Thursday, 22 April 2010 20:29

Why Organic (Part II)

Why Organic If you have read my “Why Organic” article, you have a pretty good idea of why going organic may be beneficial for you and to your family. However, if you are not convinced, or just want more information, please read on.

What is Organic?

Organic crops are not treated with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Animals on organic farms are not given hormones and drugs to promote more rapid growth. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not used on any organic farms.

What does this mean for me?

To “go organic” means better health for you and your family. It also means that farm animals will be treated better and we will be protecting our earth. But how much of an impact can you personally make by purchasing organic food, and how can I afford this “new” way of eating?

If we can increase organic food sales to 10% by the end of the year, the increase will improve the health of millions of people, especially infants, children, and the elderly. Ideally, this translates into less healthcare costs (due to fewer chemicals in our food sources and into our bodies), and as organics become more common staples in the American diet, organic food costs will go down.

How can I help reach the goal?

1At the grocery store, purchase 1 organic food item out of every 10 food items you put into your shopping basket.

2At home, make 1 organic meal out of every 10 meals you eat.

Organic Benefits:

FOR ALL

Organic food is safer and more nutritious than conventional food. It is safer because it contains fewer and much less risky pesticides. It is more nutritious because most of the time it has more vitamins, minerals, and health-promoting antioxidants.

Organic fresh fruits and vegetables often taste better. They are usually picked when they are riper. They are served fresher and travel fewer miles from the field to your table. Organic milk and meat, cheeses and yogurt, breads, tomato sauces, jams, coffee, and drinks also often have deeper flavors and richer colors. This is because of the way organic farmers manage their crops and their animals.

New science suggests that when foods have more flavors per bite they often contain higher levels of antioxidants. When we consume certain antioxidants, they promote both good health and a sense of fullness. This helps keep our caloric intake in line with our energy needs.

PREGNANT WOMEN, INFANTS, & CHILDREN

It is especially important for pregnant women, infants, and children to eat organic food. When mothers and children eat organic food, they can almost totally avoid the pesticides most likely to cause developmental problems. This is important because through age 16 a child’s brain and nervous system are still developing. Consumption of these chemicals can trigger developmental abnormalities, some with lifelong consequences.

How to I Start?

Always look for the USDA Organic SealStart with Fresh Produce: Always shop in the fresh fruits and vegetables section of the market. Be sure to seek out organic foods that meet the needs of all family members throughout the day. Many of the major grocery store chains offer their own brand of organic food. This is great because they tend to be cheaper!

Shop in Season: It always makes sense to look for in season local fruits and vegetables. They are likely to be fresher and tastier–and a better bargain – especially if you can get them at your local framer’s market. In the late fall and winter months when a lot of produce is imported, it is especially important to look for organic.

Go Local: Local food tends to be picked riper and sold fresher. It tastes better, and uses far less energy in support of “food miles.” Plus, some research has found that there is an increased pesticide risk from imported produce.

Prioritize your Purchases: Want to know more about the fruits and vegetables that pose the greatest and least pesticide risks? Check out the reference guide from the “Why Organic” article. Go organic on a few things you use the most. It may not be practical or financially feasible to go organic all the way. (Source: Environmental Working Group)

Upgrade your Snacks: Dried fruits are a great way to replace a high-fat or sugary snack with a nutritious antioxidant-packed treat. Unsweetened fruit juices are also a good way to make sure kids get their recommended 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Organic nuts deliver both antioxidants and fiber and can be enjoyed in so many ways.

Buy In Bulk: Look for organic cereals, pasta, rice, flour, and other goods in bulk. Buying organic food in bulk usually brings down the price to about what you would pay for conventional food.

Practical Note: Costco carries organic peanut butter, milk, chocolate milk for the kids, cereal, hormone free ground turkey and chicken (By Foster Farms), etc. Just take a bit more time to look, but you will get a better deal.

