07 June 2012

A Summary on Organic


With recent talk about pink slime (processed meat by-product) and The Dirty Dozen, we wanted to dig into the subject of Organic food.  What is it?  What are the benefits of eating organic, and the risks of not?  Which foods are worst?

Definition. Organic food is that which is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers, nor chemically altered in process.  With respect to meat, that includes animals free of antibiotics or growth hormones.  For an organic stamp, food in the US must be 95+% organic in composition.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_food''

There has been no proof that organic food is superior in taste or nutrition, and there’s question as to the harmful effect of eating trace amounts of pesticides, which are deemed allowable by the USDA. In fact, several of the published reasons to go organic are to protect the environment.  And even that is now debated as organic goes mass market.  http://www.organic.org/articles/showarticle/article-206
 
Still many people searching for organic foods want to reduce their cumulative exposure with concern of cancer, and in particular pregnant women and parents of young children where allowable amounts are a concern for developing bodies.  http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/JustOneThing/organic-nonorganic-buy/story?id=13310727#.T9AAMcUrqSo
 
In summary, go organic when you can.  Shop local farms, or look for certified labels in supermarket, but don’t knock yourself out if you can’t be 100% organic.  We take the same stance as we do with whole food, educate yourself and make reasonable changes in your diet to move the dial in the right direction.  Note: In the off-season when more fresh produce is imported, be diligent looking at where the food is coming from, different countries have different standards.  (The Wikipedia link above touches on specific country practices.)

To help you decide what foods to focus on, here are two lists:

“The Dirty Dozen” is a quick list, produced by Environmental Working Group, of foods ranked with the highest pesticide content as reported by the Dept of Agriculture.  The dirty dozen generally includes fruit and vegetables (tree fruits, berries, leafy greens).  More recently the list includes meat and dairy due to chemical additives/hormones and fat content.  For the full list, click here http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/dirty-dozen-foods#fbIndex1

“The Clean 15”, deemed by The Daily Green as "so clean of pesticides you don’t have to buy organic”, include fruit and vegetables many with a thick skin which isn’t eaten such as cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, corn, etc.  For the full list, click here http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/clean-15-foods-2011#fbIndex20

More Sources:
"Understand Organic Food Labels, Benefits, and Claims" http://www.helpguide.org/life/organic_foods_pesticides_gmo.htm

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