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O.M.G. Organic

Let's get the record straight when it comes to ORGANICS!

It’s a new year! So I figured it’s best that we start off on the right foot regarding organics. At this point, most of you know what that oh so convoluted term means but just to clarify, let me give it to you straight up!

As per wonderful Wikepedia, foods claiming to be organic must be free of artificial food additives like sweeteners, flavors and preservatives, and are often processed with fewer artificial methods, materials and conditions, such as chemical ripeningfood irradiation, and genetically modified ingredients. Pesticides are allowed as long as they are not synthetic.

In addition, if livestock are involved, they must be raised humanely with regular access to pasture and without the common use of antibiotics or growth hormones. And their feed must be organic!

Seems pretty straight forward, right? Well, think again. In 2000, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) rolled out its “organic” guidelines. And, here they are:

 "100% Organic"
Can only contain organic ingredients, meaning no antibiotics, hormones, genetic engineering, radiation or synthetic pesticides or fertilizers can be used. Can display the USDA organic logo and/or the specific certifying agent's logo (the USDA hires independent organic certifiers).

"Organic”
Contains 95% organic ingredients, with the balance coming from ingredients on the approved National List. These products can also display the USDA organic logo and/or the certifier's logo.

"Made with Organic Ingredients"
Must be made with at least 70% organic ingredients, three of which must be listed on the package, and the balance must be on the National List. These products may display the certifier's logo but not the USDA organic logo.

Bottom line, even if a product has the USDA organic label, it DOES NOT mean that your food is 100% organic. But I guess the real question is this:

DOES EATING ORGANIC REALLY MATTER???

Well, in September 2012 a controversial Stanford University study concluded that there was no strong evidence to prove that organic foods are more nutritious than or carry fewer health risks than conventional alternatives. Though, consumption can reduce the risk of pesticide exposure. I am sorry, but don’t you think that “reducing the risk of pesticide exposure” is enough to say that organic is truly healthier? I would have to say YES!

That being said, I don’t eat 100% organic. Don’t get me wrong if I could buy 100% organic I would across the board. I relish in farmer’s markets and health food stores. I like to buy my meats (those that I eat) from farms. I like to buy my fish from my local fisherman. But, THAT is just NOT my reality all the time. And quite honestly it is not many people’s reality. So this is what I do:

  • I buy fruits and vegetables with The Dirty Dozen in mind—a glorious guide to pesticides in our produce. So, take strawberries for example, they have a high level of pesticide residues and my kids LOVE strawberries. So, when it comes to those robust bursts of red, I go organic.
  • While I can’t foot the bill for organic animal foods across the board, I ALWAYS buy organic dairy (though an organic version of some cheeses are hard to come by) and when it comes to those meats that we eat, I aim for organic but if it is not an option, I ALWAYS go for the antibiotic and hormone free, vegetarian fed and humanely raised option like Murray’s.
  • When it comes to packaged foods, I aim for organic, whether wholly or partially, but I am ideally hyper-concerned with what ingredients in my food are genetically modified—there are just too many reasons to be wary of GMO’s. And to help me along the way, I typically turn to the Non-GMO Project’s verification system so I can stay clear of those foods containing ingredients that are genetically modified (FYI, corn and soy are at the top of the list and get into most of our food products in some way, shape or form).

 

So, ideally I encourage consumption of organic food, but if you can’t, try what I do or some version of it. In the end, we are what we eat!

Let’s keep this conversation going. Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions. I would love to hear from you! 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Darren Gengarelly Sr. January 07, 2013 at 07:51 PM
Many local schools are replacing whole milk. Is milk the problem? Speaking for myself , my children now ranging from 16-25 have never had anything but whole milk. None have ever had weight or health challenges. Should they be forced to loose a basic rite of choice because so many have no self control?
Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN January 07, 2013 at 07:57 PM
I don't think milk is the real problem behind the obesity epidemic but our government needs to do what they can to reduce insult and because milk is part of school lunch (non-organic mind you—something that I have a real problem with), I agree with this line of attack. If parents spent more time educating themselves and their children perhaps we could cut this epidemic in half.
Darren Gengarelly Sr. January 08, 2013 at 01:34 AM
Thank you.
Rick Hoyt January 08, 2013 at 04:58 AM
As far as milk, I do not consume it, if I could access to raw organic,I would consider this, not the dead pasteurized or homogenized mass produced variety.I drink Hemp Milk, it has the right ratio of Omega 3 To Omega 6.Our family makes every attempt to buy as much "Organic"as possible, buy locally in-season organic.I believe the Obesity problem is due to the Big Agra foods - they lack minerals,vitamins,micronutrients due to depleted soils, then Many are GMO, have pesticides and are irridiated, then you bring them home and cook them - vegetables, further reducing the nutritional value.Your body is starving and can't be satisfied due to the lack of real food and you overeat.Add to that they add MSG - flavor enhancers, that's like crack to your body, makes you eat more, sugar, salt same thing, all this in processed foods.Eat as much raw 100% organic vegetables, juice them when possible.Yes, organic cheese is hard to come by, I favor goat's cheese over cow. Thank You Stefanie for all the Great Information !
cyn f January 08, 2013 at 01:23 PM
Yes, I agree largely with Mr Hoyt. Also, the wheat that is in so much of our foods today is not the same wheat we ate 20 years ago. It is GMO to produce higher yields, but the unfortunate side effect is that it acts more like a sugar in the body, part of what is causing so many of us and our children to get diabetes, the rates of which are skyrocketing. There are even some doctors who say that this GMO wheat is like a drug on the brain. So that bowl of whole wheat pasta with veggies and olive oil? Maybe not really such a good idea although that is what us educated folks think is 'healthy'. I think one really positive step we can all make is take some of the power away from big agriculture and eat LOCAL!! THose of you who have done this know it tastes much better too!
Frank T January 08, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Rick, try Ty Llywd unpasteurized milk in Northville. We buy their eggs and some produce but they also sell milk.
Anne Van Couvering January 08, 2013 at 11:34 PM
actually, wheat is not GMO, but it IS hybridized to contain more gluten, which is what causes those symptoms you're listing. Diabetes is a complex problem, involving high fructose corn syrup, increased simple carbohydrate consumption, and several other factors. There has been a four-fold increase in celiac disease since the 1950s, and there has also been an increase in non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Meanwhile, toxins in our foods, including pesticides, contribute to obesity and to developmental problems such as ADD and autism. And grain-fed meat has high levels of pro-inflammatory Omega 6. There is definitely a correlation between organic food and health, and non-organic food and less health. The balance between affordability and nutrition is a delicate one - and that's a crying shame.
Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN January 09, 2013 at 01:44 AM
I love this conversation!!! You all make valid points. Thanks for your interest in such an important topic.

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