The exciting age of instant information is here and now, and that means having more control over the choices we make, being able to stay in the know about the foods we eat, how they effect our health, and our lifestyle – is easier than ever. We all know that buying organic is better, but what does ‘organic’ actually mean? When it comes to the definition of organic there is seems to be confusion. It’s time to sort it out:
According to the dictionary organic means; Raised or conducted without the use of drugs, hormones, or synthetic chemicals: organic chicken; organic cattle farming.
Here is a great link to explain ‘organic chemicals and pesticides’ as used in growing practices in more detail, here.
So if you are looking to stay away from all chemicals and pesticides, organic or otherwise, you need to search for organic and pesticide free products – of course you also need to expect less than perfect looking produce and to possibly see little bugs and worms on fruits and veggies. That’s cool with me though, because if they’re living, I know I’ll live too – and they just wash right off.
However, when it comes to the growing practice, chemicals, the ones used on crops, found in animal feed and in fertilizers, can contribute to environmental damage as well as serious health issues for humans. Which is why organic foods are still better for you than non-oragnic and even though they can increase your grocery bill a bit, it’s a small price to pay for your good health.
Here is a list of the staple foods you should always buy organic, because there are some foods that you just can’t get rid of the chemicals no matter how vigorous the washing.
Apples have been shown to be one of the top crops when it comes to pesticide levels. Over 40 different pesticides have been found in non-organic apples including cancer-causing chemicals, neurotoxins, reproductive toxins and chemicals, which disrupt our hormone levels – yikes! Farmers use the chemicals over orchards to keep insects and fungus at bay. Always remember to make sure that apple products such as apple sauce, apple juice and apple pies are all made with organic varieties too.
Non-organic meat is a triple-threat – not only is the animal feed fortified with foods that have been grown with pesticides but it’s also laced with antibiotics and synthetic growth hormones to keep the animals healthy and make them as big as possible. Even after slaughter, these pesticides, antibiotics and hormones are still present in the meat just waiting to be digested by us at the dinner table. Some experts even believe that the use of antibiotics in livestock has lead to a rise of people who are resistant to antibiotics- good to know!
Spinach & Lettuce
Non-organic spinach and lettuce are chemical-carriers simply because, with their many leaves, they have a large surface area which means they absorb chemical pesticides. Lettuce is the worse of the two containing over 50 types of pesticides while spinach doesn’t get off to easy with 48. I’m a big fan of Dole’s organic spinach – not only does Dole salads uphold stringent growth practices but they really do seem to care about their consumer.
Yup, the innocent white potato can contain up to 37 different types of pesticides. If your shopping budget is stretched as is, swap your white potatoes for the sweet variety, they have been shown to contain far fewer chemicals residues and are higher in nutrients.
Growth hormones and antibiotics in chicken-feed pass from the chicken to their eggs. Just think of all the dishes containing eggs, from pasta to muffins – the chemicals originally found in the chicken feed will end up there too. Buy eggs organic – because this means that what the chickens that laid them eat will be organic too.
Just like chickens, cows are fed a whole lot of food containing chemicals. From pesticide-coated grain, hormones and antibiotics (to keep their udders free of infection from constant milking), it’s all there. Just like meat, these chemicals make their way into the milk which is then ingested by us. A good rule-of-thumb is the higher the fat content in the milk the higher the pesticide levels. Most coffee shops carry organic milk so there’s no need to give up your morning latte…this of course goes for all your milk products like cheese, yogurt, ice cream and cream.
TIP: As a rule, the fruits and vegetables with the thinnest skins are the ones to watch out for. The thinner the skin, the more likely the chemicals and pesticides can break through the barrier and contaminate. Thicker skin produce or produce where you don’t eat the skin such as bananas, pineapple, walnuts, are a safer bet if you can’t find organic.
If you really think about it, this information can be down right scary – but that is not my intention here. It’s about being educated and informed so you can make choices that you’re comfortable with and are good for you and your family. Like I said, it’s an exciting time we are living in, in that we are able to have a voice when it comes to looking out for one another and have control over our own bodies and health. I’ve got your back.
Please share and help friends and family stay informed. XO ~ L