Organic is a complicated system of agriculture.

What’s annoying is that the organic message gets shortened into little sound bites in the news so people don’t buy organic because they know little about it. Also people who do buy organic often only know a few key facts.

There are scientifically proven reasons why organic food is better for you.

Organic food and health food have been partners since the 1930s, with a standard for organic foods that excludes hydrogenated fat, artificial preservatives and artificial additives – including colours and flavours.

Many organic foods are also minimally processed and include whole grains high in nutrients and fibre.  You may not know that organic foods are:

  • higher in beneficial minerals, essential amino acids and vitamins
  • higher in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), the good fat that is sold as an expensive supplement, and which is higher in organic dairy products because cows eat a high proportion of grass, hay and silage
  • free from artificial additives, preservatives, colourings and flavourings, allowing only 32 of the 290 food additives approved for use across the EU
  • free from hydrogenated fats which contain unnatural trans fatty acids that only ever exist in nature at very low levels and disrupt the absorption of essential fatty acids (which are good for you)
  • free from phosphoric acid (used in cola drinks), which the kidneys can only excrete if they buffer it with calcium taken from the reserves in the bones
  • significantly lower in their risk of salmonella and E.Coli, which are byproducts of intensive agriculture
  • for all intents and purposes, free from BSE which has never been reported in any cattle bred and reared on an organic farm
  • free from antibiotic residues that generally are routinely used to curb disease and/or promote growth in animals
  • free from GMOs, which have not been proven safe to consumers
  • free from pesticide residues
  • free from post harvest processing treatments with toxic materials such as fumigants or chemicals to sterilize or disinfest grains, pulses and dried fruit or to stop potatoes from sprouting
  • the best method of reducing exposure to potentially harmful pesticides and a simple way for parents to reduce their children’s pesticide exposure

Also, in April 2009, the European Union finished the largest study on organic food and farming. It cost 18 million Euros, involved 31 research papers and 31 research and university institutes. So far more than 100 scientific papers from the study have been published – with hundreds more to come. The research programme concluded that:

  • ‘Levels of a range of nutritionally desirable compounds (e.g. antioxidants, vitamins, and glycosinolates) were shown to be higher in organic crops.’
  • ‘Levels of nutritionally undesirable compounds (e.g. mycotoxins, glycoalkaloids, Cadmium and Nickel) were shown to be lower in organic crops.’

It’s so clear that organic food is better for you.

Maybe the people who won’t admit organic is better are embarrassed to admit that the intensive agricultural practices since the Second World War are no longer necessary or smart. You know, sometimes you have to put your hands up, say ‘oops’ and move on. It’s time to go organic.

For more information on the study that was part of QualityLowInputFood (QLIF), visit www.qlif.org For more information about organic, visit www.soilassociation.org

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a hundred times – organic makes so much sense – not only as a system of agriculture, but also to reduce carbon emissions and create the healthiest food possible. Organic farming enhances wildlife, is not dependent on fossil fuels and produces food grown without chemical poisons.

Why Organic…

Here are great reasons to eat organically:

  1. Organic food is the best quality food you can eat because it free from the chemicals used in conventional farming and is grown in rich soil. No food has higher amounts of beneficial minerals, essential amino acids and vitamins than organic food. Organic food contains higher levels of vitamin C and minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and chromium as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants. Organic milk has 68% more Omega 3 essential fatty acids. And nutrients aside, would you rather eat an apple that has been sprayed up to 16 times with as many as 30 different pesticides – or an organic one?
  2. Organic processed foods are better for you because they don’t contain hydrogenated fats. Trans fats have no known nutritional benefits and because of the effect they haven on blood cholesterol, they increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Evidence suggests that the effects of trans fats are worse than the effects of saturated fats.
  3. Organic processed foods contain no artificial additives and preservatives. Some chemical additives that preserve food or add colour or flavour affect individual well being, for example, tartrazine food colouring is linked with hyperactivity. All controversial additives are banned in organic food, which means you avoid a wide range and large quantity of potentially allergenic or harmful additives.
  4. Organic food and farming forbids any inclusion of genetically modified foods or organisms. Genetic modification is an unnecessary and dangerous manipulation of our food supply – not for the benefit of people, but to make profits for the massive chemical companies that are manufacturing them and trying to push them on an unwilling and uninformed people.
  5. Organic farming is better for wildlife and allows bugs, butterflies and birds to thrive on farmland that is not poisoned with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. The UK government’s advisors found the insect, bird and plant life is up to 50% greater on organic farms. Organic farming relies on wildlife to help control pests, so wide field edges are left uncultivated for bugs, bees and birds to flourish.
  6. Intensive agriculture regularly sprays weeds with weed killer, bugs with bug killer and fungi with mould killer. These poisons are in our soil and water and the most far flung parts of the world. Water companies charge us to clean these chemicals out of our drinking water. Organic farming rarely – if ever – uses chemical poisons.
  7. Organic farming provides the best living conditions for farm animals, allowing them to live a more natural , stress-free life.
  8. Unlike conventional farming, which is dependent on fossil fuel-based fertilisers, organic farming relies on compost, green manures and crop rotation to create soil fertility.
  9. Over 20% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from industrialized food and farming. To produce just one ton of nitrogen fertilizer takes one ton of oil and one hundred tones of water – and produces seven tonnes of greenhouse gasses. This is clearly not sustainable. By choosing organic, we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint.
  10. Conventional farming routinely adds antibiotics to animal feed because many animals in conventional farming are stressed and become ill – and to speed animal growth. Antibiotic residues in meat and dairy products could result in the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria that make people sick, thereby reducing the effectiveness of our antibiotics.

