Butter or margarine? Play the Devil’s advocate and suggest neither. Butter is clearly not the best sort of fat for our heart health. The saturated fat in butter is not good for us since it tends to raise ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in blood, increasing our risk of heart disease. So if you love butter the answer is just don’t have too much of it! Enjoy a little on your bread or a skim on your toast in the morning, but use healthier alternatives the rest of the time. Margarine is a modern highly processed invention and not a part of our ancestors or native traditional diets around the world. Even an olive oil margarine is not the same as a Mediterranean-style, olive oil-based diet, and an omega-3 enriched margarine is not the same as a diet high in fish and seafood. So instead brush your bread with olive oil, use a nut spread on toast, use mashed avocado in sandwiches and cook with olive or other healthy oils. Be organic whenever you can to reduce your toxic chemical intake to a minimum.
Recent research conducted on organic milk has shown that it has more anti-oxidants, omega 3, CLA, and vitamins than non organic milk. According to the researchers at the Danish Institute of Agricultural Research, University of Aberdeen, and the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, organic milk is healthier than non organic milk as organic cows are pasture grazed which results in better quality milk.
According to a 10 year study conducted by the University of California, Davis, organic tomatoes are produced in an environment that has lower nutrient supply as nitrogen-rich chemical fertilizers are not added. This leads to excessive formation of antioxidants such as quercetin (79% higher) and kaempferol (97% higher) in organic tomatoes. As we all know, antioxidants are good forhealth and help in reducing heart diseases.
These studies have increased the hopes of numerous people who strongly believe that mankind should stop using chemical fertilizers and pesticides and shift to the more sustainable organic farming practices. There are many studies that prove that there is some pesticide and fertilizer contamination in non organic food, and there are others which claim that organic food is not healthy (they contain harmful bacteria and viruses) because of non usage of strong chemicals. However, none of these studies (showing chemical contamination or presence of bacteria/viruses) do not show any impact on health of individuals.
Water ‘cannot be organic’
There is no support among Australian authorities for the notion that water can be organic, and a number of standards state that it cannot, including the mandatory standard covering exports. The word ‘organic’ in the context of food and drink refers to agricultural products which have been farmed according to certain practices. The ACCC said water is not an agricultural product, and cannot benefit from such practices so it is “not appropriate to use ‘organic’ to describe it”.
The ACCC’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy lists credence claims (claims that consumers cannot easily verify for themselves) as a new priority area. While in this case there was no indication that consumers paid higher prices for ‘organic’ water than regular bottled water, the ACCC said consumers are often prepared to pay more for products that make credence claims which match their values.
Organic farms are only certified after they have been operating according to organic principles for three years. However, the use of the word ‘organic’ is not regulated in Australia, so it is *important* to make sure that products you buy come from *certified* growers and producers.
As recently as 2009, a standard (guidelines and rules) did not exist for domestic and imported organic foods. This led to a misrepresentation of the word ‘organic’ in the Australian domestic food market.
Two key standards now govern the production, processing and labelling of organic food in Australia. These are:
The National Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce (for exported foods)
The Australian Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Products (for domestic and imported foods).
These standards provide an agreed set of procedures to be followed in organic food production. This helps to ensure the integrity and traceability of an organic food product from ‘paddock to plate’. The standards include requirements for production, preparation, transportation, marketing and labelling of organic products in Australia.
While it is mandatory for exported organic produce to be certified and meet the National Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce, the Australian standard (for domestic and imported foods) is not mandated, and certification is voluntary. Its purpose is to assist the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC – the national consumer regulatory authority) to ensure that claims made about organic and biodynamic products are not false or misleading.
‘Organic-certified produce’ means the food was grown, harvested, stored and transported without the use of synthetic chemicals, irradiation or fumigants.
