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    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Organics Simplified

    It's no picnic, figuring out this "organic" business. "Whole grains", that was MUCH simpler to get on board with. It's either whole grain, or it's not, and it's ALWAYS better if it is. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. But organics...whole 'nother deal, folks.

    I've only recently even started exploring the topic, learning about the crap we put in our bodies without knowing it (and being astounded I might add). That being said, the skeptic in me looks at everything I read with a scrutinizing eye, wary of conspiracy theorists despite being one myself in general. This skeptic wonders how we can know what's true, what's not, where to start, what is most important to "go organic" with first, and the list of questions goes on and on. It's part of what took me so long to look into it in the first place - our world is full of unverified studies, theories that are spewed as fact, people who talk out their asses, quite frankly, and wading through all of it to find the truth seems an immense task.

    But my family deserves the best, and I owe it to my kids to be their first line of defense against everything that could harm them, to the best of my ability - even in the kitchen. So if there are some steps I can take with our food to at least minimize their exposure to pesticides, chemicals, and other toxins, then I need to bite the bullet, figure it out and make a transition for the betterment of all our health.

    Most of my reading and research has been online (surprise, surprise) and the information available is endless, diverse, and often scary. Most of what we think of at first thought in terms of "organic" always seems to start with fruits and vegetables. But in my recent reading, I found an article, written by Dr. Joseph Mercola, (whose website is chock-full of so much information pertaining to ALL areas of health) that gave me some great guidelines on what foods are most critical to switch to organic first, and which are less crucial in terms of levels of chemicals and pesticides.

    For starters, there are foods that are generally grown without use of pesticides even when grown conventionally, and these are the foods we need to concern ourselves with the LEAST in the search for organics:

    Sweet peas (frozen)
    Sweet corn (frozen)

    Good news, yes? I thought so, too. We use nearly all of these foods at one time or another, and it was comforting to know that, at least in part, there were some foods NOT coming into the kitchen as hot little toxin parcels, ready and willing to poison my family at first bite.

    At the other end of the spectrum was the TOP 12 foods - the 12 foods with the highest levels of pesticides in them; these are the fruits and veggies of which we should actively pursue organic varieties:

    Sweet bell peppers
    Grapes (imported)

    Also lots of FMFO family favorites on this list. Sigh. So as I read, I was rebudgeting in my head to figure out how we'll afford the organic version of these foods. However, as I read on, Dr. Mercola had more information for me, and I was surprised at what he revealed later in the article regarding not only the order in which to switch over to organics, but also regarding the WORST offender in my fridge. In his words:

    "... be VERY careful as the list above is for fruits and vegetables. Non-organic meats have far higher concentrations of pesticides than all of the fruits and vegetables. And the highest concentration of pesticides is actually in non-organic butter.

    So if you can only buy one organic food item it should be butter. Next priority would be meats and once those are addressed, you will want to focus on the fruit and vegetable list above..."

    Butter? I know, right? Crazy stuff. I hadn't even considered meats and dairy much yet, all the hype tends to focus on veggies and fruits. So we're re-thinking this organic switch over, or the order in which we'd like to do it, to whatever degree we decide to do it.

    I don't know if I'll ever be running a 100% organic household. Heck, even Kate Gosselin has a few non-organic items in her house on occasion. But you never know - if you'd have told me I'd be an avid recycler five years ago, I'd have guffawed at you heartily as I threw my pop can in the trash and ate my grapes right out of the package with not so much as a quick rinse. And now I have not one, but TWO recycle bins that we fill weekly, and I am seemingly becoming an organic girl after many years of trying to ignore, ignore, ignore.

    Age, motherhood and time do strange things to us.

    I really do recommend you check out the entire article, linked in the quote above, if you're interested in organic food, and especially if you're NOT particularly interested in organic food. Knowledge is power, and if you get the info and then decide you still don't give a rip about organics, at least you can say you're informed in your decision. This article has some simple guidelines that can help decipher a little bit of the overload of information floating around out there pertaining to organics, no matter your stance on the topic. So just go read it already. Oh, and then after you're done with that, check out these, too. Just do it.

    How to Shop for Organic Food Without Breaking Your Budget

    From Whole Foods Market: Organics and You


    Missives From Suburbia said...

    Awesome info. I'll be applying it immediately.

    Jill said...

    What about I Can't Believe It's Not Butter? That's all we use in our house. No, seriously, I'll be checking those websites out. Thanks for trying to keep your readers/friends safe too!

    Crazy Momma said...

    You would be surprised how much better organic food tastes. We raised our own cattle for most of my young life and it was awesome. I still can't eat beef from the store. It taste strange to me. We are currently pursuing organic meet here.

    Glad you joined on the organic bandwagon. Just remember one less pesticide is better than all of them. Take your time and see what you can afford or find and just work with that. Also remember organic meat is a lot of money up front, but is actually cheaper than buying it in the store in the long run.