What is all the fuss about organic and what does it mean?
As defined by the Mayo Clinic:
The USDA Organic seal can be used if the item is made with 95% or more organic ingredients as well. "All Natural", "Free-Range", and "Hormone-Free" are required to be truthful, but it does not mean organic.
The item can say 100% Organic if it is completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
Are conventionally grown foods harmful?
"Many EPA-approved pesticides were registered long before extensive researched linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Now, the EPA considers 60% of all herbicides, 90% of all fungicides, and 30% of all insecticides as potentially cancer-causing. A 1987 National Academy of Sciences report estimated that pesticides might cause an extra 1.4 million cancer cases among Americans over their lifetimes. In California, 5 of the top 9 pesticides used on cotton are cancer-causing chemicals, according to the Pesticide Action Network North America." **
Is there a nutritional difference? *
There have been a mix of results in different studies about whether or not organic means higher nutrients. A study at Rutgers University found that organic produce contained an average of 83% more nutrients. A few examples of organic produce vs commercially-grown:
Tomatoes-5x more calcium, 12x more magnesium, 3x more potassium, 68x more manganese, 1900x more iron
Spinach-2x more calcium, 5.5x more magnesium, 3x more potassium, 117x more manganese, 83x more iron
Lettuce-3.5 x more calcium, 3 x more magnesium, 3x more potassium, 169x more manganese, 57x more iron
Although organic foods cost more, mineral for mineral they may be worth the price! Many claim that organic foods taste better as well without the waxes and chemicals, which often taste bitter, and with high mineral content. Because this may vary from soil to soil, it is recommended to eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes to help obtain the nutrients.
Considering the above information, why wouldn't we all eat organic foods? The biggest reason is price. Like many of you, I am on a tight budget every month, but I want to eat healthy. These are the things I do:
1. Buy organic when it's a decent price.
Costco sells organic greens in 1 lb containers for under $4! I think I buy one per week.
2. Stick to the short list.
Foods with thick skin or peels have a natural barrier from the pesticides. Although it would be great to buy everything organic, the budget doesn't always allow. Here is a list for your reference in order of highest to lowest pesticide load:
Fruits: Peaches, Apples, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Grapes, Pears, Raspberries, Plums, Oranges, Tangerine, Cantaloupe, Lemon, Honeydew, Grapefruit, Watermelon, Blueberries
Vegetables: Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Lettuce, Spinach, Potatoes, Carrots, Green Beans, Hot Peppers, Cucumbers, Cauliflower, Mushrooms, Winter Squash, Tomatoes, Sweet Potatoes
Dairy: Organic milk is free of antibiotics, added hormones, and human growth hormones (GMO).
Meat: Also free of antibiotics, added hormones, and human growth hormones (GMO). These animals are raised more ethically and humanely, meaning they are allowed to range freely--this allows for less disease and therefore, no need for antibiotics. The land that they eat from and live on uses no or less chemicals as well.
That being said, I stick to organic celery, greens (spinach or lettuces), organic dairy (milk, eggs, and yogurt), and organic meat. If I find a good sale, I buy organic!
3. Wash it!
If you buy conventional, wash your produce well. In fact, I've used Fit Fruit and Veggie wash and loved it!
Fit Fruit & Vegetable Wash is 100% Natural and removes 98% more pesticides, waxes, people-handling residues, and other contaminants vs washing with water alone. It is the only fruit & vegetable wash certified kosher and vegan. It rinses away completely leaving no aftertaste or smell. The bowl and strainer, pictured here is great for soaking produce. I have also used my sink many times when I wash my strawberries. I love this wash--it's the next best thing to buying organic produce.
Fit has offered this kit to 5 lucky winners! 1 (12 oz) spray, 2 (32 oz) soaker, 1 bowl with 1 strainer
1. You must be a follower of this blog--this allows for more giveaways in the future!
2. Leave a comment to enter.
3. For extra entries:
Post this giveaway on Facebook--tell us in your comment = 2 additional entries
Do a post on your blog about this giveaway = 3 additional entries
Check back next Wednesday, March 2nd to see if you won!
*Conscious Eating by Gabriel Cousens, MD
** Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, Siegfried Gursche, MH with Zoltan Rona, MD, MSc