Posts tagged Organic Food

Top 10 Organic Food Buying Tips

I snatched this from OrganicJar, a fabulous website on organic food.

A report hit the news about a month ago stating that based on a research study conducted by the British Food Standards Agency entitled Comparison of composition (nutrients and other substances) of organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs: a systematic review of the available literature (pdf)., organic food was found to be no more nutritious than conventionally grown food. One thing you might want to consider when making your decision is that the study failed to take into account the insurmountable amount of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that are used to grow food. There were other flaws (see the article – In Defense of Organic Food). While the nutrients may be the same, with organic food you do not damage your cells by ingesting these highly toxic chemicals. Conventional farming also “gives animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth. according to the Mayo Clinic.” I’ve written about this in previous blogs but please do your own research.

Again here are some benefits to consider when deciding on whether or not to eat organic food.
Organic Farmers:
– Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.
– Use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.
– Rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.
– Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors.
– Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing — to help minimize disease.

Top 10 Organic Food Buying Tips

Whether you’re already a fan of organic foods or you just want to shop wisely and handle your food safely, consider these tips:
Buy fruits and vegetables in season to ensure the highest quality.
Also, try to buy your produce the day it’s delivered to market to ensure that you’re buying the freshest food possible. Ask your grocer what day new produce arrives.
Read food labels carefully.
Just because a product says it’s organic or contains organic ingredients doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthier alternative. Some organic products may still be high in sugar, salt, fat or calories.
Don’t confuse natural foods with organic foods.
Only those products with the “USDA Organic” label have met USDA standards.
Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly with running water to reduce the amount of dirt and bacteria.
If appropriate, use a small scrub brush — for example, before eating apples, potatoes, cucumbers or other produce in which you eat the outer skin.
If you’re concerned about pesticides, peel your fruits and vegetables and trim outer leaves of leafy vegetables in addition to washing them thoroughly.
Keep in mind that peeling your fruits and vegetables may also reduce the amount of nutrients and fiber. Some pesticide residue also collects in fat, so remove fat from meat and the skin from poultry and fish.
Buy organic food at farmer’s markets when you can.
Not only is this a great way to buy organic food that’s in season but you get to talk to the farmers directly about how the food is grown. Plus you support the farmers who have invested in organic growing processes.
Buy in bulk.
Whether you’re shopping at a natural foods store, supermarket or co-op, buying in bulk is a great way to stretch your food dollar. For beans, grains, lentils and nuts, head straight for the bulk containers. Just make sure you have a cool, dry place in your kitchen to store your dry goods for a few months. Not every item you can buy in bulk is worth the bother. Do the math.
Be flexible.
To nab the best deals on organic foods you need to be a focused, yet flexible, shopper. Always shop with a list but never be afraid to snap up a good bargain when you see one. Write “three vegetables” on your shopping list and then look around at store specials. Do the same for proteins and grains. Never ever buy an item that you don’t need just because it’s on sale or you have a coupon.
Shop online.
Can’t find a local source for the organic food you want? Don’t give up. Hop online. You may be able to order the organic foods that you want online.The GreenPeople directory from the Organic Consumer Association is a good place to begin your online search for affordable organic foods. A roundup of additional organic directories is also available on the site. And be sure to check out this list of cyber-markets offering organic products from Organic Kitchen. Shop wisely.
Grow your own.
If you’re really serious about garden-fresh organic produce, why not plant your own? Seeds are available from companies such as Seeds of Change. And Organic Kitchen has a big roundup of organic gardening tips. Start small. Carrots, radishes and beets are easy to grow.

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A Thought on Food and Pollution

By Julie Gengo

While planting out own veggies or buying from farmers markets are excellent ways to help reduce our carbon footprint, going green with food should also refer to the food itself. Polluting our own bodies with unhealthy choices and food that contains more non-food items than food items is one way that we can take care of our inner selves so that we can have the brain capacity to deal with the outside world…..just a thought.

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Why Go Organic?

two women on the fruit market
As a healthy foods advocate, many people often ask me whether or not it really makes a difference if they eat organic food? My response has always been an emphatic yes! There are several reasons why eating organic is not only recommended but also essential to maintaining personal vibrant health and the health of our planet.

