, I’m embarrassed to admit that I even printed out a picture of myself (one that I thought I looked fat in) eating a piece of cake and hung it up on the back of my bedroom door to remind myself of what I didn’t want to be.

So trust me — if I can break free of self sabotage, so can you. Here’s how.

  • Don’t punish yourself. Exercise shouldn’t be used as a means of self-discipline, just as industrial garbage crap food shouldn’t be thought of as a reward. Eating too much didn’t make me a bad person or less worthy of being happy and feeling good about myself, but that’s exactly the association I used to place on it. (All. The. Time.)

    This sort of thinking leads to a downward spiral of emotional distress surrounding food choices where every slip-up is blown way out of proportion. Placing that much pressure on something that should be a positive experience is no way to get healthy. In fact, it’s extremely un-healthy.

  • Eat real food. Once I learned and experienced the power of real food, it completely changed the way I felt about health and body image. And it wasn’t long before I no longer wanted to eat garbage! It wasn’t that felt like I couldn’t or that I was scared to gain weight. But once I began listening to my body and paying attention to how certain foods made me feel, it became pretty easy to avoid fake, processed foods.

  • Don’t call yourself fat.There’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight (if necessary), but calling yourself derogatory names isn’t the way to do it. I used to complain about being fat all the time, as did many of my friends. But once I made the decision to end the negativity I directed at myself on a daily basis, my self-confidence skyrocketed. I stopped resenting my body for everything it wasn’t, and began appreciating it for everything it was.

I’m not perfect. I don’t make the best food choices 100% of the time. And while there are many foods that I always avoid (soda, Twinkies, Frosted Flakes, etc.), I thoroughly enjoy eating gluten-free pizza once or twice a month or having ice cream every once in awhile.

Stressing over food choices and body image is no way to live. And while it’s important to eat well for health purposes most of the time, it’s also critical to be okay with those times when we eat foods that aren’t necessarily the best thing for us. The human body is incredibly resilient. And in most cases, it can handle the occasional treat or indulgence.

Negative thoughts and self-sabotage will always lead us down the wrong path. But once you accept, appreciate, and love your body for the brilliantly designed masterpiece that it is, it will love you back in ways you never knew were possible.

Overcoming TBI and 14 Broken Bones: Maggie’s Story

Left: Maggie in the hospital with a feeding tube; Right: Maggie today

Left: Maggie in the hospital with a feeding tube; Right: Maggie today

I met Maggie a few months ago when she stopped by the farm to pick up an order. Her bubbly, inviting personality made it super easy and fun to chat with her. After a little while, she opened up to me about her incredible story (which we’ll talk about below). It completely blew me away!

I was so imporessed not just by what Maggie had been through, but also by her positive outlook and persevering spirit. Ever since then, it’s been a joy to keep in touch with Maggie and see all of the amazing things she’s doing to empower and inspire others to live healthy lives. She even started a blog about it (check it out at mywholehealthy.com)! I hope you’ll enjoy learning about Maggie and her story as much as I have!

Let’s start from the beginning. Can you give us a bit of background on where you were at in life before the accident?

First of all, I just want to say thank you for having me on From The Pasture! It’s no secret that I love your blog and the Primal Pastures farm. I’m honored to be interviewed by you!

So the accident happened in Nov. 2007 and the summer before, I was living in the San Diego area and working at SURFER Magazine. At the end of the summer I also got engaged to the man who is now my husband! It was an amazing few months. That fall, I returned to Montreal, Canada to start my final year of university and I was focused on completing my journalism degree so I could get married and move to California as soon as possible! My life seemed to be lining up in a pretty spectacular way.

Tell us a bit about the accident and what kind of a state you were in as a result of it.

Maggie's car after being hit by a drunk driver

Maggie’s car after being hit by a drunk driver

The accident was horrible. I won’t sugar coat it. I had flown home to Nova Scotia from Montreal for the weekend to see my dad, and driving from the airport to my house in a rental car, I was struck head-on by another vehicle that veered suddenly into my lane, giving me no time to react. I remember the collision and deep, paralyzing terror that engulfed me. It was awful and there was nothing I could do. It was soon discovered the other driver was drunk and they did not survive the collision.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI suffered 14 broken bones, a severe traumatic brain injury, lost 9 teeth in front and had a lot of difficulty seeing well for weeks. I still get double vision. The brain injury put me in a coma that rated a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale and a 3 is the least responsive you can be without being dead.

I stayed in the coma for about a week, with some tense moments for my family when I had additional brain bleeding and extremely high blood pressure in the ICU that set off the alarms.

I was hospitalized for 3 months, with an 2 additional months of outpatient rehab at the hospital before being released and going off to figure out on my own what I needed to achieve a full recovery. I did not stay in Canada, instead immediately coming to California and getting married so as to not be away from the man I loved. So I had no support network here except my husband, no doctors I knew, no therapists. I didn’t want to be anywhere else, but it was tough and I was a long way from “better”.

