My Q&A with Therese Kerr
What excites you most about being able to spread the word about Australian Certified Organic?
There are so many chemicals in the products we use everyday and each and every day when we use products like toothpaste, mouth rinse, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, hand wash, hand lotion, hand sanitizer with mostly untested ingredients we are increasing the chemical body burden we are placing on our bodies. I get excited about sharing this information through The Divine Company and everything I personally do. Why do we as a company get excited about this? We get excited because what we do is open a new conversation in wellness in an area that most people sadly know little about. We assume the products on our shelves are safe. They are in fact, far from safe and the truth be known, most of the everyday products on the shelves contain many classes of chemicals, namely;
Chemicals that are toxic to the immune system.
Almost all of the products on our shelves don’t’ just contain one of the classes of chemicals as listed above, sadly they contain many of the above classes of chemicals.
In saying all of the above, education is pointless unless action is taken, hence why we create the most highly nutritious, antioxidant-rich skin, personal, baby and men’s care products. We only use plant based, scientifically proven ingredients that minimize wrinkles and provide the efficacy above and beyond conventional products, but without the chemicals.
Do you remember your first organic experience and what made you convert?
Since I found out what is actually in conventional everyday skin, hair, beauty, personal, baby and oral care products and in the food that most of us eat daily. That happened when my ah-ha moment happened, I.e., when I had tumours in my spleen in 2001 and had to have my spleen removed in 2002.
My family and I experienced first hand the benefits of switching our house over to certified organic in every aspect (food and personal care products and also healthy cleaning products). During the time I had tumours in my spleen I would juice lots of veggies and lived predominantly on a meat-free, vegetarian, certified organic diet. Further, I developed rosacea on my face and I tried everything but nothing worked until I tried certified organic and within 10 days of using certified organic products on my face, the rosacea had gone.
I have since become an even bigger fan of certified organic after researching fully over the last 15 years the impact of chemicals in our everyday products on our health and learning also how powerful and effective plant botanical based products are for health and for anti-aging.
With certified organic, it's not always about what's NOT in a product, equally important, when we are talking health, wellbeing and anti-aging is what ingredients are actually IN a product.
What’s your favourite Certified Organic product (both food and beauty) and why?
My favourite organic food, believe it or not, is carrots. When you eat an organic carrot compared to a conventionally grown carrot, you can so taste the difference. Conventional carrots have an almost chemical taste to them, but in saying that, when you switch over and eat almost everything certified organic, you are getting a much higher nutritional content in your body and as such, you tend to eat less as your body is fulfilled.
People often state that “certified organic” is too expensive. That is not the truth now. I have seen on many occasions conventional food be more expensive than certified organic food. It is important to remember, if you cut the sugar, gluten, packaged and processed foods out of your diet, you eat so much less as your body isn’t being driven by the sugar cravings that come with eating these foods. My husband is a classic example of this. He now eats approximately 1/10th of what he used to eat. If you aren’t blessed to have a health food store near you or markets that sell certified organic products, it is wise to start your own organic garden in your yard, if you have one, or an organic community garden. More and more people are experiencing the benefits of switching to certified organic food.
In relation to my favourite beauty product, definitely our The Divine Company Naturally Bronze Self Tanning Product is one of my favourites. It is a non tint, non streak self tanner, it doesn’t stain the sheets or your clothes and it is a gradual tanner so you simply put it on of an evening, leave it on overnight and wash it off the next morning and you will be beautifully sun kissed in the morning. Our Naturally Bronze through our beautiful plant based ingredients activates the melanin within your skin, providing a beautiful natural tan. The head buyer of the Body and Soul section in David Jones, Merelda Pace stated that The Divine Company Naturally Bronze is the best self tanner she had ever used and she was so happy that it didn’t contain the toxic chemicals commonly found in most self tanners.
When you cook, what’s your signature dish and what Certified Organic ingredients do you like to use?
