Why the Organic Certification Process Isn’t Sustainable

Why the Organic Certification Process Isn’t Sustainable

Why the Organic Certification Process Isn’t Sustainable

I don’t mind putting up with tedious government regulations for the sake of living in civilization. There will always be people who are willing to throw toxic sludge into the river in order to save a buck if no one’s looking…if not because they are inherently evil, then only because they are ignorant. In theory, checks and balances create accountability.

I learned a lot about sustainable farming when I worked for Green B.E.A.N. Delivery as the Fort Wayne market coordinator. Demonstrating compliance for the organic certification process takes a lot of time and money. Many small farmers focus on producing high quality food while protecting the environment, and can’t afford the extra bullshit to fertilize their crops with an “official” stamp of approval. So they label themselves “sustainably grown” and quietly go about their business.

I’ll buy from those guys every time. 100% of the time.

I use Green B.E.A.N. Delivery for the majority of my grocery shopping, and one of my favorite items is Phoenix Organics “Great Balls of Tofu”. They are seriously the best!–and are the only product I regularly stock because I haven’t been able to easily recreate them from scratch in my own kitchen.

So when GBD stopped carrying them, I cried. But then, I remembered that I don’t take “no” without a fight, and I called the manufacturer directly. The company didn’t have an on-line store, but the owner kindly agreed to send me a case. (They store well in the freezer.) I was back in business!

Phoenix Organics makes the Great Balls of Tofu, as well as thick, restaurant quality veggie burgers and a delicious egg-less salad. They are located in Spencer, West Virginia. Coincidently, I travel in that direction a few times a year to play in the New River Gorge. When my sacred supply dwindled down to the last pack in the case, l decided to take a road trip, and drive my four kids and large dog, with all of our bikes, kites and gear to West Virginia for a little playtime. And as the gorge is conveniently close to Phoenix Organics (only in theory…getting there was an quite an adventure), I’d replenish my Great Balls of Tofu. Double win for me!

The 2 hour detour turned into five, partially because my iMap didn’t sync with the rural road signs (even Google can get lost in West Virginia!). But also because from the moment I met Bill Quick, the owner, I recognized a kindred soul, and we became fast friends. On a tour of the facility, I saw how tofu is made, and how important integrity is to the process. He didn’t bat an eye at all the kids and dogs and crazy hot mess that I am, and I couldn’t care less that his office was in the break room, and that wifi wasn’t an option. We just started talking, and didn’t stop for several hours.

He proudly showed me around his facility, which included equipment that has been in use for nearly 100 years. Unlike large factories that use automated processes to increase efficiency and profit, Bill’s company believes in quality and old-school integrity. They use real people, non-gmo soybeans and fresh running water to prepare one-of-a-kind recipes. They are sustainable in their systems, and do things right the first time.

In prior years, it cost $793 for Phoenix Organics to go through the USDA organic certification process. But a cost-share program sponsored by the USDA and the WVDA offered $702 in rebates (for those willing to jump through another set of hoops). So last year, less than $100 was needed to demonstrate compliance.

But with an update of the 2013 Farm Bill, cost-sharing was eliminated, and the price tag for the organic certification process increased dramatically.

Phoenix Organics now faces a minimum $2400 obstacle course to prove that they are (still) doing things right. (Isn’t it funny how our government subsidizes conventional commodities that are responsible for much of the planet’s pollution to the tune of $20 billion/year, but charges the little guys profit-crushing fees in order to show they aren’t using fertilizers, pesticides and unnatural processes? Isn’t that INSANE?)

Last year, the inspection of the Phoenix Organic’s facility took place in Bill Quick’s office. It took six hours to ensure all the paperwork was all in order. As the interview concluded, it was Bill who invited the inspector to tour his business. He’s proud of his work, and he found it illogical that the USDA seemed to just want the “i’s” dotted on the forms (and the check, of course).Why wouldn’t they want to see the processes in action?

To put that in perspective, when the rabbi came to certify the facility as “kosher”, he didn’t care about the files and forms. He simply wanted to SEE if things were indeed kosher. When Bill questioned him, the rabbi answered, “Um, Paperwork is irrelevant. I answer to a higher authority.”

