Why Buy Organic: Organic Food Contains More Nurtients (Part 2)

In the first part of Why Buy Organic? I talked about the pesticides, herbicides, and other toxic substances that are used to grow conventional produce.

However, toxins in conventional produce is only part of the story. The other important piece, is the amount of nutrients in conventional vs organic produce.

Many people purchase organic food because they believe it is healthier than conventionally grown food. Yet, the organic industry is constantly told that there is no evidence to support these claims. I’ve read on more than one occasion about “research” that “proved” the equal nutritional value of conventional produce when compared with organic.

I don’t believe that at all.

While certainly eating conventional produce is better than not eating plant foods at all, organically produced fruits and vegetables contain much higher amounts of nutrients, and therefore are more nutrition-rich and health promoting, than their conventional counterparts.

And there are numerous studies that prove that.

“Research published in 2001 showed that the current fruit and vegetables in the USA have about half the vitamin content of their counterparts in 1963. This study was based on comparing published US Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures.
A scientific study published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition in 1993 clearly showed that organic food is more nutritious than conventional food.
Organically and conventionally grown apples, potatoes, pears, wheat, and sweet corn were purchased in the western suburbs of Chicago, over two years, and analyzed for mineral content. The organically grown food averaged 63% higher in calcium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher in magnesium, 178% higher in molybdenum, 91% higher in phosphorus, 125% higher in potassium and 60% higher in zinc. The organic food averaged 29% lower in mercury than the conventionally raised food.
A peer reviewed scientific article published in the February 2003 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry stated that organically grown corn, strawberries and marionberries have significantly higher levels of cancer fighting antioxidants than conventionally grown foods. Some of these compounds, such as Flavonoids, are phenolic compounds that have potent antioxidant activities. Many are produced in plants in response to environmental stresses, such as insects or competing plants. They are protective compounds that act as a plant’s natural defense and also have protective properties in human and animal health.
The research suggested that pesticides and herbicides disrupt the production of these protective compounds. Good soil nutrition appears to increase the levels of these natural compounds that have anti cancer, immune boosting and anti aging properties.” via http://www.permaculture.com/drupal/node/144

It’s All In the Soil

The main reason for this is the quality of the soil.

If we care about the nutrition that we receive from our food, we absolutely must not ignore the quality of nutrients plants receive from the soil because the quality of the soil in which the plants grow has a huge influence on our health and on the health of the animals that eat those plants.

The soil plants grow in are as important to our health as plants themselves, if not more!

Conventional agriculture ignores the complex ecosystems of the soil and focuses their efforts at supplying potassium, nitrogen and other chemicals to the plants.

Organic farmers, on the other hand, make sure they are feeding the living microorganisms in the soil, which are essential for growing plants that are rich in nutrients and health promoting minerals.

Organic vs conventional produce: It's all in the soil

Organic vs conventional produce: Nutrients come from the the soil

Microorganisms in the soil cannot survive when fed artificial fertilizers, and when all microorganisms die because of the overuse of chemicals, the soil turns into dust.

Here is an interesting fact: “the combined weight of all the microbial cells on earth is twenty-five times that of its animal life; every acre of well-cultivated land contains up to a half a ton of thriving microorganisms, and a ton of earthworms which can daily excrete a ton of humic casting.” (Peter Tompins and Christopher Bird “Secrets of the Soil.)

Most of the soil of agricultural farms in the USA contains less than 2% of organic matter, while originally, before the era of chemistry, it was 60-100%.

According to David Blume, an ecological biologist and permaculture expert, “Most Class I agricultural soil is lucky to hit 2% organic matter – the dividing line between a living and dead soil”. By applying permaculture gardening techniques to a field of extremely depleted soil, which consisted of cement-hard adobe clay, David Blume was able to bring the organic matter to the 25% level within just a couple of years. From this field he harvested the crops “8 times what the USDA claims are possible per square foot” via “Green For Life” by Victoria Boutenko

Organic Vs Conventional Nutrition

Organic vs conventional produce nutrition

Organic vs conventional produce nutrition

Solutions are available, and decisions are being made now. I will write about the in the next installment of “Why buy organic?”.

Organic vs conventional produce nutrition; via Green For Life by Victoria Boutenko

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

If you have a favorite recipe, why not submit it here in the comment section of this smoothie recipes blog for others to enjoy too!

I also welcome any comments, questions and suggestions. Thanks!

