From the Desk of The Nutty Nutritionist

Archive for the ‘Organic Foods’ Category

When is it best to buy organic?

In Organic Foods on January 17, 2010 at 12:20 PM

It is unnecessary to buy everything organic.  Food manufacturers have gotten a little carried away promoting organic products while charging a premium price and earning a higher profile spot on the grocery store shelves—both of which just pad profit margins.  (an “organic” cookie is still a cookie—you are just choosing to pay a premium price to inflate your hips and thighs).  Even with more healthful food choices, there is no need to pay $4.99 for a box of organic pasta, cereal, or a loaf of bread.  No pesticides are added to wheat, therefore, there are no harmful residues to pollute our environment or our bodies.   So, let us focus on what really matters here.  It is only worth the price to buy organic when you are actually helping the environment and keeping potentially harmful chemicals out of your system.

Produce: 

 Organic produce is grown without pesticides and uses natural fertilizers (manure and compost) to feed soil and plants.  Avoiding the fruits and vegetables highest in pesticide residue is a smart choice.  If organic is not available, use a specialized fruit and vegetable wash to remove as much contamination as possible.  Always rinse organic produce under water—organic does not mean “clean”.  (think of all the germy hands that may have handled your fruit from farm to grocery store…)

Organic is best for apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, green beans, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, raspberries, spinach, and strawberries.  Pesticides are used liberally on these items and are more likely to penetrate the flesh.  Bugs and creepy crawlers like sinking their teeth into a ripe juicy strawberry just as much as you do!!!

Conventional is fine for asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papayas, pineapples, sweet corn, and sweet peas.  Do you honestly think any pesticides are going to penetrate the thick peel of a banana???  NO WAY!  

Meat, Eggs, & Dairy Products:

Paying extra for animal products is worthwhile if you can afford them.  Organic beef, chicken, pork, eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt come from animals that are not allowed to be fed antibiotics, bovine growth hormones, or other artificial drugs.  They are fed 100% organic feed, whether grain or grass, without any animal by-products or fertilizers.  “All natural”, “free range”, “grass fed”, “cage free”, or “hormone free” does not mean organic.  Many manufacturers will choose to use healthful practices without paying the fee to become “certified organic”.  Therefore, it is also worthwhile to purchase labeled meat and dairy products from animals raised without antibiotics and hormones, even if they are not certified organic.

Seafood:

Fish can be labeled as organic even if it contains mercury or PCB’s, because the government has not developed standards for seafood yet.  It is best to buy “wild” fish from the least polluted waters, such as Alaska, since they tend to contain lower levels of contaminants.  Farmed fish MAY contain higher levels of PCB’s, dioxins, and pesticides.

The healthiest,  least contaminated species include farmed or wild Artic Char, Farmed Bass, Wild Alaskan or Pacific Salmon, and Wild North Pacific Sole.  Other good choices include farmed catfish, wild cod, wild flouder, hook & line caught Mahi Mahi, wild or farmed scallops, wild shrimp (typical in U.S.), wild Atlantic snapper, farmed tilapia, and canned Light Chunk tuna.

More contaminated species include Chilean Sea Bass (bummer…it’s my fave), shark, swordfish, albacore canned tuna, yellowfin tuna, king mackerel, wild atlantic striped bass, farmed Atlantic salmon, farmed shrimp (Asian), farmed trout, halibut, walleye, bluefish, pike, and tilefish.

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