Food additives, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics… There’s so much to think about when grocery shopping. One of the most talked about choices is whether or not to buy organic. In an ideal world, with an ideal budget, we could purchase all of our foods organic; but sometimes, that’s just not feasible. So which foods are worth finding in the organic section? The Environmental Working Group has created a list to help you decide just that. This list of produce contains the highest amount of chemical residues from pesticides and should always be bought organic if possible. It includes:
Apples – Strawberries – Grapes – Celery – Peaches – Spinach – Sweet Bell Peppers – Nectarines – Cucumbers – Cherry Tomatoes – Snap Peas – Potatoes – Hot Peppers – Kale/Collard Greens
Now this list is great, but it doesn’t mention meats. If there’s anything that’s most confusing about which items to purchase, meats are it. Grass fed beef, free range chicken, cage free chicken, hormone-free meats, antibiotic-free meats, “USDA organic” meats… What’s does all of that mean, and why is it important?
Let’s first address why it may be important. Hormones, most often man-made estrogen and testosterone, are injected into young livestock to help them gain weight quickly. For production, this means more meat in a shorter amount of time, yielding an increase in profit. Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is also given to cows to increase their milk production, ultimately increasing profit. These hormones are inside the meats and milk that are consumed by humans. So what does this mean for your health? Unfortunately, nobody knows for sure. What we do know is that the animals receiving these injections are on the high side of the normal range for hormones, which increases their chances of developing chronic illnesses such as cancer. The uncertainty lies in knowing what kind of a risk this creates for those consuming the products- us!
Although nothing has been proven, some scientists attribute early puberty in today’s youth to the hormone-injected animals. According to WebMD, “the amount of hormone that enters a person’s bloodstream after eating hormone-treated meat is small compared with the amount of estrogen a person produces daily”. However, that small increase in hormone levels can negatively impact certain processes within the body. Because of the unknown effects of long-term consumption, the European Union has banned all hormones in beef, and several other countries have banned rBGH. Uncertainty means it’s up to you to decide whether or not organic meats are important for you and your family.
Should you choose organic meats, look for 100% grass-fed beef. Because cows are grass-eaters by nature, it is less than ideal for a cow to be grain-fed. As far as purchasing chicken, look for “USDA Certified Organic” chicken. To be labeled as such, the chicken must been raised without the use of antibiotics and hormones in a free-range environment with no pesticides used in the soil or on the feed. Choosing the right carton of eggs can be tricky, too. Because the word “organic” can have several different meanings, you want to avoid purchasing anything, including eggs, just because it’s labeled as “organic”. USDA Certified Organic eggs come from chickens raised using the requirements listed previously so they make a great choice. You can also keep an eye out for “cage-free” eggs; these egg-laying chickens are never kept in cages and have access to the outside. Having the freedom to roam creates a less stressful environment, especially when compared to chickens that are caged or packed tightly in small quarters.
Foods have the ability to enhance or diminish your energy levels, mood, immune system function, overall health, and ability to hold each chiropractic adjustment. These are just a few of the many reasons as to why it’s important to carefully select foods for you and your entire family.