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.

NEWS FLASH: Tiny parasitic wasps may be used as pesticides to protect crops

Tell your local farming buddies…

The group of scientists who sequenced the genomes of three different minute wasp species, say that their work has proven that the bees have qualities, useful for both pest control and medicine. They could even improve understanding of genetics and evolution.

The tiny insects lay their eggs inside larger hosts, including caterpillars. When the eggs hatch, they kill the unsuspecting host from the inside out. Very Machiavellian of them…

The wasps all fall in the Nasonia genus, and they present other gifts too, outside of the pesticidal forum. Like the fruit fly, a common genetic research subject, the wasps are small, easily grown in a laboratory and reproduce quickly, but they only have one set of chromosomes. Singe chromosome sets, more commonly found in lower single-celled organisms, like yeast, is a wonderfully handy genetic tool. It especially facilitates the study of how genes interact with one another. Socialable genes…

The scientists also discovered that the wasps have acquired genes related to the human smallpox virus. This revelation may have applications for the study of evolutionary processes.

Here’s what John Werren, a professor of biology at the University of Rochester in New York had to say about this beesness:

Parasitic wasps attack and kill pest insects, but many of them are smaller than the head of a pin, so people don’t even notice them or know of their important role in keeping pest numbers down…there are over 600,000 species of these amazing critters, and we owe them a lot. If it weren’t for parasitoids and other natural enemies, we would be knee-deep in pest insects…therefore, if we can harness their full potential, they would be vastly preferable to chemical pesticides, which broadly kill or poison many organisms in the environment, including a single set of chromosomes, which is more commonly found in lower single-celled organisms such as yeast, is a handy genetic tool, particularly for studying how genes interact with each other…emerging from these genome studies are a lot of opportunities for exploiting Nasonia in topics ranging from pest control to medicine, genetics, and evolution…”

800 Year Old Apple The Healthiest

It’s called the Pendragon apple, and it’s been grown in England since the 12th century.

“Of all the organic varieties, Pendragon was the best apple variety and contained seven of the eight kinds of healthy components at the highest levels,” said pharmacist Michael Wakeman, who, like most of the people quoted on the internet, does not get specific enough and it annoys me. At least, the sound bites all sound too general. What are the components, man?

ApplesHere’s a little more information I found. The apples were tested for a range of plant compounds which have been linked to reducing cholesterol, inflammation and blood sugar levels. They also had anti-cancer properties, which we’re always for.

And here’s something interesting. The fact that they (organic apples I mean) aren’t grown with pesticides, means that they have to naturally develop more immunity to bugs and pests. Those compounds that the apples naturally develop to protect themselves are the very ones that are the healthy ones. This is theoretical, but it sounds logical, and could prove to be correct with a little more research. We’ll keep you updated.

His findings come just weeks after the Food Standards Agency found little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and non-organic foods.

“This research confirms that while some measures of organic versus non-organic food benefits might appear equivocal, more sophisticated analysis of compounds which are newly recognized as being of importance to good health do show a significant difference.” Until the next study comes out of course.

My opinion is that this is less of an issue of personal health than it is an issue of planetary health. It just seems right that plants should be protecting themselves instead of being pesticided to death, and the planet doesn’t seem to like when people do that too much.

The Pendragon is not available to buy in supermarkets and had to be obtained by the researchers from a private orchard that specializes in conserving old varieties of fruit.

The anti-cancer compounds the apples were tested for are called phenols, which evidence shows may fight the development of lung cancer.

Spices as Pesticides? Seems Healthy, Tastes Good, Too

pesticide useThe demand for organically grown food is growing, and with it, the demand for natural pesticides. It’s been found that rosemary, thyme, clove, and mint aren’t only good in your spaghetti and tea. They also shoo away bugs that’ll eat your crops. If you’ve ever wanted to eat a pesticide before without having to go to the hospital, eat those.

It’s the oil in these spices that does the job. So well, in fact, they’re called “killer spices.”
“We are exploring the potential use of natural pesticides based on plant essential oils – commonly used in foods and beverages as flavorings,” said study presenter Murray Isman, of the University of British Columbia. To make it into a pesticide, farmers generally put small amounts of the species in water, and the rest is history. The bugs either die, or they’re repelled away.

Farmers are already using the new method, which has shown some success in protecting organic strawberry, spinach, and tomato crops. And unlike other chemical pesticides, they don’t need approval for use. After all, it’s just rosemary, so come on! That, and insects can’t evolve a resistance to natural killer spices, whereas they generally can adapt to a chemical poison after some time.

