Study Shows that Organic Foods are No More Nutritious than Non-Organic Foods

Organic food has often been touted as being superior to conventional foods, which have been extensively modified through the spray of pesticides and being genetically modified in laboratories. Despite costing more, more people are beginning to spend more on organic produce, dairy and meat for their perceived superior health benefits. However, those perceptions are now being challenged after a study concluded that organic food is no more nutritious than normal foods.

The study was conducted at Stanford University where the nutritional content of organic fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and nuts were tested and compared with their conventional counterparts. The results showed that in terms of nutritional content, the organic foods were no better than the normal ones.

Does this mean that consumers are throwing their money away by buying organic? Not quite; while organic and conventional foods may be equal in terms of vitamins and nutrition, organic options are free of fertilizers and synthetic pesticides as well as artificial hormones and antibiotics. Organic farms are also required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow their livestock to graze freely in pastures instead of keeping them cooped up in cramped cages and stables.

The study did, however, conclude that most organic foods do have a slightly higher concentration of phosphorus. Organic chicken and milk also had slightly higher amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. Furthermore, conventional produce and fruits did show higher traces of residue from pesticides. In addition, organic meat and poultry were less likely to contain traces of bacteria that were resistant to antibiotics.

The verdict is still out there on the validity of organic foods and whether it is really worth the extra cost. That is something the consumers have to decide for themselves. The study, however, does give shoppers something to think about when they make their next trip to the grocery store.

Is My Food Actually Organic? How Can I Tell?

Consumers are starting to realize the effects of eating processed food over time. Because of this, organic food has become a pretty hot topic. If you buy organic food, you might be wondering if the produce you are buying is actually organic. Distinguishing organic food from processed or hormone driven food can be a daunting task if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Here is a guide on how to tell if your food is actually organic.

Look over the packaging for your food. There should be a certification on the labels that tell you the food is actually organic. Although this is the most obvious ways to check, many people buy food without looking over the packaging.

Buy local. Local foods from farms are more likely to actually be organic. Small farms do not have the means to inject their foods with hormones or process them. Local fruit stands and the farmer’s market are some of the best places to find fresh organic food.

Research companies that you are buying food from. There are a lot of watchdog groups on the Internet that want to expose companies that are falsely selling organic foods. If you are concerned about the food you are buying, research the companies that are selling it to make sure you are getting exactly what you pay for.

Avoid food packages that use the word “natural” on the labels. This is a way for food companies to entice the organic food buyer into purchasing their products. “Natural” is not organic. This is commonly used with companies that mass-produce food. Although these foods will not have preservatives in them, they could have other toxins.

Look at the ingredients list on the food packaging. If you find that the foods have any kind of dye in them, you can bet that they are not organic. Organic foods do not use dyes or other preservatives to give them their color. Avoid these foods, as they are not organic.

Living a healthy lifestyle is essential for a long life. If you are worried that your food is not organic, you can take a proactive approach by following these guidelines. Remember to look over the packaging and check for any certifications. Always buy from a local vendor and research any companies you are not familiar with. Avoid the “Natural” stamp and peruse the ingredients list on your foods. If you still aren’t sure, ask your local grocer if they know of foods that are truly organic.

Buy Organic Food On A Budget

Eating organic food is often thought to be more expensive, but it’s actually possible to enjoy the wonders of organic food on a budget as long as you know where to shop. I’ve been buying organic for over a year now and I’m happy to say that I’ve actually lowered my grocery bill. My entire family is healthier and there is more fresh food in the house – which makes all the meals taste even better, too.

I discovered farmer’s markets not that long ago. I had always heard of them but never bothered to actually go to them. Low and behold, there is a ton of organic vegetables there that have been locally grown. Depending on the area of the market, there are also eggs and some great jams to take advantage of, too. These are much cheaper than what you’d buy in a grocery store because there is little to no overhead of being at the market.

