Get Everything You Ever Wanted : Organic Food


Organic Food

What exactly is organic food? It is food grown or raised without the use of synthetic
(chemically formulated) pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or fertilizers. Organic farming allows
foods to grow in nature as they were intended.

Conventional farmers in the United States alone spray 2 billion pounds of pesticides a
year on crops to compensate for poor farming practices (Chek 2004, 55). And those pesticides
end up in our food supply! In this chapter, I explain why organic foods are better for your health
and should be a part of your healthy lifestyle.

The Truth About Conventional Produce

In How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy (Chek 2004, 57), Chek lists the following chemicals
found in a conventionally grown apple, a food that most of us would consider healthy!

• Chlorpyrifos: an endocrine disruptor that impairs immune response, causes reproductive
abnor malities, and damages a developing nervous system
• Captan: a carcinogen (i.e., a substance believed to be capable of causing cancer) that
causes genetic and immune system damage
• Iprodione: a carcinogen
• Vinclozolin: a carcinogen and a genetic, endocrine, and reproductive disruptor that
causes dermatitis

Chek also provides the results of an interesting study conducted on 110 urban and suburban
children in Washington state. The study found that children who ate primarily organic foods
had significantly lower exposure to organophosphorous pesticide (a nervous and immune system
disruptor) than children on conventional diets. Of the children tested, only one did not demonstrate
measurable pesticide levels in a urine sample; this child ate an all-organic diet. The levels
measured in other children who ate mainly organic foods were below the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) “safe” level, whereas those of children who ate conventional foods
were above this level (Chek 2004, 57).

Meat, Poultry, and Eggs

The animal that becomes your meal can only be as good and as healthy as the food that it
was fed (in the same way that you can only be as healthy as the food you eat: You are what you
eat!). Cattle in the wild eat grass, but most commercially raised cattle are fed low-quality grains
to make them fat. Because these animals are not designed to eat grains, they quickly become ill,
which requires the administration of antibiotics that you ingest when you eat beef.
If this situation is not bad enough, most of the chickens and pigs in commercial “factory”
farms are raised in extremely small cages (usually in their own feces) and rarely see the light of
day. Furthermore, they are fed a constant supply of antibiotics and growth hormones to speed
growth, keep them alive, and fend off disease (Chek 2004, 68). This fact alone should encourage
you to spend the extra money on free-range organic chicken and pork.
Understandably, the quality of an egg can be only as good as the quality of the chicken
that lays it, so it is crucial to buy and eat only organic eggs. A chicken that has lived a natural life
produces eggs that are extremely high in omega-3 fats—one of the healthiest types of fat for humans.
As a result, the whole egg is one of the healthiest, well-balanced natural foods for humans
to consume.

Many people have developed a fear of eating whole eggs because of the cholesterol in
the yolk. But the truth is that cholesterol is necessary for our bodies to function. However, whole
eggs from commercially raised chickens are bad for us; they are high in omega-6 fats, which
cause inflammation in the body and increase the risk of heart disease.

The Value of Going Organic

As explained in Step 3: Choose the Best Foods, anything that is toxic to the body overwhelms
the liver, and an overwhelmed liver becomes clogged, which makes losing weight difficult.
Pesticide residues not only clog the liver but also build up on the intestinal wall, inhibiting
the absorption and digestion of nutrients from the food you eat.

Some people ask whether organic food is worth the money. To me, this question is equivalent
to, “Is your health worth the money?” People’s most common complaint or concern about
“going organic” is the expense. Organic food is more expensive for several reasons. On average,
organic farmers have lower yields and higher production costs than conventional farmers because
they don’t use herbicides; some crops are weeded by hand, which is labor-intensive. Also, organic
farmers don’t receive the many agricultural subsidies and other perks available to conventional
farmers. You must weigh the extra cost in the short term with the long-term health benefits
of sparing your body from all the chemicals. Consider our society’s current state of health: The
more chemicals and toxins we are exposed to, the worse our health becomes.

Consider this issue: If your doctor told you that you had a disease that required you to
pay for special medical treatment to feel good every day, would you do it? I can confidently tell
you that you can do something to protect your future health, prevent illness, and lose weight at
the same time: Spend the extra money on organic foods. You may find that when you spend less
on packaged foods, the additional amount spent on organic produce and meats won’t increase
your overall grocery bill significantly. In addition, you will find that organic vegetables and fruits
actually taste better than conventionally farmed ones.

Simply put, purchasing organic foods is an investment in your health.
With all of that being said, I understand that sometimes finding or even affording organic
food may be a bit of a challenge for some. I know, because I experienced this personally myself.
When I first discovered that organic foods would be better for my health, I was on a very tight
budget (actually, I still adhere to a tight family budget and must also apply the ideas and strategies
I am sharing below).
Lucky for you and me, the principles in The Diet Solution Program will still be effective
and show you good weight loss and health results without going completely organic. You can
implement this principle slowly, as your lifestyle and budget allows.
Here is how I mastered the art of “going organic on a budget”:
1. I stopped buying processed “non foods”. Most protein shakes, “health” bars, and processed
foods are actually pretty expensive and when you completely eliminate them
from your grocery list, you will save hundreds of dollars. Take a good look at the price of
sugar cereals, packaged cookies and cakes, and frozen TV dinners. You will see how the
prices of these foods quickly add up. That same amount of money can be better spent on
a week’s worth of organic produce.

2. When I started eating reasonable portions, the food was not that expensive. When I really
took a look at how much I was eating and how much I was supposed to be eating, I was
eating almost double what a reasonable, healthy portion would be for me. When I started
eating the correct portions for my weight and my goals, I began eating less but still feeling
satisfied and eating less meant spending less!
3. I sought out the local farmer’s markets. The prices were so much better and I always got
fresh food in season. If there was a particular fruit that was extremely expensive during
that time, I would choose a different fruit. If the berries happen to be expensive during
that season, go for the apples, pears, or bananas instead. Variety is good anyway so
choose the fruits and veggies without the expensive prices.
4. I transitioned my kitchen and my whole house slowly. I probably did not have a complete
organic kitchen until 3 years later. Not the ideal, but I did the best I could. Rome wasn’t
built in a day and neither was my organic palace. Do the best you can, start with a few
items and then go from there.

5. Buy organic foods “selectively”. The following foods have been shown to have the highest
levels of pesticide residue, so they should be purchased organic whenever available:

Action Steps

• Begin by buying organic poultry, meat, and eggs. Most supermarkets, now, carry organic
meats, poultry and eggs. If organic products are unavailable or difficult to obtain,
then the next best choice is free-range, antibiotic- and hormone-free poultry, meat,
and eggs. This way, even if the animals were not fed organic feed, at least they did not
receive antibiotics and hormones.

• After you have made a regular practice of buying organic (or free-range, antibioticand
hormone-free) meat, poultry, and eggs, start buying organic produce. Begin with
the produce that tends to have the highest pesticide residues as listed above.

• Remember that your success on The Diet Solution Program is not dependent on going
completely “organic”. You can still see incredible weight loss results by transitioning
to organic foods slowly. Just the single step of incorporating more fruits and vegetables
and natural proteins into your meal plans is a great step in the right direction
towards your weight loss goals.