Right on, rabbi!

Bill Quick made the decision to keep his $2400, and stop playing games with the USDA.

This means that although Phoenix Organics is produced under strict organic conditions, they are no longer USDA certified. They now have to remove the word “organic” from their brand name, packaging and labels. Evidently, the USDA owns the monopoly on the word “organic”, and no one can use it without paying homage. (Incidentally, it’s not cheap to refile trademarks and domain names, design new logos and reprint marketing materials to eliminate “organic” from everything. And even though they ARE still organic, it’s illegal for them to use the word.)

So they’ll have to depend on smart customers to recognize the integrity behind their new “sustainable” approach, hoping that “organic” discussions between friends and neighbors will educate their customers on the unsustainable rules behind the organic certification process.

Sustainability occurs when a process can continue indefinitely without robbing Peter to pay Paul. It’s about balance. Both conventionally produced and USDA certified organic crops are ultimately a part of the system that is wreaking havoc on our bodies and environment. And as larger producers and corporations respond to consumer demand for “organic” food, they will industrialize the process to maximize the productivity of farmers, animals and land. In many cases, they already have.

Corporations are designed to do one thing…create a marketable product that will make money for shareholders. And you can bet that those same shareholders will lobby our law makers to change the “organic” regulations they find profit-limiting. And it’s a slippery slope back to business-as-usual. A quick look at the graphic above demonstrates that the same old wolves are gaining control of the hen house that just wants access to healthy food.

In the end, the term “organic” is quickly being reduced to a legal term that changes with every election cycle. The Golden Rule in America has become, “he who has the gold makes the rules”.

Before I was able to publish this, I was informed that Bill Quick passed away. The day of my visit, we had decided to partner together. Waking Up Vegan would create an on-line store so that more customers can have easy access to these amazing vegan, gluten-free and kosher products.

I am so sad! I regrettably did not take a picture of the two of us on the day that we met, assuming I’d just get it “next time”. It hurts to realize that sometimes, there isn’t a next time. I’ve been told that his son is taking control of the business, ensuring that Bill’s legacy lives on. If asked, I’ll still create the e-commerce store. Hopefully, this sustainable business will continue to grow and be prosperous for that family and community. 

Rest in peace, Bill! Listen to my rough interview with Bill Quick, owner of Phoenix Organics, recorded just before he passed away. Bill and I discuss his experience with the organic certification process.

Mind Over Matter: Overcoming Food Addiction

Mind Over Matter: Overcoming Food Addiction

Mind Over Matter: Overcoming Food Addiction

Is food addiction just a state of mind?

The taste buds of most Americans are adapted to high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt animal and processed foods. These foods are not inherently more enjoyable than healthy, whole food. But most people will choose to die prematurely of strokes, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, diabetes complications and cancer anyway.

Modern technology has chemically and hormonally engineered our food to stimulate the pleasure centers in our brain. Artificial foods comprise a whopping 93% of the American diet.  And when the concentrated, adulterated, and processed foods are consistently consumed, they quickly become preferred. Our palette adjusts to “normal”, and it’s a slippery slope. Eventually, these foods take on a hollow flavor, driving us to eat more in search of that initial high that we found so briefly intoxicating. Food addiction is real, but only a terminal disease if you allow it to win.

Have you ever noticed that you really don’t taste what you are eating after the first few bites? This is because the majority of our sensory nerves are only activated when something new is presented…we squint when the light suddenly brightens, flinch when the music blares as the car starts, and salivate as we take the first bite of grilled barbecue.

We simply “get used” to things quickly. When our sensory nerves fire, our brain adjusts accordingly. Our pupils dilate and our eyes adjust. We no longer notice the music in the background, and we don’t taste the grease by the third bite of pizza. This phenomenon is referred to as neuroadaptation. We become desensitized once we become familiar. But given time, the sense of deprivation fades and “normal” enjoyment returns. And creatively delicious meals that exceed expectation will provide the same sense of satisfaction as junk food once did.