I remember you telling me about how a doctor once said that you would never get 100% better. What allowed you to persevere and stay hopeful in spite of such unfavorable circumstances and negativity from your doctors?

My new fiancé immediately flew to Canada as soon as he heard the news of my accident and stayed with me the entire time I was in the hospital and beyond. I know, without a doubt, that I would not have healed the way I have without his unwavering love and support. I do remember from the early days in the hospital, I always had a “of course I’m going to get better” attitude and maybe a lot of it was the brain injury itself that actually made me excessively happy and agreeable, but I’ve always been a pretty positive person, so maybe it’s just how I’m wired.

Learning to walk again

Learning to walk again

I did have moments of doubt and deep sadness and fear, but my family was there, and my mum and dad made sure that no matter what happened, whether I recovered or not, I knew they would be there for me and they would take care of me. So that gave me a real safety net that allowed me to relax and focus on healing.

To be fair, I didn’t really get negativity from my doctors and the one who told me (after I asked him point blank) that I could not expect to get 100% better was my neurosurgeon who sees these injuries every day. All he had to draw from was what he has seen and maybe it’s true that people never feel like they “get better” and perhaps always have visible signs of their brain injury.

The area where I’m from does often have the attitude of accepting bad news as just the way it is. Like it can’t be changed. And I’m sure many people would have heard the surgeon say, “no, you won’t get 100% better” and thought to themselves, “oh. okay…” but my reaction was the opposite. I smiled politely and listened, but my attitude was “WATCH ME. I’m going to get 110% better because I have to work at it and no one else does.” It also helped that I had just started reading The Brain That Changes Itself (thank goodness I could still read!) which has case studies of the remarkable things the brain can do and how it can overcome, so I was full of hope, and the surgeon’s comment just made me mad.

Tell us about how you’re doing today!

I’m doing well! A couple of years after the accident, I completed my journalism degree and graduated with a B.A. I have freelanced a bit and volunteered with the Wounded Warriors at Camp Pendleton, along with keeping my healing and recovery my number one priority.

It’s been 7 years now since the accident happened and I am still married to the same incredible man. I have healed A LOT and while there are still things I want to improve in my mind and body, most people tell me they can’t tell I ever suffered the injuries I did. I recently earned my certification as a personal trainer and launched a health and wellness blog that I’m really excited about! I hope to start training clients soon and when I open the doors to accept those clients, I will announce it in my newsletter, which people can sign up for on the website if they’d like.

I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to go through something so terrible that was also completely preventable. I’m sure you went through a period of feeling angry at the drunk driver and perhaps even angry at the world. Is this something you still deal with? How have you been able to work through those emotions?

Ahhh I love this question! I WAS extremely angry for a long time. I wanted someone to PAY for what had happened to me, even though the other driver had paid the ultimate price with their life.

It was my mum who told me about a Hawaiian ritual for forgiveness called Ho’oponopono that changed my entire mindset and allowed me to completely forgive and let go. When she told me it involved picturing the person I needed to forgive and saying, “I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you,” I balked. I said “I’m supposed to say I’m sorry and ask for forgiveness?! But I didn’t do anything wrong!!!” I was outraged at the idea.

But then she explained that it didn’t need to mean I was apologizing for wrongdoing. It could mean “I’m sorry for what happened” as a kind expression of empathy for us both, and forgiveness to let go of anger, asking for the driver’s spirit, and my feelings toward myself, to let go of all anger around what had happened.

So I started doing it, saying the words without meaning them at first, but soon found that I did mean them and I felt real empathy for the other driver instead of hate and anger. I kept saying the words until I felt that all of my anger had dissipated and I was no longer clinging to feelings that were really only hurting me. It really worked!

Physically, what have you done to heal yourself from your injuries? Food, exercise, etc.?

WarriorOneYogaPoseThere are so many things that have helped me in different ways but the biggest, most helpful thing I can say I did was practice yoga. One person I did know here when I moved to California was my husband’s yoga teacher, Summer. My heart felt pulled to go to her yoga classes, and when I started, I could soon feel neural synapses in my brain reconnecting. It felt like puzzle pieces falling into place with a CLICK. It was pretty profound. Along with the cognitive healing I could feel happening, it also benefited my body awareness and range of motion immensely.

I didn’t start working out until a few years ago but the other big player in my recovery was getting to work with and ride horses again. I’ve been riding since I was 7 and one of my biggest fears in the hospital was not that I might not be able to walk, but that I might not be able to ride. That possibility terrified me. For any horse people out there, they’ll know how horses are in our blood and not much matters more to us than those beautiful creatures! Working with horses and getting back in the saddle helped me in much the way yoga did. Body awareness, balance, divided attention, flexibility, core strength… these were all strengthened by being with horses. And the horses know… they are big and can definitely hurt you if you’re not careful, but they are so aware and in tune with your needs. Just being in their presence was extremely healing.

