My good family friend, Monica Jagel, recently asked me to write an introduction of sorts on the importance of organic & healthy food choices for a recipe book she is in the process of compiling. Below is part of what will be featured in her book. You may just learn a thing or two from my quick lesson in organics & healthy diets!
Our country is undergoing a food movement which one may associate with terms such as organic, sustainable, local, natural, and non-GMO (genetically modified organism) to name a few. This surge in awareness toward organic & local food is critical for the health of both the planet and humans. Unfortunately, our food system currently operates backwards and organics are most often more expensive than conventional; making it a challenge for most people to afford organic food.
Certified organic food ensures the following: pesticide & herbicide free, non-GMO (genetically modified organism), non-irradiated, natural fertilizers, no added growth hormones, and antibiotic free. Organic food production benefits the environment, as it works with nature, not against as conventional does. Pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers are heavily used in conventional production meaning not only are you consuming these, but so too is the soil, air, waterways, insects, and countless wildlife that live in that area.
The meat and dairy industries are in particularly horrible condition; factory farms are contributors to the majority of meat, dairy, and eggs in our country. Conditions on these farms are anything from healthy; overcrowding, confinement, animal abuse, disease, antibiotic use, toxic runoff from too much untreated manure, etc. Given the disease laden state their animals are raised in, it is crucial to source either organically or local. Since many small farmers cannot afford to become USDA certified organic, get to know your local farmer(s) and inquire their practices. Most farmers who sell local at the farmers market, a coop, or have a CSA (community supported agriculture) are raising their animals humanely, without unnecessary growth hormones, and allowing them to roam the pastures.
A healthy diet does not necessarily mean low fat, fat free, sugar free, or carb-free. To properly nourish your body one must eat a well-rounded, whole foods based diet. A well-rounded diet includes lots of fresh greens, vegetables, and fruits alongside whole grains, beans & legumes, nuts & seeds, and thoughtfully sourced meat & dairy. Avoiding as much packaged foods as you can will guarantee most of your diet to be whole foods. Our bodies are designed to eat real food and nine times out of ten ingredients in a packaged product does not qualify as “real”, rather creations from a laboratory. An easy rule of thumb to stick to is “5 ingredients or under” and/or you should be able to recognize and pronounce all ingredients.
And as always… vote with your FORK!