Scientific evidence suggests that re-sensitization of taste nerves can take between 30 and 90 days of consistent exposure to less stimulating foods. So making the switch to a healthy diet can feel like a downer. It’s the exact opposite of jumping into cold water on a hot day, as there is little exhilaration to the “shock” of a unfamiliar diet filled with fresh vegetables.

Our food addiction to chemically engineered products quickly trumps our motivation to do what we know is right. Tragically, many people don’t have the self-discipline to recalibrate their taste buds because they don’t believe that life won’t taste this bland forever. (Only 30-90 days!) But like a frog that refuses to jump from a pot on course to boil, we don’t realize that our taste nerves are desensitized by the ever-increasing concentrations of flavor chemicals that food manufactures use to capture our dollars.

Only when we truly understand that the foods we eat create the health we experience, will we recognize that we have a CHOICE. Ultimately, it’s not modern food addiction that destroys our bodies. It’s the inability to recognize our own power, and outsmart the inner two-year-old that needs instant gratification.

Whether you see yourself as a sugar-fiend, carb-addict, junk-food junkie or meat-eating maverick, if you say, “I could never give up __________!”, then it is absolutely true. But put some space between your craving and your response, and look at who you want to be instead of who you were. And then act accordingly…

What distinguishes the majority of men from the fewis their inability to act according to their beliefs.

Mind Over Matter: Overcoming Food Addiction

What is Happiness? Exactly What You Think!

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, perception is in the thoughts of the mind. If you think you see an old woman, you are right. If you think you see a young beauty, you are right. You see what you focus on. So what is happiness? It depends on your vision. You decide…

I attended an potentially life-changing presentation yesterday on the power of the unconscious mind. 

Dr. Vic Rebman is a PhD in clinical psychology, specializing in human dynamics in business, and shared his perspective on success and happiness. In our society, we are conditioned to think that our health and happiness are simply the luck of the draw. But just as I teach over and over, we are what we eat—down to the smallest bite!, it is also true that we are what we think–unconscious beliefs included.

Basically, it boils down to this: if you think you can, you are right. If you think you can’t, you are right. I use the above image in my yoga classes to demonstrate the power we have to choose our perceptions. There is equal potential for good and bad in everything. You can’t always change what you’re looking at, but you can change the way you see it. (This is how I introduce the importance of standing on your head!) The old hag and the young beauty are equally present. They BOTH exist! And you can choose your focus. And if you don’t like your focus, you can override that choice and manually SHIFT to another paradigm. It takes effort and intention, but it’s always possible.

Dr. Vic Rebman’s discussion of success and self-actualization…

Dr. Rebman  says that mental health issues arise from 2 major factors, and are mostly unrelated to genetics.These are:  1. Stress in our home  2. Skill deficit that keeps us from achieving what we think we want. The pharmaceutical industry would have us believe that depression and anxiety are a result of a biochemical imbalance. (He says) there is no evidence of this. Smaller initial double blind studies on various medications show the placebo effect to be just as powerful, and it is only when the study is inflated with high numbers of samples that statistical significance is demonstrated. But such broad and general results then remove any clinical significance.

Depression and anxiety are most often the result of imbalance..but not biochemical. The imbalance can be found in our life experience, which cannot be fixed by medication. Something is missing for us, or something is dominating us, creating pain and snowballing into further dysfunction.

The external world and our experience of it is a mirror to our internal world, and our experience with our self.

There are 4 components to the human psyche…our mind, our emotions, our reactions (action) and the Observer. Our conscious mind processes about 40 bits/second. Our unconscious mind processes 20 million bits/second. We have 60-70,000 thoughts a day. And about 85-90% of our thoughts are the same ones we had yesterday, and are simply patterns…habitual logic that our brain follows, similar to how a trickle of water cuts through rock to create a river. The more a path is chosen, the easier it is to follow, and the deeper the gorge becomes, which is why change is so difficult.

Our thoughts are created by our core beliefs…most of which are internalized by the time we are 7 years old. These core beliefs create filters, and determine our perceptions. If we think something is true, it becomes true for us. Whatever is in our unconscious mind manifests as fate.

