Health & Food

Do You Buy Organic?

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I know the weather in Ohio hasn’t been even close to as severe as that on the east coast, but Nick brought this beauty into the house last night;Seriously, that icicle could kill someone! Of course, after reading Shannon’s blog last night, I realized this icicle wasn’t as cool as I thought….

Recently, while at work, I was approached by a husband and wife who asked me “Do you buy conventional, or organic eggs?”. Apparently the couple had been discussing whether it was worth the extra money to buy organic eggs, and when they saw that the grocery store had a dietitian they figured they would get my opinion (great idea!). I told them, “I do not buy organic eggs, because we (Nick and I) do not eat a lot of eggs”. I also told them I would definitely buy organic if we ate eggs more often (more than once a week), if I was pregnant, or if I had young kids who ate eggs often. This conversation sparked my desire to write a post about the foods I buy in organic varieties. But first, let’s review:

USDA Organic Home Page
(provides links to all you ever wanted to know about organic foods)

What Exactly Does Organic Mean?
(great info here!)

Understanding the Organic Labels
(100% Organic, Organic, Made With Organic Ingredients….what’s the difference?!)Should You Purchase Organic Foods?
(the information in today’s post, written in italics below, was extracted from this link)

My Organic Foods

Chicken

I buy organic chicken purely because it tastes better, in my opinion. I also buy organic chicken because Food Inc. scared me for life. I do not buy organic beef. Why? Lately I’ve been more into grass- fed beef than organic. I wrote a post about grass-fed beef a while back, check it out here if you’d like to learn more. When I’m not buying grass-fed beef (it’s hard to find, and it’s expensive!) I buy a well-known brand of “natural beef”, which is raised without hormones or antibiotics. The passage below explains why this is important to me;

Food safety issues related to animal products – meats, eggs and dairy products – are diverse. Direct comparison studies of organic vs. non-organic foods are few, and the current data available are specific to commodity, specific to production practice and/or specific to food safety risk. Organic meat products do reduce risk for potential exposure to prion-related diseases including mad cow disease and to arsenic residues in chicken meat; and organic livestock practices do not contribute to the growing phenomenon of drug resistant pathogens. In other respects, however, current data show few significant differences with regard to food safety.

Many beef companies claim to be “natural” but do not indicate what makes their beef natural. The place where I buy most of my meat does a great job of indicating on its packages what makes their beef “natural” and I really appreciate that.

Dairy
(sometimes)

I buy organic yogurt, but only because I prefer the taste of Stoneyfield yogurt, and it happens to be organic. I do not drink milk, but if I did, I would likely buy organic. There isn’t much research that indicates organic milk is any better for you, but to be honest I don’t really trust that “the government standards for hormones and antibiotics” are always followed properly. I highly suggest reading this PDF file, created by the United Dairy Council; Organic Milk FAQ. You will learn that “organic” dairy doesn’t refer to the actual dairy you are consuming, but it refers to the farm management practices of the dairy farm, and that all milk and dairy products are tested for antibiotics and hormones before being sold (again, I wish I could trust this 100%, but I don’t…..).I’ve had people ask me if I worry about the hormones in milk, and to be honest, I don’t. To be fair, I don’t drink milk, but when I have kids I will not ban them from drinking conventional milk! Will I buy organic milk at home? Yes, but this has to do with the fact that I trust organic farming practices more so than conventional, mainly because I don’t trust that the government really tests all milk for antibiotics and pesticides as stringently as they claim.

I do trust this statement:

“Extensive studies have concluded that the milk from these [containing bST] cows is the same wholesome product that we have enjoyed for generations.” (USC)

If you’re interested in reading about the bovine somatotropin (bST) hormone found in some conventional dairy foods, check out this link, and click on the first PDF link that comes up.

Dirty Dozen Produce

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes (** I don’t always buy organic potatoes **)

From the USDA website:

Pesticide residues – traces of chemicals that were applied to food crops in the field, during processing and/or while in storage – are measurably different on organic foods and non-organic foods. Analysis of USDA and other data documenting pesticide residues on fresh vegetables and fruits shows that organic produce carries significantly fewer pesticide residues than conventional produce. Measured residues on most products, both organic and non-organic, do not exceed government-defined thresholds for safe consumption.

Once again, I do not trust that residues are carefully measured on all produce to assure a safe amount, therefore I try to always buy organic varieties of the “dirtiest” known produce. This is especially important to me since both Nick and I consume a LOT of produce! Some lists also include blueberries (especially frozen) and kale, therefore I buy those two foods in organic varieties about half of the time. Nick and I eat a lot of frozen blueberries.Peanuts/Peanut Butter
(Sometimes)

Fungicide, used to prevent mold on peanuts, is apparently used often on peanut crops. Nick eats a TON of peanut butter so I definitely buy organic if it’s available.Soy

I have pretty much cut out soy from my diet (because my body just doesn’t digest it well). When I do buy products with soy, I look for non-GMO soy (read more about GMOs here). Will I buy/eat it if it’s not non-GMO? Sure, but if the non-GMO is available that’s what I’ll buy. Let’s be honest, I’ve probably been eating GMO foods my entire life, a little more isn’t going to hurt. Ugh.

Bottom Line Overall: If I had enough money, I would buy all organic foods. This isn’t because I feel that they are providing me more nutrients (research doesn’t suggest this) but really it’s because I love our Earth, and I don’t trust that our government’s “strict food standards” are really keeping us, or our Earth, safe all the time. I will likely buy all organic (or at least most) when I am pregnant, and have young children, but for now I am happy to be able to buy organic when possible, and I don’t feel intimidated or scared when consuming conventional foods, of any kind. Heck, I still eat out at restaurants, right?!

Question: Which foods do you buy in organic varieties?

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