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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What really is "Organic"?


"Organic" has been a word associated with health and wellness as of late and for good reason.  It is supposed to be cleaner, pesticide free and generally better for you.  But what does it all really mean?


By definition to be "Certified Organic" is farming/growing in a way that preserves the soil and the natural cycle of everything that interacts with those soil.  Basically it is looking at treating the soil as a living organism.  Now, this doesn't mean that when you see something as "Organic" that it is the best and it does not guarantee certification.  Organic is just a product claim, nothing more.

How It Works:
-Here are the guidelines of what is required for a farm to be Certified as Organic.
1. Three year transition
2. Certified by Agent (accredited by USDA)
3. Annual Inspection
4. Only use allowed substances

These are the basics of what all getting 'certified' entails but even when the certification process is done that doesn't always still mean things are on the up and up.  While it is true that certified organic farmers can't use irradiation, sewage sludge or genetic modification they are still allows to spray.  The sprays they can use must be "naturally occurring" and only "slightly synthesized".  Not exactly a reassuring statement.

Each farm is to be inspected yearly but as with most businesses the certifiers are also looking to expand their client list and this can often lead to conflicts of interest.  As all these people need more business it increases the likelihood that they are not going to blow the whistle on a farm that might be bending or breaking the rules.  In 2010, 13000+ certified organic farms were inspected, only 10 had their license revoked.

Organic doesn't mean locally grown or raised.  Cocoa, vanilla, banana all come from somewhere else and are often times put into processed food.  Just because it is organic does not mean it is healthy.  The travel that some of these products have to go through can increase their probability of spoiling, being contaminated and losing nutrition.  Local is your safest bet.


Recommendations:
Just because it says organic does not mean it is perfectly healthy for you.  The nutrition in "organic cake" still isn't great nutrition as sugar can be organic but that does not make it healthy.  Don't worry so much about the calorie content and everything else that is on the label if you can't pronounce most of the words.   A very easy and simple way to feel good about you are eating is if the ingredients list has five (5) or less.  This does a great job of trying to keep everything simple and easy but doesn't add much time to your shopping.

If you're worried about organic and how good it truly is for you the best way it know your farmer.  The more local it is the easier it is for you to check it out an know that it isn't a mega-farm producing your food.  Not knowing where your food comes from gives you no idea on how to select what you eat.

Below we have also added the list of the foods that have been shown to have the highest pesticides rates and ones that should buy "certified organic" if you can or try and avoid as much as possible.  We have also added the most clean foods.  These are the ones you want to go after and can be exposed to less hazardous material.

Dirty Dozen Foods: Highest Pesticides Residues (Earth Restoration Alliance)
1. Celery
2. Peaches
3. Strawberries
4. Apples
5. Blueberries
6. Nectarines
7. Bell peppers
8. Spinach
9. Lettuce
10. Kale & collard greens
11. Potatoes
12. Grapes

Clean Fifteen
1. Onion
2. Avocado
3. Sweet corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mango
6. Sweet peas
7. Asparagus
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Canteloupe
12. Watermelon
13. Grapefruit
14. Sweet potato
15. Mushrooms

Resources:
www.inorganicwetrust.com

Video: In Organic We Trust

BONUS:

Now this post talks a lot about organic but we didn't touch much on GMO based foods.  This is an extremely hot topic.

The Case for Engineering Our Food



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