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#34. Organic Foods

Monday, October 08, 2018

My grandchildren are being fed mostly ORGANIC foods – and have been since they were born.

As a result, I have been buying and eating organic foods too. Unfortunately, organic foods are typically much more expensive than non organic foods, and not everyone is willing or able to pay the higher prices.

The Mayo Clinic provides some interesting information about Organic foods – and what that higher price is buying.

Organic farming practices are designed to meet the following goals:
--Enhance soil and water quality
--Reduce pollution
--Provide safe, healthy livestock habitats
--Enable natural livestock behavior
--Promote a self-sustaining cycle of resources on a farm

Organic crop farming materials or practices may include:
--Plant waste left on fields (green manure), livestock manure or compost to improve soil quality
--Plant rotation to preserve soil quality and to interrupt cycles of pests or disease
--Cover crops that prevent erosion when parcels of land are not in use and to plow into soil for improving soil quality
--Mulch to control weeds
--Predatory insects or insect traps to control pests
--Certain natural pesticides and a few synthetic pesticides approved for organic farming, used rarely and only as a last resort in coordination with a USDA organic certifying agent

Organic farming practices for livestock include:
--Healthy living conditions and access to the outdoors
--Pasture feeding for at least 30 percent of livestock's nutritional needs during grazing season
--Organic foods for animals

Potential benefits of Organic foods include the following:

--Nutrients. Studies have shown small to moderate increases in some nutrients in organic produce. The best evidence of a significant increase is in certain types of flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties.

--Omega-3 fatty acids. The feeding requirements for organic livestock farming, such as the primary use of grass and alfalfa for cattle, result in generally higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a kind of fat that is more heart healthy than other fats. These higher omega-3 fatty acids are found in organic meats, dairy and eggs.

--Toxic metal. Cadmium is a toxic chemical naturally found in soils and absorbed by plants. Studies have shown significantly lower cadmium levels in organic grains, but not fruits and vegetables, when compared with conventionally grown crops. The lower cadmium levels in organic grains may be related to the ban on synthetic fertilizers in organic farming.

--Pesticide residue. Compared with conventionally grown produce, organically grown produce has lower detectable levels of pesticide residue. Organic produce may have residue because of pesticides approved for organic farming or because of airborne pesticides from conventional farms. The difference in health outcomes is unclear because of safety regulations for maximum levels of residue allowed on conventional produce.

--Bacteria. Meats produced conventionally may have a higher occurrence of bacteria resistant to antibiotic treatment. The overall risk of bacterial contamination of organic foods is the same as conventional foods.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that buyers wash all produce – including Organic produce - thoroughly under running water before eating it.

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