PigeonWithABindYogaPoseBeyond those two activities, changing my diet was the other big player. My doctors had all told me that the majority of my cognitive healing would happen in the first two years after the accident. The big stuff would heal and all that would be left was the smaller, more subtle things that would just continue to heal for years.

So as I approached that two year milestone, I found I was still tired all the time, struggling to focus and complete my correspondence work for my degree. I didn’t understand why if my brain was supposed to be mostly better, why didn’t I feel better? Like, at all?

And then I had a conversation with my best friend, whose boyfriend suffers from severe celiac disease. We somehow got on the topic of gluten and its effects of the body and after she relayed some of the symptoms of celiac and gluten intolerance to me, it was like a huge light bulb lit up for me. I researched it more and saw the symptoms corresponded with exactly what I was feeling.

So I started paying close attention to what I was eating, and within days I found that any time I ate something that contained gluten, I would be sick within 15 minutes. Thick, heavy brain fog that felt like cotton candy coating my brain, headaches, extreme fatigue, difficulty focusing and thinking, crankiness… it was awful. So I cut all gluten out of my diet! Within two weeks I felt like a person again. It was a drastic turnaround. I still wasn’t better by any means, but now I could feel the difference between real mental fatigue caused by my brain injury, and cognitive function breakdown caused by gluten.

I have been 100% gluten free since 2009. Other grains don’t seem to bother me so I’m not paleo but I do eat almost 100% organic produce and pastured meats and eggs from people/farmers I know, like you guys! My brain has to work harder than it used to as it is, why would I make that harder by eating things like toxic pesticides or meat from unhealthy, medicated animals?

Talk to us about your blog and everything you’re doing now to share your story, knowledge, and passions with others!

MaggieLaughTreeThe blog is called My Whole Healthy and I chose that name because I wanted to create a sort of online oasis of healing information that focuses of everything that contributes to whole health. It’s not just fitness, it’s not just diet, it’s not just meditation… it’s all of that and much, much more. I want people to feel like the “My” is not just about me, it’s about and for them too.

I’m excited to have a place to share the things I’ve learned over the last 7 years and throughout my life that have benefited my health, in the hopes that others will connect with what I’m saying and be able to use what I share to help themselves! As someone with a print journalism degree, it’s actually really hard for me to write from a personal perspective because all of my training was to do the exact opposite of that! But I know that the only way to authentically share what I’ve been through and what I’ve learned is to let people in a little bit so they can get a real sense of who I am.

I just recently found out about another SUPER exciting new development in your life! Care to let everyone in on your not-so-secret little secret?

Haha, I ALMOST said it in one of my earlier answers but my husband and I are going to have a baby this spring!!! It is our first child and we have wanted this for years but were forced to wait due to the level of healing I needed to achieve first. Now, finally, I am pregnant and about half way through the pregnancy already, and so far everything is great! The baby and I are healthy and happy and I am over the moon with happiness at the thought of being a mama to this little soul. Even though life threw some of the worst stuff imaginable at me, I got through it and am now living a life more beautiful than I could have imagined.

Feel free to ask Maggie any additional questions you may have in the comments section below. And be sure to stay in touch with her on instagram, facebook, twitter, and through her blog!

Pasturebird: 2015 American Farm Bureau People’s Choice Award Winners

Farmer Paul presenting on The Pasturebird System

Farmer Paul presenting on The Pasturebird System

This past weekend, 3/4 of the Primal Pastures guys (Jeff, Paul, and Rob) had the opportunity to present on The Pasturebird System for the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge at the American Farm Bureau’s annual convention.

The idea behind Pasturebird is basically this: Take chickens out of the grow house and put them on grass.

Pasturebird offers a system to scale pastured poultry production globally by using rotational grazing to produce low-cost pasture-raised chicken, a system that’s good for land and good for the chickens.

Farmer Paul and Farmer Jeff

Farmer Paul and Farmer Jeff

To us, this is a pretty common-sense concept. But to the rest of the world, this method of farming is radically different from what people are used to and comfortable with (which usually involves packing 40,000 chickens together in a single grow house).

Pasturebird uses pastured poultry farming methods that are currently being utilized by Primal Pastures, but employs them on a much larger scale (so large that it would allow for pastured chicken to be available in Safeway, Albertson’s, etc.) with a few tweaks and adjustments.

With the current system, pastured poultry is much more expensive than the conventional stuff, mostly due to the amount of labor it takes to raise chickens outside. The Pasturebird System greatly reduces the amount of labor needed to raise birds on grass while still providing the same benefits (more space to roam, better for the environment & soil, etc.) by using updated & automated floorless chicken pens.

