Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why Organic?

The simplest and most important answer for anyone, including men, to go organic is: it is better for YOU.

Once a term relegated to markets that catered to clientele with vested interest - natural food stores, farmers' markets, progressive cafes - organic is increasingly available in standard supermarkets in their own section or even side-by-side with the 'regular' products.

In an ever changing food landscape of nutrition, diet, fads, and so on, I want to go back to the original point. Without really changing anything else in your diet, going organic as much as possible can simply be better for you. That means as a man you can still eat man foods, just try organic if you can.



First things first what is 'organic'? Per Organic.org:

'Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.'

I could go into all the other reasons organic food is better for everyone (go here for a list of 10), but again the point here is why it is better for YOU.

The simple reason is that the pesticides, fertilizers, and other additives used to grow non-organic, large farm foods destroy much of what makes the food, well, food. It has more of what is good for us, and less or none of what is bad. I could link a bunch of articles, but it's easy enough to search on the web, and you don't want to read all that stuff anyway. Trust me (I hope you do by now) when I say that the practices of sustainable agriculture (which is actually 'traditional' farming) make better food than modern corporate farming.

Still not sure? Well, here is a little more exposition on the matter in two simple points: it has more nutrition, and it tastes better. Together that means more for less which means more health and less girth, and isn't that we all want?

It Has More Nutrition

While the next point may be more meaningful to many, this is really the important point. Organic food has been shown to contain much higher amounts of vitamins and minerals than regular food. To the right is a table on this fact. OK, so it's from 1995, but statistics don't expire. Still unsure? Here is a newer study. The Results? 'Organic crops contained significantly more vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus and significantly less nitrates than conventional crops. There were nonsignificant trends showing less protein but of a better quality and a higher content of nutritionally significant minerals with lower amounts of some heavy metals in organic crops compared to conventional ones.'

There you have it, in caveman speak: More Good, Less Bad.

It Tastes Better

If you get more taste out of something, any cravings you have can be satisfied faster, and thus you may be likely to eat less. Personally, if I have a good organic dark chocolate for example I only need a little bit, but if I buy the famous brands of chocolate I could eat a whole bar or bag and not be satisfied.

Now I know, you go to the store, you see the organic food next to the regular, then you look at the price tags. Yes, organic is more expensive
For example a 15 oz can of organic vs conventional tomato sauce is $1.69 versus $1.49 at one store but right on the label Vitamin A and Vitamin C are 4/8% versus 2/4% of RDV.

But it increasingly becomes more reasonable, and the two points above show why it is not. For the price of organic food you get way more nutrition and may eat less. More nutrition means you may not even need supplements - and you know how expensive those are. Combined with eating less it means better health, which means less health care, which means money saved.

Once again, in taste versus calories: More Good, Less Bad.

How do I Know It's Organic?

This is where it can get tough. Sure there are some brands that say they are organic and my not be, but usually you can trust them, and if not look for the USDA label. But there are other words that may express the same thing as organic and nto say it, so watch for those and if you see them - select them over regular food as well: tallgrass or grass-fed (beef), free range (chicken), Fair Trade, natural, and so on, a good list and explanation of terms can be found here. At your grocery store they may be in their own section, or mixed in among the same regular foods. You likely have a store dedicated to organic food, and many restaurants now are going as organic as possible. Milwaukeeans can always look at the Well-Met Goods and Services page for organic food outlets. Locally, we have numerous natural/organic markets, not to mention local farmer's markets and CSAs (community supported agriculture) each of which could use their own full article. Local stores include:
Of course, there other reasons to choose organic - it is better for your family (especially children who are more easily affected by pesticides, hormones, etc.), the community, the environment. But remember, simply it is better for YOU. So please, think about selecting organic next time - and all future times - you get food.