The only way to change our fate is to bring our unconscious beliefs that are based in fear (instead of love) into our conscious awareness. And the only way to rise above our fears is to understand that the first 3 components of who we are—thought, feeling, reaction— are simply learned behavior patterns. We must sit quietly and turn inward, and allow the Observer to SEE the patterns behind our thoughts, feelings and action. The Observer is the only part of ourself that is not programmed. It is the only part of ourself that has choice. It is our higher Self, the spiritual self…our soul (whatever word you feel appropriate.)

The higher Self can observe the lower self without criticism, judgement or evaluation.  We must have quiet space to do this. (Recommends 10 minutes a day of mind conscious creathing). What we observe in ourselves ultimately stems from either love or fear. Everything boils down to one or the other.

Obviously, we want to identify the fears that are hold us back. Self-sabatoge is the ONLY thing standing between us and success/happiness. But just like shining a light into the darkness, once you SEE the fear, it loses it’s power. Because it’s a lie. Ultimately, we all hold the key to our own prison. And we are free to go at anytime if we are brave enough to LOOK at what is holding us back.

Blaise Pascal “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room, alone.”

Pythagoras “Learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen and absorb.

Lao Tzu “He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know.”

The patterns we follow with thinking, feeling and doing are fictional stories. But our perceptions are our reality. Our fear-based core beliefs are unconscious. We can find the root using the Downward Arrow Technique: Identify the story or thought. (I don’t have enough time to do everything) Ask, “If this is true, what does it mean?” (I can’t do everything that needs to be done.) Ask again, “If this is true, what does it mean?” (I’ll never get ahead) Ask again. (I’ll never be successful) Ask again. (Therefore, I’m a failure).

So the core belief behind I don’t have enough time is that I”m a failure. We tend to build our esteem on our achievements, our financial success, our social status/recognition, etc. These are things that come and go, and can be given or taken away by others. Remember the Bible lesson that we should build our house upon a rock, and not shifting sands? If you find that a good mood can be created or destroyed by external input as inconsequential as stranger’s comment, the balance in a bank account, a number on the scale, or the words on a business card, you’ve rooted your happiness in shifting sands.

Our worth and value is not something we can earn. It must only be accepted. We all have worth and value because we are breathing. And if we have worth, then we have a purpose. And if we have a purpose, we are fully and completely capable of fulfilling that purpose. Once we affirm this truth for ourselves and expose the belief (I am a failure) as a lie, we can retrain our patterns and our thoughts. And our path will open up, and we will move forward without effort. Once we begin to think and feel and act in authenticity (our own truth) we don’t have to do, we just have to be.

What is happiness? Happy people:

  • See problems as opportunities. The most important problems cannot be solved. They must be outgrown.
  • Are free of the good opinions of others. They do not make decisions based on how others think,  feel or react.
  • Have no need to control others.
  • Have the ability to be alone. Quietly.
  • Love their work. They work from passion, joy and service. Their work connects them to an energy they cannot live without.

Abraham Maslow, “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

Life is a journey. Which way are you headed?

The Vegan Guest: How to Feed a Vegan 101

The Vegan Guest: How to Feed a Vegan 101

What would you do if a vegan guest showed up at your home?

A non-vegan friend sent me this question:
My brother’s girlfriend is going to my parent’s house this weekend for the first time. She is vegan and my mom isn’t sure what to have on hand and what to serve. I was wondering if you had any recipes I could pass along to my mom. She obviously wants to be a good hostess and provide her with food she would like. Any help would be greatly appreciated!          

Thank you so much!

Your non-vegan friend

Dear Non-vegan Friend,
I think your mom’s vegan guest will appreciate any effort to accommodate her food preferences. With advanced preparation, carnivores and vegans can dine together in harmony.

