Which foods should we buy organic?

 

Safety

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the majority of pesticides now in use are probable or possible cancer causes. Studies of farm workers who work with pesticides suggest a link between pesticide use and brain cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma and cancers of the stomach and prostate.1 

The question remains, however, does the low level of pesticides remaining on our food present much of a risk? Some scientists argue that the extremely low level of pesticide residue remaining on produce is insignificant and that there are naturally occurring toxins in all natural foods that are more significant. The large amount of studies performed on the typical pesticide treated produce have demonstrated that consumption of produce, whether organic or not, is related to lower rates of cancer and increased disease protection. The health benefits of eating phytochemical rich produce greatly outweigh any risk pesticide residues might pose. Certainly, it is better to eat fruits and vegetables grown and harvested using pesticides than to not eat them at all, but it is also wise to minimize our pesticide exposure. 

Environmental concerns

When we buy organic, we minimize our pesticide exposure, and we are also minimizing the amount of these pesticides that our environment is exposed to. Organic farming is clearly the more environmentally-friendly choice. According to the USDA, organic farming “integrat[es] cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” Although organic cropland acreage in the U.S. has increased five-fold since 1995, organic cropland still accounts for only 0.57% of total cropland. Supporting organic agriculture will increase the demand for organic produce and decrease the percentage of farmland (and farm workers) exposed to potentially harmful agricultural chemicals.

Nutritional benefits

Organic produce usually has more nutrients – especially minerals and antioxidant nutrients – than conventional produce.  Organic apples, plums, blueberries, grapes, strawberries, and corn have all been shown to have higher antioxidant capacities than their conventional counterparts. Organic strawberries were even found to have more anti-cancer activity than conventional strawberries! Scientists have theorized that when the plants are grown without pesticides, they are forced to deal with the stress of insects, which causes them to produce more antioxidant compounds, which are beneficial to humans.4,5 

The Environmental Working Group provides lists of produce called the ‘Dirty Dozen’ (highest in pesticides) and the ‘Clean 15’ (lowest in pesticides). These are their most recent lists.3   

 

Highest in pesticides – buy organic if possible:

 1. Celery

 2. Peaches

 3. Strawberries

 4. Apples

 5. Blueberries

 6. Nectarines

 7. Bell Peppers

 8. Spinach

 9. Kale

10. Cherries

11. Potatoes

12. Grapes (imported)

Peaches have the most pesticide residue of all fruits – 97% of conventional peaches test positive for pesticides, and as many as 53 different pesticides can be found on peaches. The most pesticide-laden vegetables are celery and bell peppers. Sixty-four different pesticides were found on bell peppers. Imported produce is also more likely to contain higher levels of pesticides.2,3 Choosing to buy these fruits and vegetables organically grown will help to protect us against the possible risks of pesticide exposure. If you do buy the conventional versions of these foods, it is best to wash them with soap and remove the skin before eating them.

 

Lowest in pesticides – buy either organic or conventional:

 1. Onion

 2. Avocado

 3. Sweet corn

 4. Pineapple

 5. Mango

 6. Sweet peas

 7. Asparagus

 8. Kiwi

 9. Cabbage

10. Eggplant

11. Cantaloupe

12. Watermelon

13. Grapefruit

14. Sweet potato

15. Honeydew melon

 

Buying organic is a wise choice – organic foods taste better, and organic agriculture protects farmers and our environment.

 

References:

1. Sanderson WT et al Environ Res. 1997;74 (2): 133-144. 

Zahm SH, Blair A. Am J Ind Med 1993;24(6): 753-766.

Brown TP et al. Environ Health Perspect 114:156–164 (2006).

2. Reynolds JD. J Land Use Environ Law, 1997;13(1). 

Whitford F et al. Purdue Univ Coop Ext Serv p22, 1/17/05

3. http://www.foodnews.org/fulllist.php , http://www.foodnews.org/methodology.php, http://www.foodnews.org/sneak/EWG-shoppers-guide.pdf

4. .Grinder-Pederson L et al. J Agric Food Chem 2003; 51(19): 5671-5676.

Lairon D. Agron. Sustain. Dev.30 (2010) 33-41

5. Olsson ME et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Feb 22;54(4):1248-55.

Fresh - Ordinary People Changing the World of Food

 

I just found this! It’s the trailer for a new movie called Fresh, about people in small communities shifting away from mass-produced food to locally grown fare. It features whole foodie Michael Pollan. Awesome!

Via Serious Eats.

Study Says Organic Food Not More Nutritious Than Regular Food -- UDPATE --

People buy organic for a lot of reasons. No pesticides or no chemicals—that’s a biggie—and some say it tastes better, especially organic fruits and vegetables.

