If you have been part of our little community reading my blog you will know I am always banging on about the benefits of quality organic food.
But if I’m honest in the beginning , sometimes it was a right pain in the arse.
I feel like a grumpy old man when I say this but it’s true. I’m sure some of you have heard or told this story before.
My parents told me, once upon a time all food was naturally organic, then “they” (the evil food companies wahahahaha) started using pesticides and preservatives and they said “you can eat fruit all year round” and “this stuff is better because it lasts longer”, and charged us more for it.
Now they take the pesticides and preservatives away and call it organic, and you guessed, charge us more for it! 😉
This is part 1 of a 3 part organic food series which you can read about every fortnight, over the coming 6 weeks or so.
Over the three articles I will share what I have learnt about “going organic” over the last two years.
Practical things (some which could save your marriage ;-), as this is sure to piss people off around you) and let you in on a few tips to save you money and make your life easier.
Okay firstly what does organic actually mean?
A food label stating that it is organic is giving you a promise that the product was created naturally and was not subject to any type of hormones, antibiotics, chemicals etc.
With regards to organic meat, you know that the animal has lived in good natural conditions, this helps to promote healthier animals who are less prone to illness for the duration of their life.
If an animal becomes ill and needs to be treated with antibiotics it must be removed from the organic farm and sold as it has lost its organic status, according to government regulations to ensure that the product is organic.
Of course organic food is more expensive but I’d rather pay a pound or two more so I can be safe in the knowledge that the food was natural and didn’t contain chemicals!
Pesticides sprayers leave what’s called pesticide residue on your fruit/veg. In olden days…they used to wash fruit before you ate it, mostly because it may have some mud or cow dung on it! We are supposed to do this today, to get rid of some of the pesticide residue, but few people do as the fruit looks ready to eat.
When I started to try and eat organic I would drive my wife crazy (because she does the shopping, say no more), it was taking her an extra half an hour as she was having to find the organic versions of what we used to eat.
Since then I have learnt (my wife beat it into me every shopping day) that you simply cant live 100% organic without ending up like some weirdo with an eating disorder, her words not mine, I do need a reality check from time to time ;-).
In the beginning when I started only Tesco carried any sort of organic products, and it was expensive (it put about £40-50 extra on a weekly shop if i remember right).
Now they are more common and more competitive on price. Go to Lidl as they now do lots of organic stuff and it’s much cheaper and better quality than tesco’s 😉 IMO.
You can’t get everything you want organic – all the time – you have to accept that .
However strategies I have used when not buying organic are:
- Buying as good a quality food as possible.
- Buying from the local greengrocers/farm shops and ask them where the stuff is from.
- Buying seasonal, this means more fruit in the summer and less in the winter, which is in my opinion natural.
- Grow your own.
- Ask people who grow – potatoes, vegetables and salad – to give anything that’s left over to you!
The Day I Decided to Go Organic
The day I learned that the toxic load inside my body was causing me to feel like I had chronic fatigue, I decided that I wanted to stop as many chemicals entering my system of possible.
For me personally this meant my food, water and personal products had to change, from the chemical laden to chemical free.
These changes didn’t happen overnight, it was over a period of many months, I changed one or two things at a time.
Why Bother?(I hear you say)
To be honest with you there are a few reasons why I eat organic food when possible.
The main one is the food is natural and makes me FEEL great. It doesn’t contain any/many chemicals, it tastes nicer, and another big reason is that I feel like I’m investing in my health and the future, looking after myself.
To use the car analogy, the fuel you put in will determine how the car performs, and the lifespan of the car/engine, that’s my approach with food, put good in get good out.
As mentioned, sadly much of the normal fruit, vegetables and other food products the food chain (especially the imported stuff) have been tainted with unhealthy chemicals which are no good for our health.
Obviously eating these products is better than no fruit and veg at all but you should always try to eat food in its most natural form.
In most cases the perfect shaped food in the supermarket is often the end product of 40 years of food science and genetic engineering.
We don’t have GM foods in the UK (yet) but they do allow animals to be given feeds which contain GM ingredients. Our food (fish, cows, poultry and pigs) – is fed – GM food – and this will pass down the food chain.
The GM foods have been reported to make the animals that eat them sterile, cause liver problems, and are linked with allergies along with a host of other nasties (click the link to read more on GM health risks).
Big Benefits of Organic Eating
1. Increased Health – Non organic food products are grown using pesticides and chemical fertilizers which harm our health – FACT. By going organic you don’t have to worry about these harming your health. These chemicals are especially harmful for children, pregnant women and people with sensitive immune or digestive systems. The problems which may be linked to over exposure in pesticides include: birth defects, nerve damage, and cancer.
2. Nutritionally Stronger Foods – Organic foods are produced differently to non organic foods, it is a much more natural process which means that organic fruits and vegetables can contain up to 50% more minerals, vitamins and other health boosting nutrients than non organic products!
3. Environmentally and Animal Friendly – Our environment is important, no one can deny that. So it is such a sad thing that so many things go on in the world today that ruins it! At least by making little changes such as eating fresh organic foods you are cutting down on soil, air and water pollution. Eating this way will also ensure that the animals used to produce the food lived a nicer healthier life. I know I’d much rather eat beef from a cow that was able to roam around fields for his life rather than being cooped up in a cage! We have to start somewhere. All of these little changes can help to maintain a safer world for our future generations
4. Tastier Food – Obviously this is a big plus. Not many things can beat the taste and freshness of natural fruit, or the crunchiness of good quality vegetables, well a juicy steak would, organic of course ;-). The natural organic farming creates healthier plants which gives better taste.
Common Barriers to Eating Organically
Yes there are a few barriers to eating organic as with everything. These are the main ones:
- Price – Clearly organic food is going to cost more, you get what you pay for and in a tough economic climate paying extra for organic food may not be top of people’s priority list. As I mentioned, in the next few weeks I will tell you of the foods you don’t need to buy organic so that should be a little easier on the pocket to get fresh natural good foods.
- Availability – In supermarkets there is often not a very large range of organic products so this makes organic eating harder again.
Is the organic label always reliable?
The more organic we can get the better, in supermarkets you have probably noticed labels such as ‘organic’, ‘made with organic ingredients’.
The mention of organic is a lot better than not organic, so do what you can. ‘Organic’ labelling means that the product is 95% organic whereas made with organic ingredients will be around 70% organic.
Jumping On The Band Wagon
Organic is the fastest growing sector in the food industry, which means big money. Lots of companies are jumping on the band wagon, it’s good in one way as us consumers seem to be asking and they, the big food manufacturers are supplying.
Our favourites like Heinz baked beans and also their tomato sauce, are now available in organic versions.
Don’t forget though organic or not – beans is beans and chocolate is chocolate. But I’m a bit cynical as always (my Dad calls it a healthy cynicism).
So there you have part 1. Click the link to check out part 2 and 3 where you can find out the foods most affected by pesticides and to avoid, and the foods which you don’t need to buy organic if you follow a few easy steps.
I would be over the moon if you could let me know what you think below, I will respond to every comment as soon as I can.
To check out part 2 of the organic food series click the following link: