Everyone thinks about the fountain of youth now and again. How do we make life last longer, and, more importantly, how do we make sure that life is quality throughout the years?
People in the Blue Zones may have the answer — and some of it has to do with their diet. It's not just what they eat, but how much and when. They stop eating when their stomachs feel about 80 percent full, which helps to avoid weight gain. They eat their smallest meal of the day in the late afternoon or early evening, and don't eat again after that. They eat a lot of beans and other plants. They don't avoid meat, they just eat it sparingly, as part of their lifestyle. They even drink wine in moderation, up to a couple of glasses a day.
The Blue Zones are five disparate areas identified by researcher Dan Buettner where people live to 100 or more in much higher concentrations than anywhere else: Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Ogliastra Region, Sardinia; Loma Linda, California.; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.
People in these regions not only live longer, they enjoy enjoy their life to its fullest, and what they are putting in their bodies goes a long way, according to research. So, what food habits will help you make it to a healthy 100 years old?
1. Watch the meat.
People in Blue Zones aren't necessarily vegan or even vegetarian, they just ... don't eat a lot of meat. They get their protein from other sources: tofu, soy, beans, fish. When they do eat meat, the portions are very small: 2 to 3 ounces. To compare, if you went to a restaurant and ordered a steak, the smallest size is 6 ounces. Meat simply isn't the centerpiece of the meal the way it is in the United States, and that improves longevity, so look into meat substitutes. Remember, it's not a structured rule against meat. It's easier to change your diet naturally rather than through rules and regulations.
2. Fill up on plants.
Thomas Barwick / Stone / Getty Images
Without the beef, pork and chicken, you might find some extra space on your plate. Fill it up with vegetables or plant products. People in Blue Zones have a diet that is 90 percent plant-based. There are many plants that have high protein content, including beans, greens, yams and sweet potatoes, fruits, nuts, and seeds. To keep up enough protein throughout the day, try keeping a mix of nuts and seeds to snack on. Almonds are high in vitamin E and magnesium, walnuts have the only omega-3 fat found in plants, peanuts have a lot of B vitamin and Brazil nuts and cashews round out the health benefits with selenium, folate and magnesium.
In addition to these hearty plants, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale help reduce free radicals in the body, and can help prolong life. Not only that, but studies have shown that people eating cooked greens have sharper cognition and memory function as they age.
3. Leave the dairy behind.
While Americans have gotten their calcium and protein from dairy products like milk and cheese for centuries, people living in the Blue Zones consume very little cow dairy. They get these same nutrients from the plant-based diet we already talked about. For instance, one cup of cooked kale or half a cup of tofu gives us just as much calcium as a glass of milk.
People are not equipped to digest milk very well, and up to 60 percent of us have some kind of issue processing lactose. In addition, almost 50 percent of the calories in milk (and 70 percent of the calories in cheese) come from fat, most of which is saturated.
The dairy products people in Blue Zones do consume come from sheep and goats, rather than cows. They are also mostly fermented rather than liquid milk — like yogurt and cheese and sour cream.
4. Beans get their own bullet point.
Medvessy Szabolcs / Getty Images
While we mentioned them under plant-based, beans are so important to Blue Zone diets that they get their own detailed explanation. People in the Blue Zones eat more than four times the amount of beans than a typical American does. Eating a half cup a day will fulfill most of your vitamin and mineral needs.
Beans are high in fiber, which helps the body replenish probiotics for gastrointestinal health. They are also filling, so you won't feel as hungry for processed sugars and carbohydrates. Don't get the wrong idea, beans are 77 percent carbohydrates, but those are natural, complex carbs, the energy building blocks we all need. They contain more than 20 percent protein and very little fat. Studies show that eating 20 grams of beans a day reduced risk of death by 8 percent. Don't know how to increase the bean consumption in your life? You can puree them to thicken soups or sauces, or just whip up any one of these dozens of recipes.
Eating like you live in the Blue Zones could extend your life, no matter where you currently reside. More importantly, you'll be healthier and happier during your later years, and your body will thank you.
Darlena Cunha is a freelance writer and a professor at the University of Florida, with degrees in communications and ecology.
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After Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans and its remnants struck New Jersey and New York, rescue efforts took place via boats and kayaks and people were often forced to walk through standing water. Some the standing water continues in flooded basements. It raises questions about the hazardous materials, such as wood planks, nails, random metal objects, as well as the less visible toxins, such as bacteria and fertilizers, which could be in the water.
When it rains, stormwater runs over land and lawn, sidewalks and streets, pavements and parking lots collecting whatever is in its way. The water gathers fertilizers, pesticides, phosphates, gasoline, heavy metals, litter, plastic and more.
In most of New York City, storm runoff, sewage and wastewater from industries flow through the same pipes. (Queens and Staten Island are the exception: they have separate systems for sewage and stormwater.) The water is funneled to the city's fourteen wastewater treatment plants.
During intensely wet weather, however, the water is not conveyed to the treatment plants, since it would exceed their capacity. Instead, "during such overflow periods, a portion of the sanitary sewage entering, or already in, the combined sewers discharges untreated into the waterway along with stormwater and debris washed from streets," according to the New York City Environmental Quality Review Technical Manual. Specially, "during storms, if a greater amount of combined flow reaches the regulator, the excess is directed to outfalls into the nearest waterway (e.g., the Hudson River, East River)."
All it takes to exceed the capacity is rains of a tenth of an inch per hour. And according to the National Weather Service, it rained over three inches an hour when Ida measured at its most intense in Central Park.
This untreated overflow is called Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO). It is discharged out of 460 sites located around New York City. The overflow could contain anything from gasoline to pollutants from industrial facilities to untreated sewage.
Untreated sewage, in turn, might lead to bacteria in the water. Among bacteria, total coliform are widespread in nature, found in soil, water and animal and human waste. Fecal coliform, a subset of total coliform, are present in the gut and specifically in the feces of warm-blooded animals.
A species of fecal coliform is Escherichia coli or E. coli, which can be found in livestock such as cattle, chickens, pigs and sheep. While coliform typically does not cause disease, some strands of E.coli are harmful. Undercooked meat and contaminated water can be sources. The water can become contaminated by leaking septic tanks or sewage pipes; by the fecal matter of birds, humans, livestock and pets; or by the aforementioned untreated sewage. Typically, whether the water is safe cannot be determined by look, smell or taste. Instead the water must be tested.
Other common pollutants carried in stormwater include fertilizers, heavy metals, nitrates, PCBs, pesticides, phosphates and plastic particles — whatever chemicals the water flows over. Unlike water that goes down the drain at home, stormwater that goes down a drain on a street corner is untreated. Carrying its accumulated pollutants with it, it dispels them into waterways, creating not only an environmental hazard but also a health risk.
New York City's water system is 150 years old. It badly needs an update to separate the sewage and stormwater systems. That said, even if the sewage were no longer to flow out the CSOs, the toxicity of the stormwater would remain, as would the risk of flooding.
In Queens, eleven of the thirteen fatalities were a result of flooded basement apartments. The areas that flooded and where eleven people drowned overlapped with a floodmap that the city issued in May 2021. According to The City, "the interactive map [was] released in conjunction with Mayor Bill de Blasio's stormwater resiliency plan and required by a 2018 City Council law."
Two days after five feet of water flooded Ivette Mayo's home in Woodside, she began to feel ill. By Monday, she nee… https://t.co/JCAWNS4Cl3— Gothamist (@Gothamist)1631142241.0
Flooding can destroy a home and its electrical systems. It can create problems for the foundation and lead to structural issues. Mold is a big risk resulting from flooding, which can create health problems. Basements were not only more damaged but are also harder to dry out.
The cleanup can also be a challenge. The repairs can lead to exposure to asbestos, lead and other toxins found in homes. Of course, many products used to clean up also contain chemicals. The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advises that for floods at the workplace, "cleaning up spills of hazardous materials, and search and rescue, should only be conducted by workers who have the proper training, equipment and experience." Similar advice is prudent for floods at home to avoid the health risks.
Yet hiring professionals to carry out these cleanups costs money. And many of those living in basement apartments were living in them precisely because they tend to be cheaper in price.
So what to do? Having the floodmaps in place is great but action must also be taken based on them to ensure that those most at risk are protected. It means that developers should not be allowed to build in flood zones. The mayor's office estimates that there are at least 50,000 basement apartments in NYC with at least 100,000 residents. Basement apartments raise the issue of the need for housing to be more affordable in New York City or for wages to be commensurate with the cost of living in New York City.
Action is key because as the flooding of New Orleans after Katrina and Ida and now Nicholas, of Houston after Harvey and of New York City after Ida has shown, the threat of flooding is becoming less than a once a century risk. In New York City an estimated 2.5 million residents are already living in storm surge inundation zones.
The Netherlands — literally named the nether lands because about one third of the country lies below sea level — and other countries have been at the forefront of adapting to inundation. Coastal zones prone to flooding could be restored as wetlands. New York City currently has only "one percent of its historic freshwater wetlands and ten percent of its historic wetlands, namely in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island," according to the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. It never ceases to amaze how a map of historical wetlands compares with a map of current flood zones.
Tidelands of the New York New Jersey Harbor Estuary. Regional Plan Association
Storm surge inundation zones and depths. NHC, USACE
Existing wetlands could be protected and opportunities for expanding protection and restoration could be pursued. Wetlands help control floods by absorbing floodwater and stabilizing shorelines. Wetlands also help improve water quality by filtering stormwater runoff.
Myriad other strategies exist for reducing flooding and runoff. Rooftop gardens could gather rain and also, unlike tar, cool, and provide food. It might sound like a small thing but if expanded to the scale of the city, it would add up. Playgrounds and below ground parking garages could be constructing to double manner as catchment for water. More green along streets could harvest water. Since 2007, NYC has required permeable pavement for lots with more than 18 spaces of larger than 6000 square feet. Porous pavement is also being implemented. Both could be scaled up. Buzzwords to avoid floods in the new era: permeable and porous. Is it time for the return of cobblestones?
Floodwater can contain anything from sewage and sharp objects to downed power lines. Stay away from flood waters wh… https://t.co/mSiymxBIIY— CDC Environment (@CDC Environment)1631718120.0
Tina Gerhardt is an environmental journalist. She covers international climate negotiations, energy policy, sea level rise and related direct actions. Her work has been published by Grist, The Progressive, The Nation, Sierra and the Washington Monthly.
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For nearly as long as solar panels have been gracing rooftops and barren land, creative people have been searching out additional surfaces that can be tiled with energy-generating photovoltaic (PV) panels. The idea has been pretty straightforward: if solar panels generate energy simply by facing the sun, then humans could collectively reduce our reliance on coal, oil, gas and other polluting fuels by maximizing our aggregate solar surface area.
So, what kind of unobstructed surfaces are built in every community and in between every major city across the globe? Highways and streets. With this in mind, the futuristic vision of laying thousands, or even millions, of solar panels on top of the asphalt of interstates and main streets was born.
While the concept art looked like a still from a sci-fi film, many inventors, businesses and investors saw these panels as a golden path toward clean energy and profit. Ultimately, though, the technology and economics ended up letting down those working behind each solar roadway project — from initial concepts in the early 2000s to the first solar roadway actually opened in France in 2016, they all flopped.
In the years since the concept of solar roadways went viral, solar PV has continued to improve in technology and drop in price. So, with a 2021 lens, is it time to re-run the numbers and see if a solar roadway could potentially deliver on that early promise? We dig in to find out.
Solar Roadways: The Original Concept
Solar roadways are complex in execution, but in concept, they're as simple as they sound. They're roads "paved" with extremely strong solar panels that are covered in glass that can withstand environmental stressors and the weight of vehicles driving over them on a consistent basis.
The idea was something that got people really excited when the initial Solar Roadways, Inc. project (which is still seeking funding) burst onto the scene in 2014:
More advanced designs included solar roadways outfitted with LED lights that could be used to illuminate lane lines, communicate to drivers and more. Other iterations included weight sensors that would detect when obstructions were on the road or could alert homeowners if unexpected vehicles were approaching their driveway. Embedding these kinds of technology into the solar roadways renderings only added to their appeal and the initial hype around the concept.
Key Selling Points of Solar Roadways
Early innovators of solar roadways touted the numerous benefits of their ideas. These included:
- Sunlight shines down on roads at no cost, making the energy not only readily available, but also free (aside from installation and maintenance).
- The ability to power street lights with solar roadways eliminated the need to pull extra energy from the grid.
- Having electronics embedded into the roadway opened up a world of possibilities for communicating with drivers in ways that didn't require painting and repainting of roads.
- The ingenuity to attach weight sensors on the solar panels could be used to alert drivers about potential obstructions, such as animals, disabled vehicles or rocks on the road.
- In a future of electric vehicles, the possibilities were seen as even more beneficial, as solar roadways could be used to power electric vehicle charging stations or to charge the cars while they're driving.
While some early thinkers may also have envisioned these roadways sending solar energy to the local power grid, the most impactful way solar roadways could utilize the energy they generated is right around the road itself: lighting street lights, heating mechanisms to melt snow on the roadway, or powering small emergency equipment on road shoulders.
Using the energy for on-road applications would mean that the power didn't have to be sent long distances before being used, which results in energy loss. However, in more rural or remote locations, having the solar roadway energy available for nearby homes and businesses could be a huge benefit, especially if there's an outage in the overall grid.
Why Solar Roadway Tests Have Failed
To much of the general public — and especially to people who weren't well versed in the intricacies of solar panels or road structures — solar roadways seemed like a slam-dunk solution that both looked futuristic and had benefits that went far beyond electricity generation. It was the kind of innovation that had people exclaiming: "How has no one done this yet?!" But in reality, the execution of solar roadways was much more complex than the idea.