Primarily, organic foods are grown without the use of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and inorganic fertilizers, which not only protects the food, but also preserves the soil, keeping it well-stocked with vital nutrients that end up in what you eat. Chemical pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and other inorganic additives show up in the food when it is used in the growing/raising process which will accumulate in your body when you eat them. These chemicals also interrupt the microbiotic activity in the soil according to The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). MOFGA also documents that: “Natural, undisturbed soil is alive with microbiotic organisms that exist in harmony with the native plant life and the inorganic minerals that provide the soil’s substrate.”

If avoiding chemicals and preserving soil nutrients are not good enough reasons, maybe avoiding GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) ingredients would be? Over the years, the amount of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and inorganic fertilizers used on crops grown in the United State and Canada has also rapidly accelerated due to the introduction of GMOs into our food supply. Happily, Organic foods DO NOT contain GMO ingredients.

It’s not just the avoidance of chemicals that is of concern but also the food and ingredients made from GMO crops that are strongly questionable for health safety reasons.

Against strong opposition from the scientific community, the FDA approved GMOs in 1992 for commercial use labeling them as GRAS or “Generally Recognized as Safe.” However, the GRAS label was given without meeting the guidelines of undergoing a substantial amount of peer-reviewed published studies and by achieving an overwhelming consensus among the scientific community that the product is safe. As of today, food grown and manufactured from GMO ingredients has not been adequately tested on the human body and there is no clear scientific evidence supporting its safety for human consumption. In fact there is credible evidence showcasing how GMO foods are indeed harmful. Another disturbing point is that foods containing GMO ingredients do not have to be labeled and there are no required review processes or regulation protocols currently in practice.

We have essentially become human guinea pigs and there are more and more accounts of people getting sick. According to a report published by the Institute for Responsible Technology, The FDA’s “Non-Regulation” Of GM(O) Foods, “Their influence on health has been largely ignored, but recent studies show serious problems. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been linked to thousands of toxic or allergic-type reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals. Nearly every independent animal feeding safety study shows adverse or unexplained effects.” This information has been well documented in Jeffrey M. Smith’s book, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods.

When it comes to making a decision between organic and conventional, the choice is clear – choose organic for your own health and for the health of the planet and future generations. If money is an issue, the last place you want to cut back on is on the quality of the food you buy and consume. After all you are what you eat, and replacing organic food with mass-produced chemically enhanced produce and ingredients will cause your body more harm down the road, which in turn increases the dollar amount you spend on healthcare. Spending a little more money now will save you a lot of money and illnesses later. Also anecdotally and from personal experience organic food just tastes better!

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Genetically Modified (GM) Foods – Another Reason to Buy Organic

Genetically modified corn food concept with hypodermic needle

By Julie Gengo, HealthWalk™ Marketing Coordinator

I remember watching a PBS documentary in 2001 called Harvest of Fear. This 2-hour special on genetically-modified (GM) foods thoroughly presented potential dangers to this planet and its inhabitants alike when and if these crops were allowed to grow in abundance. After seeing this, I was certain that our government and its agencies (FDA, USDA, EPA, Dept. of Agriculture) would prohibit rapid expansion and provide adequate testing of each new item. I also thought that if Americans knew of these dangers that we would follow our European counter parts in banning GM crops and banning together to not allow ‘Frankenfoods’ into our food chain.

As it turns out, most people didn’t see this documentary, in fact eight years later, many people are not aware of what a genetically modified organism (GMO) is; what foods are involved in this technology; and how harmful it is to the planet and our bodies. Since this documentary aired, within the U.S., 81-86%of all corn, 88-90% of all soybean and 81-93% of all upland cotton are GM crops. That is an astounding amount considering what we now know about the ramifications to the environment and the negative health effects these crops have posed. In addition to soybeans, cotton and corn, rice, sugar beets, canola, and potatoes are also among the predominant GM crop planted in the U.S. and Canada.

What are GMOs and GM Foods?

From Wikipedia: “a genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.” The environmental organization, Environmental Commons explains, “genetic engineering is a process whereby genes from one organism are moved into the genome of another organism. In the case of genetically engineered foods, genes from bacteria or other plants or other organisms are moved into crop varieties with the assistance of a viral vector. This provides herbicide-tolerance and/or insect resistance to existing domesticated plant varieties. In many cases, biotechnology breaks down natural species boundaries. The genes inserted cannot be removed and thus become released into the environment during the pollination process.”

