The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

My job is to lay out the facts of both sides of the argument and let you decide whether the Organic Lifestyle is right for you. We will address the pros and cons of Conventional vs Organic. Organic goods come from certified Organic distributors. Their products are under strict USDA guidelines. The way in which these items are processed, grown, and handled is heavily regulated. There can be no chemicals, pesticides, sewage, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), radiation, antibiotics, or hormones used. Make sure look for the label    . Product labels can be a bit tricky. 100 percent organic products must be either completely organic or made of all organic ingredients. Organic items must be at least 95 percent organic to use this term. However, goods that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients may say “made with organic ingredients”. However, Conventional goods are not under stringent regulations. As a result may contain antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, growth hormones, pesticides or herbicides.

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People decide to choose organic products for several different reasons. Some prefer the taste of the food. Although others may argue that you can’t tell the difference in the quality of food. Another factor is the use of pesticides. The use of pesticides is immensely regulated for Organic produce. Farmers tend to use more natural means to protect their crops. Fewer pesticides are more appealing to consumers. Some pesticides were known to cause cancer. Many of them have been banned. However, pesticides are still used on Organic crops. They are deemed “safe” to use and do not contain toxic chemicals. Both don’t exceed government safety thresholds. Researchers agree that because of avocado’s thick outer core, it is less likely to contain pesticides. Fruits that have thick outer shells that you have to peel are safest to eat. Always wash before you eat. Beware of the Dirty Dozen:
1. Peach
2. Apple
3. Bell Pepper
4. Celery
5. Nectarine
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Kale
9. Lettuce
10. Grapes (Imported)
11. Carrot
12. Pear

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Charles Benbrook, a chief scientist at the Organic center states that studies have shown that women who had higher levels of pesticides in their bloodstream had children with 4-7% lower IQ. He also stated that Organic produce was more beneficial for people who had chronic ailments. In addition, Organic foods don’t have additives. So no preservatives, dyes, artificial sweeteners, colorings, and flavors. When it comes to the sweet stuff but conventional, try to get ‘”all natural” syrup or raw unrefined honey. Be wary of the products that contain high amounts of fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and dyes. Another factor is environmental concerns that people have for conventional farming. Many believe Organic techniques are safer for the environment and help preserve the quality of the soil and water.

However, there has been a large debate whether organic foods are more nutritious than conventional. Studies suggest there is no major difference. One study by Washington State University in 2010 has shown organic strawberries contain more vitamin C. Another study by Barcelona University suggests organic tomatoes contain more polyphenols (Antioxidant). However, there are lots of variables to consider including, peak ripeness and the use of pesticides. This can yield a more nutritious fruit. A downside to Organic food is the cost tends to be slightly higher. Researchers have found it can be up to 30% higher. Especially the price of milk. Studies have shown that Organic milk contains less omega 6 fatty acids which can cause heart complications. The cows are allowed to graze longer which yields a higher amount of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. Organic foods tend to spoil a lot faster because they are treated with wax as a preservative. Also, they may have odd shapes, colors, or sizes. Organic peanuts only consist of peanuts and salt. While regular peanuts contain trans fats which can build up over time and clog the arteries and lead to heart attacks and strokes. Another interesting fact, the FDA banned the use of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in microwave popcorn. This was used to prevent the kernels from sticking. PFOA was linked to cancer agents. however, the substitutes used now raise health concern as well. Some are linked to breathing complications.

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Some research has lead to believe organically grown beef has more omega 3 fatty acids which are good for the heart. While others believe the hormones testosterone and estrogen lead to young females starting puberty earlier in life. But more research is needed. However, Conventional farmers use antibiotics and hormones in their livestock. Experts agree these common practices can potentially lead to dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacterias. This is a growing concern in the medical community. When it comes to seafood, try to purchase fish low in mercury. This can be detrimental to the nervous system. The seafood industry is not really regulated. Try to eat smaller fish that swim in schools. there is less risk of mercury poisoning. Salmon, shrimp, anchovies, shellfish are good options.

Other positive impacts of Organic farming is the impact on pollinators. The ability for crops to reproduce through pollination is essential to prevent food shortages. Making sure there is a natural habitat for pollinators to thrive is very important.

Buy locally to get the freshest produce and meat. This will be easier on the wallet as well. Farmer’s market gives you better bang for your buck than a traditional grocery store. Local butchers tend to get their meat regionally. I hope after reading this you can make a more informed decision whether you want to choose an Organic lifestyle. You decide. Till Next time.


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