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Organic August

04 Aug 2014

Driving around today I saw the beginnings of daffodils trying to push their way through the long grass in the roadside verge. It’s August and it always surprises me that spring bravely whispers its way through one of the coldest months of the year saying “psst Im not far off!”   

 Well the flu has been making its mark around Christchurch and many of you have rung me up to ask for immune support while in its grip (then rang me up to say you don’t like the taste of the herbs I gave you L). Still the flu is nasty – you know you have it because you honestly couldn’t walk out of a burning building if you wanted to. In fact if you have ever had the flu you probably would want to snuggle up to the flames and tell the firemen to go away such is the shivering that goes with this horrid virus!

 For most of us it will go away without medical intervention. However you must look after yourself while you recover otherwise you are tempting fate and chronic tiredness, fatigue and/or secondary bacterial infections may follow.

 Now to something a bit left field. Recently we (namely me) at 45 Albert Terrace decided to replant the vege patch. Not only because it is satisfying to pick them once grown but also because it is cheaper and better for you (namely me). Vegetables are expensive these days and organic vegetables even more so. Commercially grown organic vegetables command higher prices due in part, to more expensive farming practices. So what is organic all about and are they really more nutritionally more dense than the non-organic?

 Well much of the research is conflicting and it appears that the vitamin and mineral content seem largely the same for both at this stage. However organic farming avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives. The benefit of this means that the consumer (namely we) can reduce our toxic exposure to pesticides and chemicals both internally and within our immediate environment. Some studies have linked pesticides in our food to a wide variety of diseases and conditions— but still many experts maintain that the levels in conventional food are safe for most healthy adults. Most will concede, however, that low-level pesticide exposure can be significantly more toxic for foetuses and children.

 So apart from the chemical free aspect – how does it work? Organic farmers prefer crop varieties that are resistant to disease which tend to have higher levels of phytochemicals, whilst conventional farming methods opt for high-yielding strains. Phytochemicals are secondary metabolites (chemicals) made by the plant itself when exposed to environmental stressors. In the absence of pesticides and fertilizers, plants boost their own production of secondary metabolites to improve their resistance to bugs and weeds. Good news for us as we go on to utilise the same chemicals for our own disease prevention.

 Organic fruit and vegetables are confirmed as having higher levels of these phytochemicals which include the ever popular resveratrol (red wine), polyphenols (most veges, green tea and berries) and anthocyanins (berries, blackcurrants). So just by choosing that funny looking home grown apple above the polished store bought red one may just be the best choice (namely you) could do for your health!

 The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has named 12 foods to try and avoid if you would like to minimise your pesticide exposure. EWG calls them the "dirty dozen" namely peaches, strawberries, nectarines, apples, spinach, celery, pears, sweet bell peppers, cherries, lettuce, potatoes, and imported grapes as being ones to avoid. These fragile fruits and vegetables often require more pesticides to fight off bugs compared to hardier produce, such as asparagus and broccoli.

 If you do have any more information regarding organics please let me know and I can share it with others.












Tags: Diet, Health, Herbals, Lifestyle, Medication, Organic food, Study

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