I keep seeing articles claiming that many organics are a waste of money. Even health guru Dr. Mercola (whom I tend to agree with on most issues) wrote an article on it. The advice is to buy conventional (non-organic) for the EWG’s Clean 15 list or for fruits & veggies with thick skins/those you peel to save money. What this advice says is that the rate of pesticides found on produce should be the ONLY determining factor when deciding between organic and non-organic. While pesticide levels are extremely important, it is concerning that people may automatically choose conventional for the “cleaner” foods. The writers, many of whom are nutritionists, are failing to point out the OTHER reasons why organic makes sense.
Contemplating between organic and conventional? Here are 6 OTHER reasons why organics make sense:
ONE: More Vitamins & Minerals – There is evidence suggesting that conventionally grown produce may be less healthy than it once was due to the “dilution effect.” Why? Produce is grown with fertilizer for desirable traits (firmness, color, increased size, etc.) instead of optimal vitamin & mineral content. Essentially, produce is larger with more “dry matter,” but doesn’t proportionately contain as many nutrients. You have to eat more to get the same amount of nutrients.
Last week, the California Assembly Health Committee passed a bill requiring the labeling of all genetically engineered salmon entering and sold within the state. Interestingly, genetically modified fish is not on sale anywhere in the United States. This move was a preemptive strike against the possible FDA approval of genetically engineered (GE) salmon.
In September 2010, the FDA found that there was not enough data to determine if AquaBounty’s GE salmon was safe for consumers or the fish themselves. AquAdvantage , the fish under consideration, is Atlantic salmon that has been given a gene from the ocean pout, an eel-like fish, which allows the salmon to grow twice as fast as a traditional Atlantic salmon. It also contains a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon and reportedly requires 25% less food.
There are a whole host of concerns surrounding GE salmon which are outlined in CA Assembly Bill No. 88. One major concern is that the FDA’s current review of GE salmon does not adequately consider the potential environmental effects and health effects associated with genetically engineered salmon, including, but not limited to, risks to native salmon populations and other freshwater and marine species. The bill expresses that “accurate and truthful labeling to describe whether or not salmon is genetically engineered is the easiest and most protective practice to provide additional transparency in the state’s seafood supply chain so that individuals may protect their health and California’s environment.”
Also included as concerns in the bill:
Unlike the European Union, as of today, genetically modified foods are not required to be labeled as such in the United States. The FDA has indicated that it will not require labeling of GE fish if approved which is in line with their position that labeling should not “suggest or imply that GM/GE foods are in any way different from other foods”. It seems, however, that the FDA’s position does not seem in line with public opinion. According to the bill,
“Public opinion polls indicate that 95 percent of the public want labeling of genetically modified foods and that nearly 50 percent of the public would not eat seafood that has been genetically engineered.”
Be Food Smart is based in California and we are surprised and encouraged by our state’s progressive position on this important subject. While the bill will not prevent GE salmon from being approved or possibly entering our wild fish populations, at least Californians will be able to make an educated purchase at our grocery stores and fish markets. The next step for the bill is the Appropriations Committee before being taken up by the full Assembly. Let’s hope it is approved and adopted in other states across our country. It we can’t have protection at a federal level, we need to look to our state government for solutions. We thank Assembly Member Jared Huffman for introducing the bill and the Center for Food Safety for co-sponsoring.
Over the weekend, I took my daughter to the Ty Warner Sea Center. Between petting the sharks and holding the hermit crabs, we passed by their exhibit on consuming sustainable fish. As a part of the exhibit, they made available these handy little wallet guides to help make seafood choices when shopping or dining easier. The Monterey Bay Aquarium created the guides and they update them each year. They also have a Sushi Guide which I grabbed too.
Most health professionals will tell you that consuming fish is healthy. What you’ll learn through these guides and other resources is, that unfortunately, many varieties are overfished or are caught/farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment. In addition, health concerns surrounding mercury and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) exposure are very legitimate. Below is a list of resources to help you make the best seafood choices. Want the cliff notes? Skip to the bottom and see the Super Green List of seafood.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a whole section of their website devoted to helping people find the best seafood options.
The EDF supplied the containment information for the Seafood Watch guides. Their site features:
Eating Well has put together their own Seafood Guide. It is a long list of fish and for each type, shows:
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has identified seafood that is “Super Green,” meaning that it is good for human health and does not harm the oceans. This list highlights options that are currently on the Seafood Watch “Best Choices” list, are low in environmental contaminants (below 216 parts per billion [ppb] mercury and 11 ppb PCBs) and are good sources of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (at least the daily minimum of 250 milligrams). This list is considered the “best of the best” and was last updated September 2010.
Image: Ramon Grosso