I love salads. I love to make a beautiful sweet potato salad with spinach leaves, roasted pine nuts, haloumi, red capsicum, mixed lettuce and sometimes dates and banana (banana always chopped fresh just prior to serving). I only use certified organic ingredients as I do not want to put pesticides, insecticides, organophosphates in my body and certified organic guarantees me of that and also guarantees my nutritional intake. Another tip, cook the sweet potato in coconut oil and sprinkle before baking with Himalayan salt and savoury yeast flakes – this gives the sweet potato’s a cheesy flavour without the cheese! I then make a dressing which consists again of only certified organic ingredients: Coconut Oil, Macadamia Oil, Himalayan Salt, Turmeric powder, Cinnamon powder, cumin powder, fresh ginger, lemon, coconut syrup. I also sometimes fold in a little bit of Nut butter.
Tell us about the importance of Certified Organic skin, personal and baby care products and what certified organic really is
Our world used to be “organic” now it has to be labelled “certified organic” to represent anything close to what nature intended it to be.
There is a huge difference between “organic” and “certified organic”
A company in this country and in most countries around the world can claim something is “organic” if it contains one natural ingredient yet it may contain literally hundreds, if not thousands of chemicals. According to the Breast Cancer Fund of America, the word “fragrance’ can contain up to 3000 chemicals that do not have to be disclosed on a label and many other chemicals, yet the product can still be classed as “organic’. Unfortunately almost all products on the market unless they state “fragrance free” will contain fragrance plus many of the aforementioned classes of chemicals.
The word “Organic” means nothing. “Certified Organic”, on the other hand is regulated by organic certification bodies.
Unlike conventional products, certified organic products contain only:
1. Plant based and derived ingredients
2. No artificial colours or flavours
3. No GMO’s
4. No pesticides, insecticides, organophosphate
5. Everything that is contained within the product, unlike conventional products, has to be listed on the product label.
6. Sustainability practices are assured
7. Full traceability from earth to store is guaranteed
8. A company is monitored by an external body to ensure compliance.
Why is this important?
It matters to me that hormone-related disorders are at an all time high – infertility, endometriosis, breast, ovarian, testicular cancers, fibroids, PCOS, have become all too common place as has early onset puberty and early onset menopause.
Here’s a summary of some of the statistics from the World Health Organisation Report of 2012 – study on endocrine disrupting chemicals:
1. Semen quality has dropped by over 40% compared to what it used to be.
2. 400% increase in malformed genitalia
3. Endocrine disorders such as breast, ovarian, testicular cancers, endometriosis, fibroids, PCOS, Infertility, early onset puberty, early onset menopause, malformed genitalia and lower semen quality are at an all time high. Professor Marc Cohen of RMIT University in VIC states that we are on the tip of the iceberg in relation to endocrine-related disorders.
In relation to cosmetics:
It is ridiculous that there isn’t any premarket or health testing done on any cosmetic product before it is released onto the market. Between us, Miranda (through KORA Organics) and I have released over 60+ certified organic cosmetic products and we have not been approached by any regulatory body (other than the ones we chose to register certified organic through) in relation to what ingredients are in our products.
In Australia we rely predominantly on the USA model to determine if the chemicals in our everyday products are safe. According to the EWG, chemicals are used in cosmetics on the basis they are safe until proven otherwise.
What does living an organic lifestyle mean to you?
It simply means that I get to become a proactive participant in my own health everyday. Every choice we make is either moving us away from or moving us toward health. Research is showing almost all illness is in some way linked to environmental chemicals of some sort. Ensuring we are only eating healthy food and putting only healthy products on our skin removes the toxic burden we place both in and on our body each day and this itself, along with exercise, good sleep, removing stress is paramount to achieving and maintaining health and vitality and longevity.
When we eat and use only certified organic products, we not only support ourselves, we also support our planet and everything we do to our planet, we do to ourselves eventually.
If you could share just one take home message with everyone about why Certified Organic really matters, what would it be?
