Monday, September 1, 2008

Another Excuse for Me to Crow About Organic Foods

Labor Day typically signals the end of summer, the timing of which means for many people, less locally grown produce. If you buy produce at a farm stand, you have the opportunity to ask the farmer how he treats his crops and soil. You can ask if he uses pesticides or chemical fertilizers. As the growing seasons wind down and you are forced to buy produce at the MegaSuperGroceryStore, consider buying organic produce where possible. Also take a look at the country of origin for each item. Regular readers know that I am an advocate for organic foods and feel strongly that we should reduce the level of pesticides we ingest in our bodies. The benefits of eating organic foods are well documented. I won't make this post a lecture, but organic foods do not contain pesticides, synthetic chemicals, antibiotics, growth hormones, artificial colors, additives or preservatives, irradiation, or use sewage or sludge in farming techniques. You really don't want any of that stuff in your food do you? My great grandparents always had a huge garden, so we had veggies from their own yard. Very few people have time for that anymore, so we are more dependent on stores for everything. Things are different from 50-60 years ago- when a lot of the chemicals and pesticides weren't as prevalent in our food supply chain. We've also become more educated about the role these things play in diseases and cancer rates. I have made a lifestyle choice to buy as much organic product as possible, in an attempt to reduce the amount of bad stuff I consume. I figure the old adage "less is more" applies well here.

Since not everyone has a Whole Foods store nearby, or the major grocery store doesn't carry much in the way of organic produce there may not be many choices. If that's you, ask the grocery clerk or store manager to start carrying some organic produce for you. The challenge for most people will be that organic foods tend to be more expensive. So, if you can't afford to buy a lot of organic products, there is a short list of things that you can concentrate on to minimize your exposure to pesticides and all that other bad stuff I mentioned. At the very least, focus on seeking organic as an alternative for these foods listed below- they tend to have the highest amounts of pesticides, chemicals, additives and hormones:

Meat & Poultry- Even if it's not organic, look for "no antibiotics or growth hormones".

Milk- The fat in dairy products often has pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones.

Peaches-There are 45 different kinds of pesticides regularly applied to peaches, which have very delicate skin.

Bell Peppers- This vegetable has thin skin that does not serve as a barrier to pesticides

Celery- Has no protective skin, so the 29 different kinds of chemicals used to grow conventional celery go right into you with every bite

Strawberries- Nearly 500 pounds of pesticides are used per acre of strawberries. Be especially leery of strawberries imported from countries that do not have similar regulations for pesticide use.

Lettuce- Often contaminated with the strongest pesticides used on crops.

Potatoes- Amazingly have the highest levels of pesticide residue. Since they are grown in the soil, they can pick up any chemicals applied above ground that contaminate the soil and are absorbed by the potato while growing.

Tomatoes- Another delicate skin that is easily punctured, allowing the entire tomato to be contaminated.

So as Labor Day passes and the local farmstands close up shop in the next month or so, be on the lookout for organic produce, milk and meats. It may just contribute to a healthier life for you down the road.
-Rick Rockhill



that is very very true! although I'm a half and half depending on what's easiest for preparation and errands to run based on moods of children.

My girlfriend has these cleaning products that remove all and every pesticides from all veggies and fruit--it's an organic mixture--so if you're not able to go organic, at least by cleaning off the produce with organic cleaning agents (safe naturally) you're helping yourself a bit more then just eating it straight.

What's your thoughts on French Farmers Markets?
(french because booths aren't all fruit and veggies--some knick knacks, blah blah blahs..)

Happy Labor day to you and your family!


lime said...

dang, all my favorite things are the most dangerous.....i had no idea.

jackie said...

now that's what I call food for thought!

abbagirl74 said...

This is a great post. I work for a major grocer, and it is all about pushing the organics right now. Most of my fresh produce is organic. I didn't think about the potatoes though. Good one. Oh, and thanks for stopping by.

snowelf said...

That was really educational Rick, and very helpful. Lucky for me, my grandma and grandpa's garden is one of my biggest veggie suppliers in the summer! I have a big bucket of fresh green beans, peppers, and a yummy eggplant. Mmmm! :)


TWISI said...

our green markets begin here next month...i can't wait.

bunnygirl said...

Great post and a good reminder.

The follow-up to this, of course, is processing and packaging. I've weaned myself off processed foods over the course of many years, and in the past year I've quit eating even organic pre-packaged foods (okay, I make an exception for pita chips). It's scary how much of a chemical taste I can now pick up in pre-packaged foods, including organic frozen meals, which pick up the taste residue of the plastic packaging.

Most Americans have spent their entire lives eating foods that taste like chemicals, so they don't notice any more. Quit for a little while and you start to realize just how nasty it all really is!

Kimmie said...

Paul, our Food Editor is all about organic products! Thank you so much for your comments and I would love to do a link exchange with you. We actually have a new home for the Kitten Lounge that has more images of this recipe we will launch this this week! See the full post with a slideshow of images at and let me know if you would like to exchange links!

Col said...

Thanks for the comment on my similar post over in good ole England. It's good to see that we agree. Pesticides just have no place in food crops.


Rhea said...

I eat organic a lot, but not exclusively. This explanation of the vulnerability of certain produce certainly makes me think twice about forgoing organic. I do it mostly because of the expense!

Marlupe said...

Good info here- sure makes sense to me!

Anonymous said...

Another benefit of buying organic milk: most of the organic brands are ultra-pasteurized, which means they last in the fridge longer. So you don't have to worry so much about half a jug of milk going bad and having to throw it away.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

i am your perfect example, i never bought organic foods and got two major cancers...

smiles, bee

Debo Blue said...

Great site and great information about organic. My mother began eating more organic foods to help keep her diabetes in check.

PS-thanks for visiting my little piece of Blogger world.

RhodesTer said...

It may interest you to know that the missus, Dorian (who you're going to meet someday), grew up in the agricultural belt of California near Fresno, and her health is BEYOND BAD.. due to ingesting all those pollutants in the air from crop treatments.

She's almost 40 now, and unable to hold a job. A few years ago I worked with a guy in Orange County who was about 10 years younger than her - he displayed the same symptoms she does. Turns out he's from her hometown and went to her high school. His poor health was identical to hers.

Desert Songbird said...

I've been shopping at Trader Joe's for about 18 months now, and I couldn't be happier. I try to always buy organic, California grown produce, and most of the other foods they sell are preservative free, which I love also.

I have noticed, however, that Safeway is starting to carry more US-certified organic food.

Joe said...

Good tips for the end of summer and fresh, homegrown food. Thanks for stopping by my site!


Brilliant and very helpful post!!!


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