Posts Tagged ‘Organic Foods’

Do WE buy organic foods?

I’m just on my way back from the Perform Better conference.  I’m on their speaking circuit and the first of the three Summits they have each year was this past weekend in Providence.  Great group of attendees and fellow speakers.

As I was talking, the topic of organic foods came up.  I shared some of the evidence and information that’s out there.

And then the "most" important question came up — "Do YOU eat organic foods?"

It made me think of a blog we wrote a couple years ago called "Organic foods are a waste of money."  That surely caused a bit of a stir — we were called "hypocrites" for not sticking to our guns recommending "healthy foods."  Others emailed saying since they can’t trust us anymore, they’re unsubscribing from our newsletter list.

That’s fine.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but since the question came up again this weekend I thought it would be good to share some new insights and opinions on the topic of organic foods.

In that previous blog, I summarized a study that was published, basically showing there was no nutrient differences between organic and conventional foods.

In the past we’ve belonged to a CSA (community supported agriculture) and supplemented with weekly trips to the Farmer’s Market.  We also grow about a dozen different vegetables & fruit in our own garden, from tomatoes and zucchini, to Swiss chard, arugula and grapes.  We’re surely not making Martha Stewart nervous, but we have fun with it, enjoy teaching Ella (and ultimately Sophia) about the food we grow and eat.  We also surely benefit from the convenience, cost and flavors and there are data that shows families who grow their own vegetables have kids who eat more of them.

This year since we’ll be gone several weeks out of the summer, we didn’t join a CSA since we’d miss so many of the weekly deliveries, though if you have access to one, it’s a great, great investment in your health.


A CSA is simply where you buy a share of a farm — we paid $500 and get weekly, local crops, from May – December.  That’s well worth the price. Find one in YOUR area by visiting
Local Harvest.org.  These are the greatest way to buy the best vegetables and fruit from YOUR area.  Our previous CSAs guarantee nothing they carry will come from more than 50 miles away … and, as I said, local means tastier and much higher in nutrients.  If it’s organic too, it’s a great bonus.

We love the Farmer’s Market as well for a number of reasons. 

  1. First, we believe eating locally is your best option when you have the choice.  Many times the local farmers do also follow organic standards, yet may not be "certified" as such because of the associated costs.  You should ask the farmers how they grow their produce to find out.
  2. We are fortunate to have a great market where we can also buy all of our meats from the farmer’s market — chicken, meat, pork and eggs (not technically meat, but from an animal).  From all we’ve seen and read and personally believe, the benefits of meats (speaking inclusively for all meats) is safest, cleanest and best for us and our family.  We’re willing to spend more money on these quality products.  Not that this is the ONLY way to eat well, but it’s what we believe is best for our family.

"The food on the end of your fork is the
most powerful medicine in the world"

We want to know where our food comes from … we know the farmers and they know us.

You know your hair dresser by name and you likely know your mechanic and your tailor.  Doesn’t it also make sense to know the person growing the food you’re eating and feeding to your family? 

I’d say about 50% of our produce & 100% of all our meats (and milk) are organically produced and are from local farms.  We do buy all organic meats, chicken, pork, etc.  The produce that we do buy organic is that which has softer skin that we’ll eat.  So I’m not paying extra for organic bananas, but will for organic raspberries as an example. 

"More important than eating organic foods,
is eating local foods"

And we do that by "following" these three "rules."

  1. Grow them ourselves.
  2. Buy them from a Farmer’s Market
  3. Buy local produce when we can from the store, focusing on organic when we eat the skin of the fruit/veggie

We get it.  This may not be practical or realistic for you.  Eating ANY produce at all is surely better than none.  And eating less processed foods as a whole is surely a win win.

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Are Organic Foods Worth It?

This question will likely not ever end.

To some, food is like a religion, with people adamantly arguing on one side or the other.  The "low carb" people vs. the "low fat" people.  The "organic" vs "conventional."  It seems as if there’s no room for balance.  It’s good or evil.  Black or white.  There is no gray.  No middle ground. 

We look around to see if people are "on our side" — make sure others support us (social proof is often more important than scientific proof). Pick your sides, join forces with your "people" and stand behind what you believe.  

But here’s the question.  Why isn’t there a "gray" area? Does it have to be black and white?  Case in point.