How to identify food certified as organic
Suggestions for making sure the food you are buying is organically grown include:
If you are buying from an organic retailer, check for the Organic Retailers’ and Growers’ Association of Australia (ORGAA) notice, which should be prominently displayed
Choose foods with the label ‘certified organic’ from one of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) accredited certifying organisations
Check packaging for the grower’s name and certification number
Do not be fooled by packaging that claims the produce is ‘natural’ or ‘chemical free’ if the proper certification labelling is not displayed.
Accredited certifying organisations
Seven organisations are classified by DAFF as organic certifiers:
AUS-QUAL Limited (AUSQUAL)
Australian Certified Organic (ACO)
Bio-Dynamic Research Institute (BDRI)
National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia Certified Organic (NASAA Certified Organic)
Organic Food Chain (OFC)
Safe Food Production Queensland (SFQ)
Tasmanian Organic-Dynamic Producers (TOP).
Some of the certifying organisations have their own standards in addition to the National Standard.
Certified Organic is a guarantee of food safety and purity. The farmers who are certified are following sustainable farming practices so by buying organic you strengthen the industry and helping work towards a sustainable society.
Building fertile soil to grow healthy, productive plants is the organic gardener’s ultimate goal. You can improve the appearance and nutritional value of your garden soil by adding organic waste such as fallen leaves and fresh grass clippings, by composting yard and kitchen waste, and by using castings from earth worms (called vermicompost).
The fertility of your soil also can be affected by how often you till the soil and the kinds of mulches you use.
One of the simplest methods of adding nutritious material to your garden beds is by incorporating well composted vegetation directly onto and into the soil. Composting mimics and intensifies nature’s recycling plan.
A novel scientific study design to provide a convincing demonstration of the ability of organic diets to reduce children’s organophosporus pesticide exposure and the health risks that may be associated with these exposures: This reduction in exposure was dramatic and immediate for the OP pesticides malathion and chlorpyrifos, which are commonly and predominantly used in agricultural production and have no or minimal residential uses. The findings for the OP pesticide exposure in children from this study therefore support the conclusion made by the NRC (1993) that dietary intake of pesticides could represent the major source of exposure in infants and young children.
Fresh is always best - the organic debate should not distract from the compelling health reasons for eating fresh produce of any kind.
Freshness affects nutrient levels as well as the method by which the food is farmed. Freshness is more related to storage and the time lag before eating than whether a food is produced conventionally or organically. That is a compelling reason for buying local.
You can have wilted spinach that is conventionally-grown and wilted spinach that is organic.
Research clearly shows fresh fruit and vegetables are essential for good health, with health benefits over and above those provided by the vitamins and minerals they contain (this is why taking vitamin and mineral supplements is a poor substitute). If you want more nutrients, eat more fresh produce. Choose carrots rather than fried chips.
Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution (air, water, soil), conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. In addition, organic farming is better for birds and small animals as chemical pesticides can make it harder for creatures to reproduce and can even kill them. Farming without pesticides is also better for the people who harvest our food.
Organic food is a growing industry
The Australian organic food industry is booming. It is currently worth around $200–$250 million per year domestically and a further $50–$80 million per year in exports, with an expected annual growth of up to 60 per cent. In 2010, the retail value of the organic market was estimated to be at least id="mce_marker" billion.
Consumer demand for organic food is growing at a rate of 20–30 per cent per year, with retail sales increasing 670 per cent between 1990 and 2001–02. It is estimated that more than six out of every ten Australian households now buy organic foods on occasion.
What about BPA and phthalates? What we do know though is that neither polypropylene nor melamine contain two of the toxins that have raised concern in recent years: bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. That's a mouthful but doesn't sound like something you want to eat!
BPA, primarily found in a type of plastic called polycarbonate or PC (recycle code 7), is toxic to the body in large doses and can increase your risk of breast and prostate cancer and heart disease, among other diseases. When containers made with BPA are heated, BPA levels in food have been found to increase. Phthalates (such as the plasticiser diethylhexyl phthalate or DEHP) are primarily found in polyvinyl carbonate or PVC (recycle code 3) and have been found to cause problems with hormones and the reproductive system.