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The Question of Organic

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   By: Shawna Boodhoo

   2013-11-13 10:10 PM

As a healthy consumer of daily produce and dairy, the new organic ‘trend’ has been intriguing to me.  We like to ‘save our pennies’ and find the best deals, but with two young children, I am not sure we are making the best choices for our family.  My one-year-old daughter only prefers organic homogenized milk; maybe this is telling me something.  As I research more, organic living may be the direction to move in.

The Environmental Working Group’s 2013 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ “will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and choosing the least contaminated produce.” (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php)

Incidentally, most of the ‘Dirty Dozen Plus’ happen to be the fruits and vegetables we most often eat in our household: apples, grapes, strawberries, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, cherry tomatoes and potatoes.  Now I feel guilty.  However, I can make a change now that I am informed and buy more organic.  I just need to find stores that sell these organic items, and at the best price.  If we ever want to indulge in nectarines, peaches, hot peppers, summer squash, spinach, and kale, we should also choose the organic option.  Consumers are safe to buy anything from the ‘Clean Fifteen’ list without worrying about the effect of pesticides.  These include asparagus, avocado, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos, mushrooms, onions, papayas, pineapples, sweet peas, and sweet potatoes. 

What about when it comes to dairy?  Why is local organic milk important?  “A recent study published in the Journal of Dairy Science showed that organic milk has different proportions of fatty acids including much higher levels of beneficial polyunsaturated fats such as conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs) and some types of omega 3 fatty acids” (http://organicalberta.org/organic-dairy/about-organic-dairy). The cows are treated better in consideration of animal welfare.  And our environment is cleaner without the use of chemicals in organic production.  With further consideration of the article mentioned, “Organic milk contained a higher proportion of PUFA and n-3 FA compared with conventional milk.”  Increasing consumption of these nutrients have been linked to improved neurological function, protection against coronary heart disease, prevention of some forms of cancer, and reducing cardiovascular disease (http://www.journalofdairyscience.org/article/S0022-0302(06)72261-5/fulltext). Although there are not many conclusive studies, it is really at the discretion of the consumer to choose organic or conventional milk, but most importantly, to understand that drinking milk daily is the best decision.

Organic meat is significantly more expensive and harder to find, so is it worth it?  According to Green Living, “choosing to support farms that caretake the environment and the animals they raise in an ethical manner, is a very positive way to spend your food dollar”  (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/why-buy-organic-dairy-meat.html). This means that it contains no chemicals whatsoever.  Simply asking our local supermarket meat department could answer some of our questions regarding the origin of the meat they sell.  Some communities have easy access to organic meat sources, but for some consumers, does the travel time and cost outweigh the benefits of fresh meat?  (http://www.foodnetwork.ca/guides/eating-well/meat-the-organic-vs-local-debate/8655/story.html)

We are now informed.  Organic living is a growing trend and it is up to us as individuals and families to consider jumping on board.  It is undeniable that the benefits of choosing organic give us assurance of quality, a preserved environment, and healthier food that tastes better.  It’s your choice!  (http://organicalberta.org/going-organic-consumers/switching-to-organics)


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