Pastured poultry are able to grub on grass and bugs, thus requiring less feed than conventional chickens. We have done the math and are fully convinced that we can produce pastured poultry at a competitive price using The Pasturebird System. But in order to begin testing the tweaks needed to implement this system, we are in need of some funding…which is what led us to compete in the Farm Bureau’s Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge.

We were one of four teams selected out of 200 applicants to present on our idea at the 2015 American Farm Bureau Federation convention (and received an initial $15,000 for making it to the final four). Pasturebird then had the opportunity to present and compete against the three other teams for the chance to win the Entrepreneurs of the Year Award ($15,000; determined by a panel of judges) and the People’s Choice Award ($10,000; voted on by the people).

Farmer Rob playing around with big tractor toys at the American Farm Bureau Trade Show

Farmer Rob playing around with big tractor toys at the American Farm Bureau Trade Show

The audience at this convention wasn’t the typical pastured meat-eating, real-food loving crowd that we’re used to. In contrast, the convention center where the presentation took place was filled with Monsanto employees and many farmers who knew (or cared) very little about “alternative” farming methods. Needless to say, Pasturebird stood out.

Despite our differences with the majority of the people in attendance, Pasturebird’s presentation was very well-received by all. The judges asked thought-provoking and interesting questions, the last of which was something to the effect of whether or not a big chicken company would be able to steal and implement our idea — to which Paul and Jeff responded, “If the chicken industry changes for the better because of this idea, whether or not it’s us that ends up implementing it, we will have accomplished what we set out to do.”

That last sentence perfectly sums up our passion for pastured poultry farming. We know that the current model is broken and needs fixing. If it’s us who ends up being able to fix it, great. If it’s someone else, awesome. Our main concern is that it gets fixed. Period.

Farmers Rob, Jeff, and Paul anxiously waiting to her the contest results with Director Lisa Benson, PhD

Farmers Rob, Jeff, and Paul anxiously waiting to hear the contest results with Director Lisa Benson, PhD

On the last day of the conference, we were ecstatic to find out that we had won the People’s Choice Award! The judge’s choice for the American Farm Bureau’s Entrepreneurs of the Year was awarded to Scout Pro, a great couple of guys from Iowa who we became friends with over the course of the weekend.

Although we didn’t win the whole thing, we couldn’t have been more pleased with how the competition played out and are extremely grateful to all of the individuals who gave us a chance. After all, it’s not every day that a small, beyond-organic, GMO-free, pastured poultry farm wins a total of $25,000 at a conference sponsored by Monsanto.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who voted for us and supported us throughout this competition and beyond. Because of you guys, we are now able to continue the groundwork to eventually implement The Pasturebird System on a much larger scale (and are hoping to offer competitively-priced pastured chicken in stores and restaurants by 2016).

10 Simple & Cheap Ways to Boost Your Health in 2015

You avoid fast food and processed junk. You don’t eat grains. You always chose butter over vegetable oil, and you try your best to eat animal products that were responsibly and healthfully raised. And if you don’t, you may want to check out this post, this one, and this one.

If you’re already doing these things, great!

But if you’re doing all of this and a) still aren’t seeing/feeling as many changes as you’d like or b) want to feel even more amazing, this list is for you!

This isn’t a do-or-die list. And although I’ve seen big improvements in my health from incorporating each of these habits into my lifestyle, I don’t do most of these things every day or even every week.

I DO however, try my best to be mindful of them and add them into my schedule whenever possible. And the more mindful and aware I become, the more often I remember to act on each of these health-promoting habits.

So I figured, what better time to revisit them than the new year? Since most of our bank accounts are pretty much empty after the holidays (or maybe that’s just me), I chose things that don’t cost a whole lot. So here goes — I hope these will help you as much as they’ve helped me!

10 Simple & Cheap Ways to Boost Your Health in 2015

    Image courtesy of nomnompaleo.com

    Image courtesy of nomnompaleo.com

  • #1: Drink Bone Broth. I’ve sung the praises of this magical bone-juice many times on instagram and in my newsletter. (Did you know that I have a newsletter? It’s great — you should definitely sign up for updates!).

    Since bones are cheaper than meat, bone broth is one of the most cost-effective ways to add nutrients from healthy, pasture-raised animals into your diet. These nutrients include gelatin (good for joints, hair, skin, nails and gut), minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, as well as the amino acids glycine and proline.

    I usually make one batch of bone broth every week and a half or two weeks, which makes enough for my husband and I to each have one small cup per day.

    This awesome recipe from Nom Nom Paleo will walk you through the process of making bone broth at home (it’s super easy)!

  • #2: Take Apple Cider Vinegar. Organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (I like this brand) has been shown to kill bad bacteria, improve insulin sensitivity, and aid in digestion (among other things).

    I take a teaspoon in the morning and before bedtime most days and have also had success using apple cider vinegar to treat infections. It also makes a great toner when mixed with water!

