Organic Nutrition: We Are What We Eat

You remember your elementary schools teachers and parents telling us how we are what we eat. It was a simple lesson most of us learned as children, and yet look at our world today. Chemical corporations are planting genetically modified soy bean and corn on thousands of acres of industrial farmland.  Another company has engineered a super-freak fish made from an Atlantic salmon with genes of a Chinook salmon and ocean pout injected into its genetic makeup. If you visit agriculture regions during the spraying season you are likely to witness workers in hazmat suits blasting crops with toxic herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides ( Thats a lot of “-cides” ). An estimated one billion pounds of pesticides are sprayed in the United States annually alone. Remember that next time you’re looking at the perfect shiny green apple at the grocery store.

Sure, you can wash off your fruits and veggies before you eat them, but did you know that before the crops are sprayed, they are often coated with a “sticker” by chemical corporations to prevent pesticides from washing off in the rain and weather. That quick rinse under the kitchen faucet likely won’t cut it.

Don’t forget about the hormones, drugs and chemicals fed to livestock either. How exactly are we supposed to wash those off?

We are what we eat. It’s time to tell agribusinesses corporations that we do not aspire to grow into GMO soybeans or hormone infused chickens, and more importantly we do not want our children to grow up eating these things.

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Organic farming is growing in popularity: Thanks to new research and advancements in the agriculture world, we now know that by using locally adapted plants, crop rotations, improved nutrient recycling and a mix of both new and traditional growing techniques, small acreage farms are able to produce high outputs of organic produce. What does that mean for us?

That means more organic produce at a more affordable rate because of its greater supply availability. It also means that if some farms are already doubling their yields by switching to organic growth methods, then soon more and more will jump on the “organic method train” and hopefully the whole nation will become a part of the greener revolution to sustain our population in a healthier and more efficient way.

Benefits of Eating Organic: Besides the obvious reasons of putting less chemicals and pesticides into your body, benefits of eating oraganics are:

More Healthy Fats: When it comes to meat and milk, organic products can have about 50% more omega 3 fatty acids, a type of unsaturated healthy fat, than conventionally produced products, according to a journal in the British Journal of Nutrition. Organic milk tested in the study also had less saturated fat than non-organic milk. The authors think the differences may come from the way the animals were raised on a grass-fed diet and spent more time outdoors. They believe that switching from conventional to organic products would increase consumers omega 3 intakes without increasing calories or saturated fat. This is huge for athletes because omega 3’s are essential for our bodies and can aid muscles in a quick recovery.

-No antibiotics or synthetic hormones: Conventional livestock can be fed antibiotics to prevent illness, making it easier for farmers to raise them in unsanitary and crowded conditions. The FDA limited the use of certain antibiotics on livestock early in 2017, but loopholes still exist in the legislation. With the exception of poultry, conventionally raised animals can be injected with synthetic growth hormones to make them put on weight faster or produced more milk. Traces of this hormone can make their way to consumers. Rolf Halden, professor and director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University believes organic foods, which are produced without antibiotics, “-are intrinsically safer in this respect.” Organic meat and dairy also cannot contain synthetic hormones, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

More Antioxidants: In a recent six year study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found that organic onions had about 20% higher antioxidant content than conventionally grown onions. The question of whether organically grown food is more nutritious is still at debate, however the results of this study were interesting. If the study holds true for all organic produce, then the extra phytochemicals ( non-essential nutrients that can add benefits to out diets ) found could be a game changer.

Organic Tastes Better: Livestock raised outdoors in the open fields has a certain taste that is unique to the environment it fed on. Fruit with lower levels of nitrogen and more antioxidants taste more natural and make you feel like you are eating healthier. Factors that contribute to a longer shelf life can reduce the flavor in conventional products. It’s no surprise that crops designed for quantity of yield over quality of the produce will sacrifice some flavor in exchange for massive outputs.

How to Eat Organic:  Organic foods can cost more than conventional and many people simply cannot afford to buy everything organic. If you can, great. If you can’t, try and opt for organic foods that you eat daily and that are on the “dirty dozen” list – those with the highest pesticide residue. It is recommend to try and shop organic for eggs, dairy and meat as well.

Bottom Line: Given the choice, wouldn’t you rather eat like our ancestors did. Organic and hardy whole grains filled with fiber and complex carbohydrates, organic produce and fresh strawberries picked from your local farm bursting with flavor and natural sweetness. Eating free range buffalo and chickens that grew up naturally without the help of injected hormones and crowded living conditions. The bottom line is, we are what we eat, and our children are what we feed them.

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