Our skin absorbs roughly 60% of everything we place on it, in some instances it will absorb up to 100%, eg, the mucous membranes under the tongue, under our arms, in our intimate areas and if a product contains the word fragrance, Bill Statham states that our body will absorb up to 100%.
Our skin is said to absorb chemicals up to ten times faster than by way of eating – why and how? Our skin does not have digestive enzymes to break chemicals down, nor does it have the purification process of the liver to further break chemicals down so understanding your skin is permeable is paramount to understanding how our health is impacted by our everyday actions.
It is equally important, if not more important to ensure that you are not burdening your body by way of your skin, oral care products, etc with chemical laden products.
What inspires you to take the very best care of yourself on a daily basis and what key components are part of your wellness regime?
Having the ability to be the best version of me that I can be, everyday. I don’t have the common ailments that I used to have, that is the foggy thinking, skin problems, energy level lacking, hormone-related challenges. In fact I have the opposite – I am blessed to have health like I have never experienced before, the healthiest of skin and hair and energy to burn. I only have this because I choose it and am a proactive participant in my own health consistently. It matters to me what I put on and in my body and in my home. I create the safest living and working environment, one that supports my body in every aspect.
Eating certified organic foods
Using only our The Divine Company certified organic oral and personal care products
Using only our The Divine Company certified organic skincare products
Adopting healthy practices like massage
Sleeping well is important to me
Incorporating fun activities, whether that is riding a motorbike with my husband, going bushwalking, playing with our dog at the beach, watching a funny movie, laughing and enjoying life
I simply don’t get stressed and that in itself is a blessing
What is wellness to you?
Simply being the best I can be physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Experiencing what it is like to feel great, to not get headaches, to not get the flu (I can’t remember the last time I was sick), to have the knowledge on hand if you do start to get a sore throat, you know what to do to stop that turning into something nasty. Wellness to me is having spent the last 15 years since having tumours in my spleen educating myself on every aspect of health – having that knowledge is invaluable. At my fingertips I have access to the most incredible wellness practitioners who I can draw down information from to assist me in assisting others to live a glorious, healthy life.
What is your philosophy on food?
I think as a general rule people over eat. When we eat certified organic, we don’t need to eat very much. I sometimes fast to give my digestive system and my body a break. For the most part I make healthy smoothies everyday and this gives my body incredible nutrition. I also include: broccoli, cucumbers, baby spinach, cacao, chia seeds, coconut water, coconut oil, almond milk, whey-free protein powder, acai powder, wheat grass, certified organic berries in my smoothies and sometimes a banana to add creaminess.
I eat live, highly nutritious food. I am predominantly vegetarian (sometimes I have to eat meat as I have a mutated gene – I don’t like it). My one weakness is a cup of tea, but again I drink only certified organic black tea with certified organic milk. If I drink I drink certified organic wine from Bonic Estate in Jerilderie – beautiful wine, but I don’t often drink. I stick to the old adage: food is my medicine and medicine is my food. The foundation of health is our food, everything stems from that and removing the chemical burden both in what we put in our body by way of our food and what we put on our body by way of our personal, skin, hair, beauty products, etc is my way of ensuring I am not placing the chemical burden on my body each day. When I don’t place a chemical burden on my body, my body has the ability to do what it has to do without being hindered and I get to have health at a level that is attainable for everyone.
Can you share your best natural beauty secret with us?
Being chemical free is my beauty secret.
What we put on our body impacts our ability to absorb nutrients from our food as our liver’s main role is to take nutrients from our food, but our live is so taxed and so overworked at trying to rid our body of chemicals and toxins that it can’t perform its vital role of extracting nutrients from our food so if you are eating healthy and lathering your body with chemicals, why bother eating healthy as your body won’t absorb the nutrients anyway?
Most of the additives in our foods and in our everyday personal, skin and beauty care products contain petroleum and pesticide derived chemicals. The question of the century is “Who ever thought putting petroleum laden chemicals on our skin and ultimately in our body would be safe?”