Organic Foods.  Always "supreme" and worth the extra cost?

I

This picture is one I captured on a recent trip to Canada.  Organic fries.  Really?

Do we really think that is the issue with fries?  That they’re not organic… it has NOTHING to do with the trans fat or loads of sodium.  Of course, it’s how the potatoes were grown. 

So maybe there is a gray. 

Just because it’s organic, certainly doesn’t make it better.  Organic junk is still junk!

Here’s our take on the topic as a whole.  While some will debate that studies show organic foods have MORE nutrients than conventionally grown foods, there’s certainly not a definite conclusion on this front. 

Sure, some studies DO support that.  Others do not.

But there is more to it than just the nutrients.  Organically grown foods use LESS pesticides.  While we don’t really know how this affects our bodies in years to come, it certainly makes sense that the less of those we can have in our bodies, the better.

Plenty of data does show that farmers who work on or near farms that use a lot of pesticides have higher rates of certain diseases.  The other side of this "argument" is that these are extreme cases, where most people eating the conventional fruit/veggies aren’t getting nearly the dose.

At the end of the day, though, the less we can have overall, the better.

Let’s consider some other points, though.  

Data suggests adults eat around 2 servings of vegetables TOTAL per day.

We’ve had people say to us “I can’t afford organic produce, so I can’t eat more than I’m already eating each day.” 

But our goal is to first get people to eat MORE produce, whether organic or not.

Conventionally grown produce is certainly better than NO produce.  Similarly, maybe outside of the organic vs. conventional debate — we prefer local over organic.

A conventionally grown apple picked the day you eat it is certainly going to have a lot more nutrients than an organic one that has been flown 3000+ miles to get to your grocery store weeks after it was picked.

Take Home Points.

  1. Eat MORE veggies and fruits.
  2. Eat MORE local veggies and fruits
  3. If you’re picking and choosing what foods to buy organic, use the list below.

The list of 12 fruits and veggies below are the list of the *most* contaminated … it’s published by the Environmental Working Group and is called it the “Dirty Dozen”

Very simply, if you’re going to spend more on organic foods, you should focus on THESE 12 that are most commonly contaminated (they are in order from highest to lowest, but they suggest buying organic for any 1 of these 12)

   1. Peaches (most contaminated)
   2. Apples
   3. Sweet bell peppers
   4. Celery
   5. Nectarine
   6. Strawberries
   7. Cherries
   8. Kale
   9. Lettuce
  10. Grapes (imported)
  11. Carrot
  12. Pear

*NOTE: The entire list of 47 foods can be found here:

There are a lot of factors in this organic vs. conventional debate – more to come as we continue to learn.

Post a comment — is organic worth the money in your mind?  Hopefully not if you’re deciding between conventional and organic fries. 

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12 Fruits and Veggies With the MOST Pesticides!

Last year we published a blog about The Environmental Working Groups "Dirty Dozen" list … well, they’re at it again with an update … with the 12 fruits and veggies you SHOULD make sure to buy organic, as these 12 are highest in pesticides.

We’ve talked about organic vs. conventional foods in previous blog posts. 

Basically the "Dirty Dozen" list are the 12 foods that have been found to be highest in pesticides when a random sample is taken from a the grocery store shelves.  In other words, since these are highest in pesticides, it’s suggested that if you’re picking and choosing which foods should be organic, focus on these 12 first. 

This shouldn’t come as a surprise with the recent headlines suggesting the pesticides in foods, namely many berries, like blueberries, are linked to ADD in children

That being said, here is the updated Dirty Dozen list of foods from the Environmental Working Group.  Again, these are the 12 foods you should go organic with if you’re picking and choosing.  As an easy rule of thumb, notice all of those are ones you’d eat the skin/leaf. 

As a general rule of thumb, if you peel it (banana, avocado, melons, etc) there’s less concern over pesticides since you’re not eating the part that would be sprayed. 

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines – imported
  7. Grapes – imported
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries – domestic
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens

Maybe even a MORE important message, though, even more than focusing on those 12 higher pesticide foods … is that conventionally grown fruit and veggies is STILL better than none. 

Next, if you ARE picking and choosing organic or not, focus on these 12 to spend the extra money.

Do you choose organic?  Let us know!


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High Price for Healthy Food?

