Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Groundhog Lied! And the question of “Organic.”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but as I was walking around campus today in some kind of cold, blowing ice/rain mix, I felt compelled to tell ol’ Punxsutawney Phil to take his tiny groundhog shadow and shove it where the sun don’t shine…because the sun is clearly not shining today! Early Spring my ass, furball!

On my way home today I stopped by the Mom’s Organic Market to have a poke around. I can’t resist the smell of the place, and I can’t meander around the aisles looking at things while the Ryan impatiently stares at me, so I figured it best to go alone – besides, I needed some tea.

This past weekend I went wedding dress shopping (I found “the one” and damn it’s gorgeous!) and while I love my dress, I was a bit…well, more than a bit upset by how I looked in the pictures. Too much holiday (and poor post-holiday) eating has finally caught up with me. The poor Ryan was on the receiving end of my realization Sunday morning when he stood there in the kitchen hugging me while I cried over how fat I was and how I’d disgrace my beautiful dress. Being the adorable dude he is, he told me I was beautiful no matter what and he was sure I’d look amazing, but you know us females – that’s not good enough! (Although I thank him for being so sweet and sincere ^_^) Have any of you seen that shirt on Pinterest that says “Sweating for the Wedding”? Someone get me that! I’m feelin’ the motivation!! I am also going to repair my eating habits – I got too lax over the holidays and, well, just kept going once school started. Shame on me! Back on the calorie counting train I go.

So, during my time enjoying the sights and smells at the Mom’s market, I pretty much picked up and examined the food labels of everything I encountered (focusing on calorie content and nutritional value, mostly).

I learned a few things, such as: pre-packaged turkey burgers contain the same amount of calories as pre-packaged veggie burgers (mind = blown) and apparently one specific brand of pita bread’s serving sizes are based in grams, while my scale measures ounces. Gah!! No calorie counting for that pita bread.

My exploration also led me to ask some questions:

Exactly what is the difference between organic and non-organic products? Other than one is grown with synthetics/hormones and the other is not (or so we are told). In some instances, I can see the value in organic products, but in others, I can see how the word “organic” can just be a money filter for hipsters who think it’s better for them and the environment to go organic (I’m not saying don’t hug the trees, y’all). Now before you yell at me, take eggs as a case study. According to IncredibleEgg.org’s FAQ page, Federal Law in accordance with the USDA prohibits the use of hormones and antibiotics in hens that produce eggs for consumption, except when the hen becomes ill, which is rare:

“Are there hormones in my eggs?

Whether it says so on the carton or not, laying hens (hens raised to produce eggs) do not receive hormones in any form.

Do Antibiotics in Eggs Contribute to Antibiotic Resistance?

Antibiotics aren’t considered a food-safety issue for eggs. Low levels of antibiotics are occasionally, but only rarely, used to prevent disease and ensure the health of laying hens, just as for humans. Very few antibiotics are permitted and there is an economic incentive not to use them due to the additional cost. Rather than routinely, antibiotics are used only if the birds become ill – a rare occurrence because hens have to be healthy to produce eggs. Because so few antibiotics are used and are used to such a small degree, they aren’t likely to contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistance.”

Additionally, hens that lay eggs for human consumption are selectively bred through traditional means — so no genetic modification whatsoever. Any food the hen eats that was genetically modified (say, Monsanto corn grain or something) would be broken down by the hen’s digestive system. Anything genetically modified is changed on a DNA level and cannot affect the genes of an ingesting creature, such as a hen.

So why do people pay through the nose for “organic, antibiotic-free” eggs if all of our eggs are the same? Because, in this writer’s humble opinion, the word “Organic” allows the product to cost more (I understand that the operating costs of organic farming can be higher, but seriously – they have to make a profit, too, and I am inclined to wonder just how much of that profit is from the novelty of “superior” food). That being said: I also understand the concept of buying that $6 organic dozen eggs on the principle that the hens are allowed to be all free-range and frolic with the unicorns and kittens and rainbows. I get it. So if that’s why you do it – keep it up. If you do it for the simple fact that your organic eggs are somehow better, you’re really paying for the label instead of the product.

What else is out there that we can safely buy non-organic?

USDA

For me, the jury is still out on fruits and vegetables. I have it on good authority from some farmers I know that pesticides cannot penetrate the waxy skin of most fruits and vegetables…That being said, I am aware of the numerous articles on pesticide contamination being linked to XYZ cancer/disease/whatever that the patient contracted from ingesting a contaminated food item. It was also pointed out to me, however, that there are equivalent if not higher risks of food contamination involved with organic farming (think disease and microbial laden manure being used to fertilize the ground your food grows in…the plant will surely absorb it, which creates a risk for diseases transmitted by feces such as: E coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Giardia).

If your fear is genetically modified food, according to the National Institute of Health, the FDA rates GM foods as “Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).” Another article on Co.Exist.com cites GM foods as necessary for an increasing demand on the world’s food supply. No conclusive studies have shown the trustworthiness or lack-there-of of genetically modified food, and those same farmers I cited earlier use GM crops in their growing – I believe for a higher yield. Again, there are plenty of documentaries and sources advocating for the abolishment of GM food, and you know what, Monsanto is f*cking evil, so I suppose on principle if you could get away from buying their product, it would be pretty awesome.

Steering away from all of this heavy controversial stuff, I am hoping to avoid the subject altogether over the Spring/Summer by planting my own herbs and vegetables on the patio. Our new apartment has plenty of sunlight, and we are in a good position to “Vertically Garden” as it were. And before you criticize me, I buy my fruits and vegetables from the Mom’s Organic Market not because they are organic, but because they are actually cheaper than supermarket prices. And not only is the market locally owned, but they sell produce from local farmers whenever possible, so I am happy to support them. As for some of the other organic products, well…that’s for another time.

And one final, unrelated note: I have been pinning my heart out on Pinterest and after mid-terms in early March, I am hoping to do a “Cooking from my Pins” series where I make selected recipes from my Pinterest board. 🙂

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