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Why Organics?

by Jeff Berkowitz on April 12, 2010 · 0 comments

in Culinary Philosopher News

Many people are interested only in money. They don’t share my passion for great tasting food. This has produced our current state of tasteless produce that ships well and lasts a long time in the produce section. By the time we buy it, the inherent nutrients have significantly degraded. We may as well be eating wet saw dust. Certified organic and bio-dynamic foods are the solution to this problem. I will talk about bio-dynamic foods in a later post. It may be important to point out at this time that during the day, I am a Research & Development Chef for a company that does indeed produce certified organic items.I have personal knowledge of the government’s requirements to label your product certified organic.

Why should we buy organic produce? What is organic produce? Judging from the price, this is just a scam, right? When man first started farming the land, all produce was organic. As farming became more and more organized, man started to grow their vegetables where they wanted it to grow instead of where it was naturally found.  Through thousands of years, farming has developed to solve various issues like mass production, fertilization, water needs and pests. Modern farming sought to solve these problems by developing pesticides, petroleum fertilizers, genetically modified plants (GMO’s) We now grow produce that is pest resistant, looks ripe even when it’s not, and continues to look fresh long after harvesting.

One major problem with pesticides is that pesticides kill the good with the bad, remember DDT? Man-made fertilizers which are usually petroleum based are used in higher and higher concentrations in order to maintain yield per acre. The excess runs off into the water table, rivers, ponds, and streams, wreaking havoc with the balance of those waterways; killing water life and poisoning our drinking water. Someone came up with a brilliant solution. Stop using these chemicals. We can fertilize with organic compost. As the organic label started to gain recognition, companies claimed they did not use pesticides when in fact they did. So the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) got involved. Now there are some rigorous certification procedures. By the way, GMO’s cannot be labeled organic and cannot be used in any product labeled Certified Organic. At the bottom of this article, I’ve posted some links in case you would like more information and will be adding these and more links to a resource page which will be accessed on the navigation bar of this blog.

There are studies showing that all humans have pesticides in their tissues. We don’t know how this is going to affect future generations. I can’t answer that one. What I respond to is flavor. I can tell you that non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) vegetables grown in a manner consistent with sustainable agriculture taste better. They don’t ship as well or last as long on the store shelves, but that is good in a way. It forces us to eat more locally and eat the food at its peak of freshness. Organic food and non-organic food have the same nutritional value when compared at the same time period after harvesting. I would argue that is good because it forces you to eat the organic produce closer to the harvesting time thereby enabling you to get the most nutrition from them. Non-organic produce sits in our stores and in our refrigerators looking fresh until it loses the majority of its nutrients. Which would you rather eat?

Not all produce is equal as far as pesticide contamination. The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides is a chart showing the dirty dozen of produce and the clean fifteen. The list includes 47 different items. Studies have shown that people who eat the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables consume an average of 12 pesticides a day. Consuming the 15 least contaminated conventionally grown fruits and vegetables lowers your pesticide consumption to less than 2 daily. Rinsing and peeling help but does not remove all pesticides and peeling removes many vital nutrients contained in the skin. The best approach is to rinse and eat organic. I would recommend buying the first 12 items organic. As you go down the list you could switch to conventional produce. All organic is the ideal but let’s face it, we all live within budgets.

Resources to learn more:

USDA: National Organic Program


Certified Organic Label Guide

FAQ’s About Organics

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