Posts Tagged ‘organic produce’

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
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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

“Drug” to improve health, reduce cancer risk

Amen to this!! Turns out mom and grandma were right all along; eat your fruits and veggies! One interesting point in the article is that the lung cancer rate for smokers taking a supplement with beta carotene actually increased. But no such finding have been discovered with eating food. Very interesting. So ditch unnecessary diet pills, supplements, etc. and enjoy some fresh fruits and vegetables. They are naturals vitamins, health improvers and they taste good too.

Of course there are many more ways to improve health and protect against cancer (like choosing organic foods; cosmetic and personal care products with safe ingredients), but this is a simple and easy first step.

To Produce Good Health, Bite Into Fruit and Veggies
Washington Post
June 25, 2008

Imagine a drug that could whittle your waistline, control blood pressure, keep you regular, protect your heart, strengthen your bones, cut the risk of stroke and possibly help you sidestep some types of cancer. And what if this drug were also easy to obtain and inexpensive, and it even tasted good?

It would be hard to beat, wouldn’t it? There’s no pill with those benefits, but there is food that hits those high nutritional notes. I’m talking, of course, about fruit and vegetables.

Scientists are just beginning to fully understand the power of produce. And the start of summer provides a great opportunity to expand your nutritional horizons by sampling the foods that will come into peak season during the coming months.
Seasonal fruit and vegetables cost less than produce available at other times of year, so they can help stretch your food dollars. Plus, if you pick or grow your own, you can also save money and maybe even burn a few extra calories along the way.

What many people don’t know is that it isn’t only fresh fruit and vegetables that provide health benefits. Studies show that canned, dried and frozen produce have nearly all the same attributes as fresh — provided that you choose products that don’t come slathered with added sugar or laced with lots of extra salt.

Eating more fruit and vegetables sounds like a no-brainer, the kind of common-sense advice that mothers have dished out for generations. Now, 21st-century scientists are beginning to fathom why these foods provide so many benefits.
It has to do with an array of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients –plant-based substances with tongue-twisting names such as anthocyanins and lycopene. Don’t worry about pronouncing them. All you need to know is that these antioxidants are found in red and deep-pink fruit and vegetables. That means pomegranates, red cabbage, cherries, red peppers, watermelon, red grapes and more. They appear to help reduce the risk of some tumors, including prostate cancer. And that’s just for starters.

Green fruit and vegetables, from avocado, pears and limes to okra, green beans and zucchini, are rich in carotenoids. These substances help preserve vision by protecting the retina and gobble up free radicals to help thwart cancer and aging.

Yellow and orange produce is rich in beta carotene, which is converted by the body into Vitamin A. It boosts immunity and protects vision. Count apricots, bananas, papayas, peaches, carrots and butternut squash in this group, which also packs other nutrients. Pineapple, for example, has bromelain, an enzyme that aids in digestion and reduces bloating.

White vegetables and fruit, from jicama to litchi nuts, contain allicin, which helps control blood pressure and cholesterol and may bolster immunity.

But the superstars seem to be cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, arugula, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy, horseradish, wasabi and watercress.

These vegetables contain potent substances that seem to protect against cancer and appear to have antimicrobial activity. In April, scientists reported that substances extracted from broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables thwarted (in the laboratory, at least) the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers as well as 23 of 28 other common microbes and fungi. There’s also evidence that eating cruciferous vegetables may help counteract the suspected cancer-causing chemicals found in grilled food.

Dietary supplement makers have tried to duplicate the health effects of fruit and vegetables, without success. And in one large Scandinavian study, smokers who took supplements with beta carotene had an increased risk of lung cancer compared with those who didn’t take the pills. To date, there have been no reported harmful effects of consuming any of these substances in food.

What makes food better? Scientists believe it comes down to synergy: reactions that take place in the food itself between phytonutrients and vitamins and minerals.
That’s why it’s key to meet the recommended daily intake for fruit and vegetables. Studies suggest that just 25 percent of adults and children in the United States eat enough fruit daily. Only 13 percent get enough vegetables each day.

How much do you need? Forget the old “five-a-day” advice. That was retired in 2005, when the U.S. Dietary Guidelines were updated. Current recommendations are for most adults to eat about two cups daily of fruit (roughly equal to two pieces) and about 2.5 cups of vegetables per day.

The message is simple: If you’re looking for flavor that also is worth its weight in nutritional benefits, reach for fruit and vegetables as often as possible. Or perhaps this Middle Eastern saying puts it best: “A melon for ecstasy!”

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

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