I’ve also learned to buy what’s in season in bulk. The hard way to learn is to wait until the vegetables and fruits are out of season and then decide you want them. They’ll cost double or triple because now they have to be shipped in from other parts of the country. I buy when the produce is in season and then cube it or dice it and put them away in plastic freezer bags until I’m ready.

A few neighbors got me started on a garden. This is to most affordable way to grow anything because you just start with a few seeds and, if you take care of it, the garden can produce plenty for you all year long. I started with herbs and then slowly worked my way up to tomatoes and eggplants. This year I’m even going to start experimenting with some of the root vegetables.

Some areas of the country have CSA or Community Supported Agriculture. I pay a local farmer a few hundred dollars at the beginning of the season to help get his crop started. Then, for the next six months, I get two bags of produce with a wide variety of crop. The only money I pay is the money at the beginning of the season and then I get to feed the family beautiful fruit and vegetables for the next few months basically for free.

I’ve also learned to be more flexible. If it’s not on sale or I can’t buy avocados to make guacamole, I buy tomatoes and cilantro and make salsa. Learning to be flexible has also taught me to plan ahead and buy those avocadoes earlier in the season so that I have them when I want them.

Organic food on a budget is a possible but only if you know where to look. If you try to go organic at the grocery store, you’ll go broke. It’s all about shopping through the local avenues to get the best variety and the lowest prices.

The Green Light Is On Wine

Ever since Julius Caesar ruled much of the world, the wine business has been huge. In 2009, California alone sold 554 million gallons domestically and abroad. But back when Caesar was toasting his latest military victory they probably weren’t thinking about the ecological effects of a 100 B.C. vintage. By the same token, their vineyards weren’t maintained with the same chemicals and pesticides which are used by most modern wineries use.

These days, you will have to look a little harder to find a wine which is not synthetically manipulated in any way, be that man-made fertilizers, pest deterrents, or chemical-laden bottling processes.

But while they are hard to find, they are indeed out there: more and more winegrowers are now producing organic grapes using low-impact and biodynamic viticulture procedures. They are also upping the sustainability of their properties by controlling erosion, irrigation, and fertilization with the long-term health of the earth in mind.

Other vineyards are cutting back on their packaging and consumption. Some small local wineries offer neighborhood customers an energy efficient alternative to vintages shipped from overseas. So whether you are looking for that perfect party chardonnay or just a Merlot for sipping after a busy week, it is now easier than ever to green your reds and whites.

The Green Light is on Beer

We are on the heels of the hot sunny summer season – and what with global warming, things are only going to be getting hotter. Let’s face it, you’re going to want something cold to drink – and if you’re anything like me, you’ll go for a beer.

Since environmentalists love The Ancient Brew of Hops, in our environmentally aware time we’ve witnessed a boom in green, organic spirits, sustainable and renewable energy-powered breweries.

There’s a lot that you can do to be a green drinker: you can support sustainable and even solar powered breweries, you can drink strictly organic, pesticide-free beers. And by God steer clear of excessive packaging in cans and bottles.

Luckily, organic beer is a growing force in the booze industry. If a beer bears an organic label, that means that it has been certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It adheres to strict, legally binding farming regulations. It means that you can expect the barley and hops to be organically grown: no toxic pesticides, no chemical preservatives and no artificial fertilizers. Drinking and buying organic is also a nice way to support more sustainable agriculture, and even to contest global warming.

Look out for beer companies that are going the distance to achieve environmental responsibility. For instance, Sierra Nevada, powers its brewery with solar power, while Anderson Brewery in Chico, could well be the first truly 100% sustainable brewery. Or check out Cascade Green, an Antipodean beer company that offsets its emissions by 100%. Plus they’re delicious beers.

Bottoms up.