They even show promise in killing and/or repelling home pests. Flies, roaches (I’ve got plenty of those at home) so take some spice, grind it up, put it in some water and see what happens. Comment. Let us know if it works.
Want some more homemade pesticide ideas? Watch this.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight – Part B

Last week I described how the patterns of our brain waves control different states of consciousness. By altering these patters, we can induce many mental and emotional states, such as sleep, anxiety, calmness, and concentration. Several technological applications already try to take advantage of this mechanism for the treatment of humans.

As of today, we are able to transmit magnetic waves over a short distance that can manipulate a person’s state of consciousness. But as technology advances, we could one day broadcast a certain frequency over a broad area of space. When this becomes finally practical, it will certainly have many uses in the animal kingdom…

Future Nature Logo


First of all, farmers could use this technique to ward off pesticides off their fields. Imagine a grasshopper that falls asleep when he’s nearing the edge of the broadcast-protected zone, or a bird that becomes anxious in the vicinity of her favourite fruit garden and therefore flies away.

Another possible application would be the improvement of dairy production. Cows could be excited during a certain time of day to make more milk, while enjoying a “good night sleep” at other times due to relaxing patterns, thus recuperating faster and better in time for the next milking.

Domestic Uses

Flies in the summer pose a major annoyance. But what if we could make them fall asleep when zooming past the garden fence. We will feel confident to sleep with the window wide open! Same thing goes for dogs that tend to bark excessively during the night.

Jay Torborg photographing a sleeping lion
Photo by Jay Torborg

Entertainment and Recreation

Have you ever fantasized about entering the tigers’ cage in the zoo and petting their beautiful fur? Doing it nowadays would mean becoming a tiger’s lunchtime dessert. But in the future, we could neutralize their aggressive behavior and killer instincts without putting them to sleep. They’d be awake and gentle at the same time.

And what about the monkey in the cage next door? He knows a few tricks, but it takes weeks and months to teach him those tricks. However, beta waves are known to be activated in humans when we concentrate. If we can induce beta waves (or their equivalent) in monkeys, elephants and dolphins — their training will progress much more easily and much faster.

In the jungle of science, the lion may very well sleep tonight.

Organic food benefits noted by The Organic Center

The Organic Center, based in Denver Colorado, released in March, 2008, a special report of its findings in which it was estimated that a much as 97% of the dangers from pesticides would be eliminated if America’s 8 million acres of land used for growing farm produce would be converted to organic farming.

Dr. Charles Benbrook, Chief research scientist for the Center, summarized in the report that the fundamental way to stop the dangers to food caused by pesticides is to “choose the organic option”. To back up this claim, comparison examples were made between farm produce grown organically to that grown by conventional methods, which included use of pesticides. According to Dr. Benbrook’s findings, American families are exposed to as much as 13 kinds of pesticide residues daily. Some of the larger amounts are found in spinach (9 residues), raisons (11 residues), peaches ( 5 or more residues) and bell peppers (as much as 12 residues).

To add to these findings, it was also noted in the report that other agricultural products, including dairy and meat products, were found to contain multiple pesticide residue. This is perfectly understandable, as the fodder fed to dairy and meat producing cattle comes largely from hay and alfalfa that had been sprayed with pesticides.

In regards to the production of fruits and vegetables, it was pointed out that only 3 per cent of agricultural land is utilized for growing these kinds of produce, with the remainder used for growing cereal grains and similar crops.

Dr. Benbrook added that although it will take years to changed current farming methods to growing crops by organic methods, at least 10 per cent of all crops are currently being grown by organic methods. As more and more consumers begin purchasing organic produce, the risks from pesticides will be reduced as well. The Organic Center included a list of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that have the highest pesticide risk index. Some of these include: cranberries (178) bell peppers (132) and green beans (330). Imported produce has even higher pesticide indexes with “summer fruits” such as pears, grapes, peaches, and nectarines having indexes of 266 to 282, and vegetables like lettuce and cucumbers having indexes of between 316 and 326. Bell peppers, apparently “havens” pesticide residues, had indexes of over 700!

Taking these findings into consideration, it’s easy to see why it is worthwhile to purchase only organically grown produce.

