Despite the fact that organic food purchases have increased every year in the 21st century, the debate rages on about the value of buying organic.
Here’s my take on it. The most useful purchases are those of simple whole foods. That would be fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and meat. In addition to these whole foods, there has been a huge increase in organic snap products. Just because the are made from organic ingredients doesn’t mean that these re ideal foods to eat. A snack is a snack, and a meal is a meal. When you eat too many snacks you may be eating foods that are low in nutrients. Remember, white flour and white sugar can be grown organically, but it still doesn’t make them nutrient rich foods. They remain foods that are high on the glycemic index and in effect are “empty calories.”
Let’s Talk about Simple Whole Foods
When you look at simple whole foods, particularly fruits and vegetables there is a great difference in quality when comparing conventional to organic. Conventional fruits and vegetables are grown in chemically fertilized soil and are typically sprayed with pesticides. They contain combinations of protein, carbohydrates and fats, which are all good, but they are missing other important nutrients that are known for centuries to cure or to protect humans from disease. (Dietary Phytochemical and Human Health, Justyna Krzyzanowska, Anna Crubacka, Wicslaw Olesack).
These important phytochemicals include phenolics, carotenoids, alkaloids, saponins, glucosinolates, cyanogenic glycosides, terpenes as well as minerals including zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium. All of these nutrients are not only good for us humans but they also are the reason plants not treated with pesticides can withstand the perils and pests in nature.
More Expensive to Go Organic?
That’s a question you have to consider. Buying organic is more expensive on the surface. However, factor in your overall health and resistance to disease when making a decision. Look in your shopping basket each week and see if there are foods you are buying that may not be offering much in the way of nourishment - soda, chips, crackers, cookies, deli meats, etc. - and start replacing those items with high quality simple whole foods. You may find you are eating less when you eat high quality foods and it will overall balance out in your expenses.
Where to begin
The best place to start is to ask yourself "How important is my health?" Most of us would answer "very important", but it's more than just saying it. Staying healthy requires action. I think about eating foods that are clean and without pesticides as a way of staying healthy. Those phytonutrients that are destroyed by pesticides can protect me from disease. I kind of like that idea. While I'm not 100% organic, I lean toward these foods and find I stay healthy. As a health coach, I have to, or who would follow my advice? But aside from that, I like the way quality food makes me feel.
Simple starting steps for you
Rome wasn't built in a day, as they say. Look at improving your food in the same way. Simple steps are most likely to be lasting steps because they will be manageable. Here are 5 tips:
1. Refer to ewg.org to see the most important fruits and vegetables to buy organic and switch the ones you eat to organic.
2. Read the PLU codes on fruit labels: if it starts with 4, it's a conventional fruit, if starts with 8, it is a GMO developed fruit (stay away from these) and it starts with 9 it is certified organic.
3. Grow your own organic garden. It will make your budget work.
4 Join an organic community garden.
5. Spend your time with people who want to be healthy and are willing to put in the effort to eat well. There is a strong correlation between who we spend time with and the choices we make.
6. Ask for help to get started. Clients I've worked with have said they were embarrassed because they didn't know how to eat healthy. The truth is many people do not know and need help. I'm not the food police. I guide you through a series of simple steps that help you reach your goals.
If you are ready to take small, simple steps, contact me and we will look at where you need support and will set goals together to help you attain them.