Organic Produce Under Attack

August 20, 2009

Seattle Farmers MarketA recent review by the UK Foods Standards Agency came out claiming that organic foods are no better than the less expensive conventionally grown foods.   A closer look at that review reveals some truths underlying the growing media attention and debate over whether or not organic foods are worth the extra buck. I am re-printing an excellent post on this topic  by Tom Philpott who farms and cooks at Maverick Farms, a sustainable-agriculture nonprofit and small farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

One of the key messages I received while researching this topic is that organic foods consistently contain a higher level of tertiary, phytochemicals then conventionally grown foods. These phytochemicals (e.g. resveratrol, chlorophyll, glucosinolates) hold as much, if not more promise for preventing and treating disease then the basic nutritional compounds that are used to test the benefit of one food over another.

In health,

Dr. Gina

A bit of nitrogen with those veggies?

Tom Philpott

A recent literature review by the U.K. Food Standards Agency concluded that organic foods offer no nutritional advantages to ones grown with conventional chemical agriculture.   The report quickly bounced around the media and the internet and has congealed into received wisdom. For example, in a recent chat with readers, Washington Post food politics columnist (and general policy writer) Ezra Klein engaged in the following exchange:

Santa Fe, N.M.: I saw a report today on a study finding that organic food isn’t any healthier than conventional food. Is buying organic a waste of money, in your opinion? Read the rest of this entry »


Affordable, Healthy Foods

August 5, 2008

As food prices climb, and the health of our nation, and our nation’s children, disintegrates, we have the opportunity to return to a simpler, more healthful diet. Here are 10 suggestions to get you started:

1. Oats
High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have also been shown to lower cholesterol. And they sure are cheap—a dollar will buy you more than a week’s worth of hearty breakfasts.

2. Organic Eggs
You can get about a half dozen of eggs for a dollar, and organic eggs for a dollar fifty, making them one of the cheapest and most versatile sources of protein. They are also a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may ward off age-related eye problems.

3. Kale
This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and calcium. Like most greens, it is usually a dollar a bunch.

4. Potatoes
Because we often see potatoes at their unhealthiest—as fries or chips—we don’t think of them as nutritious, but they definitely are. Eaten with the skin on, potatoes contain almost half a day’s worth of Vitamin C, and are a good source of potassium. If you opt for sweet potatoes or yams, you’ll also get a good wallop of beta carotene. Plus, they’re dirt cheap and have almost endless culinary possibilities.

5. Nuts
Though nuts have a high fat content, they’re packed with the good-for-you fats—unsaturated and monounsaturated. They’re also good sources of essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, and protein. And because they’re so nutrient-dense, you only need to eat a little to get the nutritional benefits. Although some nuts, like pecans and macadamias, can be costly, peanuts, walnuts, and almonds, especially when bought in the shell, are low in cost.

6. Bananas
At a local Trader Joe’s, I found bananas for about 19¢ apiece; a dollar gets you a banana a day for the workweek. High in potassium and fiber (9 grams for one), bananas are a no-brainer when it comes to eating your five a day quotient of fruits and veggies.

7. Garbanzo Beans
With beans, you’re getting your money’s worth and then some. Not only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but ’bonzos are also high in fiber, iron, folate, and manganese, and may help reduce cholesterol levels. And if you don’t like one type, try another—black, lima, lentils … the varieties are endless. Though they require soaking and cooking, the most inexpensive way to purchase these beans is in dried form; a precooked can will still only run you around a buck.

8. Broccoli
Broccoli contains tons of nice nutrients—calcium, vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, and fiber. As if that isn’t enough, broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Plus, it’s low in calories and cost.

9. Pumpkin Seeds
When it’s time to carve your pumpkin this October, don’t shovel those seeds into the trash—they’re a goldmine of magnesium, protein, and trace minerals. Plus, they come free with the purchase of a pumpkin.

10. Butternut Squash
This beautiful gourd swings both ways: sometimes savory, sometimes sweet. However you prepare the butternut, it will not only add color and texture, but also five grams of fiber per half cup and chunks and chunks of Vitamin A and C. When in season, butternut squash and related gourds are usually less than a dollar a pound.

Adapted from this original post on Divine Caroline

-Dr. Gina


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