Ridding yourself of excess stomach fat

Many people living in Western countries, especially North America and the U.K., have problems with excess fat around the midriff or stomach. While this common problem is often referred to humorously as having a “love hold” or a “spare tire”, too much body fat pushing on your heart can be dangerous and even fatal in the long run. Some people go the extreme to solve this problem by expensive (and dangerous) surgical procedures, such as “tummy tucks” and liposuction. There are much easier and safer ways to lose excess belly fat; and a proper, healthy diet is one of the best. As many people consume too much food high in unhealthy ingredients, try changing your daily diet by following these simple eating tips:

A. Eat a daily diet of whole grains and fresh vegetables, such as broccoli, lettuce and cabbage, carrots, whole wheat and rice, and tomatoes. It is preferable to eat organic vegetables, if available, but non-organic ones are all right if washed thoroughly to remove impurities and pesticides.

B. Avoid excess carbohydrates, which add plenty of pounds and are often found in “junk foods” like potato chips or fries, pizza, etc. Avoid commercial “white” breads which are high in additives and gluten. Eat only whole grain breads in limited quantities.

C. Eat fish (which is high in proteins and low in cholesterol) and poultry instead of beef and other “red” meats. When eating poultry, choose naturally grown “free-running” poultry over commercial cage raised ones, as natural poultry have little or no added vitamins and growth stimulants, or antibiotics.

D. Exercise is the best weight loss method, as simply changing one’s diet won’t help if a conscientious exercise program is not done. You don’t have to join an expensive gym or health club as exercising can be done at home and in your neighborhood. A brisk 30 minute walk every day will do wonders to remove belly fat; and exercise burns off body fat and calories. Don’t eat a meal loaded with carbohydrates after a workout, as this will negate any benefits gained by the workout.

All of the above tips will help considerably in removing unwanted belly and other body fats and will make a big difference to your figure in the long run.

Health & Organic Tea

Organic TeaMore and more people are discovering the benefits of drinking various types of organic tea. Whether it be green tea, Chinese medicinal teas, herbal teas, or specially blended “weight loss” tea, those seeking the maximum “cleansing” benefit of these special kinds of tea are choosing the “organic way” to insure receiving the utmost health benefits without danger of pesticides and other chemicals that may possibly be found on regular, commercially grown and processed tea.

Green tea, for example, is derived from the plant species known as camellia sinensis , which also is made into a number of other teas, including black, oolong, pu-reh or medicinal tea, and white tea. The final type depends on when the tea is picked and processed afterwards. Green tea is known to many for its high levels of anti-oxidants, as well at it’s successes in preventing and treating various forms of heart disease and cancers. Many green tea drinkers in oriental countries consume as many as eight cups of tea per day; the result being a mush lower incidence of prostate and other cancers than by people living in western countries. The high anti-oxidant levels found in green, together with a diet consisting of more fish and vegetables and less meat a dairy fats account for this trend for less cancers and heart disease among Orientals.

Pu-erh tea is also derived from the same plant as green tea, but is processed differently to give a different taste. Being a darker tea, it is claimed by many to be al alternative to drinking coffee, yet maintains many of the same benefits of green tea. Pu-erh tea has much less caffeine than coffee; and is often aged in caves to give it a strong, natural flavor. It is recommended to drink at least one glass of pu-erh tea with every meal, especially the main meal.

Oo-long or wu-long tea undergoes a special fermentation process to give is a special light, sweet taste resembling flowers. Oo-long is often served in fine Chinese restaurants as a desert tea to cleanse to palate following a meat of fish meal. Organic brands of Oo-long tea are supposed to be free of any chemicals that might be used in the fermentation process. This tea is often recommended as an aid to digestion, and many drink at lest four cups of tea daily.

Other types of tea derived from the camellia sinensis tea plant include Baozhong tea, a cross between green and Oo-long tea, and white or yellow teas. Baozhong tea is reputed to undergo less oxidation in processing and is said to contain the same beneficial anti-oxydents as green tea with the medicinal qualities of Oo-long tea. White tea is actually derived from a sub-species of the camellia sinensis plant and is dried and steamed immediately after picking. It is known to be high in anti-oxidents. As it comes from only one province of China, it is not as well known as other types of tea.

As with all types of organic food and beverage products, true organic teas must bear the proper organic label. Those sold in the U.S.A. and are at least 95% organic must be labeled UDSA Organic; and those which are 100% organic must state this fact accordingly. The most beneficial value of all of these teas results from drinking several cups or glasses per day, combined with a diet high in whole grains, vegetables and fish.

