Enjoy eating delicious foods? Silly question – who doesn’t? Knowing how to choose foods that not only taste the best, but are also best for you may be more of a challenge.
Educated foodies, farmers, restaurateurs, and consumers are making conscientious decisions to purchase food products based not only on quality, but also with the knowledge of where, how, and by whom their food is produced. People are turning to sustainable foods that represent higher quality, flavor, and freshness. We have debunked the highly processed man-made food mystery. People are finally removing their feet from the table and the blinders from their eyes. I am no longer the lone warrior scrutinizing nutrition labels and ingredient lists at the grocery store. Everyone is looking for products that they trust. So whom shall we turn to?
I have this to say: One nation, a food revolution, with liberty of choice, and justice for organics. Let us continue to demand quality food by taking a stance to support the restaurants, products, and practices that represent high quality freshness and flavor. Personally, organics immediately come to mind when addressing such standards and according to many, organics not only taste better, but may even have proven health benefits.
So what qualifies as organic? Let’s begin by outlining the strict set of standards that the USDA organic label certification tag represents.
• Farmland used to grow produce must be free of chemicals (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.) for at least three (3) years. During the three-year period, they are considered “transitional” and before that they are simply conventional.
• A paper trail insures product is indeed the organic product you expect.
• Organic poultry and beef are raised on organic feed or organically maintained pastures.
• Organic cows and chickens cannot be given growth hormones, stimulants or antibiotics.
• No more than 5% of the ingredients (excluding water and salt) can be conventional, or at least 95% of the product is organic as per the standards of certification.
In a recent Stanford University study to compare pesticide residues, antibiotic resistance, and vitamin and nutrient levels in organic and conventionally produced foods, researchers meta-analyzed more than 245 studies to determine whether eating organic foods was in fact healthier than consuming conventionally grown. The study concluded that, “consumers can markedly reduce their intake of pesticide residues and their exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria by choosing organic produce and meat.” Researchers did not find a significant difference in nutritional makeup between organic and conventional foods.
Not everyone agrees on Stanford’s nutrition findings or lack thereof when it comes to organics. Charles Benbrook, PhD and professor at Washington State University, stated in an August 2012 Environmental Working Group (EWG) publication, that several well-designed studies have proven organic crops have higher concentrations of antioxidants and vitamins compared to conventional crops. According to Benbrook’s article, apples, strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, milk, carrots, and grains contain 10-30 percent higher levels of nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamin C, and phenolic acids. Besides this, they just taste better in my opinion, not to mention the plethora of environmental and health reasons that support buying organic.
The decision is easy and choice is key here. I don’t know about you but my book of wellness insists that taste, quality, and health should never be sacrificed. We the people, as a large force of consumers, can create an enormous demand if we just make sure to support the best products and producers. We can do our part by simply buying what keeps us, and the environment healthiest, and happiest.
Grocers, farmers, manufacturers, and other businesses, in conjunction with supply and demand, have to keep up and keep consumers happy! If you can’t budget for organics, be sure to reference the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” to find what is safest, and where to save in the conventional vs. organic combat.
Where ever you stand, Stanford’s publicity has shed light on some important issues surrounding health and organics. Regardless of whether or not there are significantly higher nutritional benefits in organic vs. non-organic, there are still plenty of reasons to buy organic.
Why choose organic foods?
• Organic food is produced without the use of chemicals, herbicides, fungicides, petroleum, sewage, or sludge-based fertilizers or chemical pesticides.
• Organic food is not bio-engineered, genetically modified (free of GMOs), nor is it irradiated. Animals are fed only organic feed, organically maintained pastures, and are not given antibiotics, hormones or animal by-products.
What a relief!
With this powerful knowledge, we can continue the organic conversation to further explore bigger societal concerns that stem from many preventable negative environmental and long-term health effects. As more people support this realization, more options and lower prices will prevail. Until then, one of the easiest ways to contribute to a healthier future and environment today is by choosing organic.
Do you want to be a part of a food system that protects our water supply, wild life, families, and future? I certainly do and buying organics is a vote for that demand.
Listed below are a few of my favorite products that are affordable and delicious for cooking fast, easy, and healthy. Cooking with these ingredients makes everything taste better. Check back for quick, creative, and delicious recipe posts using healthy products. Until then, mangia bene!
“Best of” Product Recommendation from TheNutritarian.org: