Apr 8, 2010

Why choose Organic foods? updated

With so many "Super" stores out there, Wal mart, Target, & mass market grocery stores all over why take the extra time and slight cost increase to buy organic? Well, my #1 reason is taste. Fresh organic produce tastes amazing, IMHO organic beats out non-organic in taste. #2 It supports local farmers. The organic produce in your local grocery store comes from people in your neck of the woods that work their behinds off to make sure that you get the best product that there is to offer. #3 Certified organic produce is free from pesticides, fertilizers with growth activators, and hormones used to produce growth.

Organic foods should be a part of your life. If you aren't eating organic what are you putting in your body? The truth is you don't really know. You could be eating pesticides, hormones, fungicides, herbicides, & antibiotics among other things. That doesn't mean that everything you eat that isn't certified organic has all of these things in it. I'm just speculating that it could.

You don't need to change everything in your fridge. I know it's not plausible for large families to buy exclusively organic all of the time. I know that there are budget constraints on most of us at this time. I've got just a few tips for you...

I'm going to list some foods that are considered to be the foods most vulnerable to the addition of too many pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics etc. This list of food items where home washing and cooking practices are unlikely to result in reduction of the chemical or hormonal residues:

Beef, chicken and pork
Dairy products: Milk, cheese and butter
Strawberries, raspberries and cherries
Apples and pears
Spinach and salad greens
Stone fruits: Peaches, nectarines, apricots, and cherries
Peppers (capsicums), green and red

If you change nothing else, add these foods to your grocery list and try organic whenever possible.

Another bonus to choosing organic is that you will have a greater variety of FRESH seasonal produce. When fruits and veggies are in season they are less expensive by far, generally a steal. When a fruit or vegetable is picked it starts losing its nutrients. If the produce is grown locally it has less distance to go, and therefore will retain more of its nutrients and generally be in better condition.

Let's talk for just a minute about products that are certified organic. It seems more and more labels now say that the ingredients are "organic". Let's throw a little bit of light on the subject. If a product is less than seventy percent organic, the organic ingredients may be listed on the side of the package but the packaging cannot say "organic" on the front. If the product is organic there is a USDA Seal that will verify that the product is filled with at LEAST 95% organically grown ingredients. Just because a product says it is "Natural" does not mean it's organic. It might have some organically grown parts, but unless it has that wonderful USDA seal it is not certified organic.

Can you tell me the difference between "free-range" and "certified organic"? Anyone... anyone...? Free-range meat only means that it had access to the outdoors. Yep, that's it. It doesn't control their diet, if they had growth hormones, anything like that. Free-range meat is generally on a controlled diet, not a natural diet. Free-range Organic meat has access to the outdoors and is on a natural diet. By that I mean eating organic things that it would normally eat. Not being force fed corn, dry straw, whatever they can find to feed them. No extra hormones are given, no plumping of the meat, no injections of any kind. Free-range organic is definitely the way to go if you can afford it.

Be objective and realistic in your choice to go organic. Think of your body, and what you're putting in it. Know your limits, if you can't afford it, figure out what pieces to change out. Think of your family, wouldn't you rather give your child or husband, or even dog, cat or bird, food that you know will nourish them? Why wouldn't you want that? Food with the vital nutrients that they need to grow healthy and strong. Is there even a choice here? Why would you choose any differently? If not for you, do it for them. Give them what they need.

Try growing a garden. Start small, with a little bit of land and some TLC you can save yourself loads of grocery bill. Grow tomatoes, peas, green beans, bell peppers, melons, squash, cucumbers, broccoli; think of how wonderful things from the garden taste. My parents have the greatest neighbors every year they grow the biggest zucchini I've ever seen. It's always delicious, and has so much more flavor than hitting the grocery store and picking up a teeny tiny zucchini that costs $2 a lb.

Bottom line is that this is my personal opinion. These are all stats I've found in books and online. I feel like going organic when possible is the best thing for me, and my family. We've got a garden going this year, and you will get to see and hear all about it as it grows.

I hope that I've made you think a little bit. It all comes down to you. What you choose has to be the best decision for you and yours.

Update: after writing this post the "Dirty dozen" list for 2010 came out. I'm adding it so you can see what has stayed the same, and the few that have changed.

1. Celery
Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals (64 of them!) that are used on crops. Buy organic celery, or choose alternatives like broccoli, radishes, and onions.

2. Peaches
Multiple pesticides (as many as 62 of them) are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, tangerines, oranges, and grapefruit.

3. Strawberries
If you buy strawberries, especially out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that have less-stringent regulations for pesticide use. 59 pesticides have been detected in residue on strawberries. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include kiwi and pineapples.

4. Apples
Like peaches, apples are typically grown with poisons to kill a variety of pests, from fungi to insects. Tests have found 42 different pesticides as residue on apples. Scrubbing and peeling doesn't eliminate chemical residue completely, so it's best to buy organic when it comes to apples. Peeling a fruit or vegetable also strips away many of their beneficial nutrients. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, bananas, and tangerines.

5. Blueberries
New on the Dirty Dozen list in 2010, blueberries are treated with as many as 52 pesticides, making them one of the dirtiest berries on the market.

6. Nectarines
With 33 different types of pesticides found on nectarines, they rank up there with apples and peaches among the dirtiest tree fruit. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include, watermelon, papaya, and mango.

7. Bell peppers
Peppers have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They're often heavily sprayed with insecticides. (Tests have found 49 different pesticides on sweet bell peppers.) Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include green peas, broccoli, and cabbage.

8. Spinach
New on the list for 2010, spinach can be laced with as many as 48 different pesticides, making it one of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable.

9. Kale
Traditionally, kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and disease, but it was found to have high amounts of pesticide residue when tested this year. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include cabbage, asparagus, and broccoli.

10. Cherries
Even locally grown cherries are not necessarily safe. In fact, in one survey in recent years, cherries grown in the U.S. were found to have three times more pesticide residue then imported cherries. Government testing has found 42 different pesticides on cherries. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include raspberries and cranberries.

11. Potatoes
America's popular spud reappears on the 2010 Dirty Dozen list, after a year hiatus. America's favorite vegetable can be laced with as many as 37 different pesticides. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include eggplant, cabbage, and earthy mushrooms.

12. Grapes
Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically. Only imported grapes make the 2010 Dirty Dozen list. Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape's thin skin. Remember, wine is made from grapes, which testing shows can harbor as many as 34 different pesticides. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include kiwi and raspberries.

*Dirty Dozen list from Yahoo.com

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