I’m a sucker for anything organic. Even those organic, crunchy snacks that remind me of cheese doodles. Part of me feels justified in eating these, because they are organic, of course, how can they be bad?
When I am thinking clearly, not in the grocery store at 5pm with two hungry kids, I see plainly that junk food is junk food. The New York times ran an interesting story that too many Americans are seeing organic food as the solution and are not looking at the big picture. We want buying organic to be the answer. We want it to help us eat healthier. We want it to solve the obesity problem. Eating organic food is in most cases better for the earth and for us, but the truth that the article states is:
“most Americans eat so badly — we get 7 percent of our calories from soft drinks, more than we do from vegetables; the top food group by caloric intake is “sweets”; and one-third of nation’s adults are now obese — that the organic question is a secondary one. It’s not unimportant, but it’s not the primary issue in the way Americans eat.”
What is our problem? Too much processed food, be it canned Annie’s Ravioli or canned Spaghettios–frozen organic or Hungry Man dinners. The question becomes not if it is organic, but if it is processed or packaged. I fall prey to this constantly. I work full time, don’t really love to cook, and want organic, healthy food. So what do we do?
“To eat well, says Michael Pollan, the author of “In Defense of Food,” means avoiding “edible food-like substances” and sticking to real ingredients, increasingly from the plant kingdom. (Americans each consume an average of nearly two pounds a day of animal products.) There’s plenty of evidence that both a person’s health — as well as the environment’s — will improve with a simple shift in eating habits away from animal products and highly processed foods to plant products and what might be called “real food.” (With all due respect to people in the “food movement,” the food need not be “slow,” either.)”
And this would have dramatic environmental impacts, too, as the article points out. Eating lower on the found chain would lessen heart disease, and impacts to land and water. Not to mention limiting the chemical exposures as well. So, when thinking about healthy eating, I need to remember this. I try to buy all organic fruits and produce– but then I actually have to eat and cook with them, which many Americans just aren’t doing. Steering clear of the frozen and canned organic foods that call to me– “no cooking! look, we are organic, we must be healthy!” from the nice hardwood section of our grocery store.
I’ve been duped; I’ve eaten too many organic snacks from a crinkly bag. This post from the New York Times simply reminds me that anything in a crinkly bag (including organic!) is simply highly processed food—over packaged and unhealthy.
image: woodchips – now organic! by bookgrl on Flickr under Creative Commons
Organic Trade says
Thank you for this thoughtful post. As you make decisions about which foods to purchase, be sure to consider the importance of variety in your diet and the opportunities that organic provides to achieve it. Whether you are looking for produce or processed foods, organic is a great place to start as you seek to diversify and enrich your diet.
It is also important to recognize that not all processed foods are created equal. Federally regulated organic standards require that organic foods are produced without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, and genetic engineering. Organic standards also mandate that organic foods are minimally processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation to maintain the integrity of the food. Additionally, because certified organic growers and handlers are not only inspected by third-party independent certifiers in order to qualify for organic certification, but also follow strict guidelines for safe and hygienic food production, they offer consumers products in which they can trust.
For these and many other reasons, including a wide range of personal health and environmental benefits, buying organic is worth it.
Jamie Ervin says
We buy everything all natural and mostly organic… I still know that junk food is junk food, but I also want my kids to be able to eat “normal” foods and to learn what it means to be able to eat everything in moderation. We go organic and natural because we don’t want our kids ingesting dyes, preservatives and artificial flavorings. We’ve seen firsthand the impact those nasty chemicals can have on our children. I totally agree that some people think “oh, its organic so its GOOD for you”. Which is completely wrong of course, organic is better for the earth… but sugar and fat are still bad for you in excessive amounts even when they are organic.
Myself, I’m not a snacker… if I want a snack I’m more likely to grab a banana and PB or a bowl of cereal with soy milk, but my kiddos love to be kids and they want a cookie, lolli or those tasty cheese doodles you mentioned on occasion (ok, they want them all the time but get them on occasion)
I think many Americans are still lacking in food responsibility, we are just shifting our focus from standard (over processed, chemical filled) foods to organic over processed foods.