The nugget. (Sisters, Or.) 1994-current, January 16, 2019, Page 15, Image 15

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    Wednesday, January 16, 2019 The Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon
15
Should you go organic?
By Jodi Schneider
Correspondent
Once found only in health-food
stores, organic foods are now widely
available at most grocery stores.
Organic agriculture means that the
produce has been farmed in soil that
contains no synthetic fertilizers or
harmful pesticides, and animal prod-
ucts that are free of antibiotics and
hormones.
Organic agriculture works toward
preserving natural resources, it sup-
ports animal health and welfare, and
avoids most synthetic materials. It9s
not just a philosophy; the USDA regu-
lates the organic industry with strict
standards. The soil where crops are
grown must be inspected and shown
to be free of most synthetic pesticides
and fertilizers, and the crops can-
not have been genetically modified.
Animals are raised on organic farms
and besides receiving no antibiotics or
growth hormones, are given feed that
has been grown organically, and are
able to roam around outside. Studies
have found that organically raised
beef and milk can have higher levels
of omega-3 fatty acids.
The results of an online consumer
survey by the Food Marketing Institute
(FMI) suggests that about half of
Americans who buy organic food do
so because they believe it offers health
benefits.
Organic foods can cost up to
twice as much as conventional
foods, but are they healthier?
<I think people believe these
foods are better for them, but we really
don9t know that they are,= stated regis-
tered dietitian Kathy McManus, direc-
tor of the Department of Nutrition
at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and
Women9s Hospital.
McManus added <There9ve been
a number of studies examining the
macro- and micronutrient content, but
whether organically or conventionally
grown, the foods are similar for vita-
mins, minerals, and carbohydrates.=
While many studies have stated
organic food is not necessarily health-
ier than non-organic in terms of nutri-
tional value, the concerns for those
who purchase organic tend to focus
on the pesticides that can be ingested
along with their fruits and vegetables.
Research shows by eating organic
foods, you are minimizing your risk
for exposure to environmental toxins
and serious health issues found in non-
organic meat and produce.
Benji Nagel, co-founder of Mahonia
Gardens, an organic farm in Sisters,
said, <The number-one reason we buy
and grow organic is environmental.
Conventional farming is an enormous
contributor to ecological degrada-
tion. We are also concerned about
the health effects of consuming foods
tainted by pesticides and herbicides;
but
we have more
concern for marginal-
ized communities of farm workers
who are subjected to heavy doses of
chemicals on a daily basis by working
in and around agricultural operations.=
The organic process helps preserve
crop varieties which result in higher
soil quality that is safer for the envi-
ronment. Since organic food produc-
tion prohibits the use of all synthetic
chemicals, it does not pose any threats
for water contamination underground.
The Environmental Working
Group9s (EWG) analysis of tests by
the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) found that nearly 70 percent
of samples of conventionally grown
produce were contaminated with pes-
ticide residues.
Many people don9t realize that pes-
ticide residues are common on con-
ventionally grown produce 4 even
after it is washed or peeled.
The USDA tests found a total of
230 different pesticides and pesticide
breakdown products on the thousands
of produce samples analyzed. EWG9s
analysis of the tests shows that there
are definite differences among various
types of produce.
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When making
your grocery-store
game plan, sorting
out which fruits and
vegetables on your list you should
buy organic can be a confusing task.
However, each year EWG releases
a Shopper9s Guide to Pesticides in
Produce that lists fruits and vegetables
with the highest and lowest pesticide
residues. Here is an example:
For the 2018 Dirty Dozen list,
EWG singled out produce with
the highest loads of pesticide resi-
dues. The list included, strawberries,
spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes,
peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, cel-
ery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers.
EWG9s clean 15 list of produce
least likely to contain pesticide resi-
dues included avocados, sweet corn,
pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen
sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, man-
goes, eggplants, honeydews, kiwis,
cantaloupes, cauliflower and broc-
coli. Relatively few pesticides were
detected on these foods, and tests
found low total concentrations of pes-
ticide residues.
For people who choose non-
organic, look for produce items with
thicker skins. They tend to have fewer
pesticide residues because the thick
skin or peel protects the inner fruit or
vegetable. Remove the skin or peel,
and you9re removing much of the
residue.