Here are a few reasons solar roadway tests have failed:
Cost of Manufacturing and Maintenance
The cost of the energy from the sun may be free, but the investment to install and maintain the solar roadways was undeniably prohibitive. The reason asphalt is used by default to pave roadways is because it is immensely affordable and low-maintenance, which is especially critical on vast, expansive roadways and interstates.
In 2010, Scott Brusaw, co-founder of Solar Roadways, Inc., estimated a square foot of solar roadway would cost about $70. However, when the first solar roadway was built in France by a company called Colas, it measured 1 kilometer and cost $5.2 million to build — or about $1,585 per foot of roadway. Of course, this was a small iteration and bulk manufacturing would cost less, but either way, it's hard to believe the cost of a solar roadway would ever be competitive with the price of asphalt, which is about $3 to $15 per square foot.
Further, the cost and complexity to send a crew to repair individual panels that fail would far outweigh those to maintain asphalt. So, while one of the presumed benefits of solar roadways is the cost savings associated with self-generated energy, even back-of-the-envelope math highlights how the numbers would simply not add up to be more cost-effective in the long run.
Energy Required to Produce the Panels
Another limiting factor appears when considering the energy it takes to make asphalt versus high-durability glass and solar panels. Most asphalt used on roads today is a byproduct of distilling petroleum crude oil for products such as gasoline, which means it makes use of a substance that would otherwise be discarded as waste.
The solar roadway panels, although intended to save energy in the long run, take much more to produce. Typical rooftop solar panels can easily make up for the extra energy used in production because the glass doesn't need to withstand the weight of vehicles driving over them, but solar roadways have that added complexity.
Power Output of the Panels
When estimating power output, early optimists seemed to perform calculations based on the raw surface area they could cover — and not much else. However, beyond the stunted energy generation that any solar panels face on cloudy days or at night, solar roadways presented unique new performance challenges.
For example, vehicles constantly driving over solar roadways would interrupt sun exposure. Plus, they'd leave behind trails of fluid, dirt and dust that can dramatically reduce the efficiency of solar panels. Being installed on the ground is a challenge in itself because of how readily shade would find the roads; that's the reason you find most solar panels on rooftops or elevated off the ground and angled toward the sun.
Issues With Glass Roadways
Lastly, driving on glass surfaces is simply not what modern cars are designed to do. Asphalt and tires grip each other well, being particularly resilient in wet conditions. If the asphalt is replaced with glass — even the textured glass that's used for solar roadways — tire traction could be reduced dramatically. Wet or icy conditions could lead to catastrophic situations on solar roadways.
Could Recent Advances in Solar Technology Bring Solar Roadways Closer to Reality?
For all of these challenges and even more roadblocks that early solar roadway projects have run into in the past, the reality is that solar technology continues to improve. In the seven years since the first Solar Roadways, Inc. video went viral, solar panels have developed to be more durable, more cost-effective and more efficient at converting sunlight to electricity. To put some numbers behind these trends:
- The average solar PV panel cost has dropped about 70% since 2014.
- In 2015, FirstSolar made news with panels that were 18.2% efficient. Today, the most advanced prototypes are able to exceed 45% efficiency.
- Total solar energy capacity in 2021 is nearly six times greater than in 2014, and with that explosion has come advances to flatten the learning curve and increase the general public's acceptance of the benefits of solar.
- Solar jobs have increased 167% in the last decade, giving the industry more capable workers able to take the reins of a solar roadway project and more professionals who know how to affordably install solar.
The question to ask is whether these advances are enough to bring solar roadways from failure to success.
Despite the improvements, many of the original challenges with solar roadways remain, and the scale of execution is immense. Even with decreasing solar PV costs, outfitting long stretches of roadway with such complex technologies will require tremendous capital.
Rather than a future where solar roadways cover the country from coast to coast, a more likely outcome is that these advances will bring solar roadways to viability in narrow, niche applications.
Just like tidal energy is a great opportunity for small coastal communities but can't be scaled to solve the energy crisis across the world, it's conceivable that limited-scope solar roadways could be constructed around the world. However, large-scale solar roadways may never be more than a pipe dream.
By human standards, 95-year-old David Atteborough might be considered an "old fossil." But the beloved nature broadcaster is still a spring chicken compared to his new namesake.
Researchers have identified a new species of horseshoe crab that lived around 200 million years ago, and named it Attenborolimulus superspinosus.
"We named this fossil crab after the famous naturalist and documentary host Sir David Attenborough, in honour of his contributions to conservation and science communication," study co-author and University of New England paleobiology researcher Russell Bicknell wrote for The Conversation.
Bicknell and his co-author Dmitry E. Shcherbakov of the Russian Academy of Sciences announced their new find in the journal Paleontology and Evolutionary Science Wednesday. The species is a relic of a time when horseshoe crabs displayed much more biodiversity. Currently, there are only four species of horseshoe crab that are all relatively similar to each other. However, 250 to 200 million years ago, during the Triassic period, there were a variety of different horseshoe crabs known as the austrolimulids.
Bicknell and Shcherbakov discovered the new austrolimulid in Russia's Ural Mountains during trips in 2018 and 2019. What set it apart from the rest of the austrolimulids was the unique placement and shape of its spines — more developed on its head section and more rounded and less prominent elsewhere. It was smaller than contemporary horseshoe crabs and probably lived in freshwater or a mixed fresh and marine ecosystem. This sets it apart from contemporary horseshoe crabs, which only live in the ocean.
The tri-spine horseshoe crab is one of four species of horseshoe crabs left alive, and one of two that is considered endangered. Daiju Azuma / CC BY-SA 2.5
Studying austromolids is important because they emerged as part of the recovery after the Permian extinction, in which 95 percent of marine life went extinct.
"Examining ecological recovery from the 'mother of all extinctions' (the end-Permian extinction) during the Triassic is important for understanding how biological systems can redevelop after major devastating events," the authors wrote in the study.
Today's horseshoe crabs are threatened by a different mass extinction, which is why the researchers decided to name their ancient ancestor for a noted conservationist.
"This is especially important for horseshoe crabs now, as two of the four living species are considered endangered," Bicknell wrote for The Conversation. "And this is due to negative interactions with humans, including habitat modification and harvesting for their blood (which has applications in modern medicine)."
This is not the first time Attenborough has had a fossil named for him. In 2017, for one, researchers called a 430-million-year-old crustacean Cascolus Ravitis, Cascolus being the Latin equivalent of the Old English version of Attenborough, as BBC News reported at the time.
"The biggest compliment that a biologist or palaeontologist can pay to another one is to name a fossil in his honour and I take this as a very great compliment," Attenborough told BBC News in response.
All in all, the naturalist has given his name to more than 12 species, living and extinct, including a dragonfly, a pitcher plant and the fossil of a marsupial lion, as SBS reported.
When I stepped onto the tarmac in Durango, I was hit with a dry wall of air. The 4 p.m. sun felt like it was dialed up – brighter, hotter, and harsher. I blinked enough dust out of my eyes to scan the parking lot for the red Dodge pickup truck that had come to collect me.
That morning, I'd left my Brooklyn apartment, and a city recovering from 14 months of a pandemic. I'd flown to a two-gate airport in a state I'd never been to, to get picked up by a stranger who would drive me to his rural farm with no cell phone service to live in a trailer and work for free. The significance of the situation – and everything that could go wrong – didn't hit me until that gust of hot, dry air did.
I didn't know it would be one of the most important things I'd do with my life, or that I would begin advising everyone I met who found themselves in the situation I did – unemployed, unsure – to do the same.
~ ~ ~
It's hard to pinpoint when WWOOF first came to my attention; it seems like the kind of thing you always hear about in circles of young, unattached people – an opportunity for college kids looking to fill their summers or gap years, or a backburner activity for a hypothetical future when you have the time. When I, like many Americans, lost my job in early 2020, I started relying on short-term, freelance, and gig work; without a true full-time position, I found myself with rare, exhilarating, and daunting amount of freedom. It (finally) felt like the right time.
WWOOF – Worldwide Opportunities (formerly Willing Workers) on Organic Farms – is essentially a network of national organizations that each facilitate homestays on farms. One-hundred and thirty countries have their own, separate branches of WWOOF, all with the goal of supporting sustainable, ecological farming through an educational work exchange.
The arrangement – at least for WWOOF-USA – is rather straightforward: WWOOFers (as participants are informally called) seek unpaid work on one of nearly 1,700 participating farms across the country in exchange for housing and meals. Beyond that, the details vary wildly. Some farms grow vegetables, while others produce herbs, fruit, flowers, mushrooms, or hemp. Some raise cows, chickens, and other livestock for milk, eggs, or meat. Many focus on value-added products like soap, medicinals, wine, maple syrup, and cheese. Some sites are large, established farms; some are community gardens or homesteads. Some seek WWOOFers for a few weeks of work; others for an entire growing season.
Anyone can search the website for host sites, but to see the names of the farms and contact them about a visit, users need to create an account for a $40 yearly fee. Potential volunteers then set up their profile, answering questions about their capabilities, interests, qualifications, etc.; hosts set up a similar profile, detailing all sorts of information about the farm and their expectations for workers.
Visitors are able to filter for hosts by all sorts of qualities: location, languages spoken by the farmers, farming methodologies, types of animals raised, type of housing offered, whether WWOOFers may bring children or pets, diets that can be accommodated, and preferred length of stay. Visitors can filter for only BIPOC or LGBTQ+-owned farms, or the maximum number of workers allowed at the site. During the pandemic, new filters were added, such as whether a host could accommodate folks working or schooling remotely.
Farmers can be contacted through the website, and, if it seems like a good match, the rest of the details – specific dates, transportation, etc. – are decided from there.
On the website's map of hosts, I zoomed in on Colorado. I found a farm that grew vegetables and raised chickens, sent a message showing my interest, and heard back from the farmer within a few days. We set up a time to chat, and he called me while driving home to Mancos from Durango, describing the scenery around him and what they were looking forward to on the farm this season. I packed two bags and took the cheapest flight out of Newark.
~ ~ ~
From my discussions with other folks who have WWOOFed, I've learned that it's futile to compare experiences; no two will share many similarities besides your purpose there being to farm. WWOOF as an organization has very little to do with the ordeal beyond facilitating that initial conversation between WWOOFer and farmer (although they can provide resources for emergent situations). Once you're on the farm, it's your relationship with the host that matters; your experience is entirely in your hands.
For the months of June and July, I lived and worked on a small market farm in Southwest Colorado. We grew vegetables on a few acres of land and in some small greenhouses, raised a couple hundred chickens and a handful of goats and pigs, and then sold the produce, eggs, and sausage at two weekly farmer's markets. Three Great Pyrenees theoretically kept the animals in check, but would often trot up to you in the fields with a smile on their face after, yet again, escaping from a rogue hole in the fence.
I lived in a trailer along the edge of a creek, downhill from the main house, accompanied by an old blue school bus, a few other stationary trailers, and a green VW van, all home to other farm folks and a few surprisingly friendly cats. We shared a firepit, some indoor-turned-outdoor furniture, and an open-air kitchen with a propane stove that would singe your eyebrows clean off if you weren't paying attention.
We started working after 7 a.m. – before the sun got too strong – and ended the day between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., or whenever the task at hand got done. During the early part of the season, we did a first pass at weeding all the beds that had already been planted, the greens and turnips in full swing and the onions and squashes just beginning to grow in earnest. There were raised beds and a new greenhouse to be built, eggs to collect and wash, compost to be spread, and crops to be harvested and cleaned and weighed for market on Thursdays and Fridays. As the summer carried on, harvest days became longer, and late-season crops were transplanted – and, of course, there was more weeding to be done.
While I retreated mid-afternoon to hike, or read, or cool off in the river, the farmer continued working; when we finished dinner in the evening, he went back into the fields with a headlamp. Work on a farm was never finished, I soon learned; it didn't happen between set hours, but all the time, until the work was done – which, of course, it never is.
When you search for a host on the WWOOF website, the farm profiles display photos of lush pasture, wicker baskets of cherry-red tomatoes, smiling goats and bins of freshly-harvested produce. It's true that the buckets of kale and lettuce looked almost suspiciously lush, and watching the sunset from the hill overlooking the farm and valley felt practically ethereal, but to live and work on a farm is to dispel a bit of that pure idealism – to learn the reality of a place that grows things without industrial machinery or pesticides that allow for such neat, uniform rows of crops.
You learn the reality of weeding the same acre for three months for two short weeks of harvesting; of black widows crawling from the piles of pulled bindweed and wild amaranth that you kneel on between the beds, and no-see-ums biting the tips of your ears until they swell. You learn how dry dirt gets into the crevices of your overalls and never seems to come out, and on the first day of monsoon season, you learn that your trailer isn't as watertight as you'd expected. Your body learns to wake up when the sun does, and go a little longer between showers than you'd prefer.
If you're lucky enough to WWOOF in Southwest Colorado – and if you're an east-coaster, like me – you'll learn for the first time what drought really feels like. The cracks in the ground were wide enough to drop quarters into. The creek running through the farm was hardly more than a trickle, the crawdads dragging themselves towards the last crevices of water, which became mere patches of mud as the weeks went on. Most of the Southwest has been in a chronic drought since 2000, and climate change is the unmistakable culprit; farmers in Colorado and the rest of the region have been forced to make painful changes, including major cutbacks on crops for lack of water.
