Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without the use of insecticides (which kill bugs) or herbicides (which kill weeds), these are collectively known as pesticides. There is mounting evidence that organics are really better for us, not just for our bodies, but for the health of our planet as well.
Last year the British Journal of Nutrition published a paper in which they reviewed 170 studies comparing organic to conventional foods. They found that overall organic milk and meat was higher in omega 3 fats. Omega 3s are a group of good fats that have a long list of health benefits, and protect against heart disease and stroke. These healthy oils have anti-inflammatory effects, shown to counteract some of the harmful effects of pollution. More and more studies are demonstrating there is a difference in the nutritional content of organic produce, specifically in the amount of antioxidants, although some show the levels to be comparable. What is very clear is that antioxidants help protect against pollution, so for those of us living in this big city, extra antioxidants are a must. And if organic produce helps supply even a little more, why not? Eating organic certainly won’t harm us. Antioxidants like vitamin c are naturally found in various fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, bell peppers, mango, citrus fruits and kiwis.
In Beijing the key to organic eating involves knowing where to source one’s food. Organic milk is easy to find in international grocery stores. Organic meats on the other hand are tougher to procure. One well known, trustworthy source for organic produce, meats and eggs is tootoo.cn. Their website has an English version which makes it very easy to navigate. They also carry non-organic “green” products, so be sure to read the description carefully when you shop. Fresh organic fruits and vegetables are best purchased from individual farms you know and trust. It can be challenging to do this research, but ask around, some people have already done the legwork. One reputable farm with excellent service is DeRunWu. The owner left his job as a chemist and started organic farming because he wanted to provide clean, safe food for his family and live in harmony with nature. You can find their website at bjchano.com. This farm is truly a labour of love.
From an environmental standpoint there are many positive effects when we support organic farming. Ground water is kept cleaner through the use of environmentally friendly pest control, like crop rotation, symbiotic relationships and organic fertilizers. Organic farming avoids the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) thus taking a cautionary approach for the benefit of the planet. Organic farmers also preserve the biodiversity of our food chain. One simple example is by using heirloom crops which often attract different types of insects, birds and other wildlife.
I’ve shared with you many great reasons to go organic, but if for whatever reason that’s not an option, don’t fret. The key to a healthy diet is having an abundance of vegetables and fruits, regardless of whether they’re organic or not, so keep calm (eat a carrot) and get your health on!
Photo: Courtesy of Melissa Rodriguez