  • #3: Go Outside. Not only does being outside in natural sunlight provide us with immune-boosting vitamin D — it also makes us feel good. For more information on why we so desperately need sunlight (in the right amount), check out this post.

  • #4: Eat Sardines. These little fishies (skin, bones and all) are rich in hard-to-find nutrients like omega 3, zinc, taurine, selenium, vitamin D, and much more! Even The New York Times thinks you should eat them!

    Plus, they’re inexpensive and PACKED with protein. Vital Choice is an extremely reputable & responsible seafood company with an AMAZING selection of tasty, wild-caught Portuguese sardines to choose from (click on the banner above for 10% off your first order)! I usually go through 2-3 packages of this super-food every week!

    Traditional Medicinals Tea

    Traditional Medicinals Tea

    #5: Drink Tea. I just started getting more into teas after listening to to Dr. Terry Wahls’ Ted Talk and podcasts in which she has appeared as a guest (her story is amazing — definitely check it out). Dr. Wahls is a big proponent of getting as many species (plant and animal based) into your diet as possible.

    This really resonated with me. There are so many different organisms out there, each with their own unique nutritional profiles. Why not try to take in as many of those nutrients as we can?

    And one of the ways to do that is by drinking teas. I really like Traditional Medicinals Tea. They have a ton of top-notch organic teas that can be found online and in most health food stores. Since I recently started cutting back on coffee, I’ve been drinking a water/full-fat coconut milk mixture with honey and Traditional Medicinals tea in the morning — heaven!

  • #6: Move Your Body. This one is obvious, but it can also be a challenge, especially for folks with office jobs (been there).

    While organized, planned, intentional exercise is great, it isn’t always a possibility for everyone. The most important thing here is to be aware of your body’s innate desire to move, and find creative ways to let it do so throughout the day. That could mean taking a walk on your lunch break, lifting weights, doing yoga, or using a makeshift stand-up desk for part of the day while taking regular breaks to stretch. Do something.

  • #7: Swish Oil Around in Your Mouth. This is something I’m planning on getting back into the habit of doing over the next few weeks. Oil pulling is the ancient practice of swishing oil around in the mouth (I use coconut oil) for 15-20 minutes before spitting it out.

    Because oil dissolves oil, oil pulling is said to remove bacteria, plaque, and toxins from the mouth. Many also believe that oil pulling has a cleansing effect on the rest of the body as well (this post from Wellness Mama explains the process and benefits in detail).

    While I can’t speak to the science of oil pulling, I can attest to the fact that my mouth has NEVER felt more clean than it did when I used to oil pull every morning before brushing my teeth. Never — not even after a cleaning from the dentist!

  • #8: Take Epsom Salt Baths. Stress management is an extremely important part of achieving optimal health that gets put on the backburner far too often.

    One of the ways I like to manage stress is by taking 30 minute baths with epsom salt and essential oils. But for the sake of frugality, I’m just going to focus on the epsom salt this time.

    In addition to being a big time stress reliever when used in a bath, epsom salt is also rich in magnesium. Magnesium helps to promote restful sleep, eases muscle cramps, enhances circulation, and MUCH more. And since up to 80% of Americans are deficient in this important mineral, chances are you could be one of them. Epsom salt baths are an easy and inexpensive way to get magnesium and de-stress. It’s a win-win!

    Liver smoothie shots with mint leaves.

    Liver smoothie shots with mint leaves

  • #9: Eat Liver. Liver is the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. It’s rich in all kinds of things that we WANT in our bodies. Things like vitamins A, D, E, and C, B-vitamins, amino acids, and too many minerals to list.

    There’s only one problem with liver…it doesn’t taste all that great. At least I don’t think it does. If you like it, I’m seriously jealous of you.

    Since my main goal when eating liver is to get it down fast and taste as little of it as possible, I ALWAYS take it in the form of a raw liver smoothie shot (recipe by Real Food Liz — I highly recommend it), which I try to take a few times a week. Since taking liver shots, I’ve noticed an improvement in my energy levels and skin health. And when I go too long without it, it becomes very apparent that I’m missing out on its long list of nutrients.

  • #10: SLEEP. Remember what I said at the beginning, about this not being a do-or-die list? That doesn’t apply to this one. Aside from oxygen, sleep is the most important thing needed for survival. Not food. Not water. SLEEP.

    The bad news? Most of us don’t get anywhere near enough of it, which can (and often does) cause problems like weight gain, heart issues, depression, and more. The good news? Sleep is 100% FREE! And there are plenty of ways to improve your sleep (to find out what they are, take a look at my post: 6 Ways to Get Better Sleep (Naturally)).

    Learning to be more intentional about getting enough sleep has probably had a more positive impact on my health than any other lifestyle change I’ve made (including diet and exercise). I encourage you to make sleep a priority in 2015 — your body, mind, and emotions will be happy you did.

Now I want to hear from you! Are you already doing some of the things on this list? What else would you add?

