The Real Organic Experience

FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites

The word “organic” may be used to sell shampoo, but the real organic experience is not for your hair. It is in the mouthwatering rainbow of organic produce, fresh herbs and organic convenience foods now found everywhere from roadside stands to farmer’s markets and from mail
order catalogs to Internet websites. If you have not looked at organic food since all there was to offer was some bruised fruit at a small, dark health food store, you are in for a treat. Great looking organic produce can be found in nearly every grocery store and many packaged foods come in organic versions as well.
In August 1999 a survey of nearly 30,000 households found that 22% purchased organic fresh vegetables, 21% purchased organic fresh fruit and 9% purchased organic cold breakfast cereal. At current growth rates organic production will constitute 10% of American agriculture by the year 2010.
What is organic food?
Organic food is grown, harvested, processed and transported without synthetic chemicals. For food to be certified organic, growers cannot use prohibited materials on their land or crops for at least three years, and they must use only approved materials and methods. Certified organic growers and processors must document that their operations follow strict standards. Organic crops and operations are examined annually by independent inspectors.
The USDA is currently working on a national standard and a national list of “allowed synthetics and prohibited natural substances” that can and cannot be used in growing and processing certified organic products. For more information, see http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/.
Should I be concerned about pesticides?
It is universally agreed that fruits, vegetables and grains are healthy parts of every person’s diet, whether these foods are organically or conventionally grown. According to the expert report from the American Institute for Cancer Research, Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, there is no convincing evidence that eating foods containing trace amounts of chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and drugs used on farm animals changes cancer risk. Exposure to all manufactured chemicals in air, water, soil and food is believed to cause less than 1% of all cancers.
The AICR offers these tips to reduce pesticide exposure:
• Choose produce free of holes; wash well using running water; remove outer leaves.
• Consider buying certified organic foods.
• Eat a variety of foods to lower exposure to any one pesticide.
How do I select organic produce?
Look for produce in season to maximize quality and value. Organic foods usually cost more, but when you compare organic fresh fruits to candy bars you are getting a real nutritional bargain. A single serve bottle of organic 100% fruit juice is comparable in price to a serving of gourmet coffee. Money spent on healthy organic snacks is an investment in health compared to money wasted on high fat, sugary junk food.
Delicious Ideas
Organic produce can be the star of any meal. Golden Yukon potatoes can be made into an entree by stuffing with vegetarian chili. Carrots sweeten and flavor marinara sauce served over pasta. Broccoli makes a delicious, colorful topping to beans and rice. Special lettuce blends turn a plain salad into a delight for the palate. Organic apples are a wonderful, crisp treat when sliced fresh by themselves. Vine ripened tomatoes are very flavorful and add a rich flavor to salads and salsas.
Everyone agrees that we need to eat more foods from MyPlate such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Organic foods can help people do just that.
For more information:
www.organic.org, www.ota.com, www.neworganics.com (see my Mom RD column on the latter). By Carol M. Coughlin, RD

Become a premium member today and get access to hundreds of articles and handouts plus our premium tools!

Upcoming Posts

 
UP NEXT IN Food and Health, Prevention
Micronutrient Review

 

Fun Vegetable Trivia: Artichokes


July 2022

New Products Available Now

 
Published on Categories This Month, Premium, JulyTags ,