Bookmark Website  | Free Registration  | The Team
The Lounge  | Champions  | The Wire |  Schedule |  Audio  |  Arcade  |  The Top Ten  |  Historical  |  Email  |  Video

Choosing Organic for Health


We come from a society where growing organic and just growing produce and livestock for food Was once one of the same. Small, family farms still grow their own food using traditional methods passed down through the generations. As commercial farming became big-business, however, growers and farmers started to investigate methods of increasing crops and building bigger livestock in order to increase their profits. This led to increased use of pesticides and drugs to enhance yield.

In this article, we will look at what is required in order to call a product organic, how choosing organic eating and farming impact the environment and our health, discuss the benefits of eating organic foods, and what research says about the nutritional benefits of organically-grown produce.

Calling it Organic
In 1995, the US National Organic Standards Board passed the definition of organic, which is a labeling term denoting products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. It states, "Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony."

The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals, and people.

The philosophy of organic production of livestock is to provide conditions that meet the health needs and natural behavior of the animal. Organic livestock must be given access to the outdoors, fresh air, water, sunshine, grass and pasture, and are fed 100 percent organic feed. They must not be given or fed hormones, antibiotics or other animal drugs in their feed. If an animal gets sick and needs antibiotics, they cannot be considered organic. Feeding of animal parts of any kind to ruminants that, by nature, eat a vegetarian diet, is also prohibited. Thus, no animal byproducts of any sort are incorporated in organic feed at any time.

Because farmers must keep extensive records as part of their farming and handling plans in order to be certified organic, one is always able to trace the animal from birth to market of the meat. When meat is labeled as organic, this means that 100 percent of that product is organic.

Although organic crops must be produced without the use of pesticides, it is estimated that between 10-25 percent of organic fruits and vegetables contain some residues of synthetic pesticides. This is because of the influence of rain, air and polluted water sources. In order to qualify as organic, crops must be grown on soil free of prohibited substances for three years before harvest. Until then, they cannot be called organic. When pests get out of balance and traditional organic methods do not work for pest control, farmers can request permission to use other products that are considered low risk by the National Organic Standards Board.

The Environment
According to the 15-year study, "Farming Systems Trial", organic soils have higher microbial content, making for healthier soils and plants. This study concluded that organically grown foods are raised in soils that have better physical structure, provide better drainage, may support higher microbial activity, and in years of drought, organic systems may possibly outperform conventional systems. So, organic growing may help feed more people in our future!

What is the cost of conventional farming, today? The above-mentioned 15 -year study showed that conventional farming uses 50 percent more energy than organic farming. In one report, it was estimated that only 0.1 percent of applied pesticides actually reach the targets, leaving most of the pesticide, 99.9 percent, to impact the environment. Multiple investigations have shown that our water supplies, both in rivers and area tap waters, are showing high levels of pesticides and antibiotics used in farming practices. Water samples taken from the Ohio River as well as area tap water contained trace amounts of penicillin, tetracycline and vancomycin.

Toxic chemicals are contaminating groundwater on every inhabited continent, endangering the world's most valuable supplies of freshwater, according to a Worldwatch paper, Deep Trouble: The Hidden Threat of Groundwater Pollution. Calling for a systemic overhaul of manufacturing and industrial agriculture, the paper notes that several water utilities in Germany now pay farmers to switch to organic operations because this costs less than removing farm chemicals from water supplies.

What About our Health?
Eating organic food is not a fad. As people become more informed and aware, they are taking steps to ensure their health. US sales of organic food totaled 5.4 billion dollars in 1998, but was up to 7.8 billion dollars in the year 2000. The 2004 Whole Foods Market Organic Foods Trend Tracker survey found that 27 oercent of Americans are eating more organic foods than they did a year ago.

A study conducted by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation reports that the number of people poisoned by drifting pesticides increased by 20 percent during 2000.

A rise in interest and concern for the use of pesticides in food resulted in the passage of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act, directing the US EPA to reassess the usage and impact of pesticides for food use.

Particular attention was paid to the impact on children and infants, whose lower body weights and higher consumption of food per body weight present higher exposure to any risks associated with pesticide residues.

Publishing an update to its 1999 report on food safety, the Consumers Union in May 2000 reiterated that pesticide residues in foods children eat every day often exceed safe levels. The update found high levels of pesticide residues on winter squash, peaches, apples, grapes, pears, green beans, spinach, strawberries, and cantaloupe. The Consumers Union urged consumers to consider buying organically grown varieties, particularly of these fruits and vegetables.

The most common class of pesticide in the US is organophosphates (OPs). These are known as neurotoxins.

An article published in 2002 examined the urine concentration of OP residues in 2-5 year olds. Researchers found, on average, that children eating conventionally grown food showed an 8.5 times higher amount of OP residue in their urine than those eating organic food. Studies have also shown harmful effects on fetal growth, as well.

Pesticides are not the only threat, however. 70 percent of all antibiotics in the US are used to fatten up livestock, today. Farm animals receive 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics per year!

Public health authorities now link low-level antibiotic use in livestock to greater numbers of people contracting infections that resist treatment with the same drugs. The American Medical Association adopted a resolution in June of 2001, opposing the use of sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics in agriculture and the World Health Organization, in its 2001 report, urged farmers to stop using antibiotics for growth promotion. Studies are finding the same antibiotic resistant bacteria in the intestines of consumers that develop in commercial meats and poultry.