Disclaimer: Bethany McDaniel/From the Pasture is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please know that I ONLY recommend products that I wholeheartedly support and believe to be of value to my readers.

4 Unexpected Uses for Activated Charcoal (#2 is My Favorite)


I haven’t ever written an entire post singing the praises of one “thing” (aside from product reviews).

But since activated charcoal has so many wonderful uses that aren’t talked about too often, I really wanted to share them with you!

My first experience with activated charcoal (which I’ll refer to throughout this post as AC) happened about a year ago when I came down with a nasty bout of food poisoning. Instead of seeing a doctor or taking medicine, I decided to consult Dr. Google on what to do. I probably typed in “natural remedies for food poisoning” or something like that.

One of the first things that popped up was activated charcoal (charcoal becomes “activated” when oxygen is added to it, increasing the charcoal’s porosity and surface area).

I had heard of people with alcohol poisoning having to take large amounts of charcoal in hospitals to get it out of their system, so it kind of made sense that it would help to remove the food poisoning toxins from my body. So my husband drove me to Sprouts to buy a jar of activated charcoal, and I took 2 capsules right away.

I don’t remember exactly how quickly I started feeling better, but it was faster than I ever would have imagined it to be. A few hours later, I took 2 more capsules. By the time I fell asleep and woke up the next morning, I was pretty darn close to feeling 100% back to normal!

Clearly, I was on to something with this charcoal stuff.

Because it’s extremely porous in nature, activated charcoal is able to attract and hold onto material and debris within its pores. It isn’t absorbed by the body — but it does bind to and eliminate toxins within the body. Pretty cool, right?

It’s important to note that activated charcoal can also bind to good things that we WANT in our bodies (vitamins, minerals, etc.) and shouldn’t be taken on a regular basis or with supplements/vitamins/prescription medications.

AC is fairly inexpensive and can be a lifesaver in many situations (which I’ll discuss below). And since a little bit goes a very long way, activated charcoal lasts a LONG time. I’ve been using the same jar I bought a year ago and still have quite a bit left (but I’m actually pretty excited to run out so I can upgrade to this ultra-pure stuff).

Here are some of the more unconventional ways I’ve found activated charcoal to be extremely useful.

  • #1: Ultra Cleansing Face Mask. Since my teenage years, my skin has never been all that great. And although I’ve definitely experienced less breakouts since going paleo and making other lifestyle changes, my skin is still far from flawless.

    But activated charcoal is helping to change that.

    Just as AC binds to toxins inside of the body, it does the same on the outside — which is why I LOVE using it as a super deep cleaning face mask. Since I began using activated charcoal as a facial mask (about 2 months ago) I’ve already noticed a major shift in the cleanliness of my skin. My pores appear to be smaller and less filled with gunk.

    To make it, I just mix one opened capsule of activated charcoal powder (or 1/2 teaspoon) with about 8 drops of water (so that it has the consistency of a paste — not too cakey and not too runny). Then mix and apply — easy! I leave the mask on for about 30 minutes before thoroughly rinsing it off with Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap.

    *WARNING: Activated Charcoal is extremely messy, but it does come off of most surfaces if washed right away. Be careful not to touch your face or let your face touch anything when wearing the mask. In fact, you might want to wear an old t-shirt when handling activated charcoal powder. I also recommend applying the AC mask right before a shower so that it will be easier to wash off.

    And if you have big pores (like me), the Activated Charcoal may temporarily “stain” your pores for up to 48 hours, giving them a darker, more obvious appearance than normal. This isn’t very noticeable and will always go away, but it’s something to consider (especially if you decide to apply the mask before an important event).

  • #2: Zit Spot Treatment. I wrote the rough draft for this post 3 weeks before actually publishing it. And in that 3 weeks, I discovered this use for activated charcoal (one of the few times I’ve been thankful for my tendency to procrastinate).

    After doing some good-for-the-soul indulging over the holidays, I’ve noticed at least one pimple popping up every couple of days since then. It’s been slightly disheartening, but I have no regrets — it’s good to indulge every once in awhile!

    The first time I noticed a new pimple brewing, I decided to slather it with activated charcoal. And I really chunked it on. In the paragraphs above, I mentioned how I usually use one capsule of AC (mixed with water) as a mask for my entire face. But this time, I used one capsule (also mixed with a few drops of water) just for my pimple and the surrounding area. I left it on for about 30 minutes before washing it off, and was shocked by what happened next.

    This next part is kind of graphic and gross, but it’s the truth. And I don’t know how else to describe it.

    The puss from inside of my zit was sitting on top of my skin, and the pimple itself had all but disappeared. The charcoal literally pulled the toxins and puss right out of my skin within only 30 minutes — a process that would have normally taken 2-5 days to happen by itself!