      A quick trip to the grocery to stock a few items is a great start. Look for:

  • Earth Balance butter spread
  • almond, rice or soy milk (original or vanilla is a safe bet)
  • hummus and guacamole
  • chopped veggies and mixed greens
  • fruit
  • mixed nuts
  • squash or sweet potatoes
  • soy, almond or coconut yogurt
  • Amy’s brand soups or burritos (check ingredient list: look for words like Vegan, and ‘contains no milk, egg’.
  • a balsamic or Asian vinaigrette salad dressing
  • cashews for garlic cream sauce or ranch dressing

A quinoa/bean salad is easy and provides plenty of sustenance and protein. A side dish of meat for those who want it can be discreetly prepared on the grill to keep the kitchen pleasant and fresh.

A quinoa/bean salad is easy and provides plenty of sustenance and protein. A side dish of meat for those who want it can be discreetly prepared on the grill to keep the kitchen pleasant and fresh.

Grilled, saute or roasted veggies go a long way and can be enjoyed with a great marinade or dipping sauce. Carnivores think of these as a side, so be sure to cook extra so there are plenty. Adding a baked potato to the mix creates a full and balanced meal.

Your houseguest would most likely be happy with oatmeal or granola with almond milk and fruit for breakfast, nut butters, hummus, salads with beans, fruits and vegetables, and nuts for lunch, and grilled or sautéed veggies with a whole grain like quinoa are for dinner. You can access lots of amazing recipes for vegans and non-vegans alike at lifeoffthelabel.com. There are many of ways to veganize just about any non-vegan recipe with non dairy milks, egg replacers, and non animal proteins, such as marinated tofu and tempeh, which are all available at a local grocer, such as Kroger. The Pembroke bakery in Fort Wayne offers lots of vegan options as well. Best wises!

Mind Over Matter: Overcoming Food Addiction

Bad Food Kills Good People

We all have our political passions…that one issue that energizes us to stand up, speak up, vote, boycott, and be willing to loose friends to defend our beliefs and convince others to join the cause.

When simple words become political issues, emotions replace reason: abortion, free health care, big government, gun control, gay marriage, immigration, nuclear warfare, strip mining, taxes, vaccines, war and more. No matter how logical a compromise might sound,  you can’t meet on middle ground when you feel the need to stand firm atop the moral high ground.

But as debate rhetoric clogs up the airwaves with polarized opinions and undeniable statistics of senseless deaths, such as the fact that there were 30,000 gun-related deaths last year, it’s alarming that we turn a blind eye to the  1.1 million people that died from heart disease and cancer. And with 26 million American’s living with diabetes, it’s time to acknowledge that the drive-thrus kill far more people than drive-bys. Bad food kills good people.

Millions of people are dying from curable disease. And if 75%of all chronic disease is preventable, why are we so focused on racing for the cure, and raising money to pay for drugs and treatments that don’t actually cure anything? The TRUTH is that we don’t have to get sick in the first place.

It’s estimated that only 2-3% of all cancers can be attributed to genes. And even then, mutant genes must be activated. Gene expression is usually triggered by environmental factors. In our bodies, the external world becomes internal with every bite of food we ingest.

What we eat creates our health. Every meal, every day, we become what we eat. And while many people might look at cost as a prohibitive factor to eating organic, high quality whole foods, the true cost of cheap, bad food is evident in the $3 trillion dollars spent on health care each year.

Every time we open a package of processed food, unwrap a “value meal” from a cheap restaurant, or “treat” ourselves with unnaturally colored and flavored, trans-fat and cholesterol-laden ingredients grown in fertilized soil and treated with pesticides designed to KILL the animals that threaten the profitable and genetically modified crop, we not only poison ourselves, we MISS OUT on the abundance of antioxidants, phytochemicals and enzymes divinely provided to support life, and protect us from the external poisons, natural and unnatural, that are inevitable.

You won’t die from eating a donut. Or a pop tart.  Or a greasy pizza. Or drinking a soda pop. Eating a serving of bacon, chicken or beef–or cookies, candy or cheese-in-a-can– is no less healthy than say, 1 cigarette.

But my grandpa lived to be 90 as a heavy smoker. It was my grandma who died of cancer at 33 years of age. You never know how much is too much for you until it’s too late.

