Minggu, 13 Maret 2011

Is Organic Food Better For You?

When I go grocery shopping, I want to buy organic, but Ken says it is just a marketing ploy. He has a background in broadcasting and reporting, so he can be very cynical about the marketing methods today. And rightly so. The word "Organic" has become a real buzz word, the organic food business is booming. We all want natural healthy food, but it is so expensive.

Is it better for us? Or is it a marketing scheme? I wanted to know, so here is what I found out:

What is Organic: Simple. It is produce and other ingredients grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Organic meat, eggs and dairy means that no antibiotics or growth hormones were used to stimulate production or growth.

It is interesting that it is a three-year process to convert land to organic status. The first two years is spent building up the fertility of the land. It is not until the third year that produce grown on the land may be labeled organic.

In general, food does cost more in the stores because of the laborious and time-intensive systems used by the organic farms. But the benefits are numerous to the land and our bodies.

More Nutritious: Research did show that there is more nutrition in organic food. For example, cows farmed organically produced milk which was, on average, 50% higher in Vitamin E, 75% higher in beta carotene, two to three times higher in antioxidants, and richer in Omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced milk.

Healthier: Since organic food is not prepared using fertilizers and pesticides, it does not contain any traces of these carcinogenic chemicals that adversely affect our bodies.

Better Tasting: I would love to do a blind taste test, but many do strongly believe that organic food tastes better than non organic.

Environmental Benefits: Pesticides and Insecticides are having a global effect on our ecosystem. The pollution is contributing to global warming, but with organic farming, there is minimal pollution ensuring a safer world for our children to live in.

Humanitarian: Organic is affecting the way our animals are being treated. For example, chickens run free range rather than being caged and forced-fed living a short and miserable life.

The Dirty Dozen: But if you just can't afford Organic, or if you are in the north like I am, and my choices for organic are limited, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) provided a list of what they call the "dirty dozen." These fragile fruits and vegetables require higher amounts of pesticides compared to other produce, so if you just can't afford organic, do spend the extra money when it comes to this list:
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Pears
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cherries
  • Potatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Imported Grapes
The lowest in pesticides are:
  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Corn
  • Pineapple
  • Mangos
  • Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Sweet Potato
  • Honeydew Melon
Will Washing Help? Dr. Oz says that yes, it will help, but not eliminate all traces since it has already been absorbed into the fruit. There are many products you can purchase to wash your produce. Or you can use dishwashing detergent. I have a product from Melaleuca I keep under my sink just for this. One recipe I found uses white or cider vinegar with three percent hydrogen peroxide. Good old vinegar is something every household has. Dr. Oz's Pesticide Wash Solution Recipe is:

1 Cup Water

1 Cup White Vinegar

1 TB Baking Soda

1/2 Lemon

Pour into a spray bottle and spray your produce, and let it sit for 5 minutes (some articles I researched mentioned 20 minutes) before rinsing it off. Vinegar is anti-bacterial and lemon is a natural astringent.

I say yes, organic is better. If I can't afford all organic produce, I have memorized the Dirty Dozen list of foods to avoid. And although they weren't on this list, I have added herbs, spices and teas to my list of purchasing only organic. And now after my research, Ken is on board!

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