The Modern Mom is Counting Her Chickens

woman and chickenFour Bay Area women — none of whom actually know one another — are building chicken coops in their backyards. They all raise organic produce. Berkeley, California is the capital of locavorism, the church of Alice Waters. Kitchen gardens are as ubiquitous in Berkeley as indoor plumbing. But chickens? Well this means business.

All of these chicks with chicks are stay-at-home moms, highly educated women who left the work force to dedicate their time to kith and kin. The omnivore’s dilemma has provided an unpredicted out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming “Betty Draper”. A smart gift for the family is a true gift for her…good for her.

On the unnamed and unhappy rigmarole of so many working moms, the “problem that had no name” was as much spiritual as it was economic: a dissatisfaction which overtook middle-class housewives trapped in a pickle of schlepping and shopping and shopping and schlepping.

That’s where the chicken coop comes in.

Femivorism is grounded in the same principles of self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal fulfillment which drove women into the work place in the first place. Given how conscious everyone has become about the source of their food, it also confers instant legitimacy. Femivores expand the limits of their forte: feeding their families clean and flavorful food, reducing their carbon footprints and producing sustainably instead of consuming pigishly.

There is also an economic argument for choosing the literal nest egg over the figurative one. Femivores claim that knowing how to feed and clothe yourself regardless of circumstance, to turn less into more is an equal safety net. At the end of the day, who is really better equipped to weather this economy, the high-earning woman who loses her job or the prudent homemaker who can count her chickens?

You Say Tomato I Say Potato

The Scoop
It turns out that eating organic food is a win/win situation. Firstly fruits and vegetables simply taste a whole lot better when they are picked ripe and eaten quickly. Actually buying in season is economical and buying organic products ensures environmentally sound farming practices.

Organic ProduceAs you read, try to imagine: a tomato which is picked before it is ripe somewhere in California and then thrown into a huge truck with about 40,000 pounds of other under ripe tomatoes; is then taken to a processing plant, put through a chlorine bath, waxed, gassed with ethylene (which speeds up the ripening process) and then sent in another truck across the country to some restaurant, is probably not going to taste so good. So you can see why buying organic and in-season fruits and vegetables makes the most sense.

What You Can Do
The best place to shop for produce is either at a local farmers market or you can join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, where you can buy your food directly from local organic farmers.

What Else Can You Tell Me, Food Man?
The FDA does not require food labels to disclose the genetically engineered ingredients which are used. According to Greenpeace of the acreage in North America, which is devoted to GE crops, 99% are planted with, cotton, canola, soy or corn. This means that over 60% of processed foods available in the US contain genetically modified ingredients.

Food Buffs on Your Honey Moon, This One’s for You

I found this list floating around that was just too…unique to pass up. Recommended foods to eat “just once before you die”, or in my words, to serve to your loved on as a once-in-a-lifetime gift. “Just once,” probably because they are unavailable in your local Winn Dixie, America’s supermarket every day, or whatever the slogan is these days. That, and these foods you can only find in places that don’t exactly attract much tourism or interest other than college students who want to go to whacked-out places and help out the destitute brutalized under an endless slew of dictators that keep launching coups every other week.

“Before you die,” maybe because these places aren’t so safe. Well, maybe I exaggerate. But the food’s great!

fried spiderThe first is fried spider. You can find these in a wonderful place called Cambodia, usually in the news for bad things, but spider season is out and you better go try some. The spiders are eaten in a town called Skuon, and they are as big as your hand. They’re bred in spider farms that consist of holes in the ground. Once they’re no longer alive, they are breaded with monosodium glutamate (MSG – you can find bags of this stuff in Chinatown, flavor enhancer that gives you headaches), sugar and salt. They’re then fried with garlic until the legs get crispy. Eat the head and the legs. Stay away from the abdomen. At least that’s what the locals say.

fuguThe next one is Fugu, which you can find in Japan. Granted, ever since World War II ended, Japan has been a pretty upstanding country. No dictators there. Just poisonous fish. The Fugu fish, what we know as a blow fish, is so poisonous it can kill 30 men with its liver and ovaries, where the poison, tetrodotoxin, is produced. I can’t kill anyone with my liver and ovaries, which makes me feel kind of left out. But anyway.

