rosecole.jpgby Rose Cole

My grandmother sent me to do some grocery shopping for her the other day, and when I brought back the food with the receipt I thought she was going to have a heart attack right there in the kitchen! I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say a bad word in her life when I heard her suddenly yell: “Blueberries for $7.99! Are they out of their ——- minds?!”

My grandparents have had a garden in their backyards now for over 65 years, and grown a lot of their own produce- and organically I might add. Times have changed since the days that we actually grew our own food, and if we want to get fresh chemical free foods it looks like we have to pay the price.

I had to explain to her that I had gone to my favorite health food store and that the blueberries were grown organically without chemicals and pesticides. To which she replied:

“So shouldn’t they cost less then since they have to put less on them?! Why do they need chemicals anyway? We’ve been growing for over 65 years without chemicals.”

Valid point, I must say.

There are three reasons why I eat organic foods whenever possible.

1. Higher nutritional content
2. Less cancer causing chemicals, nerve poisons and pesticides
3. Better taste

The bad news is that organic foods sometimes cost more, and that’s where the dilemma comes in-

There’s something else to consider though when you’re thinking of buying organic- and it’s something that few of us have ever even thought of. But before I get to that-

There are advantages to eating organic that can potentially make a huge difference in your health. There’s a reason why you can’t go 10 minutes now days without reading or hearing the word.

But organic can sometimes cost more- so are the health advantages worth paying extra for? And are there other reasons why so many people are going organic? Just like everything else in life, there are upsides and downsides here, so I’ll give you the facts and you make the call.

What the heck does “organic” mean anyway? Are the food companies just using a marketing ploy, or is there something to this whole organic craze? Have you ever wondered if the foods in the store labeled “Certified Organic” are really organic, or if they’ve just stuck a sticker on it and hiked up the price?

Yeah, me too, until I learned this:

Basically there are two different plant growing systems, “organic”, and “conventionally grown”. Because there are two different methods for fertilizing and protecting the plants from pests and disease, there is different nutritional value of the crops.

These are quotes from an article in the National Institute of Health, October 29, 2006:

“Organic crops contain a significantly higher amount of certain antioxidants (vitamin C, polyphenols and flavonoids) and minerals than conventional ones. Moreover, there is a lower level of pesticide residues, nitrate and some heavy metal contaminations in organic crops compared to conventional ones.”

“Consequently, it can be concluded that organically produced plant derived food products have a higher nutritional value, including antioxidants than conventional ones. Furthermore, due to the fact that there is a lower level of contamination in organic crops, the risk of diseases caused by contaminated food is significantly reduced.”

What this means is that there is higher nutrient value in organically grown crops.

Further more- not only do studies show that organic fertilization practices produce crops with higher levels of good stuff like ascorbic acid and improved protein quality, but also lower levels of bad stuff like nitrates, than conventionally grown crops.

So what does it actually mean when a food is organic?

Organic refers to the agricultural process – what happens on the farm, and the way the soil is managed, being beneficial to the planet, without pesticides, or chemical fertilizers. Organic food is produced without using conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge and radiation.

And organic isn’t only for fruits and vegetables. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones (YUK!).

Organically grown also means without sewage sludge, which is cheap to buy, and chemical fertilizers, which are both cheap to buy and cheap to transport. This is one of the reasons that conventionally grown can be less expensive.

So how do we really know that a food is organic?

In order for a product to be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier has to inspect the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Even companies that handle or process organic food must be certified before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant. That includes foreign sources, if the food is to be sold in the United States as organically-grown.

Another reason people are buying organic-

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to protect the environmental quality for future generations. Why wreck the planet if it isn’t necessary?!

Let’s be realistic here though…

These days it’s almost impossible to eat 100% organic, but here are some action steps to get more bang for your buck.

Foods best to get organic-

Here are a list of the top most heavily sprayed fruit and vegetable crops. If you were going to start adding in some organic foods, here’s were I’d start.

Strawberries (one of the most heavily sprayed crops)
Spinach (another really heavily sprayed crop)
Cantaloupe
Red Raspberries
Grapes
Winter squash
Apples
Peaches
Pears

Strawberries and Spinach being two of the most heavily sprayed of all! I would definitely pay more to go organic with these two- especially for babies and children.

Other foods worth going organic for-

Meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy

Processed or packaged foods tend to be much higher in pesticide residue.

Butter is another food that I would consider to be well worth paying a little extra for organic. (It doesn’t always cost more I might add.)

According to PAN’s Nowhere to Hide study, butter, cucumbers/pickles, meatloaf, peanuts, popcorn, radishes, spinach, and summer squash should be added to the list you should go organic with first due to high levels of long-lasting pesticides (like DDT) that build up in our bodies.

I recommend reducing your exposure to “persistent organic pollutants” or POPs by switching to the organic versions of butter, cantaloupe, cucumbers/pickles, peanuts, popcorn, radishes, spinach, and squash. These foods produced through conventional means are the most likely to be contaminated with POPs. According to PAN’s Nowhere to Hide study, these foods contain higher levels of long-lasting pesticides (like DDT) that build up in our bodies. (That just doesn’t sound very good. Does it?!)

PCB’s are another toxin that you want to steer clear of found in farm raised salmon and non-organic butter.

Foods you may want to wait on buying organic-

These are some of the least contaminated crops:

Asparagus
Avocados
Bananas
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Corn
Kiwi
Mangos
Onions
Pineapples
Papayas
Sweet peas

It’s true, organic is not cheap. But, well- you and your health may not be able to afford not to eat organic.

From Sarah: Rose is incredible nutritionist. For more of her insight and knowledge visit her site->

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