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organic healthier????

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
tomorrow I'm going to be interviewed on a health show about organic food and if it's healthier for you than conventially raised produce......I called head of nutrition dept at SLU if research had any results....NOPE.....kinda interesting. I'll be talking about local food and organic certification instead.
Thoughts?
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #2 of 23
Of course organic food is healthier for you, but it depends on the degree of "organicness" Some time ago the USDA ripped the guts out of the definition of organic, and in some instances there's not that much difference between USDA organic and some conventional foods. OTOH, if, for example, the food complies with stricter organic standards and careful, sustainable farming techniques, then yes, I'd say organic food is definitely healthier.
post #3 of 23
Putting aside the very real issue Shel raises, heres the problem:

Intuitively we know that anything covered up with all those chemicals has to be less healthy than the same item grown without them. Scientifically, however, we cannot prove it. So any claims made for organics being healthier can be easily refuted on that basis.

Another part of the problem is that organics proponents too often blind us with their halos, and make claims that are patent nonsense. The most common of these being that organically grown produce tastes better. Not even close. But, again, such claims are easy to refute; and thus put the whole organics message in question.

If you're going to talk about organic certification, make sure you look at it's problems. The federal standards were virtually writting by the huge factory farms, and all but exclude the small, diverse grower who kept the organics concept alive lo these many years. Look, too, at the methods used by the organic divisions of the factory farms---they use the same monocultural techniques as their non-organic divisions.

And be sure to examine the unjustified higher prices charged for organics grown by factory farmers.

And I'd certainly include something about CNG (Certified Naturally Grown), so far the only viable alternative to federal certification.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
KY, you've come to the same conclusions I did.....we're not talking meat/animals or I could rift for an hour on that alone. I've been to CAFO's, it was not pretty.

One of the first events I held in 1998 was a picnic to discuss BT and monarch butterfly migration with educators, farmers and chefs. Our area is part of the migration flt path for Monarchs. bt is ok to use for organic production.

As with anything it's knowing and trusting your food source (in my case alot of farmers included in that). I've taught with them and visited a whole lot of farms. Each "organic practicing or low input or sustainable (ugh, I hate that nebulous term)" has different ways of nurturing the soil.....crop rotation for sure, cover crops with legumes, some use chicken tractors or manure from their farm, teas, etc.....I've known conventional practicing farmers that have wanted to jump on the organic bandwagon and "only spray when necessary"...monocropping and striping the soil is not environmentally friendly....basically the farmers I gravitate toward are conservators of the land, they nurture the soil or their animals.
Not everyone can tell the difference and farmer's markets can be a great source of information but building a relationship with a farmer and asking questions is what I consider key to understanding.

Shel, my mother could have very easily written your response. She buys organic, many times over whats available locally in Santa Fe.....her mother still gardens organically (Grandma is not certified) kale, chard, tomatoes, cukes, peppers.....funny how a 93 year old farm girl has been raising high nutritional produce for her entire life. nothing fancy. Her eyes lit up with excitement when I brought her a big turnip from the farmer's stand...purple top and all.

As a side note, a few years ago a farmer that had been certified organic for a couple of years had mass flooding on his farm....though he still claimed to have organic produce, his soil had been trashed with horrible runoff. It was brought to my attention by other farmers that had seen the flood. When customers at the market ask who's organic, I got to the point of mentioning those that had certified and told them to ask the farmers if they wanted to know.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #5 of 23
There was a short article in the local news.I read a bit back about which organic produce was "worth it" from a toxin perspective.

Here is the blurb I copied to my notes
post #6 of 23
Back around 1970 or so, I let a neighbor use some of my property to put in a vegetable garden. By today's standards and terminology we'd say she grew her vegetables organically. Of course, she didn't know that - she just treated the ground as "sacred", eschewed the use of pesticides and sprays, carefully tended the plants, and so on. I bought some preying mantis eggs and maybe evn lady bug eggs from the local nursury, and we turned those puppies loose on the garden to feast on the bad bugs. I don't recall how that turned out, but unbeknown to us, we were trying, and quite likely succeeding, at growing a small patch or organic vegetables, I even had some ducks that would feast on the snails and other such critters.