Whole Foods Approach to Better Eating

During the past 25 years, Americans and other people have become more interested in better nutrition involving organic and similar food products. A unique type of supermarket chain, called Whole Foods, was founded in 1980 in Austin Texas as one small store specializing in natural and organic foods. Since then, the company has grown to nearly 200 stores situated throughout North America, as well as in the UK.

The concept of this chain, in which customers find the highest quality produce, much of it certified as organic or locally grown and produced, is to ensure the consumer that the food products and other natural items found in these stores are as free as possible from pesticides, administered antibiotics, and other growth stimulants often found in commercially processed foods.

Though not all foods in these stores are 100% organic, many of them are and are offered in surroundings that are designed to please even the most discriminating natural foods purchaser. The quality of food items offered by the Whole Foods company is very high; and although both organic and non-organic products are offered in these stores, the main attribute to them is that customers have complete freedom of choice in the products they purchase. Packaged Organic products usually bear the label of the National Organic Program, including labels like 100% Organic, Organic 95%, and Made with Organic (at least 70% organic ingredients).

The ‘whole foods’ idea is not limited only to food products but also to helping make our planet a better place to live in by being involved in activities an public service projects that are beneficial to preserving the environment. The company is actively involved in all areas of organic farming as well as local and national activities which are geared toward helping the environment. These activities include being active in community activities to help clean up pollution and make people more aware of these issues.

Offering consumers the widest possible variety of top quality food products, as well as vitamins and other food supplements the Whole Foods marketing concept is to prove it’s customers with the best quality products possible. Whether that be cheese and other dairy products, meat and poultry free of antibiotics and growth hormones, or top quality fresh vegetables, you can find them at Whole Foods.

Walking into any Whole Foods supermarket, one finds a virtual “garden of earthly delights”, as samples of many items are offered for free tasting, especially fruits and vegetables. This also includes a rich variety of sauces, and other foods products often not found in regular supermarkets. Of course, some products such as “junk foods” ( potato chips and other snack foods, carbonated beverages, and the like ).

The old saying, “you are what you eat” is an excellent way of describing the message that Whole Foods and other similar companies and organizations are trying to convey to the environmental conscious consumer public.

Herbicides and Pesticides in Intensive Farming

Herbicides and Pesticides in Intensive FarmingEnvironmental dangers from over use of herbicides and pesticides in commercial, intensive farming has been known for years. One of the first warnings of damages from the use of pesticides in modern agriculture came from American novelist Rachel Carson in 1962 with her book The Silent Spring. Ms. Carson’s thought provoking book portrayed a bleak future in regards to birds and other wildlife that were being killed or mutated due to the over use of both pesticides and herbicides by farmers. Though written more than 40 years ago, she predicted that the ongoing effects of these chemical agents would be so far reaching that people might one day experience ‘silent springs’ devoid of song and migratory birds that herald the changing of the seasons.

Though Ms. Carson’s warnings have not completely come to pass, the use of carious chemical agents, not only by agriculture but also by many people on their own lawns and garden plants, eventually find their way into the water that we drink, resulting in health hazards ranging from birth defects to cancer. Many studies have been made relating to environmental damage caused by these chemicals, some of the more common ones being sulfonylurea (SU) and atrizine types of herbicides which are used by farmers as ‘weed killers’ for crops such as corn and soybeans – both important food crops. These herbicides eventually find their way into ground water aquifers, and have been shown to cause a number of health problems in humans ranging from learning disorders to over aggressive behavior patterns. A well known pesticide, DBCP, was once wide used in American states such as California and Iowa. This pesticide, though now banned in most places still causes a number of diseases and health disorders, including male infertility (the main effect it was supposed to have on insects, rodents, and other pests).

In Iowa, for example, a study made in 1966, only four years after the publication of Ms. Carson’s book, it was found that more than half of that state’s ground water was already contaminated by weed killers. The situation in many other states in America is as bad or worse as intensive commercial farming methods still use many of these chemical agents in order to increase crop yields.

Organic farming methods, though still on a much smaller scale than that of commercial agriculture, is showing a better way to grow crops without causing harm to the environment. By changing to an organic lifestyle, including the care and maintenance of one’s own lawn and garden, people can help contribute to preserving our environment and improving our health as well. It’s a small start, but by eliminating insect sprays and weed killers on our own properties we can contribute to improving our planet’s eco-system.