healthy food lifestyle :: 2 :: organic foods + water

This post is part of a series I am titling "healthy food lifestyle" and it details my philosophy on food as well as the "whys" behind my choices and the practicalities of the way I choose to eat. Read all the posts in this series here.

{graphic designed by me in 2011 for a design class}

Eating Organic

It may seem that everyone knows what organic food is, but I think we take that for granted. There are many people who don't know what organic farming methods mean for our foods and why it is important. So let's review...

Organic foods are more nutritious than their non-organic counterparts. They contain no chemicals/hormones/pesticides/antibiotics, and are often better, fresher and more flavorful tasting. In the rush to produce more and more crops to satisfy growing demand for food, farmers and food producers started using pesticides, chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics to increase growth of crops and animals and to ward off insects and disease that damage the produce and animals.

Some interesting quick facts:
• When you consume an average non-organic apple you are ingesting over 30 pesticides, even after you have washed it
• the levels of vitamin C in today's fruit bear no resemblance to the levels found in fruit produced pre-World War II, before the dramatic increase in the use of pesticides
• Organic food is known to contain 50% more nutrients, minerals and vitamins than produce that has been non-organically farmed

Not only is produce (fruits and vegetables) affected by chemicals used to increase production, non-organic meats (beef, poultry, pork) are also filled with antibiotics and hormones. These antibiotics and hormones are stored in the animals’ meat and fat and when we eat these non-organic meats, these antibiotics and hormones enter our bodies.

side note :: Conventional vs. organic farming
The word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don't use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. For example, rather than using chemical weed killers, organic farmers may conduct sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay.
Here are other differences between conventional farming and organic farming:
Conventional farmers
Organic farmers
Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth.
Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.
Spray insecticides to reduce pests and disease.
Use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.
Use chemical herbicides to manage weeds.
Rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.
Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth.
Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing — to help minimize disease.

From -

There are many misconceptions that still exist regarding organic food including that it is very expensive, hard to find, and that does not taste good. All of these misconceptions are myths. Organic food is not significantly more expensive than non-organic food; and because you are getting a higher quality, more nutritious food, any minor cost increase is worth it. Organic Food is NOT difficult to find. Many traditional grocery stores are now carrying a fair selection of organic produce. Organic produce is also easily available at natural foods markets, such as Whole Foods. Furthermore, your local farmers’ market most likely offers locally grown, organic produce.

If cost is a major consideration for you, and you want to buy only certain foods organic, the following list will help you determine which foods are most important to purchase organic:

Always Buy Organic - Highest Residual Pesticide Levels
bell peppers
imported grapes

Buy Organic when you can (Rarely tainted with pesticides)


sweet peas

Buy Organic, Grass-fed
Buy Organic, Free-Range
Buy Wild
Buy Organic
Buy Organic

If a food bears a USDA Organic label, it means it's produced and processed according to the USDA standards and that at least 95 percent of the food's ingredients are organically produced. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it.  
Products that are completely organic — such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry a small USDA seal. The PLU code on fruits and vegetables that are organic will be a 5-digit number beginning with the number “9” (as opposed to non-organic fruits and vegetables, which have 4-digit PLU numbers).  Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal or the following wording on their package labels, depending on the number of organic ingredients:
·       100 percent organic. Products that are completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
·       Organic. Products that are at least 95 percent organic.
·       Made with organic ingredients. These are products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. The organic seal can't be used on these packages.

Foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can't use the organic seal or the word "organic" on their product label. They can include the organic items in their ingredient list, however.

Generally speaking, the more water you drink, the better. Most people do not drink enough water by a long shot {including me}, and they assume that drinking any beverage is as hydrating and beneficial as drinking pure, filtered H2O, which is wrong.

 Water is so important for so many reasons; for starters, it is our body’s principle chemical component. Every system in our bodies depends on water. Water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues. Lack of water can lead to dehydration, and your body will not have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.

You should be drinking 80-100 oz. of water a day; and drinking juices, sodas, and other drinks does not count. We are talking pure, filtered water. Some people just don’t like water, or they say they don’t like the taste. Get a little creative; add some lemon to your water. Adding lemon adds a little flavor, plus you get the great alkaline and cleansing effects of the lemon. Lemon too tart? Try some slices of cucumber, or a few fresh berries.

I am as guilty as anyone of not drinking enough water. It is a daily challenge to drink up. However, whenever I do reach for a beverage, it is always water or tea - never soda, diet soda, processed fruit juices, etc.

Favorite Recipe No. 2

Norther Spy's Kale Salad (with roasted butternut squash, almonds, and sharp cheddar)

This is one of my favorite kale salads. Maybe one of my favorite salads in general - bold statement, but true. It is absolutely amazing. 
{image courtesy of Food52}

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