Shop for Color: Want more antioxidant and flavor bang for your food dollar? A good rule of thumb; go for the ketchup, tomato sauce, pesto, salsa, and jams with the deepest, richest colors.

Convert your favorite recipe: If you have a favorite recipe—and we know you must—try purchasing organic ingredients in place of the old standbys. If you cannot make the whole recipe organic, that’s okay. Just try to convert the “worse” items in your recipe to the organic version.

Visit a Farm: Get to know your local farms. Talk to farmers about their agriculture practices—notice the connection to the food once it arrives at your table in meal form. Farm visits are also great experiences for kids!

For more information or to do your own in-depth research, visit these sites

organic-center.org The nation’s clearinghouse for hard-core science and studies highlighting why organic products are a healthier dietary choice. • Free downloadable reports   • E-newsletter on the latest research   • Verified facts about organic products

allorganiclinks.com If you are looking for anything organic, this is the place! This is a directory of organic resources from A–Z.  Favorite categories include:  • Food  • Health & Beauty   • Home & Garden   • Reference   • Shopping

organic.org A consumer-friendly site offering fun tips for organic living and the latest and greatest in product news.  • Easy-to-Read Articles   • Blog   • Recipes   • Product Reviews   • Just for Kids   • Newsletters & More!

DRGreene.com A great website to learn more about kid’s health!

Thursday, 21 January 2010 07:22

Why Organic

Why OrganicI am sure you have heard by now that going organic is good for you, but why? Go to a traditional grocery store and the selection may not be very big, the produce does not look as appealing and not to mention it’s more expensive!

So here’s the deal, mainstream markets are just getting started on the organic band wagon. Hang in there and the selection will grow. When looking for organic produce, look for the organic section. Also, you can look for the USDA organic certification or look for a 5 digit number starting with 9. This indicates an organic product in produce.

There are specialty markets such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods that carry a wide variety of organic produce, so go there. There are locations nationwide and there is probably one in or around your neighbor hood. If you can’t find one of these stores, try your local farmers market.

Now, when you go to a farmers market, they may not be USDA organic certified. However, most produce at farmers markets are technically grown using organic methods. Getting the USDA organic certification is very expensive and requires a certain number of years of the organic growing method before getting that certification. So, some small farmers may not have the funds for certification, and others may be in the process, but both probably using the organic growing methods. Best thing to do is ask the farmer you are buying from.

As for being more expensive, well it is simple economics; supply and demand. The demand for organic produce is not huge in mainstream markets, so the supply is restricted therefore raising the price. In markets such as the ones mentioned above and at framers markets, the demand is higher, so the supply is also higher, therefore the prices are lower.

Now, for organic produce not being as big, shiny or pretty as the traditional produce…well, it is the nature or organics. Organic produce does not use pesticides or growth accelerators. This may cause the product to be smaller and not as perfect. If you grow something in your garden at home, sizes will vary, and the fruit or vegetable is probably not perfect looking. Now for the shiny part, that is wax…who want to eat that!? You won’t find that on organic produce!

So…you get it now, right!? It’s still expensive though. Well, make it your goal to eliminate as many pesticides and waxes from your produce. If you cannot go organic all the way, choose by priority. Some foods hold onto more pesticides than others. The lists below from the Environmental Working Group website (www.ewg.org) states which foods are the most and least contaminated. Start out your “organic movement” by substituting organic foods for traditionally grown foods on the “12 Most Contaminated” list.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of why organic is good for you. Whether you are on a budget or it is not as available in your area, you can now make some more educated choices when buying your food.

12 Most Contaminated

12 Least Contaminated

Peaches

Onions

Apples

Avocados

Sweet Peppers

Sweet Corn

Celery

Pineapples

Nectarines

Mango

Strawberries

Asparagus

Cherries

Sweet Peas (frozen)

Pears

Kiwi Fruit

Grapes (imported)

Bananas

Spinach

Cabbage

Lettuce>

Broccoli

Potatoes

Papaya