I used to think "organic" was the only way to go, and still look for true organic produce, but I'm also interested in buying from local farmers who care for their land and raise their crops a certain way. While there may be something about their land that prevents them from using an organic label, the produce is grown with greater care than the organics produced by large, corporate farms.

I do believe that such produce, whether certified organic or not, tastes better. Is it because of the growing and farming practices, their freshness, the care with which the produce is handled - I don't know. Probably all of those things. I do know that compared to the produce that's generally available at the organic and natural groceries around here, the produce at the local farmers' markets tastes better, has better color and texture, and, somewhat surprisingly, keeps better in the fridge.

I think that since the USDA organic stamp is more a marketing tool than a statement of purity these days, it really pays to know your supplier and be able, then, to make conscious choices about what you will be eating for dinner rather than choices based primarily on some "stamp of approval" on a head of lettuce.

I've also discovered that some companies even lie about the ingredients in their products and how their products are produced. I won't mention any names, but one company claims that a certain main ingredient in their product is organic, and boldly advertises such, yet following the trail to their claimed supplier of that ingredient leads directly to a company that does not, by their own admission, produce any organic products.

Perhaps it's too early in the morning for me to be some high on my soapbox, so I'll get off now. Back to our regular programming.

Shel
post #7 of 23
>One of the first events I held in 1998 was a picnic to discuss BT and monarch butterfly migration with educators, farmers and chefs. Our area is part of the migration flt path for Monarchs. bt is ok to use for organic production.<

A perfect example about why so many folks are so confused.

Bt is a natural insecticide. So far so good. But what happens when, instead of depending on it's natural occurance, we spray it in concentated form? Nobody really knows. But it certainly remains organic, both in intent and under the law.

I'm not sure, though, what Bt and the migrations have to do with each other. Bt works by attacking the digestive system of caterpillers, and is most typically used to protect brassicas against cabbage worms and green loopers.

Native Monarch caterpillers, unfortunatley, can get caught as an incidental target. But when the Monarchs are migrating that's no longer a problem.

Here's another organic oxymoron: Pyrethrins (sp?) are a powerful, plant-originated insecticide; probably the second most powerful organic insecticide available. But very often the carrier for them is canola oil. In practical terms, the entire rape crop is genetically modified. So, in order to use pyrethrins, you have to spray a frankenfood on your garden. Doesn't make a lot of sense.

Anyway, because "organics" are now the mainstream "in" thing, there are some additional new problems, in terms of market growing.

On one hand, people go to their supermarket and pay a premium for organic produce that 1. was grown hundreds, even thousands of miles away, and 2. in all other respects was grown, like other produce, to meet the needs of the food distribution system. Which, among other things, means that "organic" tomato is no more ripe than a standard one.

On the other hand, we have a local farmer who grows chemically. But his produce is allowed to ripen naturally, and picked this morning---or, at worst, yesterday afternoon, for delivery to a farmer's market or farm stand or as part of a CSA. And, as often as not, he's using heirlooms or other OPs, which have been selected for taste.

So, what's the consumer to do? It almost seems as if there are no right choices.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 23
Where possible, I buy organic fruit and veg - and mostly stuff that grows within the UK. BUT, I'm not precious about that. I couldn't be: in the UK, by mid-winter, you would be limited to root veg and mouldy apples! I do however always buy organic meat and eggs. I've done so for 20 years.

It doesn't mean that when I go out for a meal I insist on going to restaurants who say they source all foods organically - I don't believe they do it anyway! And, when I am invited for a meal with friends, I eat and enjoy what is put in front of me.