Our days were almost entirely dictated by weather. A heatwave rolled through during my first week as we were erecting a new greenhouse; the temperature dial on the side of the tool shed had crept to nearly 100ºF before noon, and we retreated into the shade until the sun began to set and the temperature to drop before returning to the task. The irrigation water was shut off towards the middle of the summer, and all we could do was wait for monsoon season. Evidence has suggested that, even when the rains do come to offer some relief, climate change has made them less helpful. They came in late June, and I learned that the smell of it is different – stronger, and more metallic – and that the ground sucks it up within seconds, the dirt as dry as if rain had never come.
But you also learn about a different way of life.
WWOOFing – or any experience that takes you out of your own world, and what you view as the norm – opens a window into the everyday lives of other people; it allows you to see a world that exists outside of your own. I learned when it feels like to live in a town of 1,000 people and know the majority of those you pass on the street by name. I learned how jobs like farming aren't just careers, but an all-encompassing way of life. I learned about the culture and attitudes of people in a different part of the country. I learned how it feels to live in nature, away from the city that moves a million miles a minute, even during a global pandemic.
There are a lot of different lives to live, which we can't truly understand until we see them.
While every WWOOF experience will be different, they will all have this in common.
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Like most life-changing, view-altering experiences, WWOOFing really is a giant leap of faith. You read the reviews, look at the pictures, zoom in on the closest town on Google Maps, talk to the farmer and ask all your questions – but you'll never know exactly what will happen. It could be a disaster, or it could be wonderful. It does take a great deal of courage, and a willingness to live in less-than-glamorous circumstances. It requires meeting entirely new people, doing physically and intellectually demanding work, and launching yourself into an entirely unknown situation.
I didn't really know what the next few months of my life would look like when I got off that plane and into that red pickup truck. I didn't know what people I would meet on the farm and in Mancos, or that they'd become such staples and joys in my everyday life. I didn't know that I'd go to a wedding of ex-WWOOFers on this very farm where they met, or learn (the hard way) that I'm a terrible mountain biker, or climb up to 13,500 feet on a mountainside of scree. I didn't know that I would learn how to properly throw a dart, or form unexpectedly meaningful relationships. I certainly didn't know that I would fall in love with farming, but that happened too.
You build a new life from the ground up – especially when you're planning to stay for a significant amount of time – that you eventually have to leave, which is far harder than all the rest.
Many WWOOFers – as I learned from other transient types in Colorado, and from the farmers who had a slow-moving, revolving door of WWOOFers come work for them – will set up a schedule for themselves, booking short, back-to-back visits on farms as they travel across the country. While taking advantage of this unique opportunity for housing and companionship is great, I advocate for the way I did it: staying in one place long enough to become a part of the community, and form some real, lasting relationships with the people there.
Another major consideration for many when choosing a host site is the number of WWOOFers housed at a given time; the difficulty of moving to a strange, faraway place is eased knowing that there will be others there to share it with. I had the experience of being both a lone WWOOFer and one of a group, my time split in half. Working alone with the farmer for my first month, I was able to get a lot of individual mentorship, learn about the things I was interested in, and form a closer relationship with him and others on the farm than I might have if I shared the time with lots of other workers.
As my second month rolled around, two other WWOOFers joined me, and besides the benefit of having more hands as the harvests got bigger, we formed a special kind of friendship: we shared a life experience together – one that no one could ever really understand besides each other. I have no doubt that they will remain a part of my life, even after going our separate ways.
In the end, togetherness was the crucial piece to the puzzle. We all worked together, cooked together, ate together, took weekend hikes and swims and played Tuesday night bar trivia together. Of all the wonderful benefits of WWOOFing – working outdoors, exploring the mountains, traveling – the community you form is the most important part.
For many, WWOOFing is a way to support yourself on a shoestring budget, with your food and living expenses paid for. But it's also clear why the majority of participants are young, unattached people: without an income, making student loan, rent, or mortgage payments is extremely difficult, and only possible if you've been able to save money for some time beforehand. Most people can't just step away from their lives and dependents to move away and work for free. It's yet another example of how privilege factors into our ability to have certain experiences.
Our lives have changed a lot in the past year and a half – in ways that, hopefully, might make experiences like this possible for more people: student loans payments are on hold, remote work and school are prevalent phenomena, and for some – myself included – stimulus payments and enhanced unemployment benefits have granted more financial freedom to pursue different kinds of work.
After losing my own job in 2020, I shuttled between temporary and part-time gigs, trying to find something that would stick. As COVID dragged on, I'd started to give up on finding passion and joy in anything. The days and months blurred together, and it felt like the "most important" years of my life were quietly slipping away. I lost all sense of what I wanted from my life, and found myself looking around, wondering how I got here.
During that time, when I needed something to hold on to – some hope for a pre-pandemic future – I pictured a different kind of life: working away from a screen, somewhere in nature, doing something with my hands. I didn't know what kind of life I wanted to live, but I needed to find out – and WWOOFing gave me the chance to.
Linnea graduated from Skidmore College in 2019 with a Bachelor's degree in English and Environmental Studies, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Most recently, Linnea worked at Hunger Free America, and has interned with WHYY in Philadelphia, Saratoga Living Magazine, and the Sierra Club in Washington, DC.
Linnea enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors, reading, practicing her German, and volunteering on farms and gardens and for environmental justice efforts in her community. Along with journalism, she is also an essayist and writer of creative nonfiction.
Many pet owners have shown an interest in CBD oil for dogs as a natural way to enhance the health and wellbeing of their pets. CBD, or cannabidiol, can offer a wide range of health benefits for animals, just as it can for humans. In this article we'll offer background information on CBD oils for dogs as well our recommendations for the best brands and products.
How Can CBD Oil Help My Dog?
Pet treats infused with the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant can help dogs and other animals to manage symptoms associated with various conditions and environmental stresses. Those that have personally tried CBD for their pets say it has the potential to reduce pain, separation anxiety or stress from thunderstorms, aggressive tendencies, and seizures, among other advantages. CBD has also been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can help relieve joint pain in older dogs.
CBD oil products can be mixed in with your dog's food from a dropper and some come in flavors like bacon or beef your dog might enjoy. CBD can also improve your dog's coat and skin health. CBD topicals can be rubbed onto itchy or irritated skin. Hemp dog treats are perhaps the easiest to work into your dog care routine.
Note that it's important to buy CBD products that are specifically designed for dogs. Regular CBD products contain concentrations that are too high for pets. Feeding your dog the right CBD treat or CBD tincture could result in a happier, healthier best friend.
Related: Most Affordable CBD Oil of 2021
How We Review CBD Oil for Dogs
To create our list of the best CBD for dogs, we evaluated each brand and product on six specific categories that we use for all of our CBD reviews.
- Value — Is the brand's pet CBD oil affordable and does it work as advertised?
- Strength — How many total milligrams of CBD does each dose of CBD oil contain? Is it full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate?
- Source — Where does the company get its hemp? Is it grown in the USA?
- Flavor — Do they flavor their CBD oil? If so, do they use natural ingredients?
- Transparency — Can you view third-party lab test results and information about their extraction process?
- Customer Experience — Do they offer a satisfaction guarantee? What do customer reviews say about the product?
Learn more about our picks for best CBD oils for dogs below.
Our Top Picks for Dog CBD Oils
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall - NuLeaf Naturals Pet CBD
- Best Flavor - Cornbread Hemp CBD Oil for Pets
- Best Organic Option - R+R Medicinals CBD Pet Tincture
- Strongest Oil for Dogs - Charlotte's Web CBD for Dogs Drops
- Best Variety - Honest Paws USDA Organic CBD Oil for Dogs
- Best Satisfaction Guarantee - CBDistillery CBD Pet Tincture
- Best THC-Free Option - Medterra CBD Pet Tincture
The Best CBD Oils for Dogs
Best Overall: NuLeaf Naturals Pet CBD Oil
NuLeaf Naturals offers a clean, natural way to try plant-based relief for your pet. All of their products are certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. NuLeaf Naturals CBD comes from hemp grown organically on farms in Colorado, and they use an advanced Co2 extraction method that preserves more beneficial plant compounds without the use of chemicals. This CBD oil is also independently lab tested with results available online for each batch, helping you know exactly what you give to your dog.
Strength: 3 mg full spectrum CBD per serving, available in 300mg, 900mg, and 1800mg size bottles
Why buy: We like that this CBD oil for dogs comes in a consistent starter strength, 3 mg of CBD per mL, making it easier to measure the right amount each time. We trust NuLeaf Naturals for the purity and effectiveness of their CBD.
Best Flavor: Cornbread Hemp CBD Oil for Pets
Cornbread Hemp CBD Oil for Pets is made with vegan corndog flavoring. This makes it more appealing to furry friends than the natural flavors of some CBD oils. We love that it's also vegan, non-GMO, and contains no fillers or preservatives. All of their products are derived from organic hemp grown in Kentucky, and are also third-party lab tested. Each product includes seed-to-sale tracking and a tamper-proof seal. Note that this contains a stronger concentration of CBD per serving than other oils, so you may not want to start out with a full serving.
Strength: 17 mg full spectrum CBD per serving, 500 mg per bottle.
Why buy: We love Cornbread Hemp CBD Oil for Pets for its vegan corndog flavoring that makes it easy to add to your dog's diet. Cornbread Hemp is also known for their flower-only extraction process, meaning they don't use any stems or leaves, for a cleaner, purer product.
Best Organic: R+R Medicinals CBD Pet Tincture
R+R Medicinals CBD Pet Tincture is our favorite USDA-certified organic CBD oil for dogs. It's made with organic full spectrum hemp extract grown in Colorado and organic grape-seed oil, which makes it good for your dog's coat and skin. We like that R+R Medicinals also uses a clean Co2 extraction method. A full 1 mL serving includes 16.7 mg of CBD and over 2 mg of additional cannabinoids like CBN, CBC, THC, and CBG, that can provide strong relief for your pet.
Strength: 16.7 mg full spectrum CBD per serving, 500 mg per bottle.
Why buy: We love this CBD oil for pets because it is certified organic and can provide powerful, full spectrum relief. It also includes a dosage guide for different sized pets right on the bottle, making it very easy to use.
Strongest CBD Oil for Dogs: Charlotte's Web CBD for Dogs Drops
Charlotte's Web full spectrum hemp extract for dogs is one of the strongest CBD oils for dogs out there. It offers 17 mg of CBD per 1 mL serving, plus additional cannabinoids that work to provide powerful full spectrum relief. This product is available in a chicken flavor or unflavored option, which can help if you have a choosy pup. Just like their CBD products for people, this CBD oil for dogs contains no pesticides or harsh chemicals.
Strength: 17 mg full spectrum CBD per serving, available in 30 mL or 100 mL bottles.
Why buy: We like this CBD oil for dogs because it is certified by the National Animal Supplements Council (NASC), meaning it is independently tested for quality and it is proven to be safe for pets. This is a great choice for dogs that need a higher dose of CBD for relief.
Best Variety: Honest Paws CBD Oil for Dogs
Honest Paws stands out because they are a company dedicated to making CBD products for pets. Their full spectrum CBD oils are organic, free from corn and soy, and come in different strengths for every size of dog. They offer oils for specific health benefits, including ones to help with anxiety, mobility, pain, and overall wellness. We like their Wellness formula because it contains natural terpenes that can help fight inflammation and boost the immune system.
Strength: Available in 125 mg, 250 mg, 500 mg, and 1000 mg of CBD per bottle.
Why buy: We love Honest Paws CBD oil for dogs because they make it easy to find the right product for your pet by health concern and size. They also provide lots of helpful information for owners about CBD and pets, and offer products for cats and even horses.
Best Satisfaction Guarantee: CBDistillery CBD Pet Tincture
CBDistillery CBD Pet Tincture is processed in cold-pressed hemp seed oil to make it easier on your dog's digestion. They have a 150 mg tincture for small to medium sized dogs and a 600 mg pet CBD oil made for larger breeds. Both are third-party lab tested with easily accessible results through a QR code on the bottle, as well as a convenient dosage guide. CBDistillery products are also U.S. Hemp Authority Certified.
Strength: 5 mg or 20 mg full spectrum CBD per serving, available in 150 mg and 600 mg size bottles.
Why buy: We like that this CBD pet tincture is designed to be easy on your pet's digestion, and that they include a clear dosage guide and QR code for lab test results right on the bottle. Best of all, CBDistillery offers a 60 day money back guarantee.
Best THC-Free Option: Medterra CBD Pet Tincture
All Medterra CBD pet tinctures use broad spectrum CBD, which is a great option if you are looking for a THC-free oil for your dog. Concentrations available are 150 mg, 300 mg, and 750 mg per bottle. These oils are made with organic Kentucky-grown hemp, and come in natural beef, chicken, or unflavored varieties. Not only is this one of the few THC-free options available, it's also one of the most affordable CBD oils for dogs.
Strength: 150mg, 300mg, or 750mg broad spectrum CBD per bottle.
Why buy: We like that this oil contains zero THC. This is a good choice for dogs with especially sensitive systems, or who don't respond well to full spectrum CBD oils. The natural beef and chicken flavors also make it easier to add to their food at meal times.
What the Experts Say About CBD and Dogs
There are plenty of personal stories about the health benefits of CBD on pets, but what science is there to back up these claims?
A scientific study conducted by Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine has shown that CBD oil helped decrease pain, and increase activity, in dogs suffering from osteoarthritis. Additionally, a study published in the journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) in September 2020 concluded that "Cannabidiol possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties and significantly improved the mobility of large domestic canines afflicted with osteoarthritis in a double-blinded, placebo-controlled veterinary study."
