This topic just won’t seem to go away. Is it worth the extra cost to buy organic or does healthy conventionally grown food trump pesticide-free? It’s really not a black and white issue. To get to the bottom of things, you have to look closely at different types of food.
An organic food is grown without the use of any chemicals, herbicides and pesticides. Such toxins are potentially detrimental to the nervous system and may also play a role in the development of cancer, hormone dysfunction and damage to tissues like the skin, lungs and eyes. It’s well understood that one serving of conventionally produced food won’t cause harm. The big question is whether or not long-term consumption is problematic.
Way back when, foods were simply organic or they weren’t. As more organic products have become available, the issue became more complex. To keep up with the variations, the USDA has designated specific nomenclature for organic foods. For example, a food labeled “100 percent organic” contains all organic ingredients; the “organic” designation means that all agricultural ingredients must be organic. Foods with 70 percent organic ingredients can only state that they’re “made with organic ingredients.” For the complete breakdown of organic labeling definitions, visit the USDA Organic Certification web page.
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The Environmental Working Group constantly scrutinizes the amounts of pesticide residues found on popular produce. We want to keep you updated on which fruits and veggies you should buy organic – here’s a review of the 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide Residues.
The Dirty Dozen PLUS
The top 12 most contaminated had remained relatively consistent other than a few items shifting positions. But in 2012 a “PLUS” category was added to the original dozen. Conventionally-grown green beans, kale and collard greens have been given special consideration because of an especially dangerous toxin they are treated with. Organophosphate insecticides are toxic to the neurological system and are found in even higher amounts on bell peppers and nectarines (numbers 3 and 6 on the Dirty Dozen list).
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Our recent post on 5 Healthiest Kids Meals stirred up controversy over chicken. Some folks felt that it’s loaded with artery-clogging saturated fat while others voiced their concern over how chickens are raised and fed. Here’s a breakdown of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Chicken is easy to prepare in a healthy way by grilling, roasting, sauteing, poaching, stir-frying and baking. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should be eating lean sources of protein, including chicken. It is recommended to remove the visible fat and skin from chicken before eating to decrease unnecessary calories from fat. Here is a comparison of 3-ounces of chicken breast with and without the skin:
Without the skin:
Fat: 3 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Cholesterol: 73 milligrams
Protein: 27 grams
With the skin:
Fat: 8 grams
Saturated Fat: 8 gram
Cholesterol: 82 milligrams
Protein: 29 grams
As with most meat and poultry, it can get expensive. The problem is, most folks eat much higher portions that they really need. Purchasing 3-4 ounces cooked (about 4-5 ounces raw) per person can help keep portions at bay and control costs.
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- Start making healthier choices today.
Healthy eating can be defined in many ways and has different meanings for different people. But at the end of the day it’s about making small, simple, upgrades to your current diet to improve your overall health. That doesn’t mean you have to toss all the processed foods in your pantry today or say good-bye to your favorite sweets forever. It means starting where you are and using these tips to make healthier food choices moving forward.
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- Find out what fruits and veggies are most important to buy organic.
Sure, we’d probably all love to buy every fruit and veggie organic, but it’s not always affordable to purchase everything from the often higher-priced organic section. Luckily, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) keeps a running list of the fruits and veggies that are most and least contaminated — here’s how they updated the list for 2011.
Find out the most important foods to buy organic »
Last year on Earth Day, we introduced the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Shoppers Guide to Pesticides – the list of most and least contaminated produce items to help you decide where to spend your organic food budget. The EWG continues to conduct research on contamination levels in popular fruits and veggies—here’s the latest update.
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Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack recently gave commercial alfalfa growers the green light to plant seeds genetically modified to resist the herbicide Roundup. This controversial decision has the food industry fighting, and with good reason. So, why should you care? Find out what’s been going on, and how it could affect organic produce and meats. Then, tell us where you stand on this issue.
Genetically-modified alfalfa: good or bad? »
- Don't fall for food label tricks -- be a savvy shopper with our tips.
Many folks read food labels to gain better insight on the foods they choose. However, with so many claims plastered on labels, things can get really confusing. Even worse, food companies use these claims to push certain products and make you think they’re healthier than they really are. We’ve rounded up the top 10 food label boobie traps.
10 food label tricks »
- Should You Go Organic or Conventional With Your Bird?
For my family, the Thanksgiving meal is all about digging into to a seasonal bounty of our favorite foods. While I may be able to find many turkey day must-haves organically produced, they come at a much higher price. Do I need to go for broke this holiday?
Our take: Are organic turkeys and produce worth the high price tag?
In this week’s nutrition news: Study compares mercury levels in supermarket and restaurant sushi, NYC mayor Bloomberg encourages companies to slash salt and soda (diet and regular) linked to early death.
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