Eating Poorganically-PiGSADGET

If you want to get up to speed on Eating Poorganically Series, please check out the first two posts by clicking the tab to your right. This is post  #3.

I’ve spent the last few days inundating myself with information about organic and healthy eating, so that I could become totally overwhelmed, despair, eat ice cream, try to convert The Funny Sister (which is impossible), and annoy everyone by telling them everything I’ve learned.

But after hours of late nights, reading NON-FICTION, which is the worst kind of reading on the planet (irony-anyone? ;)), I’ve finally decided to stop and summarize my findings for your reading pleasure.  Surely, I have left out CRUCIAL information, so please note it in the comments. This is a long post and only for those who want to learn about Eating Poorganically, so get out your notetaker . . .

Be aware, my genius Organic-friends; I am not trying to be thorough. I am trying to be concise.

Those of you who are Newbie-Organic-Skeptics like me, if you want more info about any of these, I can refer you to a brilliant Organic-eater-reader, smarter than I.  Once you have read through this deluge of organics, we can all determine what we are going to do–whether that be yawn and call out for a pizza, or freak out and light fire to our pantry and all the Hamburger Helper therein.

I am going to try to make this easy by focusing on the “problems” that organic eating is purported to solve.  I am explaining the problems as expressed in the vast quantity of articles I read.  I will link where relevant.  This is not MY OPINION or PROVEN by studies that I’ve seen necessarily.  I am just passing it along as I read it. I am making up the acronym PIGSADGET to help me remember these. Maybe that will help you too?

Pesticides & Insecticides

Lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains are sprayed to kill or keep away insects. These pesticides are presumed and in some cases proven to be bad for people to eat.  Despite washing, some foods retain pesticides due to waxing or pesticides leaching into surrounding soils.  This cheat sheet, published by the Environmental Working Group, lists which are the “Dirty Dozen” (most pesticide retaining) or the “Clean 15” (least pesticide retaining), and you can find a more complete list if you check out this link.

Genetically Modified Foods

Beginning in the mid-nineties, a major food company Monsanto, genetically modified several key crops to make them resistant to the application of the weed killer Round-up, which Monsanto also produces.  (Just to clarify, Monsanto is pretty much “THE BAD GUY” in these stories if you are looking for your villian.)

Despite the fact that no human safety trials were conducted and NO OTHER COUNTRIES (except Canada) approved genetically modified crops, the FDA approved these foods for introduction into our food supply.  This 18 minute video is a pretty concise explanation. (Editorial note: Although I found her dramatic pauses a little annoying.) Now, much of the US supply of corn, soybeans, canola, cottonseed (also called rapeseed), sugar beets, most Hawaiian Pineapple, some Zucchini and Squash are genetically modified crops that are not required to be labeled.  Many allergies and illnesses that have increased since the mid-nineties are presumed to be linked to the introduction of these foods into our food supply. There is a lot more to say about this, but the gist is, these GM foods (not General Mills, but genetically modified foods) are bad news. Here’s a non-GMO shopping guide that I found.

Steroids/Hormones

While crops are being genetically modified, animals (cows, chicken, pigs are the ones I’ve read about) are being given steroids and hormones to makes them milkier and eggier and porkier. These steroids and hormones do not make them healthier, just fatter, etc.  This is not good either. Again, the proof is a little ambiguous (because evil Monsanto prevents studies and sues people who try to make them look bad–think big evil, corporate guy), but the assumption of the Organic Foodies is that what is bad for the animals, is bad for the humans that eat the animals.  For a reference, I point you to this somewhat strange link (a guy’s Facebook notes). But this was actually an easy to read article.

Antibiotics

Animals who are on steroids (and cramped living spaces) get sick a lot, so they are routinely given antibiotics in their food.  Those antibiotics are found residually in the animal products milk, eggs, and meat.  The antibiotics are also presumed/ somewhat proven to make their way into humans and possibly cause antibiotic tolerances and other health problems from consuming antibiotics excessively.

Derivatives/ Preservatives from GMOs

Back to plants. (These may seem slightly out of order, but I’m trying to work my acronym, so I had to spread out the vowels, etc.) Those GMO (genetically modified organism) foods, especially corn and soy, are made into countless ingredients (corn syrup, fructose, sugars, sweeteners, oils, soy lecithin, soy milk, xanthum gum, malodextrin, etc.) that are used as preservatives, thickeners, flavoring agents, and sweeteners in TONS and TONS of food items, even minimally processed ones or “natural” ones. Thus, in an attempt to avoid GMO foods, many Organic foodies also just avoid any processed foods because processed organic food (wherein all the components are organic) are quite expensive AND not necessarily healthy.  (Think organic non-GMO cookie. Still a cookie.)

Grain Fed Animals

Back to animals. (Recall, my really important mnemonic acronym PIGSADGET? We must maintain it.) The animals, who should be romping about in the beautiful pastoral land in Iowa, or Ohio, or where ever they romp, are instead inside a barn eating GMO corn feed instead of grass, which God designed them to eat (apparently). This makes them fat, but sad (apparently) and then they get sick and need anti-biotics, etc.  Thus, even if you avoid eating the GMO plants directly, and you avoid the evil derivatives, you might still get residual GMO corn in your grain fattened meat.  Also, there was much ado about “inhumane” treatment of animals; however, (PETA people go away to some other website–this one is not for you) I don’t care if my meat is not treated like a human. I just want it to be healthy and yummy, so that is my only concern. I’m not a cat-kicker; I just don’t think animals are humans.

