Does Organic Matter?

March 18, 2013
Learn all about the term ?organic? and when and why it matters. Learn about some resources that will support you in knowing when ?organic? is merely marketing, and when it can actually serve your health journey.

Organically grown and organically fed absolutely matters.?? That?s the short story, but let?s take a closer look at this hot topic.

First, what DOES ?organic? mean? The definition of ?organic,? according to the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), is that animal products sold or labeled as organically produced are not given any kind of antibiotics or growth hormones, are only fed with organic feed and are not administered any type of medication aside from vaccinations or to treat an illness. Fruits and vegetables that are labeled and sold as organic are grown without using most pesticides or fertilizers with synthetic ingredients; there is no irradiation treatment; seeds and transplants are chemical-free; the fertilizer is natural. Note that ONLY packaged products that are labeled as ?100% Organic? are guaranteed to be GMO-free (and no, GMO?s are not a friendly thing to invite into your body?another topic for another day).

Now, it?s important for me to point out here that just because something says ?organic? does not mean that it?s good for you. ?Organic? has developed this perceived halo of health – that beckons to the health-conscious and/or earth-conscious consumer ? that is not always well-deserved. Industrial food suppliers have jumped on the bandwagon of the ?organic? label, largely because they care about profits, not sustainability or your health. There is nothing health-promoting about organic pop tarts, organic soda, or organic pretzels. These items are NOT Food Sass?. As one of my heroines, NYU Professor Marion Nestle, stated so aptly: ?organic junk food is still junk food.?

Is organically grown produce more healthful? As in so many areas of nutrition and health, the debate continues here because the studies are mixed. However, a 2007 study by Newcastle University in the UK found that organic produce has 40 percent higher levels of some nutrients (including vitamin C, zinc and iron) and a 2003 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that organically grown berries have 58 percent more polyphenols (antioxidants that help prevent cardiovascular disease) and up to 52 percent higher levels of vitamin C than those conventionally grown. And, very importantly, choosing organic produce also significantly lowers your exposure to pesticides. And, as stated in my last post on detoxification, fewer toxins in the body is ALWAYS better.

However, we all know that organic requires more ca-CHING ($$$) at the cash register. So, let?s talk about where organic matters most. If I could only buy one food as organic, it would be dairy products. The pesticides that are in the feed that a ?conventional? cow eats end up concentrating in the animal?s body, including in its milk. Concentration power in your brain is good; concentration of pesticides in your food is not good. Next would be organic animal meats, again because of the concentration issue. When looking at produce (fruits & veggies), I turn to two main resources. One resource is the Environmental Working Group?s annual listing of the ?Clean Fifteen? and ?Dirty Dozen? as outlined in their Shopper?s Guide to Pesticides. This provides you with a succinct listing of fruits & veggies that tend to have very high pesticide residues, those with low pesticide residues, and those in-between. Out of this, you realize that you should focus your spending dollars on organic apples, but not on organic onions. Good to know. Another good resource is the What?s On My Food site, which is a searchable database designed to make the public problem of pesticide exposure visible and more understandable.

Folks, the amount and variety of pesticides that we are consuming is NOT healthy. Ingesting chemicals that kill bugs is really not a great tactic for promoting health. Would you sit down at the table and spray Raid into your mouth? Of course not. But, indirectly, that is what we are doing with our conventional food supply. Use this post, and the resources listed, to start limiting your exposure to these harmful chemicals. Honor your Body Sass? and your body will thank you for it!

The food you eat builds your body, every day, for better or for worse. Make choices for health!

With love & food as nature intended,


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