I just prefer to know where my meat is raised and HOW it is raised. I am lucky, as I have a great local butcher, whose family's farm locally and supply nearly all the meat he sells. He makes wonderful pies, bridies, haggis and sausages, too. We also have a great fishmonger in the vicinity. He normally buys in Ayrshire bacon, supplied to him by an organic butcher who is a member of the same circle of butchers.

I don't try to force my preferences on anyone - just buy as I feel inclined to do...!
post #9 of 23
My kid eats mostly organic and natural. I don't know why, I would have no problem eating pesticide grown apples, but when it comes to my kid I take no chances. :)

Maybe I'm just a hopeless cause. Too old, too slow, just take me out and shoot me already! :D
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
It's a continum.....what's of percieved value to you is what matters. I buy from a multitude of farms, some raising organically others not. Most I've visited at least once if not several times. I also stop at Produce Row to buy from brokers, it's a reality for me. As my local cheffy friends call it Julie's paradym:
local organic
local
anything/everything else.

Interesting thread, thanks for participating....it's really interesting to read your thoughts. I was hoping this would not get didactic or into a heated discussion, all of you have posted thought provoking text....including you Kuan.....too old to change for yourself but would never dream of "polluting" your son, there are many out there that feel the same way.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #11 of 23
So, how'd the interview go?
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
it's in 2 hours....apparently it'll be a 10 minute segment that will run repeatedly on cable for a week.....since I don't own a tv I guess I'll just have to hear about it from friends.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #13 of 23
"I don't try to force my preferences on anyone"

I don't think that's what's at issue, Ishbel.

The problem here in the U.S. is that the consumer doesn't know what his/her choice really means in terms of health, freshness, growing conditions, or any other criterium.

That person my choose to go organic, for instance. But the mental image (s)he has of what that means, and the reality, may be very far apart. And, as it turns out, they may come closer to their goals from a local farmer who uses chemicals then by buying from the organic bins at the supermarket.

Maybe it's different on your side of the pond. But on our side, at the national level, "organic" pretty much means whatever Monsanto has decided it should mean.

>I do believe that such produce, whether certified organic or not, tastes better. Is it because of the growing and farming practices, their freshness, the care with which the produce is handled - I don't know. <

I do know, Shel. I will state, unequivecably, that if all other factors are held constant, but one plant is grown organically and the other grown with chemicals, you will not be able to tell them apart. Not in a blind taste test.

To grow strong and healthy, and reach it's full potential, a plant needs certain nutrients; three majors and a slew of micros. Sixteen in all. The plant doesn't care where those nutrients come from. Could be manure. Could be compost. Could be a man-made synthetic. If the plant gets them, it's a happy plant. And the end result is the same, no matter what the source.

Those with a true organic outlook aren't concerned with growing plants at all. Their concern is with growing good soil. Do that and the plants pretty much take care of themselves.

The reason locally grown tastes better is, as I've stated below, because it is actually allowed to ripen. Doesn't matter how it was grown, a vine-ripened tomato outclasses a green one any day.

It's the same when people start growing tomatoes for the first time. Mostly they choose a hybrid. And they rave about how much better it tastes than a store-bought 'mater. It's true. But that's simply because until then they had never before eaten a ripe one; so had no idea what a tomato was supposed to taste like.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #14 of 23
From what I've read on various cooking sites, I believe IT IS different on this side of the pond. The use of the word 'organic' is strictly controlled by the Soil Association mark.

Maybe because our island is a small place - considerably less than one thousand miles long... produce is more easily traceable.

I trust implicitly my butcher, my local supermarket, who is an 'ethical' seller.

As I say, I'm not precious about veggies and fruit - although I do prefer to eat locally produced food, available in whatever season. But with our climate - that next to impossible if you want to eat a varied diet through 12 months of the year.

