Posts Tagged ‘organic foods’

Whole Foods recalls beef after customers get sick

Whole Foods recalled all fresh ground beef sold between June 2 and Aug. 6 at its stores in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

Whole Foods realizes there was a system breakdown and it taking means to ensure this will not happen again. Read the NY Times article.

This is troubling. I expect more out of Whole Foods. Their private label 365 brand canned food is lined with BPA, their 365 brand body care line contains dioxanes (a carcinogen) and they do not mention this on their packaging and have no plans to make a change. On the latter, they are involved in a law suit in California, where its required to have proper package labeling for products containing dioxanes.    

So disappointing, Whole Foods. I am seriously rethinking my loyalty now. I want to be able to go to a store where I do not have to worry about pesticides, dioxanes, e-coli, etc. Even now, I still need to research and read product labels before picking anything up off the shelves no matter where I shop. I did feel safer with WF’s produce and meat, but that system has an obvious breakdown. Sure no one is perfect, but WF has certainly had it’s fair share of negatives in the very recent past. I hope they clean up their act and live up to consumer expectations.

Is your organic food really organic?

“When you buy food with a “USDA organic” label, do you know what you’re getting? Now is a good time to ask such a question, as the USDA just announced Monday it was putting 15 out of 30 federally accredited organic certifiers they audited on probation, allowing them 12 months to make corrections or lose their accreditation. At the heart of the audit for several certifiers were imported foods and ingredients from other countries, including China.” Read the entire article here.

Well, that comes as no surprise – Chinese imports are not up to standards. The main problem here is China does not allow foreign inspectors, and since they have already proven they cannot be trusted to made toys without lead, why in the world would we trust them to meet, or preferably exceed, USDA standards for organic food.

The article states the best way to get truly organic food is from a local farmer where you can visit the farm yourself. Either way, purchasing from the local farmers market is a good thing. You support local agriculture and reduce the amount of pollution that goes into the air when this produce needs to be transported across the country. Many local farmers also go beyond produce and offer a variety of meats, milk and eggs.

While I shop at Whole Foods each week, I am definitely going to start being more serious about going to the local farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. Plus, the ones in my city go beyond produce stands and have entertainment, stands with other homemade goods and more. So I am certain my 2 year old will also have fun and something we will be able to enjoy as a family.

I am also going to sign us up (well hope to) for the farm co-op. I have been wanting to do this for some time, but was concerned if we would be able to eat everything before it went bad. And with the rising cost of food, now would be a good time to sign on up.

We have also planted a small garden, so I KNOW that will be organic, but I can’t grow everything!

Related Articles
Eating healthy with the rising cost of groceries
Cloned meat, it’s what’s for dinner
Whole Foods private label 365 canned foods contain BPA
Are organic foods healthier?
Is organic food better for you?
4 out of 5 Sunscreens Do Not Work
Lead in your garden hose

Are Organic Foods Healthier?

Yes, and significantly so. The organic food market is one of the fastest growing industries because people are not only concerned about their health, but for the environment as well. And really, whatever affects the environment, eventually affects your health. Now there are more reasons than ever to eat organic foods. When you eat organic food, you are not only reducing your exposure to pesticides, but you also increase your intake of nutrients.

In 1998, a review of 34 studies comparing organic and conventional foods found organics to have higher protein quality 100% of the studies, higher levels of vitamin C in 58% of studies and 5-20% higher mineral levels for all but 2 minerals. In some instances, mineral content in organic foods were significantly higher compared to conventional foods, and iron content was three times higher!

“A review of 41 studies comparing the nutritional value of organically to conventionally grown fruits, vegetables and grains, also indicates organic crops provide substantially more of several nutrients, including:
• 27% more vitamin C
• 21.1% more iron
• 29.3% more magnesium
• 13.6% more phosphorus” (ref 1)

Additionally, lab tests show that conventional means use chemicals that may have the ability to cause certain mutations leading to the development of cancer.

Organics and Children’s Health
Studies have been done on the pesticide levels found in children in the US. These studies concluded that millions of American children are exposed to levels of pesticides through their food at levels exceeding what is considered safe.

