Food Production & Health
2 AnswersJust because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy! Organic soda, ice cream, and potato chips, for instance, are still high-calorie splurges that can pack on the pounds and pad your grocery bill. Make sure at least three-quarters of your cart is loaded with minimally processed foods that look as close to their natural forms as possible.
2 AnswersReap the benefits and enjoy the peace of mind of eating meals free of pesticides and additives by shopping for healthy ingredients when it counts the most. Below is a list of foods that you should always buy organic.
Root Vegetable: Potatoes
Regular potatoes that are grown aboveground are sprayed with pesticides, and the soil they’re grown in is treated with fungicide. By buying organic varieties, you avoid both these threats. In case you can’t find organic potatoes, try sweet potatoes; they are usually grown with less pesticides overall. Organic potatoes cost about $1.49 per pound at grocery stores.
Produce: Peppers and Celery
Both veggies react to pesticides in the same way: like a sponge, absorbing the chemicals through the skin. Because of this you won’t be able to reduce chemical ingestion by washing or peeling them. Always choose the organic variety. Organic peppers and celery cost between $3.99 and $6.99 per pound at grocery stores.
Leafy Greens: Lettuce, Spinach and Collard Greens
Usually these plants are doused in pesticides to ward off insects. Organic growers use methods like nontoxic repellents to keep these vegetables free of pests. Organic greens cost between $2.99 and $5.98 per pound.
Dairy Products: Yogurt, Butter, Cheese and Ice Cream
It’s important to go organic with these kitchen staples because we eat so much of them so often. Nonorganic dairy products may come from cows fed a diet of genetically modified corn, soy and antibiotics. Organic dairy products can be found at grocery stores and usually cost between $2.19 and $4.29.Helpful? 2 people found this helpful.
1 AnswerRealAge answered
Eating a largely organic diet can significantly decrease the amount of pesticides and chemicals in our bloodstream.
In fact, a study of pregnant women showed that those who ate organic foods reduced the amount of artificial pesticides and chemicals in their blood by 90 percent.
How beneficial is that? We really don’t know, but it likely can’t hurt. Other research has found that when pregnant women are exposed to large amounts of a common pesticide—organophosphates, used to kill weeds and insects—their babies are at greater risk for having smaller heads, lower birth weights, and developmental abnormalities.
However, research has shown only that environmental exposure to organophosphates had these effects. Studies have not yet shown that ingesting residual amounts of these chemicals poses a danger to developing fetuses, infants, babies, or adults.
I personally believe that eating an organic diet and decreasing the blood levels of pesticides is a good idea—especially if you’re even thinking about getting pregnant or already are. Unborn children may be most susceptible to any potential harmful effects of the chemicals in the foods their moms eat. Children under age three, because of their size and their developing brains and nervous systems, are also more likely to be susceptible. So if, budget-wise, it’s a question of affording either organic baby food for your toddler or organic peanut butter for your ten-year-old, opt for the former.
And make no mistake, cost is a big issue. Organic food is often twice as expensive as nonorganic, and that can strain family budgets—especially when economic times are less than utopian. Also, no conclusive research has shown that organic foods are more nutritious than their nonorganic counterparts, so if buying organic means that fewer fruits and veggies wind up on your table, then that is not a good trade-off. Making sure that your kids receive the minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients they need from fruits and veggies is more important.
Your priority is ensuring that your child gets ample helpings of fruits and vegetables every day, organic or not. Fresh is usually best; then I’d strongly opt for frozen over canned. But getting plenty of fruits and vegetables onto your kids’ plates— and into their mouths, which can be a bigger challenge—is more important than buying organic.
From The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents by Jennifer Trachtenberg.
Find out more about this book:The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents
1 AnswerDavid L. Katz, MD,MPH, Integrative Medicine, answeredIntestinal bacteria that contaminate meat contaminate that portion that is exposed, namely the surface. In general, when the exposed surface of meat is heated adequately (that temperature varies with the kind of meat -- see http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/bacteria for guidance -- but a ballpark figure is 165 degrees F), the bacteria are killed.
There are two problems with chopped meat. First, the inside is the outside, and vice versa. Chopping meat massively increases the surface area, allowing the bacteria to invade throughout. And, because meat at the very center of a burger, patty, meatball, or meatloaf could well have been on the surface at some point, contaminating bacteria are only reliably killed if the temperature throughout reaches the relevant threshold. Because the entire area of chopped meat is surface area, it should be eaten well cooked.
The second issue with chopped meat is that it generally comes from multiple animals -- in the case of ground meat prepared at centralized processing facilities, possibly quite a large number. The risks of bacterial contamination rise in this situation, because even one infected animal may contribute germs to meat being sent all over the country. When you eat unchopped meat, the source is a single animal.