“Enriched” Foods

This is where all the “Whole Grain” business that we’ve heard so much about comes in.  Basically, the husky part of the grain is awesome for us, but when you take it off, you are left with the deliciously useless white flour that has to be “enriched” with fake versions of all the nutrients that they lost with the husky part. Apparently, the enrichment is actually just fake crap, put in to make up for what they took out (apparently).  Ridiculous. White flour, while not as evil as Monsanto, is apparently quite close.  Lots of good articles are out on whole grains, but here is one from 100 Days of Real Food with pictures of the labels that you should look for. Organic breads or homemade breads are the winners. I know. Blast, blast, blast.  I was hoping I could avoid that “homemade” information.  On a hopeful note, however, it does not sound like there is too much genetically modified wheat sold in the food supply yet, so that is a minor “win,” I guess.

Travel

Long distances of travel are bad for food because of pollution in the environment by vehicles.  Also produce that is shipped is not as fresh and is sometimes artificially ripened.  (Think of tasteless, mealy, February tomato.)  Buy local. The closer your food was grown to you, the better. If you can talk to the farmer, you can ask questions about your food. Maybe it is grown organically, or close to it.  Sometimes local farmers are not paying the government to be “Certified Organic,”  but the food may be organic in fact, if not in name.  My vote is that washing the pesticide off a local peach following the instructions of my Peach Lady Nancy (who grows peaches down the road in Lancaster) is way better than buying a lamo organic California peach and having it travel all the way across the country.  Plus Nancy’s peaches are $10 a basket and taste like love. Dare to eat a peach folks.

THAT’S ALL!!!  You’ve heard my PIGSADGET.  I’m not ready to reveal my take on ALL of this; I’m just presenting the info. (I can’t call them Facts because I’m not totally sure if they are.)

Does anybody have any questions? Another great way to follow this discussion is by joining the Eating Poorganically Facebook page.  You guys are already doing a great job helping out with questions and comments for those of us just figuring out if Eating Poorganically is “worth it.”

Here’s a little reward video for those of you who stuck in with me till the end.  (If you know what a major hip-hop wannabe I am, you know how much I LOVE this. :))

 

7 Responses to Eating Poorganically-PiGSADGET

  1. Dana August 10, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Great wrap-up Katrina! That seems to about sum it up. And of course we can always do as little or as much as we feel compelled to do. There are certain ingredients I will do my best to stay away from (like high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and margarine – and artificial colors as much as possible too). That stuff just scares me (esp. artificial sweeteners – pass the sugar please! :))

    You know after researching all this myself my main beef (cough) with it all was the lack of balanced information out there, some due to “innocent” things like marketing. But I wish we could all just have the facts in front of us and then make our own choices. For a rich country we have a very sick population. Is it really due to the quantity of food consumed, or does the (lack of) quality play a part? These big GMO type companies won’t let people go in and see what they’re doing and that makes me suspicious. Let’s just have the info. I’m sure they’d still have plenty of business!

    And now so many companies are joining in the organic bandwagon that it seems a bit…watered down. It would probably be better out of government control because there are allowances they make within that “certified organic” label that the purist organic companies wouldn’t participate in. There really is so much organic junk food out now. I always walk down the cookie/chip aisle at TJ or EF and say, “Organic junk food is still junk food!” (And you know some companies produce both organic and, um, inorganic (?) food just to cash in on the trend. I wonder how trustworthy their organic stuff really is.)

    But you know I don’t soak my grains or sprout my legumes. I try to reach a balance somewhere that is suitable for my own comfort and time, etc. Again, I just wish we were honestly informed. Otherwise we’re making blind decisions (in essence trusting the food industry, government, etc.) and somehow that doesn’t seem like a fair position to be put in.

    But who ever said life was fair? 😉 Now can someone please help me off my soapbox? I am 8 months pregnant after all. :)

  2. Laura August 10, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    This was a fabulously written summary of your findings and very humorous to boot. You were right, I am impossbile to convert… unless you can directly link some problem that my family currently experiences (or will mostly likely definitely face in the near future) to the poisonous, modified, polluted, sickly meat, cheese, and celery we are shoveling into our PIGSADGET faces. :) I am the type of person who is not usually swayed by just “the idea” of something being gross. I will admit something… I literally CANNOT tell you the last time I washed an apple. And I have probably consumed a thousand apples in the last 10 years. Is THAT the reason my lower back hurts? The reason I still get pimples at 31? The reason I KEPT HAVING GIRLS??? :) I believe that organic eating is best. No doubt. I believe that grass fed beef, chicken, etc, tastes better and is, literally and factually, better for me. BUT I need to see some pudding that has proof spelled out as to what the issue is for me or mine personally….

    • Teri August 12, 2011 at 9:10 am #

      I’m with you, Laura! And I have all girls, too. Hhmmmmmm……..

      • thelowryder August 12, 2011 at 10:18 am #

        Oooo . . . interesting thought. I conceived Dylan (my only boy) in PNG where I was eating mostly “organically” by default since nothing is processed. We should take a poll . . .

  3. Lisa P August 10, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    Good summary. I’m glad you’re doing the research work for us. I’m still a bit too overwhelmed to say anything other than I love the pig picture!

    • thelowryder August 10, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

      Lisa, it is overwhelming, isn’t it? Actually, you will be glad to know that Walmart has quite a lot of organic offerings (as I’m sure you know better than I). Also, ALL their milk is from steroid/ hormone free cows. Yippee. I can’t believe I’m saying these words, but “Way to go, Walmart!”

  4. Jillian August 10, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    Great summary and love the video clip at the end! :) Interested to see what conclusions you draw after all of the research. Without having done the leg work, I think I come down about where Laura does…I need to see some hard evidence that the benefits of “going organic” are strong enough to offset the cost and inconvenience. Thanks for doing all the heavy lifting for the lazy among us! :)