CALLING A SPADE A SPADE…
IS ORGANIC REALLY ORGANIC AND HOW CAN I MAKE HEALTHIER FOOD CHOICES?
Have you ever wondered if “organic”, when applied to food, is mere marketing spiel in order to place a higher price tag on your broccoli (gloat with purchase gratis), just as “free range” slapped on the side of an egg box has no correlation neither with the livelihood of the chook nor the quality of its egg? The food industry knows just how to flog us its wares using key words and expressions like “vitality”, “gut-loving”, “plant based”, “protein rich” and “40% less sugar” such that we, in our laudable desire to chase “health”, cough up our hard earned dough again and again and, in doing so, perpetuate the myth. What myth? The myth that health can be bought. And let’s face it, if it can it most certainly does not come in a wrapper. Big farma plays on our fears & boy/girl, do we react.
So, how can we, the consumers, make smarter choices both for our health and our pocket?
First up, the organic facts:
Photo by Mikhail Nilov
Rules & Regs
I am happy to report that, according to government guidelines1 (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs), a product can only be labelled organic if:
at least 95% of the product’s agricultural ingredients are organic, &all other ingredients, additives and processing aids are listed as permitted within the organic regulations
Photo by Daniel Reche
If your product contains less than 95% organic agricultural ingredients and you wish to make organic claims on the product labelling, or in the marketing, you must obtain certification for your product from an organic control body.
There are six to eight approved control bodies for organic food in the UK depending on whether you are growing, manufacturing or marketing a designated product. It can take up to 3 years to become certified as an organic farm.
SO WHAT IS ORGANIC FARMING?
avoiding artificial fertilisers and pesticides
using crop rotation and other forms of husbandry to maintain soil fertility
controlling weeds, pesticides and diseases using husbandry techniques and approved materials to control pests and diseases (where necessary)
using a limited number of approved products and substances (where necessary) in the processing of organic food2
HOW CAN THIS IMPACT YOU?
When it comes to fruit and vegetables, the UK government only tests a small amount of food items and the approved/refused list changes each year. This testing assesses just one pesticide at a time when the reality is that fruit and veg undergoes multiple sprays with pesticides, herbicides and insecticides throughout its farming and, not only are many of these known endocrine disruptors and carcinogens individually, the “cocktail effect” (Pan-uk.org) has far more sinister implications on our long-term health.
Here is a guide to the fruit and veg most (Dirty Dozen), and least (Clean Fifteen) threatened by the spray gun, arming you with some useful knowledge when it comes to navigating the weekly food shop.
You might want to consider buying these items organic:
DIRTY DOZENPRODUCT% OF SAMPLES WITH MULTIPLE RESIDUESGRAPEFRUIT99%SOFT CITRUS (e.g. mandarin, satsuma)96%STRAWBERRIES89%ORANGES87%DRIED GRAPES (e.g. raisins, sultanas)82%HERBS81%PRE-PACKED SALAD81%GRAPES80%LEMONS75%PEARS69%PEACHES & NECTARINES67%SPINACH57%
The Dirty Dozen is based on PAN UK analysis in September 2021 of the UK Government’s Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) annual reports from 2018, 2019 and 2020. We have analysed and collated three years’ worth of data to provide consumers with a clearer picture of which UK produce is most likely to contain the highest levels of pesticide residues.3
Photo by Pineapple Supply Co.
GOOD NEWS! Let’s not take all the fun out of the party. Following is another list, this one made up of goodies which are found to be grown with minimal pesticides even when grown conventionally. Hurrah and ballyhoo!AVOCADOSWEETCORNPINEAPPLEONIONSPAPAYAFROZEN PEASAUBERGINEASPARAGUSBROCCOLICABBAGEKIWICAULIFLOWERMUSHROOMSHONEYDEW MELONCANTALOUPE MELON
Photo by Greta Hoffman
My mission is to hopefully help folk make more educated choices, seeking to shop with you and your family’s longterm health in mind. The only way we are going to change the food landscape to a more trusting one is by the daily choices we make. If we buy junk, the food industry will happily keep manufacturing it and we will continue to get sick. All the main current diseases we suffer from (heart disease, cancer, stroke, obesity, diabetes) are all metabolic illnesses. If our genes are the gun then our lifestyle is the trigger so we can choose to shop for ingredients rather than packaged “food” and stand a far greater chance of staying out of hospital. We have come to expect to eat food out of season and to have everything available year round which has led to a pressure on farmers to adopt less than favourable growth practices in order to meet demand or for produce to be shipped in from abroad. Maybe consider auditing your pantry and fridge, simplifying things and sourcing your food locally and seasonally.
Food for thought!
Kickstart the conversation – am I preaching to the converted or is the news to you???
As always, Like, Share, Tweet, holler and rant……