I made a decision a long time ago, to only eat organically/humanely raised meat. I love meat. I do not want to become a vegetarian. BUT, I want to know that the animals I'm eating have been reared in humane conditions, slaughtered in humane conditions and cooked with love.
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
KY, one summer camp I developed and taught to 11-15 year olds was "Not every tomato is the same".....first day we're sampling various varieties of tomatoes including the ubiquetus rubber ball....sampling oils, several olive, nut, veg, sesame, etc.....viniagers, wine, fruit, sherry, basalmic.....sweetners, honey, sorghum, maple syrup, cane syrup.....

It is always a treat to watch the kids realize that there are so many different flavors all from the same veg etc....

The television show was pretty subversive, they had me on as the neutral interview....the next taping session will be the "hard core organic spokeswoman".....great, nothing like being pegged and played. Though I did get in alot about buying local....5 minutes total so alot is relative.

Good discussion so far.
Oh, monarchs still stop on milkweed that borders corn plants as they fly through the area.....I was never quite sure how the whole Cornell/monarch/Bt deal ever played out.....did they recant or did a chemical company refute, I was never clear what all shook out.....
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #16 of 23

This is basic common sense. Go Organic. Can our digestive tracts handle all the pesticides, hormones, wax coated fruits and veggies grown maybe 100 -1000's of miles from where you shop?

Does your body know the difference , Yes!

Eat local organic produce. Support your farmers and change your world! You be healthier and happier.

With care,

Paula

post #17 of 23

I don't trust one packer or distributor or manufacturer and least of all the USDA or FDA  on any issue. I feel the public is being royaly ripped off . The prices of the so called natural and organic are simply way to high. Maybe the future will prove different, meanwhile I tell my friends and associates save your money. As no claim can either be proven or disproven. Or as they say in Missouri""SHOW ME""

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

"SHOW ME""

 

Here you go: http://www.npr.org/2011/04/21/135605139/mothers-pesticide-exposure-linked-to-kids-iqs

 

And: http://www.cape.ca/children/neuro6.html

 

etc, etc... 

post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

"SHOW ME""

 

Pesticide levels in food have been related to IQ in kids in many studies.

 

Here you go: http://www.npr.org/2011/04/21/135605139/mothers-pesticide-exposure-linked-to-kids-iqs

 

And: http://www.cape.ca/children/neuro6.html

 

And: http://www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/Preschool-Exposed-Mexico-Guillette.htm

 

etc, etc... 

 

Check this out: 

 

 

The Yaqui Valley Indian community has adopted chemical-based agriculture and, therefore, children are routinely exposed to aerial pesticide spraying as well as daily household bug spraying. There have been high levels of organochlorine pesticides measured in newborn cord blood and breast milk in this community.

Compared to children from the Foothills community, who are less exposed but otherwise similar for genetic, economic and social features, the Yaqui Valley children exhibited impaired stamina, gross and fine motor coordination, memory and drawing ability, as well as other differences in play behaviour.

 

Children from both the Foothills community and the Valley community were asked to draw a person. Here are the results: 

 

drawings.jpg


Edited by French Fries - 6/29/12 at 4:13pm
post #20 of 23

And if while being tested they all ate green peas, that could also be the cause, but that was not factored in so therefor the experiment lacks control or true scientific outcomes. It as of now is theory.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

And if while being tested they all ate green peas, that could also be the cause, but that was not factored in so therefor the experiment lacks control or true scientific outcomes. It as of now is theory.

 

 

I guess you're right, just like nobody ever really proved that the earth was round. It's as of now just a theory: http://theflatearthsociety.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=62

post #22 of 23

Yo! Everybody take a DEEP breath!

 

Let's discuss the CULINARY aspects, this is not a nutritional or political forum!

 

Everyone is welcome to hold whatever opinion they so desire, but this forum is not the place to debate the merits of those opinions.

 

This is not the venue to argue about WHAT we eat, it IS the place to discuss how we prepare what we choose to eat.

 

Proselytizing will probably lead to a thread being locked down!

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #23 of 23

We are what we eat and COOK:)

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