In other words, the DNA within seeds is spliced and inserted with other genes that serve a specific purpose. For instance, a common gene used is the family of toxin proteins derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that is resistant to glyphosphate (a pesticide more commonly known as Roundup made by Monsanto). This gene creates a plant that is ‘Roundup Ready’ or Roundup resistant. When the pesticide is sprayed on the plant, the plant is unscathed however the surrounding weeds die thus reducing production costs and creating higher yields. In theory, the use of this pesticide would diminish, as the plant would also have a natural ability to fight off the insects.

Invasion of Superweeds, Superbugs and Superbacteria:

Unfortunately what was predicted back in the early days of GM experimentation failed to materialize. Weeds have become superweeds. Due to unavoidable cross-pollination, these weeds have absorbed the same GM genes also becoming resistant to Roundup.

Because of these superweeds, the use of pesticides has actually gone up so much so that in the United States critics suggest that the regulatory agency that monitors for effects on the quality of life due to pesticide use has lost its power to test for levels of pesticides in foods, damage to the environment and to the public. This regulation was quietly removed from the Department of Agriculture’s jurisdiction in 2008 for so-called budgetary reasons. According to an article posted in the Chicago Times: “The Bush administration has abruptly halted a government program that tests the levels of pesticides in fruits, vegetables and field crops, arguing that the $8 million-a-year program is too expensive — a decision critics say could make it harder to protect consumers from chemicals in their food. Data from the 18-year-old Agricultural Chemical Usage Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture were collected until this year, and the Environmental Protection Agency used the data to set safe levels of pesticides in food.”

Insects and bacteria have also become super-resistant requiring a significant increase in the amounts of insecticides into the environment and into our bodies.

What Foods Contain GM Ingredients?

Major brands such as Nabisco®, Frito-Lay®, Proctor & Gamble, and Kraft® are using genetically engineered byproducts. In fact, most major brands including private label brands of bread, crackers, cereals, canned soups or frozen dinners contain GM ingredients. And to protect the chemical companies that create these foods, the U.S. government has allowed genetically modified organisms to be released into our food supply without adequate labeling or testing.

GM and GMO Testing and Regulation:

A report prepared by Brian Tokar for the Institute for Social Ecology Biotechnology Project in June 2006 finds that “no federal laws have been passed to specifically regulate genetically-engineered crops. Since 1986, responsibility for GE foods and crops has been divided among three federal agencies (USDA-APHIS, EPA, FDA), based upon preexisting statutes.” These statues are antiquated and offer no regulation for protection or scrutiny to the public and environment.

GM Food Safety

What is most astonishing from Toker’s report is that “GE crops are only subject to “voluntary consultations” with companies who choose to consult with the agency about their products. Because the consultations are voluntary, FDA does not specify a required list of studies or test methods, but instead accepts superficial in-house summaries of whatever testing the company has chosen to do. FDA requests for additional data sometimes go unfulfilled.”

In essence, we humans have been the testing sites or guinea pigs for Frankenfoods. Since introduction of GMOs into the marketplace in 1996, numerous studies have since shown significant negative and toxic effects of ingesting GM ingredients as well as being exposed to increased amounts of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides.

In a 2001 article entitled: “Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients – Health Concerns & GMO Food; genetically modified” by Jule Klotter, one of the most common problems is newly developed allergins to foods once deemed low on the allergy list. The FDA has concluded: “Genetic engineering may transfer new and unidentified proteins from one food into another, triggering allergic reactions. Millions of Americans who are sensitive to allergens will have no way of identifying or protecting themselves from offending foods. Allergic reactions can cause more than simple discomfort — they can result in life-threatening anaphylactic shock.” As an example, Trypsin-inhibitor, a major allergen with anti-nutritional effects, was 26.7% higher in Monsanto’s RR soybeans. The York Nutritional Laboratory, which specializes in food sensitivity, reported a 50% increase in soy allergies in 1999-2000.

Klotter also discloses that soybeans aren’t the only problem as scientists have also found that genetically-engineered potatoes have caused “significant damage” to rats among other genetically-engineered food crops.

The Institute for Responsible Technology has published a comprehensive pamphlet, Unintended GMO Health Risks, which sums up the reasons why we should avoid GM foods: They have been linked to thousands of toxic and allergenic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals.” The guide briefly outlines information on allergic reactions to GM foods as well as liver and reproductive problems, sterility, disease, death and even infant mortality linked to GMO consumption.

The evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of reducing and eliminating GM foods from your diet. The good news is that organic foods do not contain GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and other toxic elements that are proven to harm the body.

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