A survey by the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) included responses from more than 600 pet owners, and found that CBD use in animals also yielded positive results for:
- Pain relief
- Sleep aid
- Anxiety relief (including thunderstorm or firework phobia)
- Nervous system support
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced seizures
- Preventing vomiting and nausea
- Mitigating muscle spasms
- Helping with digestive tract issues
- Skin condition treatments
How to Shop
There are a range of CBD products designed for pet owners, and you'll want to do your homework before buying anything. We recommend using CBD products that are solely intended for pets, as well as brands who use third-party labs to verify CBD potency and test for the presence of any pesticides, microbials, or solvents.
What to Look For
Here are some of the important factors to consider when shopping for the best CBD for dogs:
Type of CBD
CBD can come in three primary forms: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. CBD oils extracted from industrial hemp still contain trace amounts of THC. This type of CBD is known as full spectrum CBD, and it is meant to provide as many of the beneficial plant compounds found in hemp as possible. Broad spectrum CBD, on the other hand, is distilled to exclude THC while still retaining some of these additional compounds. Certain brands distill out these cannabinoids and terpenes to create CBD isolate that contains nothing but pure CBD. When possible, we recommend using full spectrum CBD extracts for a synergistic effect and greater therapeutic value for your dog. The best CBD oils for humans are not the same as the best for dogs.
Make sure you know where a product's hemp was sourced and how it was grown. Since cannabis is a hyperaccumulator, it absorbs the elements of the ground within which it was grown. This is of particular concern when it comes to CBD oil because you certainly don't want to feed your pet anything toxic. We recommend brands that source their hemp from farms in the U.S., and we prioritize brands that use organically grown hemp. This helps to ensure that the hemp plants are raised without pesticides and that the soil is tested for heavy metals and other toxins.
CBD oil for dogs is easy to add into your pet's food without them detecting a difference. For ease of absorption, look for a CBD product that's infused with olive oil. Olive oil is rich in unsaturated fats, and healthier for your pet than other options like coconut oil. Some brands use cold pressed hemp seed oil, which can be easier to digest, or grape-seed oil, which is good for your pet's coat and skin.
CBD vs. Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil is not the same as CBD oil, and this can cause some confusion. Hemp seed extract is pressed from the seeds of hemp to produce an oil that may help give your dog a shinier coat or better skin, but it does not contain any of the active cannabinoids that can promote health and wellness. Some products use hemp seed oil as the carrier oil for their CBD, which is perfectly fine. Be sure that you purchase actual CBD oil and not just hemp seed oil.
How to Read Labels
To make sure that you give your dog only the highest quality CBD oils, there are certain things to look for when reading labels.
The most important information to look for is the ingredients list. This should tell you the type of CBD it contains, the type of carrier oil it uses, and any additional ingredients like flavorings. Make sure that the CBD oil does not contain any allergens for your dog.
Next, look to see how much CBD is in each serving. This is typically measured in milligrams per 1 mL dropper. The label should also tell you how much CBD the bottle contains in total. This is important to make sure that you don't give your dog too much CBD at once.
Many brands include a dosage guide on the bottle or the box of their CBD for dogs. This can help you to measure out the appropriate amount for your dog based on their weight and size. It's recommended that you do not start your dog with a full serving of CBD, whatever the potency, but instead start with 1/4 of a dropper and gradually increase the amount.
Only choose CBD products that have been tested by independent third-party labs for purity and quality. This is a crucial check to ensure that the CBD oil contains the correct potency and that it is free from harmful chemicals. Many brands include a QR code to the test results for their products right on the label or box that make it easy to check.
How to Use & How Often
CBD oil for dogs can be administered in multiple ways. The most common approach includes mixing the oil in with their regular food at meal times. If your dog enjoys the flavor of the oil, you can administer it to them orally as well, but you should still give it to them with food. Use the included dosage guides to measure the correct amount of CBD oil for your dog's size and weight. A general guideline is 0.2 mg of CBD per pound of body weight per day.
Most CBD oils are meant to be given twice a day, every day, at meals. This allows the product to build up in their system over time to provide the maximum health benefits.
Possible Side Effects
The biggest risks to pets when given CBD are usually caused by an overdose of the compound. Some adverse side effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, and loss of appetite may occur in rare instances — but these can likely be avoided by supplying the proper dose, and not administering the oil on an empty stomach.
If you're using a product that includes THC, you increase the risk that your pet may have a negative reaction. Dogs that suffer from too much THC intake can develop static ataxia, which is specific to canines and results in loss of muscle coordination, balance, and problems controlling their bowels or bladders. For this reason, proper dosing of CBD and THC products is extremely important.
It's also important to take existing medications into consideration before using CBD on your pet, as it may alter the efficacy of these treatments for certain conditions. According to Dr. Tim Shu, CEO and founder of VETCBD, "CBD has been shown to be very safe across a wide range of doses in multiple animal species. But if an animal is on other medications, especially ones with narrow therapeutic ranges, a pet owner should discuss the concurrent use of CBD with their veterinarian prior to starting."
The best CBD oils for dogs have the potential to help your pet manage a range of conditions, including chronic joint pain, anxiety, inflammation, and even seizure. It's important to find the right CBD oil from a brand you trust for your dog's specific needs. If you have any questions about giving CBD to your pet, be sure to ask your veterinarian.
Melena Gurganus is passionate health and wellness and her writing aims to help others find products they can trust. Her work has been featured in publications such as Health, Shape, Huffington Post, Cannabis Business Times, and Bustle.
One of the world's best restaurants is giving up meat.
Eleven Madison Park (EMP), a New York City fine dining establishment that was named the first of the world's 50 best restaurants in 2017, announced Monday that it would reopen June 10 with an entirely plant-based menu.
"In the midst of last year, when we began to imagine what EMP would be like after the pandemic – when we started to think about food in creative ways again – we realized that not only has the world changed, but that we have changed as well," chef Daniel Humm wrote in an announcement posted on the restaurant's website. "We have always operated with sensitivity to the impact we have on our surroundings, but it was becoming ever clearer that the current food system is simply not sustainable, in so many ways."
Eleven Madison Park, a New York City fine dining establishment that was named the first of the world's 50 best restaurants in 2017. Eleven Madison Park
EMP first opened its doors in 1998, and Humm joined it as executive chef in 2006, according to The New York Times. Since then, the restaurant has earned many accolades, including three stars from Michelin and four from The New York Times.
The move reflects a growing shift away from meat in fine dining as concerns about the climate crisis mount. Studies have shown that raising meat emits more greenhouse gas emissions than growing vegetables or legumes, and also requires more land and water while polluting more overall. In recent signs of this growing awareness, a vegan restaurant in France earned a Michelin star for the first time this January, and, just last week, the website Epicurious said it was no longer publishing or promoting new beef recipes.
Chef Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park Restaurant on Feb. 27, 2013 in New York City. Neilson Barnard / Getty Images for Blancpain
EMP is one of the most famous restaurants to move away from meat, according to CNN, but its high-end status may limit the reach of its decision.
"[T]here are limits to what you can do through the medium of a Michelin-starred restaurant," Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner told The New York Times. "Chefs should obviously continue sourcing their ingredients responsibly, in light of the climate emergency, but at the end of the day, you're still cooking for rich people, and you might question their commitment to these things."
Meals at EMP will still cost $335, and, even at this price-point, it is not easy to obtain a reservation, so a very small percentage of people will experience the shift from dishes like lavender honey glazed duck or butter poached lobster to the new, plant-based meals Humm and his team are now working to perfect.
However, Yale University history professor Paul Freedman said that Humm's influence as a chef meant the decision could have a larger impact on dining culture.
It could, he told The New York Times, "have an influence on the best restaurants in places like Midland, Texas — affluent places that are not Los Angeles or San Francisco or New York."
Humm is also working to expand EMP's offerings to the less affluent. During the pandemic, the shuttered restaurant prepared nearly one million meals to New Yorkers experiencing food insecurity with help from the nonprofit Rethink Food. Once the restaurant reopens, Humm said that he would continue that work, and that every meal at the restaurant would fund food for hungry New Yorkers.
"It is time to redefine luxury as an experience that serves a higher purpose and maintains a genuine connection to the community," Humm said in the announcement. "A restaurant experience is about more than what's on the plate. We are thrilled to share the incredible possibilities of plant-based cuisine while deepening our connection to our homes: both our city and our planet."
- Vegan Restaurant Awarded Michelin Star for First Time in France ... ›
- Meet the UK's First Vegan Butcher Shop - EcoWatch ›
- 2020's New Vegan Cookbooks Will Tempt Your Taste Buds All Year ... ›
What Are GMOs?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms that have been modified in a laboratory in order to produce a specific result. For example, many types of food sources, especially corn and soybean crops, are genetically modified in order to withstand herbicides and insects. This method stems from the concept of selective breeding and dates back to at least 8000 BCE, although genetically altering DNA didn't happen until 1973.
Austrian monk Gregor Mendel is credited with identifying the founding principles of genetics when he crossbred two pea breeds in 1866. In 1922, hybrid corn made its commercial debut, while plant breeders discovered how to alter DNA with radiation and chemicals in 1940. After 1973, the FDA approved insulin in 1982 as the first genetically engineered product for human use. However, genetically modified food didn't get FDA approval until 1994, when a GMO tomato became the first to go commercial. While on the surface it appears that GMOs are 100 percent positive, they have been surrounded by controversy for decades.
How Are GMOs Made?
Creating GMO plants first involves identifying and isolating a desired trait, from the aforementioned herbicide resistance to drought resistance to disease tolerance. That trait is then copied and inserted into the plant DNA that's being modified, with the final result initially grown in a lab. The seeds from successful modifications are then sold to farmers.
Current Use of GMOs
Besides corn and soybeans, other commonly grown GMO crops in the U.S. include cotton, canola, potatoes and sugar beets. The latter are used to make granulated (or white) sugar; in fact, more than half of this type of commercially sold sugar comes from GMO sugar beets. GMO-derived ingredients are also prevalent in processed foods, such as lecithin and emulsifiers from soybeans; canola and cottonseed oil used in packaged goods; and high-fructose corn syrup, which is found in everything from soft drinks and salad dressing to bread and sweetened yogurt. While it's often thought that GMOs are only found in processed food and drink, genetically modified produce exists as well: apples, summer squash and papaya are among the ones grown in the U.S.
GMO grains are also fed to the majority of livestock (cows, chickens) used in the meat and dairy industry, with corn, soybeans and alfalfa ranking as the most popular choices. The FDA claims that livestock fed a GMO diet pose no greater risk to human health than ones that aren't, and so far there haven't been any conclusive studies that prove otherwise.
In the meantime, the benefits appear to outweigh any possible risks, although these might be more apparent to farmers and the agricultural industry than to consumers, since GMO crops can be altered to better withstand drought conditions and pests, require less pesticide, cost less money to grow and even increase nutritional value.
Are GMOs Safe?
Though unproven, GMOs have been tied to everything from reduced fertility to cancer. GMOs are considered safe by the FDA, but long-term effects are still being studied, and these studies have only been performed on animals.
Although correlations exist, there are currently no definitive studies that GMOs cause cancer, and this is the stance of cancer organizations in the U.S., UK and Australia. A 2013 study raised concerns when it studied the effect of glyphosate, the active ingredient used in most herbicides on GMO crops, in human breast cancer cells. The results suggested that glyphosate could cause breast cancer, but the lab study also used breast cell tissue that was already cancerous. Another study, this time from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015, reported that glyphosate doubled the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. It connected the highest risk to farmers and farm workers, and California has since added glyphosate to its list of cancer-causing chemicals. It should be noted that glyphosate is the main ingredient in the popular weedkiller Roundup, which has been linked to thousands of cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Despite this, the EPA has declared glyphosate isn't likely to pose a cancer risk in people.
The question remains whether or not GMO crops require more pesticides (including herbicides and insecticides) than non-GMO crops. A 2016 study examined this issue. On the one hand, GMO crops altered to resist insects technically don't require additional insecticide. On the other hand, it turns out that farmers sprayed more weedkillers on glyphosate-tolerant corn after 2007. The same goes for glyphosate-tolerant soybeans. As to why, a co-author of that study suggested it was due to weeds becoming more resistant to glyphosate over time.
In 2011, the journal Environmental Sciences Europe reviewed 19 studies involving animals that were fed GMO diets of corn and soybeans. It concluded possible links between this diet and kidney and liver disorders, as well as altered body weight and genital cancer in second-generation females, but that further research was needed. A more recent 2019 study published in GMO Science also suggested a link between liver and kidney damage in rats fed a GMO corn diet. However, this particular diet involved Monsanto-engineered corn for the Egyptian market containing a pest-deterring insecticide. The earlier study also fed rats an insecticide variant.
A 2014 study possibly linked fertility issues to GMO-heavy diets, while a 2018 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that pesticide-tainted food, often associated with herbicide-tolerant GMO crops, might have been the cause behind 100,000 unsuccessful pregnancies at fertility clinics. While the study recommended that pregnant women and those trying to conceive should avoid pesticides and GMOs where possible, it didn't measure how much of participants' pesticide consumption came from GMO foods that were pesticide resistant.
According to a 2015 Harvard University article, various studies haven't proven any causation between GMO consumption and negative impacts on offspring. The article cites a South Dakota State University study that tracked rats eating GMO corn for four generations, including pregnant rats, and did not find any changes in offspring size or organ damage. It should be noted that GMOs can be found in non-organic baby food, and just like other food studies, the long-term effects are unknown at this time.
An early study in the '90s found a possible allergic reaction to GMO soybeans, but that was only upon adding a nut protein, and only affected people with specific nut allergies. The FDA states that people are only apt to be allergic to a GM food if they're already allergic to the non-GM version, such as soy.
There have been some concerns that eating genetically altered food would alter human DNA. Bruce Ames, a Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California in Berkeley, developed a test to track mutations from food, and this test has been used on GMO corn and tomatoes without any findings to suggest a connection. The Royal Society, one of the world's oldest scientific organizations, asserts that one doesn't affect the other, and that the DNA in GM food is no different from the DNA in non-GM foods.