“Some of these pesticides are known to be neurotoxic, able to cause harm to the developing brain and nervous system. Additionally, some researchers feel that children and adolescents may be especially vulnerable to the cancer-causing effects of certain pesticides since the body is more sensitive to the impact of these materials during periods of high growth rates and breast development.” (ref 2)

See my other article on this topic.
Is Organic Food Better for You? 

References:
Popularity of Organic Foods (1)
Why Organic Foods are better for your health (2)
Everything you need to know about Organic Foods
Environmental Working Group’s website on Organic Food

Is Organic Food Better for You?

Since 1990, sales of organic products have risen at a rate of 20% annually. 70% of Americans buy organics occasionally and 25% buy them on a weekly basis. I fall into the latter category. But is this just a craze or what’s all the fuss?

Research is showing how damaging even low-level pesticide exposure can be, especially to children and fetuses whose delicate immune systems are still developing. Pesticide exposure can cause neurological damage, cancer, birth defects, and more.

Fruits & Veggies
If that is not enough, research is also showing that conventional produce is lacking in nutrients compared to its organic counterpart. Pesticides and fertilizers can interrupt their production of the phytochemicals (vitamins and antioxidants). Organic produce use these phytochemicals to strengthen their resistance to bugs and weeds. Interesting, isn’t it? We are taking away from the plant’s own natural defense mechanism when we use fertilizers and pesticides.

The use of pesticides and fertilizers is harmful to the environment as well. They take years to get out of the soil and some never leave. These pesticides are washed away and get into public water supply.

Meats, Eggs & Dairy
No they are not treated with pesticides, but the food they eat is, and they are treated with hormones and antibiotics which are not healthy for the animal or humans. When you do something too quickly it affects the quality, right? Same thing when you use hormones to speed up the growth of animals for food.

Antibiotics are also bad for our health and the environment. Water run off from stockyards carry the antibiotics into our soil and water supply. When this happens, bacteria learns how to fight off these antibiotics and mutate to become resistant to them. Sound familiar? That is how we get drug-resistant infections and illness. It’s why the flu shot is not reliable (I think the flu shot is crap anyway – see my article on this).

Buy beef from cows that have been GRASS-FED in an open pasture; and range-free chickens and eggs. Preferably milk and other dairy should be organic, but at minimum you can buy hormone-free milk. You can definitely taste the difference with organic meat and dairy in my opinion. I had no idea organic milk and organic unprocessed cheese was so good. I can’t go back to conventional milk and cheese just based on the taste.

But Organics are Expensive
Yes they are, but I figure it will all balance out in the end since I feel better and can be more productive when I have more energy. I also figure it’ll be cheaper and easier than chemo!

There are things you can do to save on organics:
1. Buy in bulk (you can freeze what you don’t use, or share with family/friends who are also eating organics)
2. Join a local farm co-op. To find one in your area, check out www.localharvest.org
3. At least buy the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables: peaches, strawberries, nectarines, apples, spinach, celery, pears, sweet bell peppers, cherries, potatoes, lettuce, and imported grapes
4. Shop local farmers markets. To find one in your area, check out www.localharvest.org
5. Grow your own produce, seeds are cheap. Herbs, tomatoes and peppers do very well in most environments. You can even grow them in planters if you have limited space. Freeze or share the surplus. Most of these plants yield lots of produce, so even 1 or 2 plants will go a long way. (see note below about seeds)
6. To expand on the grow-your-own idea, buddy up with a few friends or family and grow different items that you can all share.

Just a note about seeds if you elect to grow your own produce. If you want to truly grow organic produce, you will need to search out organic seeds as they have not been treated with pesticides like conventional seeds. Even if you use conventional seeds, your exposure to pesticides will still be lower since you will not be treating the plant once it grows. I found this site where you can search for organic seed suppliers. A Google search for organic seeds will also turn up many ways to purchase organic seeds online.

The Bottom Line
Pesticide, fertilizer, antibiotic and hormone use in our food supply is bad for human consumption, our health and for the environment. The US is lagging way behind other countries in banning the use of these substances. The greater the demand is for organics, the more that will be produced making prices come down as well. This is the way food should be anyway, just as natural as the day God put them on this Earth.

Environmental Working Group’s Food News on Pesticides and Organics
The Truth About Organic Foods, Redbook Magazine