Other people insist it’s more nutritious than traditional produce. Is it really? I’d like to think so, but a new study says it isn’t.

The research, appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and based on a review of data from the last 50 years, only found a very small number of nutritional differences between organic food and non-organics. Key highlights:

  • From a total of over 52,000 articles, there were 162 (137 on crops and 25 on livestock products) that met the researchers' first level of inclusion criteria but only 55 of these were of satisfactory quality and went into the analysis.
  • Conventionally produced crops had a significantly higher content of nitrogen.
  • Organically produced crops had a significantly higher content of phosphorus and higher titratable acidity.
  • There was no evidence of a difference among the remaining 8 crop nutrient categories.
  • Analysis of the few quality studies on livestock products showed no evidence of differences in nutrient content between those that were organically and those that were conventionally produced.

However, researchers say it’s difficult to provide a definite answer until longer studies have been completed. In the meantime, stick with organic food, at the very least it’s safer. Pesticides and chemicals certainly don’t help. Eek! 

UPDATE: Dr. Fuhrman had some thoughts on this:

Lower nitrogen residue in the organic food is another important reason to eat organic that this study documented. The over-use of nitrogen fertilizers is polluting our oceans, removing ozone and damaging the ecosystem, plus excessive nitrogen compounds in the non-organic food is also not healthy.

Via Medical News Today.

Image credit: adwriter

Dorothy Loses 70 Pounds and Her Medications...

 

No one wants to be overweight and no one likes taking a bunch of pills. Martha and Stanley didn’t. That’s why today they’re fit, trim and off their meds. Now check out Dorothy. She lost over 70 pounds, ditched her medications and loves her new diet:

I started at 254 pounds, which can be documented through my doctor’s charts. I had no idea what I was doing only that I could eat veggies, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds!

The early days were very hard for me. I had to find stores and health stores that could supply me with the foods I now needed to buy. Now it’s a snap. I know exactly where to go to get what I need and more stores including Wal-Mart are selling organic produce and organic frozen fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices.

I now weigh 179 pounds and I am 5 feet 5 ½ inches tall. I have just turned 62 years-old. I still have about 40 pounds to lose. I have had many slips along the way and regained some of my weight back but have gotten back on track and have lost it…continue reading.

Stephen Colbert vs. Food Inc.

Outspoken “conservative” Stephen Colbert openly endorses agribusiness, pharmaceutical companies and processed food. So, see what happens when he takes on Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, on his new film Food Inc., which exposes the American food industry:

 

 

Colbert argues with “liberals” all the time. Last month, he sparred with New York Times journalist and author of In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan. The two traded blows over organic foods, breast feeding and Colbert’s love affair with high-fructose corn syrup and soft drinks.

Image credit: The Colbert Report

Food Face Off: Pollan vs. Colbert

Last week, Michael Pollan, New York Times journalist and natural food advocate, stopped by The Colbert Report to discuss his book In Defense of Food and went one on one with high-fructose corn syrup addict Stephen Colbert. It got ugly:

 

 

Michael Pollan is a really cool guy. I haven’t read his book yet, but it’s on my list, along with Marley and Me. Now, if you don’t know who Michael Pollan is, check out this awesome interview with him from Democracy Now.

Image credit: The Colbert Report

Discover the Delicious Health Benefits of Organic Food!

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Laura Klein of OrganicAuthority and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

Ok, I’m addicted to organic foods and am a self proclaimed organic foodie! I guess you could say I’m a big fan of organic everything, especially organic food. That's why I founded my own website!

As I studied to be a professionally trained chef in culinary school, it was the tasty flavor of organic foods that got me hooked on the organic movement. Before culinary school, I could have cared less about organic foods and “green” what? I simply couldn’t believe how much better organic foods tasted when compared to the other normal stuff.

As a chef-in-training, all I cared about was what produced the best tasting food products. And what I discovered was the critical secret behind high-end chefs and five-star restaurants. Organic food! You can have all the culinary training in the world, but if you start with low quality ingredients, you get a low quality result.

I also discovered that organic foods are simply more nutritious and a powerful healing tool for the human body. I look at organic food as the most delicious type of preventive medicine available to us! But don’t just take it from me. Other vetted resources agree that organic food is nutrient-rich and fantastic for your health.

In a study published in March 2008 by The Organic Center, scientific evidence settled the lingering question. Are organic foods really more nutritious? And the answer is a resounding YES! Consider the following:

  • Organic plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, grains) contain higher levels of eight of 11 nutrients studied, including significantly greater concentrations of health-promoting polyphenols and antioxidants.
  • Organically grown plant-based foods are 25% more nutrient dense, on average, than their conventional food counterparts. That means they deliver more essential nutrients per serving or calorie consumed than conventionally-grown foods.
  • Nutrients present in organic foods are “in a more biologically active form,” according to Neal Davies, a professor at Washington State University (WSU) and a co-author of the center’s report. A+ for Organic Farming!