Pros and Cons of GMOs
Pros of GMOs
As touched upon earlier, GMO crops are meant to provide benefits. For example, certain GMO crops technically require less pesticide, while other GMO crops can achieve higher yields or withstand droughts.
Added Nutritional Value
Some GMOs can also boost a food's nutritional value, although this area has been mired in controversy. Take Golden Rice, which is just white rice that's been modified with Vitamin A to help prevent blindness and other Vitamin A deficiencies, especially in children, in developing countries. While a good idea in theory, Golden Rice has been caught in a 20-plus-year battle due to opponents who question the rice's safety and effectiveness. Although the Philippines approved Golden Rice for the commercial market in 2020, it has yet to reach consumers.
Increased Food Supply
Besides the potential to add nutritional value, GMOs are another way to possibly reduce world hunger. Food demand is expected to grow 70 percent by 2050, and that requires even more deforestation going forward. However, GMO crops could prevent that in a number of ways, such as employing modifications that would double production yields without requiring additional land. That's already the case with cotton crops in developing countries, where GMO cotton has increased yields in India and China. Although GMO food crops are currently banned in India and other nations that could benefit from an increased food supply.
Combat Climate Change
Then there are climate crisis considerations. There are studies indicating that GMO crops have reduced pesticide spraying by 8.7 percent, while less soil tillage and fuel dependence have decreased greenhouse gas emissions that are the equivalent to 15 million fewer cars on the road. Additionally, larger GMO crop yields resulting from drought resistance, among other reasons, have reduced the need for farmers to acquire more land. Scientists are also researching ways that GMOs can actively fight climate change, such as altering plants that can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, require less sunlight or convert nitrogen for growth purposes. GMO crops could even reduce methane emissions from livestock by employing plants that create less methane from consumption.
Cons of GMOs
Besides the negative health implications and increased herbicide usage already covered, there are additional drawbacks for the environment and farmers.
There have been claims connecting GMO crops to superweeds, where, instead of reducing a reliance on pesticides, certain crops have become more herbicide resistant, thus requiring greater usage of weedkillers such as Monsanto's Roundup. The elephant in the room is the fact that until recently Monsanto owned the majority of the country's GMO seeds. Roundup has been linked to thousands of cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, leading to a $10 billion settlement from Bayer, who acquired Monsanto in 2018. A 2018 study stated that 38 global weed species have become resistant to glyphosate.
Decreased Pest Resistance
Insects, similar to weeds, are becoming increasingly tolerant of pest-resistant GMO crops, particularly cotton and corn. Known as Bt crops (Bacillus thuringiensis), due to the type of bacteria that makes them pest-resistant, they initially worked to resist common threats such as bollworms and rootworms, and reduced the need for insecticides. However, new strains of these pests are no longer deterred by GMO crops modified to resist them, re-upping the need for insecticides.
Increased Roundup and herbicide usage has also been tied to dwindling monarch butterfly populations, one of many biodiversity issues. That's because the toxin also kills milkweed, the main diet for monarchs and commonly found in crop fields.
In recent decades, India has attracted attention for its farmer suicide rate, which some have attributed to the GMO industry. There have been about 300,000 farmer suicides in the past twenty years, and biotech opponents blame these on the GMO cotton sector, which is the only industry allowed to use GM crops. The majority of the country's cotton comes from modified Bt cotton seeds. The supposed problem is the rising cost of these seeds, which many farmers can't afford and often go into debt for in order to buy them; bad crops and fluctuating global cotton prices often create a debt spiral that's hard to recover from. Yet there are studies that dispute a connection between Bt cotton and farmer suicide rates, instead suggesting that the reverse is true due to higher crop yields.
Besides the theory that Bt cotton is sending growers into debt, there's the other issue of bollworms becoming resistant to GMO cotton, requiring heavier doses of pesticides. Due to different regulations, it's not uncommon for fieldworkers to apply toxic chemicals without the proper protection, or even shoes and masks.
Adding another layer, a different paper found that small farms were at a higher risk for suicide rates than large ones since they depend more on rainwater for successful crops than large operations, which use irrigation pumps. If anything, the study authors found the bigger problem is the threat of groundwater shortages for large farms, since groundwater usage is unregulated.
Not least is the matter of seed sovereignty, giving farmers the freedom to use whatever seeds they wish, thereby decreasing reliance on major seed companies who favor patented GM seeds. Seed sovereignty is an ongoing issue that's been ceding control to large corporations concerning which seeds farmers can plant.
Which Foods Might Contain GMOs?
Though GMOs appear prevalent, there are only a small number of GMO crops grown in the U.S. The most common are corn, soybeans, sugar beets, canola and cotton. However, about 90 percent of these crops use GMO seeds. There are also GMO alfalfa crops, used mostly for livestock feed. GMO versions exist for some produce, including apples, summer squash and papaya. Ranger Russet, Russet Burbank and Atlantic potatoes all have GMO versions, and are sold under the White Russet label.
While it appears easy to avoid some GMO foods, such as produce sold under a particular label, others, including GMO corn, soybeans and canola oil, can turn up in unexpected places. For example, corn can pop up in anything containing high fructose corn syrup, dextrose or glucose, and encompass bread, cereal, soda, frozen meals and even Vitamin C supplements. GMO soy can be found in infant formula, protein drinks, tofu, edamame, canned tuna and salad dressing. It's a safe assumption that unless an item is sold under an organic label or is considered a whole food, it likely contains GMOs.
Then there are GMO foods which are marketed as healthy vegan alternatives to meat, such as the popular brand of Impossible Burgers. Sold by major chains, from White Castle to Bareburger, the plant-based burgers contain GMO soy protein and heme, the molecule responsible for replicating the realistic beef-like taste and appearance. This molecule is genetically engineered by combining soybean DNA with yeast.
In 2015 the FDA approved AquAdvantage Salmon, a genetically engineered Atlantic salmon. This new salmon grows faster than non-GE Atlantic salmon due to a hormone from Chinook salmon. The FDA asserts that this GE salmon will be labeled as bioengineered. AquaBounty, the company behind the new salmon, plans to sell it to consumers sometime in 2021. So far many entities, from Aramark and Walmart to supermarkets and restaurants, have refused to carry the salmon.
It's worth noting that GMOs aren't limited to food. Most cotton, whether produced in the U.S. or abroad, actually comes from the aforementioned Bt cotton seeds. So unless organic cotton was used, most clothes, bedding and towels are GMO goods. Although GM cotton also enters the food supply via cottonseed oil derived from cotton seeds, and the oil can be found in potato chips, baked goods and pasta sauce.
What Is Being Done About GMOs?
Due to the unknown long-term health effects from GMOs, along with environmental protestors and preliminary studies linking them to health risks such as cancer, they're banned, or partially banned, in 19 out of 27 EU countries, including France, Greece, Italy, Germany and much of the UK. Additionally, GMOs are currently banned in Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Venezuela and most African countries.
The EU also requires GMO labeling, something the U.S. has resisted, but will start adding in January 2022. At that point foods containing certain types of GMO ingredients will be required to display a "bioengineered" label.
CRISPR is a type of gene editing technology that can precisely alter cells; a new technique allows for plant alteration without introducing foreign DNA, hence the end result is not a GMO. While this new technology could positively alter the current GMO landscape, it's still in the rudimentary phase.
There are some organizations such as the Non-GMO Project that independently monitor products for GMOs and verify whether or not certain standards are met. The site also facilitates checking specific food items for their GMO status and provides guidance for identifying potential GMO foods.
In the meantime, the FDA continues to monitor and regulate GMOs, which involves working with other government agencies to ensure that the same safety standards are met as non-GMO foods. This includes monitoring pesticide usage.
Otherwise, beyond ongoing independent studies, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the World Health Organization, among others, have all deemed GMOs safe and as such no further action is being taken at this time in the U.S beyond GMO labeling.
What Can You Do?
Consumers can err on the side of caution by choosing organic food and goods whenever possible, buying from local farms, looking for non-GMO certification labels and reading ingredient lists. The Non-GMO project also breaks down which crops are deemed most likely to be genetically modified, along with listing high-risk, animal-derived ingredients. Some of the items might be surprising, including honey and eggs, due to the amount of GMOs used in crops and livestock feed.
At of time of publication there is no conclusive evidence that GMOs as a whole are more harmful than non-GMOs, whether to one's health, the environment or farmers, so it appears that avoiding GMOs entirely would have a negligible impact based on the current facts available.
Meredith Rosenberg is a senior editor at EcoWatch. She holds a Master's from the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism in NYC and a B.A. from Temple University in Philadelphia.
Epicurious has given up beef.
The popular online recipe website announced on Monday that it would no longer publish beef recipes, feature beef in articles and newsletters or post beef pictures on its homepage and Instagram feed. Epicurious based this decision on environmental reasons.
"For any person — or publication — wanting to envision a more sustainable way to cook, cutting out beef is a worthwhile first step," Senior Editor Maggie Hoffman and Former Digital Director David Tamarkin wrote in the announcement.
The website cited UN figures showing that livestock produce nearly 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and that cows are responsible for about 65 percent of those emissions. Further, cows are 20 times less efficient to raise than beans and three times less efficient to raise than other animals such as chicken or pigs, the website noted.
"It might not feel like much, but cutting out just a single ingredient — beef — can have an outsize impact on making a person's cooking more environmentally friendly," Hoffman and Tamarkin wrote.
In the announcement, Hoffman and Tamarkin revealed that the decision to phase out beef was not new. In fact, Epicurious started moving in this direction in fall 2019, the site stated in a question-and-answer post about the policy. Since that time, Epicurious has published few beef recipes. It has also emphasized vegetarian alternatives, recommending grilled cauliflower and mushrooms instead of steaks and hot dogs for the previous Fourth of July.
"The traffic and engagement numbers on these stories don't lie: When given an alternative to beef, American cooks get hungry," Hoffman and Tamarkin wrote.
The website will not delete its pre-2019 beef recipes, and Hoffman and Tamarkin assured readers that Epicurious did not have a "vendetta" against beef or beef eaters.
Still, the announcement did prompt some backlash from commenters on social media, according to The New York Times and The Washington Post. However, the Times noted that major chefs didn't react negatively, and many users also praised the decision.
"This is a trend toward considering meat an obsolete food," Nutrition Coalition Executive Director Nina Teicholz told The New York Times. "Epicurious is just one website, but it's the constant repetition."
The decision also received a mixed reaction from food and animal welfare activists. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called it a terrific first step, but also thought the site should move away from meat and dairy altogether.
Others thought it a mistake to single out beef.
"An eat-less-meat message is less controversial and ultimately more productive," Lewis Bollard, a farm animal welfare program officer at Open Philanthropy Project, told The Washington Post. "Because the problem is not the existence of beef but the level of meat consumption."
In their announcement, Hoffman and Tamarkin acknowledged that other animals such as goats and sheep also impacted the environment, and that there were environmental drawbacks to many parts of the current food system. Further, they maintained that individual actions were not enough to end the climate crisis, and that political and corporate changes were required as well. However, they argued that abstaining from beef could still send an important message.
"Epi's agenda is the same as it has always been: to inspire home cooks to be better, smarter, and happier in the kitchen," they wrote. "The only change is that we now believe that part of getting better means cooking with the planet in mind. If we don't, we'll end up with no planet at all."
No one is immune to the effects of aging, and one consequence of getting older is less collagen production.
Collagen accounts for a full third of all the protein in your body. It affects more systems than most of us appreciate, and the benefits of collagen include youthful skin, strong bones, and better heart functioning. But as the years creep up, can you recapture your youth with a collagen protein supplement? We've assessed the research to share the best collagen supplements available today.
What are the Benefits of Collagen Supplements?
As the most abundant protein in the body, collagen is a primary component of your connective tissues. It forms the support structure for your tendons, ligaments, muscles, skin, and even bones.
Your body produces collagen naturally, but production starts to drop as you age. Lower levels can trigger many of the common signs of aging, including fine lines and wrinkles, joint pain, and weaker bones.
One way to combat this decrease is through collagen supplements. Just like a daily vitamin subscription, these supplements are meant to help provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function at its best. Most collagen supplements are made by simmering animal bones or fish skins for hours to break them down into base components called peptides. However, plant-based sources of collagen, like plant-based protein powders, are just as beneficial.
Most collagen supplements come as a powder and are designed to be dissolved in liquid, similar to a mushroom supplement or powder The collagen is usually hydrolyzed, which means the peptides are broken down into small pieces your system can absorb more easily than the collagen found in food.
The benefits of taking a collagen supplement can include improved skin, increased muscle mass, decreased joint pain, stronger bones, and better heart health. Some of these benefits are similar to those you can get from the best krill oil supplements or fish oil.
Should you take a collagen protein supplement? Here's our reasoning why it's worth considering and the top five best collagen supplements available today.
Our Picks for the Best Collagen Supplements
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
- Best Vegan Protein: Sunwarrior Collagen Building Protein Peptides
- Most Convenient: Care/of Collagen
- Best for Chocolate Lovers: Bulletproof Chocolate Collagen Protein
- Best Flavors: Sports Research Collagen Peptides
- Best Unflavored: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
How We Chose the Best Collagen Protein Supplements
Here are the five factors we considered when comparing the best collagen protein supplements available today.
Collagen Content – How many grams of protein are contained within a serving?
Collagen Source – Is the collagen derived from animal products, or is it vegan-friendly?
Other Ingredients – The best collagen supplements are free of filler ingredients and artificial additives. What's included within this brand?
Third-Party Lab testing – What verification is available to prove the collagen protein supplement contains what it claims?
