Organic or not to Organic?

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Choosing healthy food, and conscious eating has always been important to myself and my family for many years. With new information released daily on the potential harmful ingredients, additives, and pesticides that are in and on our food, I am being very careful, and trying to find the best solutions while grocery shopping. I came across this article on the “Top 5 Myths About Going Organic” on Southbeachdiet.com, and I thought it was very helpful in offering useful information on what to look for in organic food.

“As new studies emerge about organic foods, there is continuing discussion over whether they’re more nutritious than conventionally grown foods. But one thing’s for sure: If you’re concerned about what’s in the food you’re eating, and you care about preserving our planet, you may want to consider eating more organic food. Organic farmers do not use fertilizers or pesticides to help grow their produce. They also raise their livestock without hormones or antibiotics. By eating organic, you ingest fewer toxins than you would if you eat nonorganic. Organic farming promotes “sustainable” agricultural methods that do not harm the environment and it helps reduce pollution (organic production requires 20 percent less fossil fuel than chemical production). To help you make healthier food choices for yourself and your family, we give you the facts behind these top myths on eating organic:

Myth #1: Foods with an “Organic” label are 100% organic.
These days, you’ll find a variety of food products at the grocery store boasting that they are “organic.” If you see a label that simply says “organic,” this means the item contains some organic ingredients, but that it is not guaranteed “100% organic.” When shopping, look for products that carry the little green or black seal that reads “USDA Organic.” The seal means that a product has a valid organic certificate from a National Organic Program (NOP) accredited certifying agent or from an international trade partnership with the United States and that it will have 95% or more organic content. For more information on organic labeling and how products are certified, visit this USDA site.

Myth #2: Organic foods have more nutrients than conventional foods.
While conventionally grown produce provides disease-fighting antioxidant vitamins and essential minerals, research shows that some organic produce can have higher levels of nutrients than conventionally grown foods because of the quality of the soil it’s grown in (studies have shown that applying chemical fertilizers to soil can reduce its nutrient density). That said, a 2012 study from Stanford University showed that organic produce is no more nutritious than conventionally grown foods. The study found that while conventional fruits and vegetables have more pesticide residue, there were no major differences in nutrient levels between them and organically grown foods. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, about 30-35 percent of the time, there’s no statistical difference in nutrients between organic and nonorganic foods. Although the debate continues on whether organic food is more nutritious than conventionally grown food, there’s no debating the health benefits of eating vegetables and fruits, organic or not.

Myth #3: Organic food is more expensive.
It is fair to say that some organic food can be expensive, but that doesn’t take into account the ultimate cost of eating an unhealthy diet. While some organic foods may have a slightly higher price tag, you can still enjoy the foods you love without breaking your budget, especially if you do a little planning ahead of time. Many supermarket chains that carry organic produce offer discounts and sales on these products from time to time. Familiarize yourself with your grocery store circular to see what’s on sale and take advantage of the coupons. In addition, food co-ops and community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs provide significant discounts on organic foods and they help support local farmers. If you’re on a tight budget, wait until late afternoon to shop at your local farmers’ market; farmers are more likely to give you a better bargain at this time because they prefer not to carry their produce back to the farm…”

To read the full article, and the rest of the myths, please click here.

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I also came across this excellent article on WellnessMama.com, outlining the best produce to buy organic, and also how to properly wash your fruits and veggies. Wellness Mama even provides a recipe to make a Fruit and Vegetable Wash (+Preserver) to clean your produce.

“… The simplest and least expensive natural produce cleaner is plain white vinegar. For most produce with a skin, this is all I use. I’ll place the fruits and veggies in a freshly cleaned kitchen sink (or a large bowl), fill with water, and add 1 cup of white vinegar.

I let soak for up to an hour, scrub gently and rinse.

To prevent decay, I let dry fully before returning to the fridge…”

To read the full article with an extensive list of how to wash fruits and vegetables properly, please click here.

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