Friday, February 6, 2009

Did You Know ~ When to Choose Organic...part 2

On Wednesday we posted the first 5 foods to switch to organic to make the biggest health impact on your tot (and family), as promised, here are the last five. Remember these are in the order of importance so these five would be less important to switch than the 5 we mentioned in the last post! Here's # 6-10...

  • Cotton: Cotton accounts for 10% of all pesticide use, and 25% of all insecticide use and those used are among the most toxic. About 2/3 of the cotton crop is harvested as cottonseeds, which end up as cottonseed oil in our food supply (in salad dressing, peanut butter, crackers, cookies, chips, and pretzels. If a product lists cottonseed oil or an unidentified vegetable oil on the label - choose an organic brand instead. Also, wearing organic cotton would be a great choice for you and the planet, although this is a tough switch for most people, including myself.
  • Apples: Apples are one of the most pesticide-contaminated fruits, yet they are one of the most popular fruit with tots (after bananas). Apples are powerhouses of antioxidant activity and choosing organic apples can make a big difference in lowering your family’s pesticide exposure. In addition, organic apples have been found to have higher levels of healthy polyphenols and other phytonutrients. An added bonus is that they are easily found in most stores, including Costco.
  • Beef: Organic beef is more sustainable because it is fed with grass instead of corn and also tends to be leaner and has five times the omega-3 fats of its conventional counterpart. Thus, switching to organic beef is not only beneficial for your family’s health, but also for the health of the whole planet.
  • Soy: Soybean pesticide use in the US ranks second only to corn. In recent years, soy has also been found most contaminated with organophosphate pesticides. Beyond this, soy leads the way in genetic modification, with 87% of the soy planted in the US being genetically modified. Because labeling regulations do not require companies to specify whether or not their products contain genetically modified ingredients, it can be difficult to know for sure what you are getting - particularly since soy is an ingredient in so many processed foods. Choosing organic is one way to be sure the foods you eat are GMO-free.
  • Corn: Corn tends to fatten up beef cattle, while high fructose corn syrup fattens up people. Moreover, more pesticides and more chemical fertilizers are used to grow corn than any other crop, and most of the conventional corn is genetically modified. Off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico is a dead zone about the size of New Jersey , where aquatic life cannot survive. It doubled in size between 1985 and 1999. According to the Congressional Research Service, the main cause of this dead zone is fertilizer runoff - from corn production. It's a powerful picture of the cost of industrial corn production. Changing to organic corn is the most difficult, because it means looking at every ingredient label and skipping conventionally grown items that include corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, dextrose, glucose, cornstarch, vegetable starch, corn solids, or corn oil. While it may be impossible for you to switch all products containing corn to organic, even switching some of them (preferably the ones you eat every day) may have a positive impact.

Here's my son, posing with some of our organic products!

If you would like to read more about the topic, Dr. Greene’s book, Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care, is a great resource.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and we will do our best to answer them, either here or in a future post!

Please read our Did You Know ~ disclaimer.


Becca said...

I do have a question about the organic milk...why is it that the organic milk stays fresher so much longer? I bought some yesterday and the expiration date isn't until feb. 28th.

Laura said...

Hi Beca,
The fact that organic milk last longer than regular one is because producers use a different process to preserve it. Organic milk needs to stay fresh longer because organic products often have to travel farther to reach store shelves since they are not produced throughout the country.

The process that gives the milk a longer shelf life is called ultrahigh temperature (UHT) processing or treatment, in which milk is heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit (138 degrees Celsius) for two to four seconds, killing any bacteria in it. Pasteurization, heats milk to lower temperatures and therefore doesn't kill all bacteria in the milk, just enough so that you don't get a disease with your milk mustache. UHT, on the other hand, kills everything.

So, the fact that organic milk lasts longer doesn't really have to do anything with the milk being from organic cows per se, but really with the way it is heated to destroy bacteria.

Kelly said...

Thank you for listing this great info. I cant say we are an organic household as much I can say we are a "whole" household, but Im always looking for ways to improve.

Heather said...

Thank you Laura,
I am learning so much from you.