The other day I’m having a conversation with a woman in our Louisville boot camp — she was asking about strategies to lose weight.

I was making what I thought were some simple suggestions …

Switch to drinking only wheat grass, substituting chia seeds for your morning cereal, you know, the basics.

All kidding aside, we DID talk about nutrition basics (and, no, I don’t use wheat grass or chia seeds on a regular basis).

The basics started with a question — where in your diet can you add fruits and/or veggies?

And then I went on to what we believe to be some smart starting points that this woman wasn’t doing on a daily basis.

Eat breakfast daily.

Replace liquid calories. 

That’s step 1.

And for every suggestion, she kept coming back with the a barrier "but it costs too much for organic food."

 "But it doesn’t have to be organic" I said.

"Well, it costs too much to eat healthy."

Does it?

Does it REALLY cost too much to eat well?

Here’s a quickcomparison of just a few "junk foods" on the left vs. "health foods" on the right side of the table

Doritos $3.99 4 lbs apples (.99/lb) $3.96
2 L bottle of soda $1.39 Tap water *Free
 1 package Oreos  $4.29  3-6 oz Greek yogurts ($1.29 each)  $3.87
 Sausage & Egg biscuit  $1.70  1 dozen eggs (makes ~6 meals)  $1.29

 *Of course you do pay SOME for tap water, but minimal

So those are just a handful of comparisons.  Not only are the foods on the right side of the table more nutrient dense, but you get a lot more bang for your buck …

…1 dozen eggs can provide breakfast most days of the week, whereas a sausage & egg biscuit from McDonald’s feeds you for just 1 day.  Even when you add in a piece of fruit or whole grain toast, you’ll still pay less for that entire meal.

And while this last concept is hard to understand — eating well NOW will save you a SIGNIFICANT amount of money down the road, as you’re preventing sickness by caring for yourself now.

Just make 1 small positive change each day …

…it will ultimately allow you to achieve whatever physical goals you set for yourself.

 

Organic Foods are a Waste of Money?

Organic foods are hot – more and more consumers are looking for the term "organic."

But is organic "stuff" worth the extra money?  Sometimes organic produce costs at least double what "conventional" produce costs.

So why do people spend the extra money?
1. Less pesticides
2. More nutrients
3. More flavor

But are these valid reasons?

According to research published just the other day in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition …

… not a chance.  Organic foods didn’t turn out to be any "better" than conventionally grown foods.

Here’s the deal — the goal of the study was to measure the differences in nutrient content between organic vs. conventional food.

Very simply the researchers scoured the literature, studies published over a 50 year time span, and looked at the nutrient differences, if any.

Their conclusions?  "There is no evidence of a difference in nutrient quality between organic and conventional foods … "

So is this the be all and end all?  Should we boycott Whole Foods — turning our noses up at the organic food "industry?" foods?

Not quite.  Here’s how we feel about this.

First, more important than organic … simply eat more fruits and vegetables.  Produce is great for you — whether you’re trying to lose fat, improve health, decrease your risk of disease, etc.  With the average American eating just 2 servings total per day, eating organic isn’t my main concern…eating MORE fruits and vegetables is my concern.

We also believe local is actually more important than organic.  Local … meaning foods that are grown close to where you live, like those found at Farmer’s Markets.  An organic food flown 3000 miles to your grocery store is not even close to the same as a fresh vegetable picked that morning from a farm that’s just a short drive from your house.  It’s also a great way to support the local economy since you’re helping local farmers.

While I mentioned this very recent study that compared some nutrient differences in conventional and organic produce, there are also other "issues" with organic foods that are a concern for many

  • Are they better for the environment?
  • Are there less pesticides used in production, meaning we eat less pesticides?
  • Are they safer with the recent disease outbreaks that have popped up lately (e coli, salmonella, etc)?
    There are still a lot of questions to be answered.  Remember that this study was just one of many … and all studies need others to support (or refute) the claims.

Here’s our take as of now:

  • Eat more produce, organic or not
  • Buy local

If you are thinking about buying organic produce, but cost is a factor, focus on those fruits and veggies where you eat the skin vs. those you don’t.  For example, you peel a banana, but eat the entire raspberry — the raspberry would therefore be more to ‘go organic’

What do you think?  Is organic worth it?  Why do you (or don’t you) buy organic foods?  Leave us a comment.
 

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