Purchase Options – Does the brand permit one-time purchases, or are you automatically enrolled in a subscription program?
The 5 Best Collagen Supplements of 2021
Best Overall – Sunwarrior Collagen Building Protein Peptides
- Protein - 14 (flavored) to 18 (natural) grams per scoop (25 grams)
- Source - Proprietary Beauty Blend (organic fermented pea protein, organic fermented brown rice peptides, organic sea buckthorn berry, organic tremella mushroom extract, organic kale leaf, organic spinach leaf, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, bamboo leaf extract, organic whole spirulina, organic holy basil leaf extract, organic sunflower seed extract)
- Other Ingredients/Flavors - Organic guar gum, sea salt, organic stevia leaf extract, medium-chain triglycerides from coconut oil, marine algae
- Tahitian Vanilla (organic vanilla flavor)
- Chocolate Fudge (organic Dutch cocoa, organic chocolate flavor)
- Salted Caramel (organic salted caramel flavor, sea salt)
Why buy: For those eager to avoid animal protein, Sunwarrior's collagen peptides are 100% plant-based and don't compromise on concentration. You get an impressive 14 to 18 grams of protein per serving, although the fermented pea protein base may cause gassiness for some people. You can also save 20% when you subscribe for recurring shipments.
Most Convenient – Care/of Collagen
- Protein - 9 grams per two scoops (10.5 to 24 grams, depending on flavor)
- Source - Grass-fed bovine collagen peptides
- Other Ingredients/Flavors -
- Lemon Passion Fruit (organic maltodextrin, organic lemon juice, organic coconut water powder, organic acacia, organic Isomalto-oligosaccharide (prebiotic fiber), organic passion fruit flavor with other natural flavors, organic monk fruit extract)
- Matcha (organic coconut water powder, organic tapioca maltodextrin, organic monk fruit extract)
- Vanilla Oat Creamer (organic coconut milk powder, organic acacia, organic natural vanilla flavor with other natural flavors, organic vanilla powder, organic medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil), organic tapioca maltodextrin, organic oat flour, organic monk fruit extract, organic isomalto-oligosaccharide (prebiotic fiber)
Why buy: Care/of collagen powder comes from grass-fed cows and contains high-quality flavoring agents like organic vanilla and lemon – no artificial compounds included. This brand offers slightly less protein per serving than other options, which may be a positive for those sensitive to its effects. Just keep in mind that every Care/of purchase enrolls you in an auto-ship program.
Best for Chocolate-Lovers – Bulletproof Chocolate Collagen Protein
- Protein - 19 grams per two scoops (33 grams)
- Source - Hydrolyzed bovine collagen powder
- Other Ingredients - Bulletproof MCT oil powder (caprylic and capric acid triglycerides from highly refined coconut and palm kernel oil, tapioca dextrin), raw cacao powder, coconut creamer powder, erythritol, organic cocoa powder, cellulose gum, Rebaudioside A (refined stevia leaf extract).
Why buy: Bulletproof's collagen protein comes predominantly from type 1 bovine collagen from cows raised on pasture and without added hormones. The company claims that the repeated enzymatic processing it undergoes ensures maximum bioavailability while the peptides remain intact. One drawback for those who don't want their supplement to taste like dessert—the powder only comes in a chocolate flavor. Save 10% when you subscribe.
Best Flavors – Sports Research Collagen Peptides
- Protein - 10 grams per scoop (11 grams serving size)
- Source - Hydrolyzed bovine collagen peptides
- Other Ingredients/Flavors -
- Dark Chocolate (cocoa powder, natural flavor, sea salt, stevia leaf extract, monk fruit)
- Vanilla Bean (cocoa powder, natural flavor, sea salt, stevia leaf extract, monk fruit)
- Matcha (organic green tea powder)
Why buy: SR collagen provides you with a concentrated dose of collagen peptides, including a natural flavor option that's completely free of filler ingredients. This bovine-based collagen is sourced from credible facilities across New Zealand, Australia, South America, and the EU, but is packaged and quality-tested in the United States. Another benefit? It's possible to purchase single-serving travel packs for extra convenience.
Best Unflavored – Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
- Protein - 18 grams per two scoops (20 grams serving size)
- Source: Bovine hide collagen peptides
- Other Ingredients/Flavors: Hyaluronic acid (sodium hyaluronate), vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Why buy: This stripped-down collagen supplement offers nothing but high-quality collagen peptides, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid that's sourced from sodium hyaluronate for improved bioavailability. As it's tasteless on its own, you can add this powder to your favorite beverages without compromising the flavor. Each serving is 90% protein, making it one of the highest concentrated collagen supplements. Subscribe to get a 25% discount.
The Research on Collagen Supplements
Collagen supplements have many purported benefits. Here's what the research shows.
As you age, your body produces less collagen. This leads to dryer skin and the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Taking collagen supplements may help fill in this gap.
One study found that women who took a daily supplement containing at least 2.5 grams of collagen for eight weeks experienced an increase in skin elasticity and less dryness. Another twelve-week study found that drinking a daily collagen supplement led to significant reductions in wrinkle depth.
Boosts Muscle Mass
Up to 10% of muscle tissue is made from collagen, and this protein is critical for maintaining it.
Research suggests that taking collagen supplements can help you regain the muscle mass lost due to aging. That's because the peptides may promote the synthesis of creatine and other muscle proteins while stimulating muscle growth after exercise.
For example, a study of over two dozen men who exercised and took 15 grams of collagen per day for three months gained more muscle mass than a group that merely exercised.
Reduces Joint Pain
Your risk of suffering from degenerative joint disorders like osteoporosis increases as you age and your collagen levels start to drop. Taking collagen supplements may stave off the worst symptoms and improve your overall mobility by stimulating your tissues to make more collagen.
For instance, one study found that adults who took two grams of collagen for over two months experienced significant reductions in joint pain and were able to be more physically active than before.
Prevents Bone Loss
Bones require collagen to give them structure and maintain their strength. But, as you age, your bone mass starts to deteriorate, and you become prone to fractures and conditions like osteoporosis. Taking collagen supplements can stave off bone breakdown and help maintain its density.
A study of women who took five grams of collagen a day for a year experienced up to a 7 percent increase in bone mineral density.
Promotes Heart Health
Taking collagen supplements seems to reduce your risk of suffering from heart problems. That's because collagen strengthens your arteries, which helps blood flow from your heart throughout the body. Too little collagen, and your arteries become weak and less effective, leading to complications like strokes and heart attacks.
While more research is needed to prove its effectiveness, one small study found that adults who took 16 grams of collagen for six months experienced significantly less artery stiffness than before.
How to Choose the Right Collagen Supplement
When shopping for collagen supplements, certain factors should affect your decision. Here's our advice for comparing brands and interpreting nutrition facts.
What To Look For
Any time you purchase a supplement, it's best to determine whether it's gone through any third-party testing for safety and ingredient purity. The supplement industry is notoriously unregulated, so a brand that's transparent about what it contains is a selling point.
High Collagen Concentration
Collagen protein supplements vary from 90 percent protein per serving to barely over half. Pay attention to how much of this key ingredient you're actually ingesting with every dose. Ideally, keep your serving between 2.5 and 15 grams per day.
Where the Collagen Was Sourced
While most collagen powders are derived from animal products (primarily cow bones), some come from plant-based sources like pea protein. That's an important consideration for anyone following a vegan diet.
Evidence of Filler Ingredients
Collagen powder has minimal taste on its own, so many brands package it with flavoring agents and other filler ingredients to make it more appetizing. Pay attention to these added compounds so you know what you're really consuming. If you prefer things pure, look for a brand that sells unflavored powder.
How to Use Collagen Powder
You can use collagen protein supplements as you would other protein powders. Most brands suggest you dissolve a scoop or two of powder (whichever the serving size specifies) in your liquid of choice. It's also possible to incorporate collagen protein powder into baked goods or Jello.
Unflavored powders can be mixed into any food without affecting the taste or texture, while flavored varieties taste best when incorporated into smoothies or treated similar to an instant coffee drink.
Safety and Side Effects
There are few known negative side effects associated with collagen supplements.
Those with sensitive digestive systems may find the protein powder leaves them feeling uncomfortably full or nauseous. Others report the powder can leave an unpleasant taste in their mouths (choosing a flavored variety may solve this problem).
Finally, collagen powder is occasionally made from fish, shellfish, or eggs. Those with allergies to these foods may react to the powder and should avoid any brands that use them.
Collagen is a key compound for healthy functioning, and taking collagen supplements can help you maintain levels as your body slows down its production as you age. This natural form of protein is associated with many health benefits, including better skin hydration, fewer wrinkles, less joint pain, more muscle mass, and better cardiovascular health.
Take time to determine what the best collagen supplements are for your preferences, and you'll likely benefit from incorporating this natural supplement into your routine.
Lydia Noyes is a freelance writer specializing in health and wellness, food and farming, and environmental topics. When not working against a writing deadline, you can find Lydia outdoors where she attempts to bring order to her 33-acre hobby farm filled with fruit trees, heritage breed pigs, too many chickens to count, and an organic garden that somehow gets bigger every year.
You can't discount the importance of your gut health. Research shows that the microbiome within your digestive system has a disproportionate impact on how well your whole body functions.
Unfortunately, bad diets, the overuse of antibiotics, and other stressors mean many of our digestive systems are in trouble. Probiotic supplements claim to solve this problem by replenishing your gut with the healthy bacteria it needs for optimal functioning. Here, we'll analyze the popular probiotic brand Seed to determine whether its supplements are worth taking.
How We Review Probiotics
Whenever we review a probiotic supplement, we evaluate six specific categories.
- Number of active strains - How many types of bacteria are included?
- AFU (Active Fluorescent Units)/ CFU (Colony Forming Units) - These units of measurement tell you how many billions of bacteria are estimated to be within each supplement dose.
- Storage Requirements - Some probiotics are shelf-stable, while others require refrigeration.
- Ingredient Transparency – does the company disclose where it sources its active strains and provide clinical research for their efficacy?
- Value - How are the probiotics priced? Can you purchase them without an auto-ship program?
- Sustainability - Does the company show ways its supplements are better for the environment through sustainable ingredient sourcing or packaging?
Let's evaluate these criteria for Seed.
About Seed Probiotics
Seed is an e-commerce supplement brand with a single product—the DS-O1 Daily Synbiotic probiotic. The company got its start in 2018 when cofounders Ara Katz and Raja Dhir determined that the current probiotic supplements available weren't hitting the mark.
Katz's experiences of pregnancy and breastfeeding as a new mom led her to develop a deeper appreciation of the body's microbiome and its role in overall health. She joined forces with Dhir, who had the scientific experience to understand what could be improved within the probiotic industry.
Together, they strove to create a supplement that "raised the bar on bacteria" by giving the body what it needed for all its systems to operate most effectively. They collaborated with a large team of entrepreneurs, artists, and scientists to develop a probiotic known as DS-01 Daily Synbiotic.
The Seed DS-01 Daily Synbiotic
- Active Strains - 24
- AFU - 53.6 billion AFU
- Storage Requirements - Shelf-stable for 18 months after opening
- Ingredient Transparency - Clinical data available for each strain
- Sustainability - First order ships in reusable glass canisters and subsequent orders arrive in compostable biofilm.
- Value - $49.99/60 supplements (30-day supply subscription)
The DS-01 Daily Synbiotic is a broad-spectrum probiotic that combines 24 probiotic strains with a non-fermenting prebiotic concentrate of Indian pomegranate for better delivery. Of these strains, 23 are human-derived, and one is isolated from fruit and added to promote healthy cholesterol levels.
These strains work synergistically to support the 38 trillion bacteria that make up your microbiome. They will purportedly help the body digest food, minimize inflammation, and better synthesize nutrients.
This supplement contains four distinct probiotic blends:
- Digestive Health/ Gut Immunity/ Gut Barrier Integrity: 37.0 Billion AFU
- Dermatological Health: 3.3 Billion AFU
- Cardiovascular Health: 5.25 Billion AFU
- Micronutrient Synthesis: 8.05 Billion AFU
(See strain-specific studies here)
How It Works
With these multiple strains, the company claims to take a 'Microbe-Systems Approach' through microbes that impact specific physical functions beyond the digestive system. These include skin and heart health, better immune system functioning, and micronutrient synthesis.
In other words, DS-01 goes beyond digestive issues to support full-body health. The company claims it's even one of the first probiotic formulations able to synthesize folate and increase its production.
Seed's DS-01 Daily Synbiotic probiotic also stands out with its delivery system. The supplement utilizes "nested capsule technology" along with a patented algae delivery system. This two-in-one capsule design houses the probiotic formula within a prebiotic casing made from Indian pomegranate to ensure these fragile bacteria survive both sitting on store shelves and the perilous journey through stomach acid to your colon.
Through this method, Seed claims to average a 100% delivery rate of the probiotic's starting dose to your colon. According to internal testing, DS-01 probiotics will exceed the living cell counts listed on the label even after ten days of constant 100º F exposure.
Adults can take two Seed probiotic supplements per day, preferably at the same time. It's best you do so on an empty stomach to limit the capsule's exposure to digestive enzymes that start to break it down. However, those with sensitive stomachs may want to eat something first. While you'll get optimal results from taking the supplements daily, it's not a problem if you occasionally skip one.
If you're new to probiotics, start by taking one per day for the first three days and then increasing your dosage to two per day. You may feel its effects on your digestive system within 48 hours, though long-term improvements to the cardiovascular system take more time and might not be noticeable to you.
Seed probiotics don't need require refrigeration. They are shelf-stable for 18 months at temperatures up to 78℉ and are safe to take when expired. Just note that the company can't guarantee their potency at this point.