    I was shocked, amazed, and excited. Ever since that day, I’ve used AC as a spot treatment on 4 zits that I’ve had since then (told you I indulged) and the same thing has happened. Every. Time.

    Now do you see why #2 is my favorite? :)

  • #3: Natural Teeth Whitener. I used to be a total Crest Whitestrips junkie. I probably wore them twice a year for about 6 years. And boy, those things WORKED. They made my teeth so white they were almost blinding. But as part of my relatively new decision to cut toxic chemicals out of my life, I have (somewhat reluctantly) stopped using Whitestrips.

    For about a year, I struggled to find a healthy way to make my teeth sparkly and white without the use of products that contain toxic chemical ingredients. And then I found this post from Wellness Mama in which she writes about using activated charcoal as a teeth whitener.

    Natural Teeth Whitening with Activated Charcoal

    Natural Teeth Whitening with Activated Charcoal

    The jist of the post is this: Because of its ability to bind to toxins and other materials, activated charcoal can help to remove discolorations and stains on the teeth, leaving teeth cleaner and more white than they were before.

    For the last few months, I’ve been brushing my teeth with a mixture of about 2 tablespoons baking soda, 2 tablespoons redmond clay, and a few capsules of activated charcoal powder. I only do this at night, and then brush with my usual toothpaste in the morning. I’ve been super happy with the results and SO wish I had taken before/after pictures!

    It’s no Crest Whitestrips, but it’s the best way to naturally whiten teeth that I’ve found so far!

    *Important Note: I only recommend using this mixture once a day and for about 1 week on, 1 week off.

  • #4: Bug Bite Be-Gone. This was probably the most astonishing experience I’ve had with activated charcoal to date. A few months ago, I got a pretty gnarly bug bite on my forearm.

    I have no idea what it was from, but it was huge and red. And it wasn’t going away. After a few days of not being able to move my wrist more than a 1/2 inch in any direction due to the extreme swelling, I decided to experiment with my trusty activated charcoal. I made a paste of AC mixed with a few drops of water and applied it to the bite. I covered it with a very large bandage to keep it from getting all over my bedding and left the paste to sit on my arm overnight.

    When I woke up, the swelling had gone down significantly and I could move my wrist around like a normal person once again! I applied the paste again the following night and didn’t need to do anything beyond that as my bug bite had already healed faster than I’ve ever had a bug bite heal (and I’ve had many — I’m one of those people who bugs love).


Do you think all of this sounds crazy? Or are you dying to add activated charcoal to your personal care routine? Have you tried using activated charcoal in other ways not mentioned above? Let me know by commenting below!

Disclaimer: Bethany McDaniel/From the Pasture is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Please know that I ONLY recommend products that I wholeheartedly support and believe to be of value to my readers.

Why Coca-Cola’s Fairlife Milk Isn’t so Fair

Image taken from Fairlife.com

Image courtesy of Fairlife.com

When my husband mentioned that Coca-Cola had broken into the milk business (during a long drive up to Nor-Cal to visit family for Thanksgiving), I was intrigued. Coke is making milk? It seemed pretty strange.

I immediately started researching, spending the remainder of our drive scouring the web for information about Coke’s new milk product called Fairlife (launching early 2015).

What I found was a mess of misleading and deceptive marketing — all wrapped up in a pretty package that’s advertised as “purely nutritious” milk. But it’s not — not even close.

Not because it’s made by Coca-Cola. And not even because of their controversial pin-up advertisements. I’ll get to all of Fairlife’s flaws (and there are many) in a minute. But first, let’s talk about what Fairlife is.

What is Fairlife?

Fairlife is a lactose-free “super milk” that contains 50% more protein, 30% more calcium, and 50% less sugar than regular milk.

Even though this hot new product (a joint venture between Coca-Cola and Select Milk Producers), won’t be available in most stores until early 2015, it’s already making headlines nationwide. According to this article from Business Week,

Unlike soda, the U.S. milk industry remains highly fragmented with few recognizable brand names. In fact, store-brand milk accounts for almost one-third of milk sales, according to market research firm Euromonitor International. With Fairlife, Coca-Cola is looking to use its marketing prowess to change that — creating the “Coke” of milks.

Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America, expects Fairlife to “rain money” once it’s established in the marketplace. “We’ll charge twice as much for it as the milk we’re used to buying in a jug,” Douglas said.

Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures (the largest raw-milk dairy in the United States) isn’t quite buying it. “It’s a dead-end venture,” he said. “Our core consumer wants unprocessed, whole, delicious, easy-to-digest full-fat raw milk from a farmer they know and trust.”

I tend to agree with him.

Not just because I’m a fan of Organic Pastures, but mainly because I get kind of annoyed whenever a big, powerful company tries to trick people into thinking that something they have created is better than what nature has already perfected (whole, raw, organic milk from happy cows that live outside and eat grass).