But one thing is for sure. Bad food kills even good people at some point. Food is the problem. But good news. Food is the solution. Real food. Watch Ron Finley’s amazing efforts to transform South Central, California.

Antioxidants and the Plant-Based Diet for Disease Prevention

Antioxidants and the Plant-Based Diet for Disease Prevention

Sparks that Burn

Every cell in our body needs oxygen to function. Oxygen “burns” glucose molecules, which creates the energy that fuels every aerobic process in our body. No oxygen? Game over. Carbon dioxide is the byproduct, which we breathe out as a waste product.

This process is called oxidation. Oxidation is also what causes things to burn, metal to rust, and apples to turn brown. Oxidation breaks things down…whether it’s sugar in our cells or old bikes left in the rain. Imagine a roaring bon fire..and hear and see the sparks that fly out. These sparks are analogous to what’s produced during oxidation in our bodies, and are known as free radicals.

Free radicals are the result of incomplete oxidation, and occur naturally. They are responsible for zapping invading microbes for our immune system, and kicking our muscles into high gear during anaerobic respiration. But as with every powerful tool, it’s a double-edged sword.  And factors such as pollutions, cigarette smoke and disease increase their occurrence, creating what’s known as oxidative stress, an imbalance in the cells’ natural ability to detoxify itself.

In essence, these free radicals aren’t done “burning”. As they fly around uncontrollably, they come into contact with other molecules, causing damage. This breaks down cellular function, damages DNA, causes aging and destroys other compounds needed by the body. Every disease known to man is either caused by or made worse by oxidative stress.

Antioxidants are the Fire Fighters!
Antioxidants are the bodies only defense against free radicals. They electronically neutralize the unstable “sparks” and prevent further damage. Just imagine the little cellular factories responsible for the trillions of processes that must occur each day, and visualize sparks that are flying everywhere…randomly disabling machines, burning holes in instruction manuals and damaging work stations.

The logical answer might appear to be high doses of antioxidant vitamins and supplements. But new research is not supporting this  hypothesis, which has created a 23 billion dollar/year industry. According to the American Heart Association, research does not indicated that vitamin supplementation reduces disease. Digestive processes and bioavailability are far more complicated than once thought. At best, taking vitamins make expensive urine. At worse, toxicity and drug interactions net a harmful effect. If they did what marketing campaigns claim, how is it that health care costs have risen 10 fold since 1980, to nearly 3 trillion dollars?

Plant-Based Diet: Waking Up Healthy
The answer is simple, available to everyone, and has been with us all along. The bottom line for disease prevention? There is no substitute for a healthy diet! Fruits and vegetables contain over 12,000 living, biologically perfect vitamins, phytochemicals, minerals, and micronutrients, occurring in correct doses and combinations perfectly designed for human health. A good multi-vitamin might have 10-20 chemically isolated and/or synthetically produced nutrients. Nature has created an elaborate orchestra for life, with living systems intricately dependent on hormonius and perfectly timed rhythms.

Plant foods contain significantly higher amounts of antioxidants. And though meat and dairy foods do contain some antioxidants, they also contain unhealthy saturated fats, cholesterol, acidic and disease-promoting proteins, and they do not contain fiber.

Fiber aids in digestion, lowers cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and keeps the intestines and colon free of stagnant pockets of diverticulitis. As 80 percent of our immune system exists in our colon, having a well-moving, clean system is critical. Disease prevention requires antioxidants. Disease proliferation requires fiber!

Good Food Goes Bad

Good Food Goes Bad

Three times a day, we all face the same decision. What are we going to eat? Go out?… Order in?… Open a box or a bag?…who’s turn is it to cook?…did anyone go to the store? And what I want to eat often doesn’t mesh with what my family wants, and by the time negotiations are over, I’ve got at least one pouter, one “mmm…can’t wait” (that’s me), and random mumblings that I choose not to hear.

Most meals begin with a stack of vegetables on the counter, ready to meet the Cutco knife. But where those vegetables come is my focus today.

Walking through the grocery presents a dizzying array of choices. Most of us fall into familiar brands and products because it’s just easier than revisiting questions that are hard to answer…namely, organic or conventional?