How to Buy
Seed DS-01 Daily Synbiotic probiotics are only available on a subscription basis. They cost $49.99 per month and ship free throughout the US (international orders include a $10 shipping fee).
You will receive a 30-day supply (60 capsules) when you order through the company website, and the first order includes a reusable glass canister and travel vial. Each subsequent order arrives in compostable biofilm so you can transfer the capsules to the reusable ones.
All first orders are covered by a 30-day risk-free trial, during which you can return the probiotics for a full refund. It's possible to cancel the subscription at any time by contacting customer service at [email protected].
Note: At publication, these probiotics were sold out. They are available for pre-order and expected to ship again in 2-4 weeks.
What We Like About Seed
As a product within the largely unregulated supplement industry, Seed broad-spectrum probiotics earn major points from us for both transparency and abundant clinical research. The company shares detailed information about every bacterial strain within the supplement and links out to the scientific studies highlighting their effectiveness.
Customer reviews on Facebook and other review sites show that Seed probiotics work as described for many users. Some shared they experienced positive improvements in their digestive system within 48 hours and noticed better-looking skin within a month.
Those with allergies or food sensitivities will also appreciate these supplements are soy-free, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, and free of binders and preservatives.
From a consumer standpoint, Seed makes taking probiotics simple. The shelf-stable formula means you won't have to store them in the fridge, and each 30-day supply is guaranteed to remain viable for 18 months after opening. Likewise, the nested capsule delivery system should improve how many billions of bacteria make it into your digestive system intact.
Equally noteworthy, we love Seed's commitment to environmental sustainability. By sending each customer two reusable glass containers at the start of their subscription, the company minimizes the packaging waste for each subsequent order.
What We Don't Like
Despite these positives, Seed broad-spectrum probiotics have some downsides. To start, they are pricier than many competitors. You will pay $1.66 per day's dose, which is more than some want to pay for supplements.
It's also not possible to try them without committing to a monthly subscription. While it will take several weeks or longer to start noticing their effects, some customers might not want to be locked into an auto-ship program so early in the experimenting process.
Likewise, some customer reviews complained of unexpected side effects such as breakouts and rashes. It's not clear whether these went away for users after a few weeks of use.
Finally, it's currently only possible to pre-order these supplements. If you're dealing with digestive distress today, you may want to try a probiotic brand that's available right now for faster relief.
Seed Safety & Side Effects
Seed DS-01 Daily Synbiotics are considered safe for adults over 18. Each supplement is vegan and free of common allergens like gluten, dairy, soy, and corn. They have undergone extensive third-party testing and adhere to the highest global regulatory standards for safety.
As with all probiotics, you might notice unpleasant side effects when you start taking them. Many people experience bloating, increased gas production, constipation, and other gastrointestinal problems for the first few days.
This can be discouraging, as many users take probiotics precisely to combat these symptoms in the first place. However, your system should adjust to the new bacteria within two weeks, and this digestive distress should diminish accordingly.
The DS-01 Daily Synbiotic is classified as safe for women who are pregnant and breastfeeding, although the company recommends speaking with a medical professional before starting them. As will all probiotics, you should not take these supplements if you have a weakened immune system, recently underwent surgery, or if you have a serious illness. Speak with your doctor before starting any dietary supplement if you have concerns or questions.
Takeaway: Are Seed Probiotics Worth It?
The Seed DS-01 Daily Synbiotic is well-formulated and shows clinical evidence of improving your gut biome for far-reaching health benefits. The company solves the tricky problem of selling a live product with its innovative delivery system that keeps the bacteria within the supplement safe both on the shelf and through the digestive process.
If you are dealing with digestive problems, or are looking for a way to improve your general health, then this broad-spectrum probiotic might be one worth trying.
Just keep in mind that you might feel worse for a few days before the microbes will take full effect in your gut and that giving it a try means you are committing to a monthly subscription.
Lydia Noyes is a freelance writer specializing in health and wellness, food and farming, and environmental topics. When not working against a writing deadline, you can find Lydia outdoors where she attempts to bring order to her 33-acre hobby farm filled with fruit trees, heritage breed pigs, too many chickens to count, and an organic garden that somehow gets bigger every year.
It's not your imagination — fashion trends don't last as long as they used to. While in decades past, style enthusiasts could expect new releases once per season, today's trending looks seem to change every few weeks. Anyone who wants to stay fashion-forward must buy new pieces as they become available or risk looking out of date.
The result? An unsustainable clothing industry that does more than give you FOMO — it's wreaking havoc on the planet and the people who produce it.
What Is Fast Fashion?
"Fast fashion" refers to mass-produced clothing that's made quickly, cheaply, and in trending styles. The goal of fast fashion marketers is to get runway styles into shoppers' hands as quickly as possible, no matter the quality or external costs.
These trendy pieces tend to be of poor quality, and most won't last more than a few wash cycles. But that's no hardship for the buyer because they didn't invest much to begin with.
Fast fashion has upended the clothing industry. It's turned updating your wardrobe from a semi-annual investment to the equivalent of ordering takeout. The trend towards disposable clothing is taking over the world, but it didn't happen all at once.
How Fast Fashion Got Started
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, individuals were primarily responsible for sourcing materials to make their clothes. Starting in the 18th century, inventions like the power loom and the sewing machine took clothes making out of the house and into the garment factory, which scaled up production in unprecedented ways.
Even so, clothing costs stayed relatively high for the following centuries. Dresses in the 1950s cost about $70 to $100 in today's money. By the 1960s, the Average American bought just two dozen pieces of clothing each year — all made in the United States — and spent more than 10% of their income to do so.
The 1970s harkened a massive change in clothing manufacturing as factories started leaving the U.S. in favor of cheaper labor in Asia and Latin America. The result was cheaply made, mass-produced clothing, and shoppers scaled up their buying habits accordingly. Americans spend less than 4% of their budget on clothes each year but bring home about new 70 pieces, one of which might be made domestically.
Cheaper production is only part of the story of fast fashion. Innovations in supply chain management made it possible to get trending styles in shoppers' hands faster, which sped up the entire fashion cycle. While designer labels once released four collections a year, many have now increased the turnover rate to 20+ unique collections in the same timeframe.
The Consequences of Fast Fashion
Why is fast fashion bad? It turns out that lower prices and the quicker turnover of trends has significant impacts on the planet.
Increases Carbon Emissions
Considering their short lifespan, fast fashion clothes have an outsize carbon footprint.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation blames the fashion industry for 10 percent of global CO2 emissions — more than all international flights and shipping combined. That's primarily due to the long transportation journeys that textiles take from manufacturing to purchasing and their eventual disposal.
Polyester production alone emits more than 700 million tons of greenhouse gases each year, and some estimate the 2030 annual levels will be as high as 1.5 billion.
Overproduces Toxic Textiles
Fast fashion manufacturers cut corners whenever possible to keep costs low. Most pieces are made from ultra-cheap synthetic materials that won't break down in landfills.
Even natural fibers like cotton take a toll. Cotton is a thirsty crop that requires upwards of ten gallons per plant, pulling precious water resources away from food crops in many growing regions. Commercially grown cotton is a heavy feeder that requires large amounts of synthetic fertilizer but still depletes and degrades the soils it's planted in.
This disposable clothing doesn't even spend long in your closet. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Americans throw away about 70 lbs of textiles each year. This results in 17 million tons of annual waste, of which just 2.5 tons are recycled.
Pollutes Water Systems
Dyeing cheap clothes involves a toxic cocktail of chemicals. Denim production alone is the second-largest polluter of fresh water on the planet. An estimated 70% of Asia's lakes and rivers are contaminated by over 2.5 billion gallons of waste from the textile industry, resulting in a massive ecological and public health crisis.
Xintang, China, considered the denim capital of the world, has recorded evidence of toxic heavy metals associated with jeans production in more than three-quarters of water testing sites. The problem is so extreme that it's becoming almost impossible to convince people to live in the region.
Another problem is that polyester sheds microfibers after every wash cycle. These trace materials land in the water system. There, they increase the ocean's plastic concentration and disrupt marine food chains. Studies show these tiny fibers end up in animal stomachs and even make it onto our plates within seafood.
Black water probably dye enters the river from a factory, environmental pollution on the river banks surrounding some of the textile industry buildings of Savar Upazila on 30th September 2018 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Andrew Aitchison / In pictures / Getty Images
Harms Animal Welfare
Even animals aren't immune to the effects of fast fashion. The ever-expanding clothing industry requires massive amounts of land for factories and fiber production. This concentrates pollution and fragments habitat space for wild animals, which leads to declines in biodiversity.
Domestic animals don't fare much better, as cutting costs for leather, fur, and wool production often leads to animal abuse. In one noteworthy case, real fur from tortured dogs and cats was passed off as fake because it was cheaper to produce it illegally than to use synthetic alternatives.
Leads to Human Rights Abuses
Fast fashion might be cheap at the store, but someone else is paying the full price. The textile industry has been built around workers' rights abuse since the Industrial Revolution.
Garment workers today work extreme hours for poverty wages, often in dangerous conditions. In 2013, the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed due to shoddy construction, killing 1,100 people and injuring another 2,500. This was hardly an isolated incident, as hundreds of Bangladeshi workers have died in factory fires over the past decade.
Children aren't exempt from the challenges of producing cheap clothes. There are an estimated 168 million underage workers in the world today, many of them children pulled out of school to work in garment factories.
Why Do Consumers Turn a Blind Eye to Fast Fashion's Flaws?
Considering the costs associated with cheap clothes, why are $20 jeans still widely available?
Put bluntly — most shoppers just don't care enough to change their habits. As things stand today, fashion retailers rarely, if ever, lose out on significant numbers of customers due to poor environmental or labor practices.
Research shows that shoppers prioritize price over almost any other selling point, and that they are quick to forget when products are made unethically or unsustainably. Even in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, Americans still purchased millions of dollars worth of clothes from similar factories in Bangladesh that year.
Protesters demanding safe workplaces for garment workers mark the sixth anniversary of the of the Rana Plaza building collapse disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 24, 2019. Mamunur Rashid / NurPhoto via Getty Images
The fast fashion industry shows little sign of slowing down, and part of the blame lies with social media. Rather than waiting for print magazines to tell us what's trendy, we can hop on our favorite celebrity's Instagram to see their fashion-forward choices in real-time. Likewise, the rise of influencer culture and micro-marketing has created a subgroup of stars whose job it is to convince us to buy more.
The internet provides constant exposure to all the world's trends at once, which speeds up the fast fashion cycle and leaves us forever feeling one step behind what's stylish. One London-based survey from 2017 found that 41% of 18 to 25-year-olds felt pressure to wear different clothes every time they left the house.
In short, when every outfit is scrupulously documented for the socials, it becomes passé to wear the same clothes more than once.
What Companies Are Involved With Fast Fashion?
Both traditional and newly established clothing brands alike are responsible for fast fashion.
As the oldest fast fashion giant around today, mega-retailer H&M (short for Hennes and Mauritz) opened in Sweden in 1947 and only made it to the States in 2000. The company specializes in cheap runway knockoffs and a short supply chain. H&M doesn't own factories but instead relies on 800 independent suppliers — mostly in Asia — to produce its apparel.
Customers at an H&M store in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China on Oct. 5, 2020. Alex Tai / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images
Zara offers similar speedy merchandise. This Spanish-based retailer has made it its mission to bring a garment from the design stage to store shelves in just three weeks — no matter the cost for the people and places producing it.
The company also strives to overwhelm shoppers with choice by producing more than 10,000 unique pieces each year (the industry average is 2,000-4,000), hoping that customers will come home with more apparel than they anticipated after every shopping trip.
People wait in line to shop at Zara in Boston, Massachusetts on Aug. 14, 2021. Erin Clark / The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Some fast fashion stores are feeling the pressure as online shopping further cheapens and speeds up the supply chain. Once a mall staple for teenage shoppers, Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy in 2019.
But compared to traditional retailers, internet-based brands have advantages in the world of fast fashion. They cut out the middleman of retail space, which eliminates display costs. This makes it cost-effective to manage a large, continually changing inventory that can be adapted as trends change.
And, because the stock from online retailers is constantly shifting, shoppers feel pressure to make impulse buys when they find pieces they like for fear the items will soon be unavailable.
Is your favorite apparel retailer suspect? Here are some of the common characteristics of fast fashion brands to avoid.
- Clothes are made outside the United States and Europe.
- The brand offers hundreds, even thousands of styles.
- There is a limited quantity of any specific style.
- The brand sells styles mere weeks after they are seen on celebrities or the runway.
- The clothing is made from low-quality material and wears out quickly.
How to Move Towards Sustainability With the Wardrobe
The news isn't all bad. There is hope today to move the world of fashion in a more ecologically sound direction. But to be effective, this change has to happen both on an industry level and a personal level.
Change is slow, but shoppers are showing more interest in alternative ways to get clothes, including renting and buying secondhand. Some retail giants, including select Macy's locations, have started selling used clothing from ThredUp.
Other stores, such as H&M, are becoming more transparent about their supply chains and striving to make environmentally conscious improvements. These include retail-specific changes like powering its stores with renewable energy and expanding its clothing recycling programs.
Unfortunately, these improvements rarely address the far worse impacts of the clothing production process itself or the fashion world's disturbing habit of burning unsold clothes to dispose of them.
Other brands, like Zara, are building a name for themselves in the sustainability sphere through limited-release collections made from organic cotton and other eco-friendly materials. In many cases, these collections make up a tiny portion of the company's profits and effectively act as fast fashion greenwashing to distract attention from the problems with its primary clothing lines.
