Eating fresh

Today, organic food has grown into a $14 billion business and is the fastest growing segment of the grocery industry.

by Jacque Miller — 

The secret to eating fresh is to buy locally grown foods. Today, organic food has grown into a $14 billion business and is the fastest growing segment of the grocery industry. Many of our neighborhood grocery stores have sections in the produce department devoted to locally grown organic food. Farmers’ markets are springing up all over cities across the country (check your newspaper or the Internet for locations).

Organic and locally grown foods that are not cooked or processed provide the body with all of the necessary proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats and sugar it needs. They also hydrate and oxygenate the body. They are full of enzymes, which are the key to proper digestion.

Unfortunately, most foods we buy are sprayed, gassed or processed so that the enzymes die. When there is no enzymatic activity, food has a longer shelf life, but our bodies are forced to use their own store of digestive enzymes to break it down. As we age, we lose our enzyme count, making it more difficult to digest our foods and to eliminate waste.

If our bodies cannot properly eliminate waste, the toxins remain and can lead to acute health problems like obesity and chronic illnesses. The more organic raw and living foods you add to your diet, the less you will have to pull from your body’s storehouse.

Organic food includes significantly higher levels of vitamin C and a greater variety of micro-nutrients than conventional produce, as stated in a 2003 study from the University of California at Davis. A Danish study in 2005 concluded that organic milk contained high levels of vitamin E, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Other studies have shown grass-fed animals produce meats, milk and eggs with more vitamin E, folic acid, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids, and less saturated fat and cholesterol than corn-fed animals.

Understanding the labeling is important when buying organic. The USDA currently defines organic this way: “Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.” These foods receive the official USDA seal of approval.

Food labeled “100 percent organic” is entirely organic whole food or is processed from entirely organic foods. Look for the green and white seal. Food labeled “organic” describes food that is no less than 95 percent organic (an organic soup, for instance, might include a small portion of non-organic ingredients).

Food labeled “made with organic …” indicates that a specific organic ingredient is included in the processed food. (Tortilla chips might say “made with organic corn,” for example.) In this category, the product must contain 70 percent organically grown ingredients to receive the coveted USDA seal.

 

Jacque Miller, B.S., is a behavioral nutritionist, and certified lifestyle educator who teaches real solutions for healthy living. www.healthstylechoices.com or 602-672-6333.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 2, April/May 2010.


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