In my experience, the organic is always more expensive..unless it’s going bad and marked down to encourage the purchase. And why is it mostly organic food found in the bargain bin? Have you ever noticed that? Those yellow stickers at Kroger declaring “Price Reduction” are usually stuck to the originally higher priced organic.

Why? Because good food goes bad.

If you’ve seen Morgan Spurlock’s “SuperSize Me” documentary, he did a little science project and left out seven random food items. As expected, the organic apple was first to get mushy and brown. The ‘winners’ of his contest were McDonalds french fries. 10 weeks after setting them out, the fries hadn’t even started to decompose. I just found a guy on YouTube who’s got the same experiment with the fries, and is at 2 years, 22 days and counting. No mold, no fruit flies…nada. As Spurlocks points out, “If the bugs won’t eat it, that is saying something”. Yeah. Seriously.

I also learned that conventional apples we buy from the grocery store can be up to ONE YEAR OLD. And yet they are still shiny, juicy and red, waiting for Snow White to take a bite.  A product called “SmartFresh” makes this possible. I-MCP is the chemical badass developed at North Carolina State designed to inhibit the release of ethylene in produce, which ripens and softens the fruit. BTW: low levels of impurities in SmartFresh can be carcinogenic.

Indeed, there are over 14,000 man-made chemicals added to the American food supply. To be fair, washing your produce can remove many of these toxins…though you can’t wash the GMO’s out (which are not allowed in organic labeled products) or the chemicals found in all the pre-packaged items we buy. Don’t believe me? Try washing your bread or crackers… I guarantee that’s gonna be problematic.

Also, it’s never been conclusively shown that organic foods contain higher levels of nutrients than conventional produce. Many studies have tried, but the truth is nutrient levels are too intertwined with other factors such as growing conditions, season, storage, transportation and preparation style. I could take a risk and say that an apple that’s been sitting in cold storage for a year just can’t contain as many nutritional perks as the one picked straight from the tree, but that’s an ASSumption and you know what they say…

So if organic isn’t the vitamin-packed punch it’s sold to be, why bother breaking the bank for produce that isn’t shiny enough to check your teeth?

Let’s start with herbicides, pesticides and insecticides, and in meat, antibiotics. A study published by the National Institute of Environmental Sciences in 2006 found a significant decrease of malathion and chloropyrifos (pesticides) in the urine samples of school-aged kids after just one week on organic diets. (“dropped to zero” is rather significant…) Low-level chronic exposure in children to pesticides can lead to neurological and developmental maladies, contribute to asthma, childhood cancers and a host of other diseases, according to studies done by the National Cancer Institute and the EPA’s Agricultural Health Studies. *

Next, the environmental effects of conventional agriculture are huge. These chemicals pollute the waterways and our drinking supply, harm wildlife and ecosystems, add to soil erosion and are detrimental to the vitality and productivity of soil.

In contrast, organic farming methods decrease carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, use 30-50 percent less water, and create sustainable farmlands where soil, insects, flowers and crops coevolve in harmony. The produce are often unique in shape, size and color (as opposed to the clones of perfection we’ve come to expect), the farms are labor intensive and their products have much shorter shelf lives.

And that’s why organic food costs 40-50 percent more than conventionally grown produce.

I think it’s safe to say that most organic produce TASTES better (if it’s fresh). And instinctively, we know that brighter colors and sweeter flavors are the better choice. But don’t let the chemicals fool you. Just because a spray tan, highlights and teeth whitener make me look healthy doesn’t mean I am, and the bright orange carrot I’m holding might have been one chair over at the salon if it’s not organic.

Finally, consider that if we don’t support organic food with our wallets, those growers will go out of business. We’ll be destined to eat spray-painted but tasteless food that contaminates our bodies and our environment, brought to us from far far away in planes, trains and automobiles.

Even if you can’t buy it all, buy some organic. If you live in Fort Wayne, Indy, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati or Louisville, check out www.greenbeandelivery.com.They bring it right to your door.

*Read more about pesticide effects in children at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1566222/

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