Monday, October 1, 2012

Organics Gain Higher Ratings

Not only are the sale of organic foods increasing, but research has shown that organic produce has higher levels of potentially healthy compounds. Two reasons: Plants in an organic field have to fend off insects and fungi by the use of their own natural defense, which has time to mature without the interference of chemicals. As a result, they have higher concentrations of defensive compounds (phytochemicals) that may keep us healthier. Shelf life of the fruits and vegetables improves for the same reason. Plus, nitrogen fertilizers give mold and bacteria more of what they need to grow.
 Second, there is no "dilution effect." Nitrogen fertilizers used in conventional farming drive up the yields and produce bigger plants, diluting the concentration of the plants levels of vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols. Organic fertilizer also enriches the soil with nutrients that nitrogen alone does not, eventually leaving the topsoil deplete of minerals.
Imported produce presents a greater health risk than our own conventional farming, since the EPA's Food Quality & Protection Act was passed by Congress in 1996 reforming the use of pesticides in the U.S.
Such restrictions are not practiced outside of the U.S.Toxicity exposure is at the greatest risk from December through April, when imports are at their peak.
What does Organic mean on the label?
   Fruits & Vegetables - no synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, sewage sludge. Not irradiated or genetically engineered.
   Meat & Poultry - raised on 100% organic feed, access to outdoors. Not irradiated or fed animal byproducts, and no hormones or antibiotics.
   Eggs - hens are fed 100% organic feed, no growth hormones or antibiotics. Not necessarily cage free or free range.
   Milk - all cow's feed is 100% organic for the past 12 months & at least 30% of diet is from pasture (cows have access to outdoors). No hormones or antibiotics.
   Seafood - no current official U.S. standards, USDA is working on a standard for farm-raised seafood.
   Packaged Foods - "100% Organic" = all ingredients are organic. "Organic" = at least 95% of ingredients are organic. "Made With Organic Ingredients" = at least 70% of ingredients are organic.  

~ Environmental Health Perspective, 2012