Posts Tagged ‘pesticides’

Organic Panic?

September 5, 2012

Health researchers at Stanford University released a study this week casting doubt on the advantages of organic meats and produce. While they concluded that most fruits and vegetables labeled organic were not more nutritious than the conventional versions, the jury is still out on whether or not spending extra for organic products is worth it.

Conventional varieties tested did have more pesticide residue on them, but the levels fall within the allowable limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The question lies in whether or not these levels are in fact safe for humans long term.

Many of the key motivators for buying organic foods are the stringent rules governing the farming of these items.

Organic chicken and pork were found to less likely to be contaminated by antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The study also found that organic milk contained higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to the heart. Organic produce also had higher levels of phosphorous, and phenols, believed to help prevent cancer.

Organic foods also have less environmental impact than large-scale conventional farming techniques.

More specific studies have found some added benefits to going organic.  A Washington State University study done in 2010 found organic strawberries contained higher levels of vitamin C than their conventionally counterparts.

Three other studies published last year, from Columbia University, The University of California Berkley and Mount Sinai Hospital, showed that children whose mothers ate organically during pregnancy had a higher I.Q. than those whose mother was exposed to higher levels of pesticides.

While this news is likely to spark controversy among farmers and nutrition experts alike, the facts are still somewhat inconclusive.

For children, pregnant women and those with impaired immune systems, the benefits may still out weigh the expense of purchasing organically grown food.

The choice, as always, belongs to the consumer.

photos:Glasshouse Images

Produce De-coded

July 23, 2012

Did you ever wonder what those little stickers on your fruits and vegetables were for? They provide price information, and carry a code which indicates how your produce has been farmed.

Stickers bearing a 4 digit code beginning with a 3 or a 4 means that the produce was conventionally grown, utilizing chemical pesticides.

Stickers with a 5 digit code beginning with the number 8, denotes that the food has been genetically modified, indicating that genes have been manipulated to produce a larger or more colorful fruit or vegetable. They may also have been sprayed with chemical pesticides.

Stickers bearing a 5 digit code beginning with a 9, are placed on organic produce, ensuring that it has not been chemically treated.

The stickers are adhered to the produce with an edible, non-toxic adhesive, although the stickers themselves are not edible.

Always wash your produce well, regardless of how it was grown, and remove the stickers and glue before eating.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Don’t Panic Over Buying Organic

March 31, 2010

There is so much controversy over the safety of our food these days. With all of the contaminants out there, it is best to buy organic fruits and vegetables wherever possible. Unfortunately, organic produce can be pricey, and is not always available in all locales. Below is a list of foods that experts suggest should be organic, based on the United States Department of Agriculture’s tests of pesticide contamination, as well as a list of those that have low levels of contamination.

Food that you should always buy organic:

Nectarines

Celery

Pears

Peaches

Apples

Cherries

Strawberries

Imported Grapes

Spinach

Potatoes

Bell Peppers

Raspberries

Foods that are least likely to be contaminated by pesticides:

Asparagus

Avocado

Broccoli

Cabbage

Eggplant

Kiwi

Mango

Onions

Papaya

Pineapple

Sweet corn

Peas

Sweet potatoes

Tomatoes

Watermelon

Being well informed is the first step to healthy eating.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

Foods Banned In Europe That Are Approved In The USA

March 24, 2010

Although we think we have the safest food in the world, there are 7 “foodstuffs” that are banned in Europe and still available in United States.

Genetically modified foods have been banned in Europe and continue to be used in the U.S. Although there is no evidence to inform good public policy, the trans-fat controversy has been an example of a modified food with negative impact to our health.

A ban on 22 different pesticides still used in our country prohibits their use in the E.U. While critics claim that the ban will raise prices and may thwart malaria control, advocates say that their harm to public health is a greater threat. Buying organic produce will help you avoid unwanted chemicals in your food.

The bovine growth hormone, known as rBGH, is not allowed in Europe. In contrast, the U.S. fights for laws regarding hormone-free labeling, allowing consumers to have a choice. Choose grass fed, hormone free meat wherever possible, as a healthier option.

Chlorinated chickens are not allowed in Europe, which prohibits the importing of American poultry as a result. Purchasing organic, or free-range natural chickens from a reputable farm can protect you and your family from unnecessary chlorination.

We have spoken about the negative aspects of chemicals in plastics previously. Both the U.S. and Europe regulate food contact use of these chemicals, but the standards of approval are much more stringent in Europe. It is best to avoid plastic bottles altogether, especially those containing liquids. Buy food in recyclable glass bottles wherever possible, and use glass containers to hold liquid leftovers in the refrigerator.

Stevia, the new natural sweetener is unavailable in Europe, although it has been used in Japan for over 30 years.  The European government cites potential disturbances to fertility among other negative health risks, but the sweetener has also been tied to some positive benefits as well. This is a case of exercising caution; it may be the best choice among the chemically based additives (Equal, Sweet + Low) but eliminating any sugar substitutes other than raw honey is the best choice.

The best way to protect yourself from the possible negative effects of some the additives in our food is to be as educated as possible about the risks involved in ingesting them. Buying organic, hormone free foods is a great start. Eating less packaged and processed foods is always a healthier choice. Knowing your food sources and making wise decisions wherever possible is the best route to good health, long-term.

photo: Glasshouse Images


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