Organic Priorities

A blog today on the New York Times website broke down some key organic priorities from a new book by Dr. Alan Greene (what a serendipitous name...)

"Some vegetables, like broccoli, asparagus and onions, as well as foods with peels, such as avocados, bananas and oranges, have relatively low levels [of pesticides etc.] compared to other fruits and vegetables." (Also, their crops are not so big so do not have as much of an impact on the environment)

So how do you make your organic choices count? Pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, whose new book “Raising Baby Green” explains how to raise a child in an environmentally-friendly way, has identified a few “strategic” organic foods that he says can make the biggest impact on the family diet.

1. Milk: “When you choose a glass of conventional milk, you are buying into a whole chemical system of agriculture,'’ says Dr. Greene. People who switch to organic milk typically do so because they are concerned about the antibiotics, artificial hormones and pesticides used in the commercial dairy industry. One recent United States Department of Agriculture survey found certain pesticides in about 30 percent of conventional milk samples and low levels in only one organic sample. The level is relatively low compared to some other foods, but many kids consume milk in large quantities.

2. Potatoes: A simple switch to organic potatoes has the potential to have a big impact because commercially-farmed potatoes are some of the most pesticide-contaminated vegetables. A 2006 U.S.D.A. test found 81 percent of potatoes tested still contained pesticides after being washed and peeled, and the potato has one of the the highest pesticide contents of 43 fruits and vegetables tested, according to the Environmental Working Group.

3. Peanut butter: More acres are devoted to growing peanuts than any other fruits, vegetable or nut, according to the U.S.D.A. More than 99 percent of peanut farms use conventional farming practices, including the use of fungicide to treat mold, a common problem in peanut crops.

4. Ketchup and tomato paste: About 75 percent of tomato consumption is in the form of processed tomatoes, including juice, tomato paste and ketchup. Notably, recent research has shown organic ketchup has about double the antioxidants of conventional ketchup.

5. Apples: Apples are the second most commonly eaten fresh fruit, after bananas, and they are also used in the second most popular juice, after oranges, according to Dr. Greene. But apples are also one of the most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables. The good news is that organic apples are easy to find in regular grocery stores.

Other top priorities for going organic:

Cotton: although it's not one of the biggest commercial crops it accounts for a large percentage of pesticide and insecticide use. Dr. Greene says it may be the most important crop to change, for the sake of the environment.

Beef: for the same reasons as milk, it is worth going organic for the sake of the planet...Also, corn-fed cows have more acidic stomachs which promotes E-Coli bacteria. (there have been a lot of E.Coli scares in the States recently). Dr. Greene suggests replacing conventional beef either with grass-fed organic beef, or with a variety of other plant or animal sources of protein, such as organic eggs, garbanzo beans (a huge source of plant protein around the world), quinoa (a complete protein), or organic soy.

Soy: In recent years soy has been the U.S. domestic crop found most contaminated with organophosphate pesticides. Beyond this, soy leads the way in genetic modification, with 87% of the soy planted in the U.S. genetically modified (62 million acres).
Organic soy products can be a healthy part of the agricultural system.

Corn: We all know non-organic corn is an agricultural demon. In that corn is largely an American crop, corn syrup and other corn derivatives are luckily not so wide-spread in Europe. Check all American products' labels.

Baby food: For obvious, developmental reasons!

Wine: Organic wines in one study had an average of 32% higher antioxidant 'resveratrol' levels.


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