Organic foods are defined as foods that are produced using methods free of modern synthetics. The term synthetic can include pesticides, fertilizers, food additives, genetically modified organisms, growth hormones and use of processes like irradiation and chemical ripening. If you want to know the meaning of those fancy terms, click on them. The last term chemical ripening is a process by which ripening of fruit and vegetables is delayed up to even a year. This process in my opinion is the worst. Have you ever thought that ripe red tomato or those luscious cherries which look almost too good to eat could be more than 4 weeks old? If it was chemically ripened it can.
Pros and Cons of Organic Foods
Cons ( there are some)
- Have a very short life span since they are free of preservatives and additives. So they must be consumed quickly.
- Organic foods become less shelf stable because methods like irradiation are not used on them. Irradiation basically kills bacteria and micro organism. If not eaten at the right time or stored at the right temperatures they can cause Food Borne Illness very easily.
- Organic meats (deli meats) are free of nitrates, which is a good thing. However, they are higher in sodium because sodium is used as a natural preservative. I use organic deli meat for my kids “Lunch sandwiches” because I think higher sodium is the lesser of the two evils and my kids don’t have hypertension.
- Organic foods are more expensive than conventional foods.
- Fewer pesticides and preservatives are always better for children and adults.
- Higher nutritional value – absence of pesticides etc boosts production of phytochemicals in the produce.
- Fresh – since they do not go through “chemical ripening”
- Taste better most times – Especially with freshly picked organic produce.
- More Immune system protection.
- Linked to fertility health
The persons who would benefit most from eating more organic foods are pregnant, lactating moms and children. Children with ADHD have shown marked improvement after switching to organic foods.
Some easy ways to go organic with out breaking the bank.
- Shop at farmers markets or good Co-ops
- Join a community support agriculture farm ( usually very reasonable and charge a set price for organic produce in season)
- Buy produce in season and shop around for deals.
- Grow your own produce ( private gardening ) and make it as close to organic as you can by using natural fertilizers and pest control methods.
- Terms like free range, harmone free, minimally processed are not 100% organic but are cheaper and a better bet than conventional foods.
Dirty Dozen and Clean 15
This is a list brought out by the Environmental working group every year which rank the “Dirty Dozen” produce items that have the most pesticide in them. They also rank the “15 Clean Foods” that have the least pesticide in them.
Here is a look at 2011 Dirty Dozen (ranked in order of highest to lowest pesticides)
- Apples, celery, strawberry, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, bell pepper, potatoes, blueberries. lettuce and kale greens.
2011 Clean 15 (Ranked in order of least pesticides )
- Onions, sweet corn, pineapple, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, water melon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, mushrooms.