Saturday, March 31, 2012

Food Facts Friday: Organic or Conventional?

Is it smart to buy organic produce? How about organic, grass-fed beef? Are all organic foods good for you? I know one thing, it is definitely more expensive!

I spend the extra $$$ and buy organic when purchasing fruits and veggies that are in the "Dirty Dozen " list: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, lettuce, Kale and collard greens. To help with the cost, I try to buy these fruits and veggies when they are in season. With the extra cost, though, I usually hear myself saying, "Pay now, or pay later ..."

Then there are times I choose to buy organic products because I feel better knowing that there are some long-term benefits to purchasing these products. I like knowing I can help our planet by purchasing products produced using sustainable farming practices, which helps reduce environmental pollution, improve soil matter, minimizes energy use and pesticide residues in our food and water, all while enhancing biodiversity.

Maybe that's why the organic food market has enjoyed a huge explosion in growth over the last few years. Even Wal-Mart now sells organic dairy products!

When buying organic foods,
 look to make sure they have this special certifiable symbol:
Some products are"made with" organic ingredients,
but they are not 100% certifiably organic
Foods that are certified organic must be produced according to the USDA National Organic Program. But does this mean organically produced foods are healthier than their conventional counterparts? Well, according to a meta-analysis of research compiled by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the answer to that questions is:
Yeay, I'm not throwing $$$ away after all!!!
I guess I'm not totally crazed for spending those extra bucks!
Agh, that's right. I keep forgetting, I'm only Half-Crazed!

So, if you're in the store, and you're wondering if you should buy organic, here's a list of reasons how and why organic foods are better for your health than their conventional counterparts:

Retrieved from, American Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition:

  1. Increase Phytochemicals: Some organic fruits and veggies may contain more phytochemicals. Last week, I spoke about nutritional benefits of phytochemicals and antioxidants as it relates to muscle recovery and increased aerobic capacity. 
  2. Protection Against Bacteria:  Eating meat from cows that are constantly fed antibiotics may increase antibiotic resistance, BUT eating organic meat (not fed a daily dose of antibiotics) can reduce the development of human antibiotic resistance. Think about it, when the only bacteria that survive are the ones resistant to the antibiotic, what's going to happen to you when you need an antibiotic? It's simple, the antibiotic will not work because the bacteria will be resistant!
  3. Increase Consumption of Essential Fatty Acids: Consuming organic milk lowers the risk of eczema during the first two years of life. Organic milk has higher omega-3 fatty acids (and possibly more omega-6 fatty acids), which can protect children from eczema. Researchers also noted that mom's who breastfeed and eat foods high in the omega-3 and -6 fatty acids can also provide their infant and toddler protection against eczema! Re: Breast is Best!
  4. Promote a Diverse EnvironmentBiodiversity is enhanced in organic agricultural systems, which makes crops more resilient to unpredictable weather patterns, pests and diseases. Also, because organic seeds and plants are not genetically modified, sterile entities, they offer protection on farmland. This protection is called a shelterbelt. Shelterbelts provide shelter, pollen and nectar to our pollinators, which keeps biodiversity, plant and animal resiliency alive!
  5. Protect Our Environment and Our Bodies: Organically cultivated foods promote sustainable farming systems, which help to reduce soil erosion and exposure to pesticides. Reducing pesticide contamination of our food and water is particularly important for high-risk groups: pregnant women, infants, young children, and farm workers

Does this means that all organic foods are good for you? Well, organic potato chips, aren't exactly a a nutrient-dense food. As with everything:
Moderation and Variety are Key to a Healthy Diet


Post a Comment