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8 Foods You Must Eat Organic


Fat Guy
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I've seen various lists of this sort, arguing that it's more important to eat the organic versions of some foods than others on the theory that some fruits absorb more pesticides than others etc. I remain unconvinced that it's important to eat organic anything, but thought this piece on iVillage was interesting enough to discuss. It lists "8 Foods You Must Eat Organic" and argues for why. They are beef, eggs, rice, wheat, ketchup, peanut butter, apples, and strawberries.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I remain unconvinced that it's important to eat organic anything

Just out of interest, why? Personally, I am all for anything that means less pesticides and so on being poured all over the environment. Not so fussed about supposed health benefits though - I get enough chemical crap from traffic fumes, burning rubbish, etc. to negate it all!

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As I understand it, organic does not equal pesticide-free. It just equals synthetic-pesticide-free. Organic farmers are allowed to use organic pesticides, which I'm not necessarily convinced are safer than the synthetic ones (which I'm not convinced are problematic in the first place). But more importantly it seems that the organic label has been coopted by big agriculture anyway, and that at this point the best bet for natural stuff is just to buy from reputable, local farmers -- which in turn probably uses an inordinate amount of energy. It's complicated.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Organic rice I see pretty widely in US upper-end supermarkets. For example there's a brand, Lundberg, that does some certified organic rice and some "Eco Farmed," which is their alternative system. In terms of wheat, I see plenty of organic wheat products, like bread. Actual organic wheat is a little less common, but there are brands of it like Bob's Red Mill that I've seen around at a few stores.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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There was an article in the NYTimes about this eons ago and I seem to remember that it said eating organic potatoes ( and i think carrots) was more effective than eating organic onions. Something about the amount of pesticides/inorganic fertilisers needed to grow them and the likelihood they would be impregnated with same.

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I have no idea if the beef, eggs, rice, wheat, ketchup, peanut butter, apples, and strawberries I get are organic or not. They probably are not. Some of the beef, eggs and wheat I get are locally grown but probably not officially "organic". I guess I am going to die someday. Oh well. I am already older than most of the people I know.

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Are there really things that you must eat organic? Probably not. There may be some benefits to organic practices for some kinds of meat and produce, but it's too hard to say what they are or if the small benefits are worth the extra output (in resources for the producer perhaps, and money from the consumer, etc.).

You have to believe in the value of organic produce, really, just like you have to believe in many of the mysteries of science (I've never seen an electron, but I believe they exist). Trying to tell other people that they must act a certain way about something that's so nebulous as the "organic" label doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

All that said, probably 90% of the produce I eat is organic, because I shop at a co-op that's right down the street from me. I don't shop there because its local and organic, but because they've got some of the finest produce, meat, and fish in town. It is expensive, but I pay for the quality.

edited for clarity

Edited by Alcuin (log)

nunc est bibendum...

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There was an article in the NYTimes about this eons ago and I seem to remember that it said eating organic potatoes ( and i think carrots) was more effective than eating organic onions. Something about the amount of pesticides/inorganic fertilisers needed to grow them and the likelihood they would be impregnated with same.

Id read somewhere that potatoes and carrots and celery absorb a lot of the pesticides so its better to eat organic. Onions have natural defenses( compounds) to pests so they arent sprayed with pesticides. Basically, dont waste your money on organic onions. I ONLY buy organic potatoes and celery and I try to only buy organic carrots. The carrots taste much better IMHO.

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Potatoes... I know a conventional potato farmer that doesn't allow his own family to eat them.

Celery... I think we have all heard absorbs pesticides quite easily

High fat bovine foods (Butter, Cheese, Organ Meats)... as pesticides, heavy metals & toxins cows are exposed to tend to be fat soluble... (that is why milk from cows drinking water originating in the Colorado River have traces of rocket fuel... once it gets in their systems it just concentrates until it comes out in the form of milk or edible beef)

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This would be so much more fun in a bar with drinks . . .

I try to make as many consumption choices as I can aimed away from large corporations and into the hands of individuals. I realize that many efforts to change or control our destiny vis a vis corporations is spitting in the wind, but I do not believe it is possible for me to give up.

I eat as much organic food as possible, about 95%. I avoid non-organic dairy products and non-organic eggs.

The word organic, I suppose, should be in quotes, but let's say, humane to animals, hormone free, not genetically modified, no preservatives, no artificial colors, and no pesticides is preferable to the opposite.

