Organic and Processed Foods, What's the Skinny?

Posted on Nov 4, 2011 in Health & Wellness

When it comes to the price of food, I think it’s extremely important to remember that a food cannot be judged by its sticker price alone. Whether or not you’re actually getting any nutrition from it is far more important.  A diet consisting of daily $1.99 hamburgers and other fast foods, while appearing to be frugal, is far from it when you consider what these foods are doing to your health.

Processed Foods

It’s safe to say that virtually all processed snacks and the majority of processed, pre-packaged meals are a massive waste of money. They consist mainly of fillers and additives, and not many nutrients.  Funyuns made it onto Yahoo Health’s list of rip-offs.

Most cereals are extremely high in sugar, and any nutrients within them are in the form of suboptimal synthetic additives.

Iron fortified cereals can contain actual iron filings.  The bioavailable iron from iron-rich vegetables like spinach would be a much better source of Iron. 

Organic Rip-Offs

The Environmental Working Group is a reliable source when trying to decide on what to buy organic. According to their latest 2010 pesticide review, the following 12 foods rank as the most pesticide-free produce, even when conventionally-grown, so you can save a few bucks by opting for the conventionally-grown version of these:

Onions Avocados Watermelon
Pineapple Mango Frozen sweet peas
Asparagus Kiwi Cabbage
Eggplant Cantaloupe  

 

It is NOT recommend to consume non-organic corn and even organic corn should be consumed sparingly.

The foods you want to splurge on by buying organic are foods that have permeable or edible skins, and/or that are conventionally grown with higher amounts of pesticides. Based on the EWG’s report, the top 12 foods to buy organic include:

Grapes Potatoes Kale / Collard greens
Cherries Spinach Sweet bell peppers
Nectarines Blueberries Apples
Strawberries Peaches Celery

 

For the whole list of produce, ranked from best to worst in terms of pesticide load, please see the EWG’s listing.

While organic milk must come from a cow that hasn’t been fed artificial growth hormones or pesticide-laden feed, they’re not necessarily pastured, or grass-fed cows. And worst of all organic milk (unless RAW) is still pasteurized, which destroys vital nutrients.

Meat and Fish Aisles

When it comes to meats and fish, what you find in your local grocery store may not be worth their price in comparison to their nutrient to contamination ratio.

Yahoo Health’ rip-off list includes swordfish.  When you factor in the high amounts of mercury from swordfish, it just doesn’t rank so high on the list anymore. Why would you want to pay $20 a pound or more knowing it’s so contaminated that children and pregnant women shouldn’t have a single serving of it?

All farmed fish should also be added to that list.

Nature didn’t intend for fish to be raised in pens and fed soy, GM corn, antibiotics, poultry litter and hydrolyzed chicken feathers.  Farmed salmon, for example, is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT.

Avoid conventionally-raised beef.

Why?

Because nature created cattle to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten them up faster for slaughter. Compared with corn-fed beef, organically-raised grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Conventionally-raised beef is also very high in pesticides.  Non-organic meats can have up to five times more pesticides than non-organic vegetables.

Below is a list of foods rich in nutrients that can help stave off a majority of health problems – High-Value Foods:

Unpasteurized (raw) grass-fed milk — Raw organic milk from grass-fed cows contains both beneficial fats, bacteria that boost your immune system, and a number of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Although raw milk availability is limited in the US, depending on where you live, you can locate the source closest to you at RealMilk.com.

Whey protein — Even if you don’t have access to raw milk, you can use a high-quality whey protein derived from the milk of grass-fed cows to receive much of the same health benefits. Whey protein contains beta-glucans and immunoglobulins, which protect your immune system and support your body’s natural detoxification processes.

Fermented foods — One of the most healthful fermented foods is kefir — an ancient cultured, enzyme-rich food full of friendly microorganisms that balance your “inner ecosystem” and strengthen immunity. Besides kefir, other good fermented foods include natto, kimchee, miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, and olives.

Raw organic eggs from pastured chickens – Raw, free-range eggs are an inexpensive and amazing source of high-quality nutrients that many people are deficient in, especially high-quality protein and fat. To find free-range pasture farms, try your local health food store, or go to http://www.eatwild.com or http://www.localharvest.org.

Grass-fed beef or organ meats — Grass-fed beef is very high in vitamins A, B12 and E, omega-3 fats, beta carotene, zinc and the potent immune system enhancer but do CLA (conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid).n’t confuse “organic” with grass-fed, since many organically raised cows are still fed organic corn, which you don’t want. However, most grass-fed cows are raised organically.

Coconut oil — Besides being excellent for your thyroid and your metabolism, coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which converts in your body to monolaurin – a compound also found in breast milk that strengthens a baby’s immunity.

Its medium chain fatty acids, or triglycerides (MCT’s) also impart a number of health benefits, including raising your body’s metabolism and fighting off pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungi. Make sure you choose an organic coconut oil that is unrefined, unbleached, made without heat processing or chemicals, and does not contain GM ingredients.

Berries — Blueberries and raspberries rate very high in antioxidant capacity compared to other fruits and vegetables. They are also lower in fructose than many other fruits.

Broccoli – Broccoli contains the highest amount of isothiocyanates, a cancer-fighting compound, of all the crunchy vegetables. Studies have shown that just 10 spears a week (5 servings) can make a difference in your health.

Chlorella –This single-cell freshwater algae acts as an efficient detoxification agent by binding to toxins (most of which promote chronic inflammation), such as mercury, and carrying them out of your system. The chlorophyll in the chlorella helps you process more oxygen, cleanses your blood and promotes the growth and repair of your tissues.

Tea – As for beverages, clean pure water is a must for optimal health, but if you want another beverage, a good choice with added health benefits is high quality herbal teas.

Matcha tea is the most nutrient-rich green tea and comes in the form of a stone-ground powder, completely unfermented. The best Matcha comes from Japan and has up to 17 times the antioxidants of wild blueberries, and seven times more than dark chocolate.Tulsi is another tea loaded with antioxidants and other micronutrients that support immune function and heart health.

Krill Oil—Krill oil is the only dietary supplement that makes it to this list, and that’s only because the ideal food source for these essential omega-3 fats has been destroyed by widespread pollution. The dangers of eating fish simply outweigh the benefits due to the toxic mercury levels they now contain, with very few exceptions.

Antarctic krill oil is a pure marine oil loaded with powerful antioxidants and omega-3 oils, with NO heavy metal contamination.