Simplifying nutrition and using food as medicine - one bite at a time.

My goal with this blog is to set folks straight about what good nutrition really is! Starting by discarding the info we get every day from 'sponsors' that do not really have our best interests at heart, I want to inspire you to eat better AND realize it is much easier than you thought it would be!

Just about any health issues can be addressed with nutrition (and meditation), from mild to chronic to acute. We truly have the ability to heal ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually...

And you can use your daily routine as your vehicle to drive that change :)


Join me...

Quote of the Month

"When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous"
~Wendell Berry

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Why choose organic(...and ways to prioritize when we cannot)

Many folks do not know the full extent of the benefits of choosing organically grown food (certified organic, that is, or equal). I’ve listed some of the most valid points below for your consideration.
I should clarify that we should not necessarily be striving to eat 100% organic. It is very difficult and expensive to have a 100% (certified) organic diet, especially when trying to eat locally as much as possible (that is a whole other post in itself!). So, what I recommend is to prioritize certain foods over others (see: http://www.foodnews.org/). In other words, avoid non-organic produce that tends to be most sprayed, like peaches.

And I’d add animal products to your list of priority foods (or in the case of animal products free-range/grass-fed, non-medicated) as they are higher on the ‘food chain’ and therefore bio-accumulate more toxicity in its lifetime. Also they are likely to also contain ‘undesirables’ such as antibiotics, hormones, etc.
For this reason my husband and I have become ‘part-time vegetarians’, for economical reasons (it is expensive to eat meat every day when choosing only the best quality) as well as environmental reasons (even though organically raise animals take way less toll on the environment it still takes more energy than growing vegetables).

Modern Farming Practices

Conventional Meat Production:
These days animals are farmed in such a fashion that turns out to be detrimental not only to their health and wellbeing, but ours as well.

Things to consider:

• Treatment and cruelty:
o not given adequate room to move or sunlight.
o given growth hormones to speed up development and to produce more product
o given antibiotics
Both hormones and antibiotics make it into our systems, upsetting our hormone balance and making us more antibiotic resistant.
• Animal Feed:
o Chemicals in feed to given to animals (pesticides used when grown).
o Animals given wrong feed (cows given soy and grains, fish given soy).
• Additives, post slaughter –nitrates, dyes, artificial smokes
• Environmental hazards of large scale farming – antibiotics; excess nitrogen (feces) polluting land and ocean (fish farming)
.
Conventional Vegetable Farming

• Uses chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and synthetic fertilisers to grow their products
• These chemicals mostly don’t break down and remain toxic in the earth and water supply for years to come
• Is often large scale, mono-cropping which can produce more food in the short-term but end up creating problems to keep this production up in the long-term as nutrients are leached from the soil.
• As a result, lower density of nutrients in food – sometimes more than 50% fewer nutrients found in conventional produce in comparison to organics!
• Lacks biodiversity e.g. industry usually farms only a couple of varieties of the species, leading to disease susceptibility (Cavendish banana, Irish potato famine). 97% of the vegetables grown at turn of century are now extinct.
• Soil is leached of nutrients as a result and often topsoil is lost
• Bacteria, fungi, and other soil organisms often killed off by chemicals, leaving acidic and nutrient deficient soils. Entire soil eco-system is messed up, requiring use of more chemical fertilisers and pesticides
• Often controlled by large corporations leading to issues with:
o local economies losing out on $$
o small scale, local growers having trouble competing with giants
• Linked with higher incidences of cancer and other chronic diseases in communities, especially among farm workers
• IS NOT SUSTAINABLE

Organic Farming:

• Doesn’t use synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicide, fertilisers or anything chemical. Also no GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). Nothing synthetic or unnatural used in the growing of the food.
• Often promotes biodiversity by planting several varieties of the same plant as well as heirloom (old, nearly lost) varieties.
• Does use natural pest and weed management,
o Uses manual weeding, companion planting (certain plants deter pests from others), mulching to stop weeds
o Applies strategic planting times to avoid certain bugs
o Adds natural fertilisers such as fish, seaweed, animal waste, old plant and food material
o Uses cover-cropping to fertilise soil
• Focuses on building soil and nurturing beneficial bacteria, fungi, earthworms found within. Bacteria decompose plant material, making the nutrients (minerals) available for roots. Fungi fight off soil pathogens and earthworms aerate the soil (and these are just a few of their tasks).

Often Includes:

• Support biodiversity of crops, as well as poly-cropping
• Encourage crop rotation so as not to deplete soil of a particular nutrient
• Promote recycling of all substances back into the land e.g. plant and food stuffs composted into soil
• Are stewards of the land caring for it, not degrading it
• Encourage beneficial insects by planting flowers
• PLANNING FOR THE LONG-TERM AND FARMING SUSTAINABLY


*Please note, not all local farmers can afford organic certification but still grow great food, with honour and integrity. Supporting farmer’s markets is a great way to get much of your food (not just produce, but much more!) straight from the farmer and get to know how they grow, not to mention cutting some of the costs by buying direct. So, always ask to know the source and growing methods of your food as much as possible, whether at the supermarket, with your delivery service, or in person to the farmer.

To find a farmer’s market in BC check out: www.eatlocal.org
For the US: http://www.localharvest.org/

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