Eating fugu is only advisable in the absolute best restaurants of Tokyo, because it can only legally be prepared by a licensed chef, who we may remind you basically has your life in his hands as he cuts away blow fish livers and ovaries and DOES NOT EAT THEM. The best part of the experience of this daredevil delicacy is the sensation on the tongue given by small amounts of tetrodotoxin and won’t kill you.

Third, we have a Chinese Century Egg. China, not so good on the human rights or environment or democratic freedoms, but good on the Century Egg, which is basically an egg wrapped in clay, salt, and lime juice. It’s then wrapped in straw and aged for a few months. The yolk turns green and the white turns brown, which is similar to when you stick an egg in a crockpot for a day. Sam I Am would be proud of you for trying it.

Finally, El Salvadorian Iguana meat. Don’t know much about El Salvador, other than that its class gap is enormous and it gets hit by hurricanes every 20 minutes. They say iguana tastes like chicken but tougher. I wouldn’t know, but if I ever wanted to find out I can just pick one up from my backyard. That is if I can catch it.

Organic Beer at an Organic Price

Organic BeerThey’re called Eel River Brewing and they are the first organic-certified brewery in the United States. While there’s nothing magical about organic beer and it doesn’t taste different from conventionally made good beer, it may push us lazy beer drinkers into the organic frenzy and generate some real economic demand.

Eel River began as a homebrewing project, and its head has been running a beer-making camp for 15 years. Here’s a short review of one of their beers by Todd Haefer, the “Beer Man”:

“Eel River Porter is a tasty concoction that boasts a bold roasted flavor with highlights of chocolate, coffee and malt in the dark-brown body, which has that creamy, almost oily character that I usually only find in porters made in England.”

He also had some good things to say for its other brands.

Eel River beers are available in about half the U.S. If you want them distributed in your part of town, click here.

A Picture of an Organic Farm in North Dakota

organic-wheat-500x375They are Duane and Chantra Boehm, and they have a small organic farm.

For people new to this blog, the term “organic” means farmers avoid pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Everything they put in, they grow. The farm becomes an inner nature cycle instead of having input form outside sources.

Of course, they have to fight the same things conventional farmers have to fight. Weeds, pests, lack of nutrients in the soil. They have ways of doing that, of course. “We use tillage and crop rotations to control weeds and crop rotations for soil building and fertilizer,” Duane Boehm said.

They also use crop residues for fertilizer and “green manure” crops such as alfalfa. The nutrients they need for the crops, they grow with other crops. The Boehms are certified as organic growers by the Organic Crop Improvement Association, but they don’t even have a computer. They keep records the old fashion way, and file them away. “We keep track of when we plant every field, what seeds and inputs are used, cultivation practices, whatever,” Duane said. Records are critical to maintaining certification.

However, their farm is not certified chemical-free. “The main thing, is we’re not certifying our product is chemical free,” Duane said. “We certify to how we grow it. In the real world, there’s no way I can prove my product hasn’t been exposed to airplane and wind drift. We certify to our practices.” Those practices are minimizing soil inputs. The only ones he uses, he says, are seeds, and diesel fuel to run the farm equipment.

To help prevent wind drift from pesticides, a 30-foot buffer encircles the farm, and the neighbors don’t mind at all.

On the average, Boehm said his yields probably are less than his conventional farming neighbors, but the Boehm make more money off the grain because of its status. That, and there’s not much overhead costs when you don’t use fertilizer or other inputs.

The Boehms market their products directly to the flour mill after cleaning it, and demand appears to be growing. Some is even shipped overseas.

They agree organic farming is more hands-on and more labor intensive, but, “The bottom line is the integrity of the product. We’d rather not say we’re producing crops. We produce food.”