1 AnswerA few studies have focused on one of our favorite topics: the "health halo" hovering around certain foods that leads people to underestimate how much they're eating.
A study on organic foods was conducted by University of Michigan researchers and published in the journal Judgment and Decision Making. The study found that participants who looked at the nutrition facts label (which includes the calorie count) for Oreos "made with organic flour and sugar" were more likely to rate the cookies as lower-than-average in calories than were people looking at the label of conventional Oreos. "Presumably, participants inferred that, if organic cookies contain 160 calories, then the calorie content of conventional cookies -- whatever the precise amount -- is likely to be higher," the authors write.
And, the people looking at the organic cookie label were also more likely to say their cookies were appropriate to eat more often.
In a separate, but related experiment, participants were more likely to say it was okay for a hypothetical 20-year-old trying to lose weight to skip her evening run if her dinner ended with an organic dessert rather than a conventional, but otherwise identical one.
In a smaller study that also used organic Oreos, some labeled as such and others with no label at all, study participants who ate the cookies labeled as organic thought they contained 40% fewer calories than those who ate the (same) unlabeled cookies.
4 AnswersResearchers at Stanford University recently released a study that questions the nutritional benefits of buying organic foods. The study found very little nutritional difference between organic and conventional produce and meat.
The researchers performed a type of study called a meta-analysis. They identified 237 different studies that compare organic foods to conventional foods and used statistics to compare the research.
The researchers concluded that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventionally grown counterparts. That means organic foods may not contain any extra vitamins or minerals like vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, calcium, iron, protein, and magnesium. The only exception was phosphorus. The researchers found that organic foods (including carrots, celery, corn, plums, onions, and potatoes) had higher levels of phosphorus.
1 AnswerWhen we eat processed foods, our bodies lose the capacity to self-heal efficiently as chronic inflammation takes over and our natural sources of "fixer uppers," such as antioxidants, get used up. In addition, without ample supplies nearby and continual replenishment of the nutrients we need to run our systems and natural defense mechanisms, the flames of aging, inflammation, and free-radical pandemonium hit high marks. And when the stress simmers over long periods of time -- perhaps years -- the entire waterfall effect among hormones, inflammatory chemicals, and free radicals sets the stage for accelerated aging. It also spells a recipe for energy disaster.
1 AnswerOver half of the corn planted in the United States has been genetically modified (GMO) using biotechnology, and the jury is still out on what this could mean for human health and the environment. We do know that one of the largest groups of diseases (autoimmune) as well as an exponential increase in emergency room visits for allergies all share a common theme: the body is intolerant to, irritated by, and being confused into attacking itself by something it's consistently exposed to.
GMOs permeate the list of foods and products (soy, corn, gluten) that are problematic for many people further helps connect the dots to the potential impact of GMOs. This seems to be enough evidence for at least 30 other countries to enforce significant restrictions or ban genetically modified versions of these foods entirely because they are not considered safe. In late 2010, the news hit about the genetically modified salmon -- the one that grows twice the size in half the time -- the war about how to label this "Frankenfood" began.
Until we know more about how GMO foods affect us and our energy metabolisms, we would do well to avoid or limit them and stick to the foods nature gave us. GMOs could very well become the secondhand smoke of the 21st century. Because we don't know the long term affect, or even short term consequences, anyone consuming GMOs is, in effect, a guinea pig in a very large experiment.
1 AnswerThe most important point to remember is that organic food means food. Period. Anything else is food plus chemicals. It provides us food sans the genetically modified seeds, without the use of pesticides, and with an optimal nutrient load (i.e., that which a plant or animal develops naturally). In that regard, it deserves more halos than many other halos dished out today in the food court, such as the terms superfoods, all-natural, and healthy.
In a general sense, eating organic food is more likely to satisfy you because it forces you to find foods close to Mother Nature. You're also likely to consume more plant-based nutrients that include phytochemicals for disease and wrinkle prevention, and to energize as nature intended.
But there's a caveat emptor to consider. While organic is healthier than chemically produced food, it cannot be the only deciding factor. Organic does not mean calorie appropriate, low sodium, low sugar, higher fiber, or nutrient balanced. You still have to evaluate organic products for these and other nutrition principles. Eating organic does not give you permission to ignore sensible portion control and achieving a balance of nutrients. So if you choose to have a helping of organic Oreos, for example (they do exist: "made from organic flour and sugar"), you still must take into consideration their fat and carbohydrate content and try to consume some healthy protein as well to get a better balance of nutrition.