Health Tip #33

health-tip-33

Only crazy people buy organic, right?

When I first saw a person filling their cart with overpriced, organic produce at the health food store, I thought they were crazy.  Years later, that crazy person and I became friends and I became the crazy person filling my cart with organic produce.  So what changed in my understanding between then and now that made me want to spend my hard earned money on organics?

Reasons to choose organic

Why, when studies have shown that organic and conventional foods have similar levels of of nutrients, would I be willing to dish out the extra dough?  The reasons are many.  Below is a brief look at some of the reasons to choose organic over conventionally produced foods:

  • studies have shown that organic produce contains considerably more antioxidants
  • organically grown foods better maintain the integrity of the soil and the diversity of microorganisms.  These microorganism maintain the soils healthy ecosystem and make nutrients in the soil bio-available to the plants, making healthy more diseases resistant plants.  The plants then pass the nutrients on to us when we eat them.  Conventional practices destroy this ecosystem.
  • Pesticides are used in the production of conventional fruit, vegetables, wheat, corn, grain products and livestock feed.
  • Pesticides bio-accumulate up the food chain in animal products such as dairy, eggs, meat and fish.
  • Pesticides have toxic effects on the body linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive issues and damage to unborn children.
  • Pesticides are antibiotic in nature and disrupt our gut microbiome, leading to inflammation and physical and mental ailments.
  • Conventional agricultural practices can cause toxic run off from fields, contaminating  water ways and wildlife.
  • According to the Environmental Working Group, conventional produce most heavily laden with pesticides include: strawberries, apples, grapes, peaches, nectarines, celery, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.  But it is the potato that boasts most pesticides by weight than any other produce.
  • Illegal pesticide residues are three times as likely to be found in imported produce.  Notice where your produce is coming from.

Do we always need to choose organic?

Other options are available to us other than just having to buy everything certified organic.  Some of these options include:

  • harvest wild edibles
  • grow your own garden
  • buy from a local farmers’ market where produce may not be officially organic but comes from a local “pesticide free” or “no spray” farm.
  • wash all your produce thoroughly in a sink of water and hydrogen peroxide to pull pesticides and pathogens off the surface.  (Note this is only a surface treatment.)
  • Peel produce to reduce surface contamination (although much of a fruit or vegetables nutrients and antioxidants are in the peel).
  • Vary your intake of different produce and sources.
  • When buying conventionally produced fruits an vegetables, stick to the Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen including: avocados, [non-GMO] sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, [non-GMO papayas], kiwis, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and cauliflower. Of these, avocados were the cleanest.

 

 

 

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Health Tip #17

health-tip-17

Eat your veggies!  How many times have you heard that?

As children many of us weren’t naturally drawn to vegetables.  Instead we preferred dense calorie sources such as sugars and fats.  One of the reasons is because we were genetically programmed to go for caloric rich foods when we could, because dense calorie sources meant energy, and energy sources meant survival.  For us modern day eaters, these dense calorie sources are easily come by, too easily!

As adults however we can use our common sense to realize that an array of brightly colored vegetables are important for our health.  Vegetables are a low calorie, nutrient dense food source.  An array of brightly colored produce provides us with much needed antioxidants, minerals, micro-nutrients and phyto-nutrients.  These nutrients are broken down and used in chemical reactions in our bodies to run our bodily functions.  Without these nutrients our bodies cannot function optimally.  Because of this, nutrients from these foods help protect us from disease and slow the aging process.

Vegetables are also a great source of dietary fiber.  Fiber from a variety of produce helps to feed our microbiome and flush waste through our digestive tract.  Certain vegetables, being mostly water, are also hydrating.

We should aim to eat six to eight servings of brightly colored produce each day.  Growing our own vegetables is a great way to get high quality, inexpensive, nutrient dense vegetables.  Vegetables can be added to soups, stews and casseroles to boost their nutrient content.  Some of the most nutrient dense ways to consume produce are lacto-fermented vegetables, fresh vegetables juices and sprouts.

Health Tip #12

health-tip-12

Eating locally and with the seasons will ensure you’re getting the highest nutrient content in your foods.  Growing your own foods or shopping at a local farmers’ market are great ways to eat with the seasons.  Eating locally and with the seasons also attunes your body to the seasons and the climate in which you are living.  In cold weather it makes more sense to eat heavier, warming, building foods.  This is the time of year that warm soups and stews are satisfying.   In the warmer weather eating lighter, cooling, cleansing foods are the natural choice.

Often times in the winter especially, certified organic foods travel farther than non-certified organic and conventional produce.  Eating foods produced as close to home as possible is the best choice as foods lose their nutritional value the longer they spend in shipping and storage.  The term for someone trying to eat as local and in season as they can is “locavore“.  Local, in season foods are fresher, save money, and are better for the environment.  What to look for in the winter months  at your local farmers’ market, health food store or locally owned grocery store:

Winter Squash, Carrots, Potatoes, Onions, Garlic, Apples, Beets and Turnips, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Pears, Hardy Herbs, Kale, Leeks, Parsnips, Rutabagas.