Why Buy Organic Foods: Pesticides on Popular Produce (Part 1)

I admit I have been kind of lazy in the past, rarely buying organic produce (I have to drive 5+ miles to the nearest Wholefoods to get organic greens), but shopping mostly at a local grocery store that sells conventionally grown instead.

So one day, I finally decided to really look into this issue a little deeper, starting with checking the pesticide content of the greens that I use for my smoothies.

The fruits and greens that I use in my green smoothies are fabulous foods, full of vital nutrients that are supposed help keep our bodies strong and immune to disease, right?

Well, sort of.

Many studies show that most conventionally farmed foods have pesticide and other chemical residues. Repeated tests show that many of these foods can literally carry “a cocktail of synthetic poisons.” A growing body of science is showing that repeated exposures, to cocktails of small amounts of synthetic chemicals, have a range of adverse health effects.

Of course, I knew that, but I decided to investigate exactly which foods are most contaminated, and make a list of foods that I need to buy organic at your farmer’s market or supermarket that carries organic produce.

Here is what I found out.

The average conventionally grown apple has 20 to 30 artificial chemicals on its skin, even after rinsing. If you’re eating non-organic celery today, you may be ingesting 67 pesticides with it, according to a report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Many scientists believe these exposures, of minute quantities of agricultural chemicals, are very significant, especially for children.

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit focused on public health, scoured nearly 100,000 produce pesticide reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine what fruits and vegetables we eat have the highest, and lowest, amounts of chemical residue.

Most alarming are the fruits and vegetables dubbed the “Dirty Dozen,” which contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving. These foods are believed to be most susceptible because they have soft skin that tends to absorb more pesticides.

The Dirty Dozen – Buy Organic if possible

So here is the list of the so-called Dirty Dozen, the foods that are most contaminated, so we need to limit their consumption or only buy organic:

Sweet bell peppers
Spinach, kale and collard greens
Grapes (imported)

Other than bananas (that are not on this list) and potatoes (that are on this list buy we don’t eat them as often), this list contains most fruits and vegetables that I frequently use in my green smoothies and salads!

The Clean 15

Conventional Produce Lowest in Pesticides

Not all non-organic fruits and vegetables have a high pesticide level. Some produce has a strong outer layer that provides a defense against pesticide contamination. The group found a number of non-organic fruits and vegetables dubbed the “Clean 15” that contained little to no pesticides.

Sweet corn
Sweet peas
Kiwi fruit
Sweet potatoes
Sweet onions
Honeydew Melon

To limit your exposure, it makes sense to peel fruits, if possible, and not to eat skins, unless you are able to purchase those vegetables in organic form. Remove and discard the outermost leaves of lettuce and cabbage, and other surfaces that cannot be peeled can be washed with soap and water, or a commercial vegetable wash.

Some of my favorite foods and ingredients for my smoothies are on the dirty-dozen list. And even the “OK to eat produce” isn’t completely safe.  At my house, we do consume lots of green smoothies, so, needless to say, I worry about the toxins level, especially when it comes to my son.

For example, a study out of Harvard shows that even tiny, allowable amounts of a common pesticide class can have dramatic effects on brain chemistry. Organophosphate insecticides (OP’s) are among the most widely used pesticides in the U.S. & have long been known to be particularly toxic for children. This is the first study to examine their effects across a representative population with average levels of exposure. Finding :: Kids with above-average pesticide exposures are 2x as likely to have ADHD. Read the full report

The chemicals sprayed on conventional food crops have been linked to numerous diseases, including birth defects, Parkinson’s, numerous cancers and diabetes

Here is where you can check the pesticide residue on popular produce – go to http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/

I don’t know about you, but I find it appalling that eating these (and other) foods that we buy because they are healthy (and delicious) can make us sick!

Personally, I don’t want to worry about the dangerous toxins when I buy my fruits, vegetables and greens for juicing, blending or cooking.

Organic is not a luxury; it’s how food is supposed to be!

Buying organic and pesticide-free whenever possible makes sense and is an important start. But being a responsible consumer will not make enough of a difference to make our food system sustainable and safe for ourselves and future generations.

In the second installment of this article I’ll be writing about nutritional value of organic versus conventional produce.

Solutions are available, and decisions are being made now. I’ll also be writing about what we can all do to make organic foods more available and affordable.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

If you have a favorite recipe, why not submit it here in the comment section of this smoothie recipes blog for others to enjoy too!

I also welcome any comments, questions and suggestions. Thanks!