Our commandments here at home: As long as organic standards are upheld to the letter of the law and without corporate erosion – organics will be better than conventional (at least with respect to fruits and vegetables). There’s a lot of controversy regarding whether organics have greater quality and nutrient content. All I can say is this – slower growing, more naturally fertilized plants tend to have more nutrient content and greater similarity to foods that we’ve eaten for thousands of years. So why change now. Why eat something that grew in alien nutrients twice as fast as its more natural equivalent? There’s no way to truly prove that it’s different yet, but I’m sure that somehow it is.
1. With respect to processed foods – Don’t eat anything with more than 5 ingredients: I set this rule after finding out that I had celiac disease (an allergy to wheat, barley, rye and respective derivitives). Reading hundreds of labels will do that to you. I got to the point where I just wanted to glance at the ingredients without reading every single one on every product, and thus “the no more than 5 rule.” You can effectively pass on things like Doritos without even looking.
An interesting phenomenon: For products with equal or less than 5 ingredients, it’s very likely that the ingredients themselves will be simple (like “salt” or “sugar” for example) rather than complex (like “maltodextrin” or “monosodium glutamate”). What I’m saying here is that products with smaller ingredients lists tend to have more basic “salt of the earth” (so to speak) ingredients. So this adds extra incentive to go with the 5 or less ruling. Uncanny isn’t it?
2. With respect to organics – Try to avoid international produce/products if at all possible: “Call me prejudice, but I don’t like eating anything that’s not grown in this country and only about half of what is.” Processed organic products are so difficult to verify (in terms of the “organic-ness” of the ingredients) that I don’t trust any of it… especially if all or part of the ingredients come from other countries. We’ve got orange juice boxes now that contain juices from upwards of five countries or more. That can’t be energy/fuel/cost efficient, and isn’t likely all organic either. Who’s verifying all the time that all of the juice is actually organic? No one. It’s impossible and far too expensive to have USDA satellite offices all over the place in other countries. No one will pay for such a presence, let alone the testing.
So I stick with the basics – the things I can almost count on as being truly organic and following the regs to the letter of the law – US produced fruit, vegetables, and possibly chicken… and that is pretty much it. US Fruit and vegetables must be cultivated according to the organic standards. Therefore they can likely be trusted. I don’t trust beef simply because of the mad cow thing and how utterly out of control everything’s been here. Until every living cow is tested for BSF I refuse to trust even what’s considered to be “organic” beef. Since we’re (my wife and I) are shooting for a plant-based diet this becomes a non-issue. But philosophically, I still believe that this is a good perspective to hold.
3. With respect to cooked/baked goods – buy as basic as possible and make it all yourself: Buy flours, spices and other individual components that are easy to verify as organic. Buy too from US producers that get their components from US sources. Again, I’m not an ardent patriot or anything – but I am convinced that food security, safety, and quality assurances only go as far as the border, if that.
Most importantly from here – make the food yourself so that you can insure its overall content and quality. Look at it this way: Food producers (big or small) have one thing in mind – profitability. And if that means purchasing less than perfect ingredients, or cutting corners by using unhealthy fillers (or oils or whatever) they’ll do it. You’ll never notice anyway. It’s time to go back to basics people – cooking and all that. I know that most people don’t even know how to cook anymore, but if it’s important enough we’ll all relearn… and believe me when I say that it is.
We are what we eat. We are technically just giant nano-tech machines that take in materials and refresh ourselves with all of it. So the higher the quality the materials, the greater the integrity of the complex assembly. And the lower the quality, the lower the integrity.