As long as there is demand for fast fashion apparel, brands will continue to supply it. For this reason, making real changes in the clothing world comes down to changing your buying habits.
One approach is to embrace the idea of slow fashion. When shopping, look for timeless, quality-made pieces that are versatile enough for a variety of outfits. The goal is to create a smaller, capsule wardrobe built around pieces you'll wear frequently.
Buying less also means it's easier to justify spending more per item. Research manufacturers for evidence of fair labor practices and environmentally sustainable manufacturing. Seek out natural materials when possible, and learn whether the company offers recycling or other sustainable end-of-life services for its garments.
Make each piece of apparel last longer with careful maintenance. Wash your clothes only when necessary, using gentle detergents that won't break them down. You can also learn basic sewing skills to repair rips, lost buttons, and even broken zippers. One way to get more use out of any item is to get a tailor to modify it to your measurements. After all, trends come and go, but well-fitting clothes will always be in style.
To make a more significant impact, skip buying new altogether in favor of used clothes. The environmental cost has already been paid for these items, and by wearing them, you'll keep the material out of landfills for a little longer. Traditional thrift stores can offer surprising bargains, or you can take the shopping online through resale sites like ThredUp, Poshmark, and even Facebook Marketplace or other local buy-sell groups.
If you can't resist the allure of the latest fashions, consider renting instead of buying. Companies like Nuuly and Rent the Runaway offer more sustainable ways to try on trending clothes without them permanently taking up space in your wardrobe. Just note that there are high environmental costs associated with continually cleaning and shipping these clothes from one renter to another.
One person's trash is another person's treasure. Attending a clothing swap or taking the step to host one is a smart (and fun) way to recycle clothing and get a new wardrobe fast. AleksandarNakic / E+ / Getty Images
The world of fast fashion has run unchecked for far too long, and the planet is facing the consequences. It's time to make changes to how you approach your own wardrobe in an effort to improve your personal impact.
So, buy less, buy smarter, and hold onto what you own for as long as possible. Making sustainable, slow fashion trendy is a proven way to take some of the sting out of the global clothing industry and fight back against fast fashion.
Lydia Noyes is a freelance writer specializing in health and wellness, food and farming, and environmental topics. When not working against a writing deadline, you can find Lydia outdoors where she attempts to bring order to her 33-acre hobby farm filled with fruit trees, heritage breed pigs, too many chickens to count, and an organic garden that somehow gets bigger every year.
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There's no better way to show your dog that you love them than by keeping them healthy. In addition to exercise, a healthy diet, grooming, and regular checkups at the vet, you can also help support your dog's wellbeing with CBD dog treats. Learn how CBD oils and treats can benefit your four-legged friend and see which brands made our list of the best CBD treats for dogs.
How CBD Treats and Chews Can Help Dogs (and Other Pets)
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the many naturally occurring compounds found in the hemp plant. CBD oil is derived from the leaves, flowers, and stems of the cannabis plant. This important cannabinoid compound has been found to possess both medical as well as therapeutic benefits in both humans and animals.
Like humans, dogs possess an endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS plays a role in the body's natural processes related to mental function, mood, inflammation, pain, appetite, energy, digestion, and more.
Some of the potential benefits of CBD for dogs include support for:
- Separation anxiety and stress
- Chronic inflammation
- Arthritis and joint pain
- Digestive issues
- Seizures, tremors, or spasms
With so many potential benefits, more and more pet owners are seeking CBD for dogs as a natural way to help keep them healthy.
Top 6 CBD Dog Treats Online
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall - Joy Organics Premium CBD Dog Chews
- Best for Anxiety - Charlotte's Web Calming Chews for Dogs
- Best for Mobility - Zesty Paws CBD Mobility Bites Soft Chews
- Best for Skin & Coat - R+R Medicinals Hemp Extract Dog Chews
- Best Flavor - FAB CBD Calm & Cool Dog Treats
- Best Hard Chew - Paw CBD Dog Treats
How We Review CBD Treats for Dogs
To select the best CBD dog treats, we considered specific factors around the CBD, the ingredients, the flavoring, and the brands themselves. Here are more details about how we reviewed each of CBD treats for dogs that made our list.
Source of CBD
Just like with CBD products for people, we only choose brands that use CBD from safe and trustworthy sources. We prefer brands that use CBD from hemp plants grown in the U.S., and we also look to see if the CBD is grown organically or naturally. The extraction process also matters, especially if they use clean CO2 extraction. This helps determine the type of CBD contained in their products, whether it's full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate.
In addition to the CBD, we look to see what other ingredients go into each dog treat. The best brands use all-natural ingredients and flavorings and avoid fillers or allergens like corn, wheat, and soy. We also look for additional healthy ingredients like sweet potato, flaxseed, turmeric, passionflower, sunflower oil, and more, that are known to promote better health in dogs.
A CBD dog treat won't do much good if you're dog won't eat it! We select products that come in appetizing flavors that dogs will love. It's important that these come from natural ingredients instead of artificial flavoring. We also chose different types of treats, both soft and hard chews, to give you more options depending on your dog's preferences.
We only recommend CBD dog treats from brands that we trust. All of the best CBD brands include third-party lab testing on all of their products to ensure the strength and purity of their CBD. Certain brands also offer veterinarian-formulated pet CBD treats, or are certified by the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). We also look for brands that offer affordable prices and money back guarantees.
Our Top Picks for Dog CBD Treats
Best Overall: Joy Organics Premium CBD Dog Chews
These Joy Organics Premium CBD Dog Chews are made with premium grade broad spectrum CBD. That means they contain all of the beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids to help promote wellness without any THC. Joy Organics also uses water-soluble CBD powder for these chews, making them faster and easier to absorb. They are certified organic, non-GMO, cruelty-free, and third-party lab tested for purity.
Why buy: Joy Organics CBD dog chews are our favorites overall because they include real ingredients like beef liver, brewers yeast, flax oil, and sweet potato powder, as well as broad spectrum CBD. These treats are easy to digest, making them a great option for dogs with sensitive stomachs.We also love that Joy Organics offers carbon neutral shipping.
Best for Anxiety: Charlotte's Web Calming Chews for Dogs
Charlotte's Web Calming Chews combine full spectrum CBD from U.S. grown hemp with natural botanicals like valerian root, chamomile, and passionflower extract to help relax and calm your dog. Each chew contains 2.5 mg of CBD and other cannabinoids to help promote a balanced emotional state in your pet, especially for stressful situations like boarding, traveling, or vet visits. While we wish the offered a little more information on the ingredient breakdown, as a certified B corp we trust Charlotte's Web overall.
Why buy: We love that these calming chews include so many natural botanicals to help dogs manage stress and anxiety. Charlotte's Web CBD dog treats are also NASC certified and undergo independent third-party lab testing for quality assurance. These are great for nervous or anxious adult dogs.
Best for Mobility: Zesty Paws CBD Mobility Bites Soft Chews
Zesty Paws CBD Mobility Bites Soft Chews are made with CBDistillery broad spectrum CBD. They use non-GMO industrial hemp plants grown naturally in the U.S. and extract the CBD oil solely from aerial plant parts. The Hip & Joint formula also includes glucosamine, chondroitin, and OptiMSM to support joint lubrication, cartilage formation, and muscular function. Each soft chew includes 5 mg of CBD to help improve your dog's mobility.
Why buy: We recommend these chews for dogs with joint or hip pain as they can both help relieve pain and support joint health. We love that they are NASC certified, contain no grain, corn, or soy derivatives, and are made with an organic vegetarian roast beef flavor.
Best for Skin & Coat: R+R Medicinals Hemp Extract Dog Chews
These CBD dog chews from R+R Medicinals contain full spectrum hemp extract for a potent blend of natural plant compounds including terpenes, flavonoids, and antioxidants. Each chew contains 5 mg of CBD from Colorado grown hemp to promote mental and physical wellness. Plus the natural chicken flavor offers a savory taste your dog will love.
Why buy: We love R+R Medicinals Hemp Extract Dog Chews because they are made with real, natural ingredients like sweet potato, flax seed, and chicken liver. They also include grapeseed oil to promote a healthy coat and skin. These CBD treats are ideal for natural overall health.
Best Flavor: FAB CBD Dog Treats
FAB CBD Dog Treats are a great baked treat option for dogs who prefer some crunch. They include 3 mg of broad spectrum CBD per treat, and are baked without any corn, wheat, soy, or dairy. These Calm & Cool treats are also made to help dogs relax from anxiety or stress, and include natural ingredients like passionflower and chamomile to promote calm.
Why buy: We love that these baked CBD dog treats from FAB come in a peanut butter and apple flavor that most dogs won't be able to resist. We also like that they use organically grown hemp extract with no THC. These treats are a great way to help support a calmer dog naturally.
Best Hard Chew: Paw CBD Dog Treats
Paw CBD Dog Treats are veterinarian formulated hard chews made with cbdMD broad spectrum hemp extract. They come in two different flavors, baked cheese and peanut butter, and three different strengths so you can choose the right amount of CBD for the size of your dog. All Paw CBD Dog Treats are THC-free and contain no artificial preservatives or colors.
Why buy: We love that these hard chews not only provide CBD to help support your dog's wellbeing, they also offer a satisfying crunch that can help clean their teeth too. These CBD dog treats are perfect if your pet doesn't go for soft chews. Plus, cbdMD offers a 60 day money back guarantee.
What's the Difference Between CBD Oil and CBD Dog Treats?
CBD for dogs can come in several different forms. Some brands offer CBD oil for dogs, which comes as an oil tincture that you measure using a dropper. CBD oil can either be administered orally or mixed in with your dog's food. This provides a fast way for your dog's body to absorb the CBD and to experience the mental and physical benefits. CBD oils for dogs also typically contain fewer ingredients than some other pet CBD products, just the CBD and a carrier oil, so it's easier for you to know exactly what you give to your dog.
CBD dog treats are soft or hard chews made with CBD and are meant to be more palatable for dogs than oils. Some dogs do not enjoy the earthy or natural flavor of CBD oil and respond better to a savory treat. These products also typically include other natural ingredients meant to promote your dog's health, including sweet potato and flax seed. Treats make it easier to know exactly how much CBD you give to your dog each time, as every treat will contain the same amount of CBD. Dog treats with CBD are typically an easier, less messy option than oils.
What the Experts Say About CBD and Dogs
Research has found that CBD can provide a number of different benefits for dogs, from calming dogs with separation anxiety to helping older dogs that suffer from chronic joint pain.
A 2018 study concluded that CBD oil "can help increase comfort and activity" in dogs with osteoarthritis. Another study conducted in 2019 found that CBD could help dogs with epilepsy by potentially reducing the frequency of seizures when added to their existing medication.
In addition to joint pain and epilepsy, CBD is also frequently used to help relieve anxiety and stress in dogs. Recent research has shown that CBD can help to reduce aggression in some dogs, especially through calming dogs in stressful settings like shelters.
What to Look for in CBD Dog Products
While there are a lot of CBD dog products out there, not all of them are safe or effective. Here are the things to look for when evaluating CBD for dogs.
There are a few signs that can tell you if a CBD dog treat or oil is a quality product.
First, always look to see that the product has undergone independent third-party lab testing to ensure its potency and safety. Second, try to choose CBD products that are sourced from hemp grown in the United States. Third, you can always look for the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) seal that indicates a product or brand meets strict standards for safety and testing.
Additionally, look for labels and certifications that you trust like USDA organic, non-GMO, and products made without wheat, corn, or soy.
How to Read Labels
When comparing CBD dog treats, make sure to check the labels for a few key pieces of information.
Type of CBD
Make sure you know what type of CBD is in the product. Full spectrum CBD offers the complete profile of cannabinoids and plant compounds found in hemp. For some, this provides more benefits and stronger relief. Broad spectrum CBD, meanwhile, all of the same cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids as full spectrum, but it is THC-free. This can be important if your dog is especially sensitive or does not react well to full spectrum products.
Amount of CBD
Next, look to see how much CBD is contained in each treat or serving. This will help you determine the right product for your dog based on their size. Some brands include serving guides on their packaging to help make sure you give your dog the appropriate amount of CBD.
List of Ingredients
Check the ingredients list as well to make sure that the CBD dog treat does not contain anything your dog might be allergic to. You can also note if the treat is made with all natural ingredients. Depending on your dog, you can also look for treats that contain additional ingredients that are good for specific health concerns, like sweet potato, turmeric, passionflower, and flax seed.
How Many CBD Treats Should Your Dog Take?
The amount of CBD contained in each treat will determine how many you should give your dog at one time. As with humans, it's best to start with a small dose, monitor your dog's response, and gradually increase slowly from there. The same rule of thumb applies for dogs and other pets: start low and go slow.
Most CBD dog treats will include a recommended serving guide based on the size of your dog. For example, for dogs under 10 lbs you may only want to give them 1.5 mg of CBD daily. If a treat contains 3 mg of CBD total, you should only give them half of a treat per day. Dogs over 60 lbs, however, may need two treats a day, or 6 mg of CBD, to experience the desired benefits. Again, start with a small amount to make sure that your dog responds positively to CBD before gradually increasing the number of treats.
Possible Side Effects
As with any natural supplement or prescription medication for your dog, there is the possibility for certain side effects. Some of the more common side effects that dogs can experience include:
- Excessive panting
- Loss of balance
If you notice that your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, then you may have given them too much CBD, as these are signs of toxicity. If your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it's best to call your veterinarian right away.
CBD can offer a number of potential benefits for dogs. For those who don't want the mess of oil tinctures, or for dogs who don't like the taste of oils, CBD dog treats offer an easy and tasty solution. Whether you want to help your dog with anxiety and stress or mobility issues due to joint pain, you can find a CBD dog treat that you both will love.