I like simple things that make sense. Organic makes sense. I can feel it in my gut. If this makes sense to you, then buy and eat organic food. If eating organically doesn’t suit your budget, then eat organic fruit, vegetables, eggs and dairy. If you have kids, buy what they eat the most of organically – so, if they love carrots and eat them all the time, then buy organic carrots. Make a difference. Do it now.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published a review of research that is not only untrue, but is also strange because the conclusion they reach contradicts research findings within their own report.

They say, ‘there are no important differences in the nutrition content, or any additional health benefits, of organic food when compared with conventionally produced food’. In the comparison, the FSA found a positive difference for organic foods with the following nutrients, to name a few:

  • beta-carotene 53.6%
  • flavanoids 38.4%
  • protein 12.7%
  • magnesium 7.1%
  • phosphorous 6%

The study also found higher levels of beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids in organic meat and dairy products (between 2.1 – 27.8%) compared to non-organic. But the principal author of the report, Dr Alan Dangour, has managed to conclude that these differences are not ‘important’. Well, I say let the consumer decide what is important to their health and well being.

The other point is that the FSA looked at old research, whereas the European Union have just funded an €18m, five-year study, which ended this April. The FSA were asked to include the results of this large and new study, but they did not. And this study definitively concluded that

‘Levels of a range of nutritionally desirable compounds (antioxidants, vitamins) are shown to be higher in organic crops.’

In addition, they found the following about organic foods:

  • fruits and leafy vegetables have up to 90% more Vitamin C
  • levels of essential fatty acids, such as CLA and omega 3 were from 10 – 60% higher
  • grains have 10 – 20% more protein

Putting to one side the scientific analysis around nutrition, organic food is healthier simply because of the poisons it avoids. It was the FSA itself who years ago warned consumers to top, tail and peel carrots to avoid pesticides. And this advice doesn’t address the systemic poisons that are taken up into the plant. Organic meat and dairy products do not contain antibiotic residues.

Many of us buy organic because it is safe food. If you want to eat more fruit and vegetables, the only way you can do it without eating more pesticides, is to buy organic fruit and vegetables. There are no chemical poisons on organic fruits, vegetables or grains. And it is a fact that pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are poisons that are dangerous not only to bugs, bees and birds, but also to our soil, water and us. In 2006, the European Commission said that,

‘Long-term exposure to pesticides can lead to serious disturbances to the immune system, sexual disorders, cancers, sterility, birth defects, damage to the nervous system and genetic damage.’

Would you buy a conventional apple grown in dead soil, sprayed up to 16 times with 30 different chemical poisons? Or would you buy an organic apple grown in nutrient-rich soil, not sprayed and with higher levels of nutrients? It is proven that organic is better for the environment and for wildlife – common sense says it must be better for you. Choose health, choose organic.

There is an old saying that I like: ‘The whiter the bread, the quicker you’re dead.’ If you don’t know it already, it’s surprising and annoying to learn that white flour is bad for your health. It is the mainstay of many people’s diets – and we just don’t need it.

What is white flour?

White flour (wheat flour or enriched wheat flour) is the white powder that is left after stripping all of the nutrients and fiber out of a grain of wheat. Milling removes the best bits of the grain – the wheat germ and the outer bran layer – so out go the vitamins, minerals and most of the dietary fiber. White flour contains 60 per cent of the whole grain – excluding the best part. You are left with poor quality proteins and fattening starch.

But it’s ‘enriched’, which sounds good!

Yeah, don’t be fooled by that. Because of health problems created by eating white flour, in 1941, a law required the addition of a small amount of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and iron. ‘Enriched’ is not an accurate description. The synthetic vitamins and minerals that are added back in does not replace the thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyroxidin, pantothenic acid, folic acid, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium, iron, magnesium and fiber that were lost or destroyed. No white flour product provides anything near 100% of the original goodness in the grain.

Bleaching

Why is white flour so startlingly white? Because it is chemically bleached. When you eat white bread, you are eating residues from whichever bleach the mill has used. White flour is then dried in kilns at high temperatures which kill off any remaining nutriments.Eating mass-produced bread is like eating cardboard in terms of its lack of flavour and dietary benefit.