5 Reasons Why I Won’t Be Drinking Fairlife

Let’s get one thing straight. Companies are certainly free to sell whatever they want. And I am by no means on a mission to turn people away from a product just because I don’t like it.

But once I really started looking into Fairlife and the claims attached to their products (via their website and from speaking with a Fairlife representative on the phone), I felt that some light needed to be shed on their extremely misleading marketing messages.

Because it doesn’t strike me as fair to manipulate consumers with good intentions into buying something that they think is healthy (when its really anything but) — especially at twice the price of regular milk!

Here’s why Coca-Cola’s Fairlife Milk is anything but fair:

  • #1: It’s not innovative — it’s Frankenmilk. Fairlife prides itself on being at the cutting edge of milk-making with their “innovative” filtration process. From their website:

    Our milk flows through soft filters so that we can concentrate the good stuff – like protein and calcium – and filter out the fat and sugars. That allows us to bottle only delicious, nutrient-rich milk – with no added protein powders or synthetic junk.

    This video further explains how their filtration process works:

    All of this will probably sound really good to a lot of people, which is part of the reason why it irks me so much. Everything in nature is put together for a reason. And the naturally occurring nutritional components in the foods we eat work synergistically to provide us with whole foods that are healthful, nourishing, and safe to eat.

    When we start deconstructing these foods, picking and choosing what to leave in and what to take out, we open the door for problems to occur. Numerous studies have proven parts of certain foods to be harmful when consumed in isolation (without the same vitamins, minerals, fats, etc. found in their natural food form).

    For example, T. Colin Campbell proved in The China Study that the milk protein casein caused cancer in rats. But the milk protein whey (conveniently left out of The China Study) appears to be effective in protecting against cancer.

    I’m certainly NOT claiming that drinking Fairlife will cause any kind of sickness or disease. But when it comes to deciding what components should and shouldn’t be in milk, I think we’re better off trusting nature over Coca-Cola.

  • #2: Factory farming is not sexy. It takes a lot of guts to try and manipulate folks into thinking that factory farming is cool and progressive (as opposed to cruel, inhumane, bad for the environment, unhealthy, etc.) but that’s just what Fairlife does in this video…

    Showing the words “we believe in better farming” next to a picture of an adorable calf trapped inside of a cage is a total joke — one that I don’t think many people will fall for.

  • #3: Fairlife’s FAQsyikes. Some of these literally made me LOL. This one was my favorite:

    If cows could talk, I seriously doubt they would tell you that they prefer the “luxury” of an artificially lighted indoor feed lot to to being outside on fresh pasture — but that’s just me.

    UPDATE (2/9/15): Fairlife has since removed this FAQ from their website, but has NOT changed their farming practices.

  • #4: Highly pasteurized does not equal healthy. Milk is at its best in a natural, raw, unpasteurized state.

    Pasteurization exists to destroy dangerous germs found in the milk of cows that are raised irresponsibly in feed lots. Although pasteurization does destroy the bad stuff, it messes with milk’s nutrient profile and wipes out much of the beneficial bacteria found in milk. For this reason, many people who can’t digest pasteurized milk are able to tolerate raw milk with no problems.

    Fairlife takes this unnatural process one step further and pasteurizes their milk at an even higher temperature than ordinary milk. This process (advertised as another one of those progressive, cutting-edge innovations) is said to give Fairlife a longer shelf life than average milk.

  • #5: “From Grass to Glass” — really? This probably won’t come as a surprise, but Fairlife’s cows do not eat grass or spend ANY time on pasture throughout their entire lives (a Fairlife rep confirmed this for me over the phone).

    Image courtesy of Fairlife.com

    Image courtesy of Fairlife.com

    So why do they use this phrase to describe the their milk? Good question.

    Fairlife’s “from grass to glass” promise really has nothing to do with grass. Instead, it’s a phrase used to describe their process of growing their own crops for their cows. According to the Fairlife rep I spoke with, the company grows a mixture of GMO corn, soy, alfalfa, and grains that is used to feed their cows.

    From grass to glass? Not quite. But it has a nice ring to it and will surely catch people’s attention.

    The Bottom Line

    The people behind Fairlife are smart. They know what people want. And these days, more and more people want to eat real food that was raised responsibly, ethically, and healthfully. This is a good thing.

    But what bothers me the most about Fairlife isn’t that their milk comes from cows that are housed indoors, fed grains and GMOs, and given antibiotics. And I don’t really give a hoot that their Frankenmilk is ultra-pasteurized.

    What really irritates me is how Fairlife is taking advantage of the “real food” movement by selling people on the idea of transparency, simple ingredients, better farming practices, etc.

    But that’s all it is — an idea.

    Failife isn’t selling milk. They’re selling consumers all kinds of happy, feel-good terms without actually delivering any of them. Seems pretty unfair if you ask me!

    What’s your opinion of Fairlife? Did you find their methods of marketing as disturbing as I did? Let me know with a comment!