After reading one of these recently, I started to be more conscious of tomatoes in cans and started buying dried tomatoes and tomatoes in jars whenever possible.

You can't win but you can try to play fair, I think.

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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I remain unconvinced that it's important to eat organic anything

Important or not, where I live it borders on impossible to eat organic consistently. There's an organic produce area in the only store but it generally has maybe 6 or 7 different things at any given time and they usually look pretty bad because the store charges so much more for it that nobody wants it... so it sits there forever. I've never seen beef labled organic in the store, if they had it they'd make it known and charge accordingly. I'm taking the approach that I've been eating without concern for long enough that any bad it's going to do has probably been done and worrying over it now probably won't do anything other than give me something to worry over.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I don't spend a lot of time or money (and, boy howdy, does it cost!) to eat "organic". In the summer, I raise a vegetable garden and put up what we don't eat fresh. If I find toads in the yar, I put them in the garden to catch the bugs. That's about as organic as I'm willing to go.

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It seems to me, that at least in the US, the term organic has come to be pretty much meaningless. Does it mean grown without pesticides? Not necessarily. Without artificial fertilizer? Not necessarily? Sustainably? Not necessarily? Locally or by a small producer? Almost certainly not. As part of a larger picture, the fight against GM food is actively killing people - if the market is destroyed in the west (more in Europe, which seems to be much more anti-GM than the US), what incentives do companies have to develop it? And surely no one would argue that Golden Rice, for example, is a bad thing?

Don't get me wrong, I am all for consuming as much healthy food as possible, grown in as non-destructive way as possible, but let's not forget that this is a rich world problem. We're not going to feed 6 or more billion people on locally grown, pesticide and fertilizer free food. Not without chopping down all the rainforests and draining every river and lake for irrigation.

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To start with, I found the article very shallow. Did not even have an explanation of why those 8. Would eating those organic reduce hazards associated with non-organic by more than 50%? I found the article "The dirty dozen." which appears about 2 years ago, to be much more helpful. As was pointed out there, it isn't just the pesticides on apples that makes them problematic, but the paraffin that seals them onto the skin. Or the mention that peaches are even more heavily dosed, and no one washes or peels them.

As far as organic pesticides go, the ones that I know of are not persistent in the soil, and are easily washed off the produce. I wouldn't want to eat lettuce freshly doused with tobacco juice, or tomatoes covered with pyrethrum dust, but I have grown them, and had them table ready with just a rinse in a bucket of water.

The issue with organic certainly is, in part, about nutrional value, and absence of poisons in foods. The crucial part is in maintaining and nurturing soil. A friend, whose 4-H awards were in soil development, pointed out to me 20 years ago soil that had been so heavily saturated with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides that it was pretty much sterile, and no longer retained moisture. In times of drought, weeds hardly grew in it. This, on ground that once could support communities with little more than hoes, scythes, and manure.

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Your friend is talking ignorant claptrap .I was farming twenty years ago in the uk with none of these problems.In the US read Steinbeck,when farmers ruined the soil with their type of crop, grain farming, they moved on and were replaced by farmers using a different system and crop ie cotton. We all need to move forward, you can't live in the past.

Sid the Pig

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Your friend is talking ignorant claptrap .

I really don't thinks so. His family has been farming in the area for about 160 years at this point, and are quite prosperous. When my friend pointed out the infertile land, it was in direct contrast to his own in an adjacent field, that was not showing the same problems. One of his cousins, who was getting the best corn yields in the family at that time, did say that he would not be able to do it without fertilizers.

I haven't spoken with one of the large organic farmers near me. They do grow some corn. I don't know what their yield is. I did speak with his father, a PhD in biochemitry, with postdoc work at MIT, some time ago. He was pretty dismissive of using petrochemical fertilizers.

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Well, if you're going to make an apeal to authority, have at. :hmmm:

Anecdotely, I lived across from a gigantic industrial farming operation when I was a child. One year they grew corn, the next cotton, the third alfalfa. Rinse and repeat. Eight foot tall corn stalks and full bushy cotton plants spoke to productive land as did the lush, grassy alfalfa. None of these were food crops for humans, of course.

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Well said Conifer I am sick of hearing self righteous prigs with too much money and very small brains preaching the organic gospel. :sad:

Actually, I find the people who are not at least willing to listen to what other points of view there are to have the smallest brains. Possibly from ingesting all those chemicals.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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