So why on earth do manufacturers use it/like it?

White flour is so stripped of goodness that it takes forever to go rancid. For them, it is a great material (remember mixing white flour and water as a kid to get glue?) to mix with sugars and other questionable ingredients to serve as breads, cereal, biscuits, cookies, pretzels, cereal bars and snacks to an unsuspecting public. White flour products have very little nutritional value, and in excess can also actually be harmful to our health.

White flour is the other sugar

Most people know that eating too much sugar can lead to blood sugar problems. – but white flour causes the same problems.White flour may not taste sweet, but as far as your blood sugar is concerned, your body can’t tell the difference between a white croissant and a spoonful of sugar. When someone eats refined carbohydrates (white flour, cereals, bread, biscuits, snacks) or simple sugars, they require very little metabolism by the body, so they enter the bloodstream rapidly. This causes a quick rise in blood sugar levels which triggers a similarly rapid release of the body’s sugar-regulating hormone, insulin. This gives you the ‘lift’ followed by the ‘crash’, which makes you feel tired and down. If this happens a long over a long period of time, it may lead to thrombosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, hypoglycemia, type II diabetes, decreased immune function, adrenal stress.

Other problems associated with white flour.

Eating too many products made with white flour can contribute to constipation, as well, if you aren’t getting lots of good fiber in the rest of your diet. This can lead to Crohn’s, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and cancer of the colon. White flour also slows down the body’s metabolism, which can create digestive problems and greater fat storage, so it is also associated with being overweight.

Why do people love it?

I ask myself this. I think there are a couple of reasons. Partly, it is conditioning because a lot of people grew up with the taste and the texture of white bread. It’s what people are used to. Also, the generation of grownups today probably tried not-very-nice whole wheat bread as a kid. Today, there are gorgeous wholemeal loaves available. (I make wholemeal spelt bread that people beg for.) But it is a habit that you can change. As an American, I grew up on Wonderbread, which now I couldn’t possibly bring myself to eat, although I do occasionally enjoy a white croissant in the morning.

Eat whole grains

I say, eat 100 per cent of the grain. Nature, who is smarter than we are, has given us all of the goodness and fiber we need in a grain if we eat the whole thing. Whole grains are better because they:

  • have B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyroxidin, pantothenic acid, folic acid), vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium, iron and magnesium
  • contain high levels of dietary fiber
  • contain unsaturated fatty acids
  • have a low glycaemic index
  • stimulate the metabolism
  • have lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol with higher levels of good HDL cholesterol
  • help keep you full longer
  • lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure, colon cancer and breast cancer
  • lower risk of chronic inflammation (linked to heart disease, osteoporosis, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s)
  • help avoid gallstones
  • keep your bowels regular

Eat wholemeal products and stay thinner

Eating a lot of white flour products encourages the body to store fat because the white flour makes the pancreas secrete insulin, the fat-storing hormone. This also slows down your metabolism and stimulates your appetite, creating an ugly circle. However, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which involved over 74,000 female nurses aged 38-63 years over a 12-year period and was conducted by Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women’s Hospital. The study found that women who ate more whole grains consistently weighted less than those who ate less fibre-rich foods. Also, women eating the highest amount of dietary fibre from whole grains were 49% less likely to gain weight – compared to women eating foods made from refined, white flours. So you don’t have to avoid carbs to lose weight – you have to avoid refined/white flour carbs.

How to reduce white flour

  1. Only eat foods containing white flour 3 times a week.
  2. Switch to wholemeal breads, cereal, pastas, biscuits and snacks. (And don’t only eat wheat; see previous blog ‘Eat Other Grains’.) Just take however, that many breads in England that appear wholemeal, are not. Brown bread and multigrain breads are white flour based. Check the ingredients. You should see wholemeal or wholewheat flour.

What we do at Planet Organic

At Planet Organic, we have a HUGE range of wholegrain products – and not just wheat. Most of our white flour products contain organic white flour which does not go through any bleaching or heating processes to artificially whiten it. We carry some products that contain conventional white flour – but only if it is unbleached.

Whole grain foods to replace white flour foods

Avoid/Reduce Use
bread made with white flour bread made with wholemeal wheat, spelt, rye, buckwheat, quinoa sprouted breads
biscuits made with white flour – sweet and savoury biscuits made with wholemeal wheat, rye, spelt, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, crisp breads, oatcakes, rice cakes
pasta made with white flour pasta made with wholemeal wheat, spelt, Kamut, gluten-free pasta made with rice, corn, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, Japanese noodles made with rice, millet and rice, sweet potato and buckwheat
snacks made with white flour corn tortilla chips, Japanese brown rice crackers, gluten-free pretzels
breakfast cereals muesli, granola, porridge oats, puffed rice, puffed quinoa, flaked wholemeal wheat, spelt, rye, quinoa, corn, rice, millet, barley, buckwheat

Adonai

Information found on Planet Organic website.

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