It used to be that when you heard organic, you thought of dirty, long-haired, chanting, barefoot hippies running around the commune. Well, I shower a couple of times a day, I shave my head, I cannot sing, I rarely go outside without shoes, and I live in a pretty modern single-family home with just my wife. And I am organic!
When you go to the store, you will notice lots of labels, organic, natural, free-range, non-GMO, etc. We are going to focus on organic, but if you want more info visit the USDA website.
So what is organic? The USDA strictly controls what can be labeled as organic. It basically certifies that crops are free of irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, and genetically modified organisms. Livestock must meet animal health and welfare standards and be free of antibiotics, growth hormones, and have been fed 100% organic feed. Products that contain multiple ingredients have 95% or more certified organic content.
So why is this nutritionally important? All you need to do is count calories and track your percentages of fats, carbohydrates and protein, right? Well what about the chemicals and toxins? They cannot be good for you. But they could not sell it if it was not safe, right? Safe is a relative term. Companies are always looking for ways to increase profits. The methods that they use do get reviewed and approved, but do not generally enjoy long-term comprehensive studies. They are deemed safe for the general population. But what does not affect one person, might be detrimental to another. And who knows what effect the years of accumulation and combination of all those artificial compounds will have. So why take the chance?
So here is my story. My wife and I are both allergic to dust, pollen, etc. Well one summer a few years ago, she was having a lot of problems with her allergies but I was fine. She seemed to get worse after meals. So she decided to investigate potential food sources through an elimination diet (it turned out to be wheat). At the same time, we decided to eat more organic foods to try and help eliminate other sources.
After being on it for a couple of months, I had to go out of town on business. We had to eat out of course. I felt terrible after the trip. I was really run down and my stomach was bothering me. I was only gone a couple of days, and I did not leave the country. After a couple of days I was back to normal. A couple of months later I had to travel again and the same exact thing happened. It finally occurred to me that my system just was not used to all of the preservatives, hormones, dyes, etc. By eating organic, I had essentially purged myself of all of the junk. So now anytime I eat a lot of non-organic food, I can tell.
One more story. I was recently contacted by a new on-line weight loss company. They are going to sell pre-packaged foods with a point system. When I inquired as to whether they used organic ingredients or not, the response pretty much said it all.
They referred to organic as a “specialty” market. And there is the problem. How in the world can food that is so pure and in its original form be considered “special”? But that is commercialism. As long as we can promise something like weight loss, we can sell any quality of food that we like to the masses.
They also said that their customers enjoyed “real” food. Well it does not get more “real” than organic. Side note, based on their website, they have not launched yet, so I wonder who exactly these customers were. And they would not provide me with the credentials of the people that developed the menu.
Now let’s talk dollars and cents. Organic foods get a bad rap for being more expensive. My counter-argument is always, why not take the money spent on doctors, prescriptions, sick days and use it up front to buy better food? Prevention through shifting your expenses. And on top of that you will probably feel better. How can you put a price on that? Now if you are not in a position to go full on, I would certainly advocate mixing them in. If you cannot eliminate, reduce. Change your fruits and vegetables or your milk or get the occasional package of organic chicken breasts. Think about personal products like shampoo or toothpaste as well. Another source of nasty chemicals being absorbed into your body.
So all I ask is that you give it some thought and try to work some organic food into your life as much as you can. Hopefully …