Beyond eating more fruits, vegetables, and good fats, however, there is the question of what type of food to eat.
How foods are grown or raised can impact both your health and the environment. This brings up the questions: What is the difference between organic foods and conventionally grown foods? Is “organic” best? What about locally-grown foods?
What does “organic” mean?
The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Specific requirements must be met and maintained in order for products to be labelled as “organic.”
For growing organic vegetables and crops, farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides, bio-engineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilisers.
What are the benefits of organic food?
Organic foods provide a variety of benefits. Some studies show that organic foods have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally grown counterparts. In addition, people with allergies to foods, chemicals, or preservatives may benefit from eating organic foods.
• Certified organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Pesticides are chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. These chemicals are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat.
• Organic food can be fresher.
• Organically raised animals are NOT given antibiotics or growth hormones, or fed animal by-products.
• Organic food is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants or animals whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides etc.
Organic farmers also purposefully maintain and replenish the fertility of the soil.
Eat Local Food Where You Can
Generally, local food means food that was grown close to home. This could be in your own garden, your local community, your state, your region, or your country. During large portions of the year it is usually possible to find food grown very close to home at places such as at a farmer’s markets. Money stays within the community and strengthens the local economy. More money goes directly to the farmer, instead of to things like marketing and distribution.
Fruits and vegetables where the organic label matters the most include:
Does washing and peeling help get rid of pesticides?
Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate pesticides. Peeling sometimes helps, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the skin. Suggest the best approach: eat a varied diet, wash and scrub all produce thoroughly, and buy organic, when possible.