Is it More Nutritious?
Until recently, there had been little evidence that organically grown produce was higher in nutrients. It's long been held that healthier soils would produce a product higher in nutritional quality, but there was never the science to support this belief. Everyone agrees that organic foods taste better.

In 2001, nutrition specialist Virginia Worthington published her review of 41 published studies comparing the nutritional values of organic and conventionally grown fruits, vegetables and grains. What she found was that organically grown crops provided 17 percent more vitamin C, 21 percent more iron, 29 percent more magnesium, and 13.6 percent more phosphorus than conventionally grown products. She noted that five servings of organic vegetables provided the recommended daily intake of vitamin C for men and women, while their conventional counterparts did not. Today there are more studies that show the same results that Ms. Worthington concluded.

Considering the health benefits of eating organic foods, along with the knowledge of how conventionally grown and raised food is impacting the planet should be enough to consider paying greater attention to eating organic, today. Since most people buy their food in local supermarkets, it's good news that more and more markets are providing natural and organic foods in their stores. Findings from a survey by Supermarket News showed that 61 percent of consumers now buy their organic foods in supermarkets. More communities and health agencies also are working to set up more farmer's markets for their communities, also, which brings more organic, locally grown foods to the consumer. The next time you go shopping, consider investigating organic choices to see if it's indeed worth the change!

Marjorie Geiser is a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer and life coach. Marjorie has been the owner of a successful small business, MEG Fitness, since 1996, and now helps other nutrition professionals start up their own private practice. To learn more about the services Margie offers, go to her website at http://www.megfit.com or email her at margie@megfit.com.


MORE RESOURCES:

Philly.com

Obama Administration Mulls Nutrition Guidelines That Say Americans Should ...
TheBlaze.com
“For example, earmark tax revenues from sugar-sweetened beverages, snack foods and desserts high in calories, added sugars, or sodium, and other less healthy foods for nutrition education initiatives and obesity prevention programs,” it suggested.
We Eat Our Veggies — When We're Eating OutFiveThirtyEight
Conaway says Vilsack shares responsibility for 'flawed' dietary recommendationsAgri-Pulse

all 5 news articles »


USDA.gov (press release) (blog)

National Nutrition Month: Raising a Healthier Generation through Diet, Education
USDA.gov (press release) (blog)
Our nutrition assistance programs, such as the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, provide children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy lifestyles for the long term. To make this happen, it's imperative we teach our ...
Schools celebrate child nutrition with push for breakfastWECT-TV6
Iowa misses out on a proven opportunity to improve students' health, educationDesMoinesRegister.com
Efforts underway to improve participation in school breakfast program in KansasThe Kansas City Kansan

all 42 news articles »


Distorting Nutrition Facts to Generate Buzz
Huffington Post
In mid-February, the government released a scientific report that will shape its 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Think of it as America's basic nutrition policy. Most people who read the report would have viewed it as a snore; not much has changed.

and more »


The eight most important things to look for on nutrition labels
The State
_Serving size: This tells you what amount of the food or drink the nutritional information is based on. Some nutrition panels will also tell you how many servings are in the package or container. Look carefully at the serving size. There may be 2, 3 ...

and more »


The News Journal

March is nutrition month, and start of annual challenge
The News Journal
What we choose to eat on a regular basis has an impact on our energy level, our weight, our immune system and our risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Each March and throughout the year, the Academy of Nutrition and ...
National Nutrition Month Celebrates Healthy Eating, Active LivingWCTV
NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH: Dietician encourages healthy livingMorganton News Herald
Recipe and photo challenge for National Nutrition MonthRochester Democrat and Chronicle (blog)
Ohio's Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net -The Fort Stockton Pioneer -FOX 40 News WICZ TV
all 75 news articles »


Food for thought: is nutrition context-dependant?
Huffington Post
One paradigm that's always stuck out to me as ripe for improvement is the way we (Americans) learn, transmit, and interpret health and nutritional wisdom. How did we decide that low-fat diets are healthy? That "an apple a day keeps the doctor away"?



Snack your way to a smaller waistline with Extend Nutrition's new “Snack-2 ...
STLtoday.com
Extend Nutrition, a leading nutritional snack company with the only snacks shown to reduce the amount of calories consumed at the next meal by an average of 21%[i] introduces their new “Snack-2-Health Kit.” There are no lifestyle changes needed and no ...

and more »


Managing diabetes through nutrition and exercise
myfox8.com
The team of registered dieticians and diabetes educators at the Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center is dedicated to educating diabetic patients throughout the community how to manage their disease through proper diet and exercise.

and more »


Military Times

New site gives MRE nutrition facts
Military Times
What about the nutrition value of an entire Pork Sausage Patty, Maple, meal? This information is readily available on the packaging of combat rations. But a new online database lets troops get that information before they get into the field. The Combat ...



Blue Zones: Nutrition experts say breakfast fuels the mind
Naples Daily News
IMMOKALEE, Fla. - Editor's note: Serving healthier school meals is just one way that the Collier County Public Schools has stressed the importance of nutrition to its students. As Collier County embarks on its 10-year path to become the next Blue Zone ...


Google News


Advertisement



Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us

Copyright © 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.