Friday, September 16, 2011

0 Organic & Local Farming vs Factory Farming (Monsanto, Tyson Foods, etc)

Why should you buy organic? Good question.... I won't lie, I typically don't, although I do purchase from my local farmer's market and directly from local farmers when I can. I think there are times when it's a good idea to buy organic and I wish I bought organic more often, but to be honest just like a lot of people I can't afford it. 

If you do buy organic though, find out where it came from.  Not only do you want to buy products that come from areas near where you live to lessen your carbon footprint, but I read something recently that got my attention about some organic products - 80% of organic products are imported from China!  I don't know about you but with all of the news reports lately about the poorly regulated food industry in China, I'm not sure I would trust that their organic products are really organic.  Now as far as this country, the food industry is working hard to lower "certified organic" standards and a lot of the time your local farmer/gardener can't afford to get “organic” certified, but you're getting the same or better quality product so buy from local farmers or shop your local farmer's markets.

If you can grow your own vegetables that's a good start to eating healthier too – organic, local farms (that don't use chemical fertilizers) and home gardened fruits and vegetables have more nutrients. If you grow your own, look for heirloom varieties – some of them are better for you too. Our “factory farms” grow for quantity not quality. Some people are raising their own chickens for eggs too. As a matter of fact a nearby city just changed their law regarding raising chickens within the city limits because so many people are wanting to have their own fresh eggs.

Remember the egg salmonella scare last year? That won't happen with organic or farm fresh eggs! Is it worth buying organic honey or maple syrup? Doubtful – I mean really, how can the honey producer guarantee that his bees didn't fly across the road to the non-organic farm and what kind of poison did they put on the maple trees that's going to get into your syrup? If at all possible though I think you should consider buying your meat & dairy from a local farmer – preferably one that feeds grasses to their animals and lets them spend a lot of time in the pasture.

If you've seen Food Inc. then I don't think I need to say anything about genetically modified corn or other genetically modified organisms, animals full of growth hormones, antibiotics and pesticides, caged chickens with oversized breast that can hardly stand up, pigs that can't turn around and are forced to live in their own feces, rBGH milk or cows that have been fed stuff like corn that they can't digest and huge “manure lagoons” that overflow into our rivers and streams.

If you haven't seen Food, Inc. – watch it! You'll be shocked by what the food industry is growing, processing and feeding you. For instance, some companies are now using a hamburger meat filler cleansed with ammonia hydroxide to help kill E. Coli. I don't want to get E. Coli, but I don't want to eat chemicals either. Remember, 70% of processed foods have some sort of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) – the food industry fought against having to label foods as GMO and won! Whenever possible you really should buy meat, and in season fruits and vegetables from a local farmer and cook your own foods. Not only is it more healthy, but it will help the environment by saving fuel and pollution too. Just transporting food throughout the world emits 30,800 tons of greenhouse gasses.

It's not just about how they raise the animals and the poisons that are left on fruits and vegetables, it's also about non-sustainable farming methods. It's about air, soil and water pollution. If we stand up, vote with our money and buy more organic and local farm products we'll be sending a message to the “food industry” and perhaps they will start changing the way they farm and do business.

Now as far organic fruits and vegetables – they are expensive but they have more nutrients, however, if you can't afford them or to save money you can buy them from your local supermarket, but when you get them home give them a Clorox bath*. Put 1 tsp of Clorox to one gallon of water, put your produce in the sink for 30 minutes (leafy vegetables only need 15 minutes), rinse with water, and dry them on a towel. This won't get rid of all of the chemicals that were sprayed on them, but it will help.

According to the Environmental Working Group the following 20 fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residue in descending order (worst to least):

Sweet Bell Peppers
Imported Grapes
Green Beans
Hot Peppers
Domestic Grapes

According to the Environmental Working Group, the following 20 fruits and vegetables have the least pesticide residue in descending order (least to worst):

Frozen Sweet Corn
Frozen Sweet Peas
Winter Squash
Sweet Potatoes

*You can also use apple cider vinegar, or ¾ c 3% hydrogen peroxide, or wash them with a vegetable cleaning product such as, Bi-O-Kleen, Organiclean or Vermont Soap Organic's “Wash dem Veggies”

Fruit Salad
Cut up and mix together your favorite fresh fruits**,
put into a resealable container and squeeze a little
lemon juice on them, seal and shake.

**I like strawberries, blueberries, bananas, kiwi and pineapples....yum!

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