Archive for November, 2007
The CDC recently reported that the belly fat of children has grown by over 65% since 1999 and recent statistics highlight a 400% increase in food allergies.
As a result, over half of all Americans purchase organic foods due to ‘food safety’ and health concerns in an effort to make healthier food choices.
Organic’s Health Benefits:
A recent study into organic food found that it appears to:
- Strengthen your immune system
- Improve sleeping habits
- Cut the risk of cancers
- Reduce the risks of heart disease
- Reduce a child’s exposure to hidden allergens
- Promote weight loss (Keep reading!)
As you can imagine, the un-organic, junk food industry’s response to this groundswell of healthy food choices is to highlight industry-funded research that suggests that eating organic food is no more than a lifestyle choice.
What the Europeans Know
(and Our “Industry-Funded Experts” Haven’t Told Us!):
Thankfully, an insightful four-year, $25 million European study found that:
- Animals fed an organic diet were slimmer (yes, skinnier!) than their un-organic fed counterparts because fat cells appear to “trap” and store the heavy pesticide residues found in un-organic produce
- Organics appear to promote weight loss by reducing your exposure to chemical pesticides which bind to fat and once absorbed may stay in the body for a lifetime (over 350 chemicals can accumulate in our body fat!)
- Organic fruit and vegetables contain up to 40 percent more antioxidants
- Milk from organic herds contained up to 90 percent more antioxidants (source: Times Online October 28, 2007)
- Organic food also had higher levels of beneficial minerals such as iron and zinc, critical minerals in the development of a child’s brain.
Un-Organic Food Contains Hidden Allergens:
Additionally, according to the Institute for Responsible Technology, un-organic corn and soy contain insecticidal chemical toxins (which may be why these crops are being banned in Europe, Australia, Japan, Russia and almost 40 developed countries around the world!) and hidden allergens that may be contributing to the recent allergy epidemic.
So What Does “Organic” Mean?
And What About “All Natural”?
Because the US lags other developed countries when it comes to food safety, understanding label claims can often be a challenge for even the savviest shopper!
The Definition of “Organic”
The term “organic” refers to foods grown and processed without chemical toxins, artificial ingredients, chemical preservatives or ionizing radiation (similar to cancer “radiation” only for food).
The guidelines for organic foods were established on October 21, 2002 by the US Department of Agriculture. To use these terms, producers must pay additional fees and follow strict guidelines and regulations:
- 100% Organic- All ingredients are organic.
- Organic- 95% or more of the total ingredients are organic.
- Made with Organic Ingredients- At least 70% of the ingredients are organic.
For the savviest of label readers, the following are the legal guidelines established by the US Department of Agriculture for organics: Organic Fruits and Vegetables:Must be grown without the use of:
- synthetically created chemical pesticides
- synthetically created chemical fertilizers
- sewage sludge
- genetic engineering which appears to introduce novel proteins, allergens, viruses and toxins into crops.
- irradiation (similar to cancer radiation for produce).
Organic Beef and Chicken:
- Fed only 100% organic feed, are not the offspring of cloned animals and have never been administered growth hormones or antibiotics. In addition, their meat must never be irradiated.
- Natural (or All Natural) meat or poultry products contain no artificial ingredients and are minimally processed. They are not necessarily organic.
- No hormones administered or no antibiotics added is sometimes seen on labels, but it can only appear if the producer can document the absence of hormone or antibiotic administration.
- Free-range or free-roaming poultry have access to the outdoors without a minimum time. They are not necessarily organic.
- Cage-free poultry means nothing as most chickens are kept indoors (but cage-free) if they are grown for meat.
Comes from animals that were fed 100% organic feed and were not given antibiotics, prophylactic drugs or genetically engineered and synthetically created growth hormones (such as rBGH) for at least the last year.
rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) is a genetically engineered, synthetic chemical hormone vaccinated into cows to artifically boost their milk production. Like aspartame, rBGH has been banned in Europe because of the breast cancer risk that it may present.
- Produced by hens that are fed 100% organic feed and have never been given growth hormones or antibiotics.
- Cage-free Eggs are produced by hens that are not confined in cages. The hens may not have access to the outdoors and are not necessarily organic.
The USDA currently has no guidelines set for seafood; however, un-organic fish is often caged underwater and treated with pesticides to prevent the spread of disease.
Cereal and grain crops are regularly sprayed with pesticides that collect in the grain’s outer layers, raising concerns about chemical residues in bread, cakes and cookies
The following terms are often found on packaged products and can be confusing to consumers:
Natural is often a misnomer. There are no true guidelines for this term when used on a packaged product, although it is used frequently and often assumed to mean organic or healthier.
Gourmet is another misleading term that leads consumers to believe that they are purchasing a product that is made finer ingredients, when in reality it has no established guidelines or regulations.
(Source: Whole Nutritionist)
Organics on a Budget:
Now that a scientific study out of Southampton University in the UK has revealed that certain artificial colors and preservatives may trigger hyperactive behavior, asthma and allergies in our children, you may well be racing to the “organic only” section of your supermarket believing it to be the foolproof way to protect your young from such nasty additives.
There are some other commonsense steps you can take to minimize your children’s intake of chemicals and additives.
In pole position is the idea that you regain ownership of the meals you produce in your home kitchen and the food you put in children’s lunchboxes.
Avoid Chemical Toxins in Processed Foods: Avoid processed foods since un-organic soy and un-organic corn (engineered to contain their own insecticidal toxins and found in most processed foods as vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, etc.) are two of the most common ingredients.
Avoid Chemical Hormones in Milk: Avoid milk that contains rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), a genetically engineered, synthetic chemical hormone. Like aspartame, rBGH has been banned in Europe because of the breast cancer risk that it may present.
Use the “Grandmother Theory”: Feed your kids according to the “grandmother theory”: only snacks created from ingredients that your grandmother would have had in her kitchen (all of those ingredients on the sides of snack packs that we can’t pronounce were only found in chemical labs back in her day!). Get back to basics: bananas and washed apples and carrots.
Find Your Top Five: Identify five foods that make regular appearances at your dinner table and try to find affordable organic alternatives
Hit the Frozen Aisle: Frozen organic fruits and vegetables are often cheaper than their fresh counterparts.