In another recent study entitled “Living Soil, Food Quality, and the Future of Food", presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), several inspiring conclusions were offered about the health benefits of organic farming and its nutritional impact in food:

  • Higher levels of fertilizer negatively impact the density of certain nutrients in harvested foodstuffs, which is called the "dilution [of nutrients] effect." Organic farming can, under some circumstances, delay the onset of the "dilution effect."
  • Compared to typical conventional farms, the nitrogen cycle on organic farms is rooted in substantially more complex biological processes and soil-plant interactions; for this reason, organic farming offers great promise in consistently producing nutrient-enriched foods.

Clearly, organic food equals healthier food. It’s that simple. And that tasty too!

Image credit: theshuttersounds

Health-Points: Friday 2.27.09

  • I guess squirrels don’t get peanut allergies. But kids don’t have to get them either! A new study in the journal Allergy claims kids fed increasing amounts of peanut flour over a period of six weeks actually built up higher thresholds to peanuts over time; via FoodNavigator.

 

Image credit: ~Jetta Girl~

A Brand New Victory Garden!

Eat the View is petitioning the new president to a replant a large organic garden on the First Lawn with fresh fruits and veggies going to the Whitehouse and local food pantries. In the 1940s, to the support the war effort, Eleanor Roosevelt revived the First Garden and encouraged others to do the same, calling them Victory Gardens.

And now, this uplifting video, The Garden of Eatin': A Short History of America's Garden, tells the story of the Whitehouse garden, from its meager beginnings in the 1800s, when John Adams first planted it, to today’s call to bring it back. I say, go for it Mr. President!

Via CalorieLab.

Image credit: roger doiron

Eating to Live on the Outside: Green Elephant

Wow, it’s finally Friday! Good, I’m pooped. But before I pack it in, we’ve got to knock out Eating to Live on the Outside and this week we’re taking an internet trip to Maine and checking out Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro.

Okay, I just finished reading Green Elephant’s menu. It’s not perfect. I wouldn’t eat everything on it. But here’s what I might order:

Steamed Yellow & Green Beans

  • Spicy peanut sauce, yellow beans and green beans; very simple, very good!

Asian Vegetable Stew

  • Chinese broccoli, green mustard, cabbage, Napa cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, carrot and tofu; hopefully it’s low or no salt, because all those veggies are great.

Vegetable Clear Spicy Soup

  • Mushroom, butternut squash, onion, tofu and hot basil; same worry about the salt, but lots of cool vegetables.

Spicy Green Leaves Salad

  • Greens and spicy bean curd dressing; hard to beat greens.

Steam Assorted Vegetables with Peanut Sauce

  • Broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, sweet corn, snow peas, carrot, green beans, peanut sauce, 5-grain tempeh and brown rice; I’d ditch the tempeh and the rice isn’t the most nutrient-dense thing in the world, but I can deal with it and look at all those veggies!

Tofu Delight

  • Stir-fried tofu, snow peas, carrots, zucchini, corn, bell pepper, onion, organic egg, celery, scallions, yellow curry sauce and served with buttercup squash and brown rice; I’m nixing the eggs and same thing with rice.

Peanut Curry

  • Coconut milk, soy meat, chickpeas, sweet potato, carrots, onion, peanut curry, mashed buttercup squash and brown rice; no soy meat for me.

Tofu Tikka Masala

  • Tofu, spinach, edamame, chickpeas, Masala curry sauce, served with brown rice seasoned with curry powder, peas, carrots and shallots; the edamame beans make this a lock for me. I love them!

Green Leaves Wrap with Mango & Herbs

  • Mango, herbs, greens and tamarind dipping sauce; well, if the greens are the wraps, this sounds very intriguing. Mango is awesome.

Pineapple Brown Rice

  • Brown rice, pineapple, sunflower seeds, soy meat, sweet corn, peas, carrots, scallions and organic egg; again with the rice and no egg for me.

Green Elephant works! Plenty of good stuff to satisfy your veggie desires. But if I had to pick, I’d order either the Steam Assorted Vegetables with Peanut Sauce or the Tofu Tikka Masala.

Now, I think Green Elephant is cool. But I’m a big dummy. So, what do you think? Flip through Green Elephant’s menu and let me know what you’d order. Until then, eat wisely! Peace.

Image credit: GreenElephantMaine