Friday, February 1, 2013

Organic or not?

Organic food has got everyone interested lately, and I’m glad!  These foods really have a lot more benefits than your average foods. They are packed with more nutrients, and they don’t have any pesticide residues or antibiotics in them. Overall they are stronger, healthier plants and animals. And who doesn’t want to eat the best food possible?

When I say organic foods I am talking about food that it is grown/raised to impact the environment as little as possible.  These foods are grown in a more natural way (using natural methods of growing vs. chemical/mechanical methods). These farmers don’t use harsh pesticides and fertilizers on their produce, and they use a more humane way to raise animals. For example, they may feed their cows grass instead of grain, which helps prevent illness and digestion problems.  Or maybe they use ladybugs to kill their pests instead of chemicals. Many farms and food corporations choose to use pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics on their animals because it is the cheaper and a less labor intensive route. But is the savings really worth your health?

When it comes to nutrition, organic does out weigh non organic. For example an organic strawberry will have more vitamins C, and more polyphenols (cancer fighting nutrients) than a non-organic strawberry. This organic strawberry needs to fight harder to survive than another strawberry being fertilized and sprayed with pesticides, making it stronger and more dense in nutrients. Organic grass fed beef will have less fat, more omega 3 fatty acids. It will also contain more vitamin E than non-organic beef, which is injected with vitamins E, go figure.

Just think about it for a minute… Would you rather eat a strawberry grown with water and sunlight, or pesticides and man-made sunlight? Does a hamburger sound better made from a cow that gets exercise and eats grass like it was born to do, or one that never sees daylight and is fed corn, which is not even digestible by cows?

Even thought this sounds like an obvious choice, buying organic can be challenging. The food tends to spoil faster than non-organic foods, and organic will definitely cost you more. You need to pick your battles and find what works for you.

The Dirty Dozen is a list that makes up the fruits and veggies that contain the most pesticide residues. These are harder to grow and require more help from farmers. In other words, these should be your first choice when buying organic:

Sweet Bell Peppers

There is also the Clean Fifteen list, which are the fruits and veggies with the least amount of pesticides used. These are normally ok if bought non-organic :

Sweet peas
Sweet potatoes
Winter squash

Now go visit the organic section of your local grocery store!

Also, keep in mind that if you ever have any questions about my writing, or want more information on any of these topics just ask! 

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