When Should I buy Organic? // SPARTAN HEALTH 032

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Organic foods are generally more expensive than conventional foods because conventional foods often use substances to accelerate plant and animal growth, protect against insects or increase the scale of farming. These substances are certainly not part of the natural growth cycle of the flora and fauna that we eat. For flora, there are pesticides, ionizing radiation, artificial fertilizers and, yes, even sewage sludge. For animals, the substances include antibiotics and hormones.

If any part of this long list of artificial means is used in the food on your table, it is not organic! But because it isn’t as easy as conventional farming, organic food can be difficult to find. And if you can find it, paying for it may give you a case of sticker shock. Moreover, some food that isn’t quite organic can still be pretty good for you.

Being an organic farmer is a complicated business. There is a certification process and it can take a few years to transform a conventional farm into an organic one. But there are two caveats. A farm that is organic can be situated next to a farm that isn’t, thus possibly compromising the quality of its food. Conversely, because the certification process can be long and expensive, some farms that haven’t quite yet qualified as officially organic can have great food.You need to know where your food comes from and how exactly it was grown. Look into transit times of your food, too, because longer transit times results in both less flavor and fewer vitamins. Food processing procedures can introduce contaminants or reduce the healthiness of foods or meats, depending on the quality of the processing.

Also, for fruits and vegetables, the thicker the skin, the healthier the food (usually). Pineapples are an example of a safer kind of conventional fruit.

The “dirty dozen” Fruit and vegetables that have thin skin or soak up lots and lots of water: apples, grapes, strawberries, celery, peaches, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, nectarines, snap peas, tomatoes, and pears. If you’re going to eat these, go organic.

Figuring out which foods to buy to better maintain your health can be a bit complicated, but a little education can go a long way. In addition to helping you to stay healthy, organic foods’ great taste and texture makes life sweeter and more enjoyable with every meal. Remember: “Health is Wealth”! KEY TERMS & IDEAS:

Organic foods are generally more expensive than conventional foods because the conventional foods often use substances to accelerate plant and animal growth, protect against insects or increase the scale of farming.

Organic food “is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled ‘organic,’ a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.” (Medicine.net)

In addition to how your food is grown, it’s important to know how it’s transported. Specifically, the transit times of your food – the time it takes to get from the farm to your grocer – also have an impact on nutrition. That’s because longer transit times results in both less flavor and fewer vitamins.

LINKS & RESOURCES: “Frequently Asked Questions,” organic.org, https://organic.org/faqs/, accessed April 2019.

M. Huber, et al., "Organic food and impact on human health: Assessing the status quo and prospects of research," NJAS-Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 58.3-4 (2011): 103-109, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1573521411000054, accessed April 2019.

“Organic Agriculture,” USDA: Economic Research Service, https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/natural-resources-environment/organic-agriculture/, accessed April 2019.

Melissa Stopler, “What is the Definition of Organic Food?” Medicine.net, https://www.medicinenet.com/what_is_the_definition_of_organic_food/views.htm, accessed April 2019.

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