Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Farmer’s Market Fresh – Why & When to Choose Organic

You’ve heard all the talk, ‘organic this’, ‘hormone-free that’. Does buying organic as opposed to conventional foods really make a difference? Should you be concerned?

Organic foods are grown and produced under strict government regulations and are stamped with a ‘USDA Organic’ seal. Farmers and organic food and beverage companies follow specific standards -- fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains are grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides; free-range poultry, wild fish and grass-fed beef are raised in their natural environments without added hormones or antibiotics; eggs and dairy products follow suit. In addition, when you purchase items from your local farmers market, you’re supporting community growers and environment-friendly farming methods.

So what’s the benefit to you and your health? Eating seasonal, natural foods, means you’re consuming less potential toxins and contaminants over the long-term. At the same time, you’re nourishing your body with quality nutrients and decreasing disease risk. A study published by the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry found that organic produce contains higher levels of disease-fighting antioxidants than conventional produce – in particular, corn 59% greater, blackberries 50% greater, and strawberries 19% greater. Another study conducted by the University of California-Davis reviewed 41 research trials and found that the nutritional quality of organic produce was superior to that of its conventional counterparts. On average, organic produce contains 29% more magnesium, 27% vitamin C, 21% more iron, and 14% more phosphorus.

As nutrient-rich as they are, organic produce and grocery items can also be a bit steeper when it comes to the price tag. We’ve come up with a quick list of ‘best bets’, try to purchase these items organically whenever possible, as they may be more permeable to pesticides and hormones. So take a trip to your local farmer’s market sometime soon, it’s a great way to recharge your body’s battery, kiss toxins goodbye and ‘reset your clock’ just in time for spring!

Berries, all varieties
Dark leafy greens, lettuces Grapes, green and red
Broccoli & cauliflower Apples, all varieties
Bell peppers Corn Cucumbers
Potatoes, rice Peaches, nectarines, plums Green beans
Milk & eggs Free-range chicken, wild salmon & fish Grass-fed beef & bison

Quick tip: Though organic foods do indeed have great health benefits, remember to watch calories, fat content and portion sizes with certain organic items like cookies, chips, desserts, pastas and rices, marinades, sauces and more.

No comments: