Organic food specialists are still relatively thin on the ground. However, they are gaining popularity and becoming more common.
We’re typically conditioned to believe that organic food is better for us than conventional food, simply because. For many of us, the labelling used on organic food translates into the idea in our heads that it possesses qualities that contribute to our health in a way that regular foods don’t. In other words, they’re ‘super-foods’.
Recently, a review of studies appearing in the British Journal of Nutrition came to the conclusion that organic food is richer in antioxidants than non-organic food. It is also said to be lower in a toxic mineral called cadmium. However, until this, the consensus developed by research said different.
Clearly, more studies are required for researchers to come to a scientific accord. But as we’ll explore, the manner in which organic food is bought, sold and utilized, does create health opportunities of its own. What has now become conventional grocery shopping comes with its nutritional hazards.
Packaged ready meals, which adorn the shelves of supermarket shelves, offer convenience and apparently good value.
But they’re often much higher in added salt and sugar, and perhaps even more calorie-dense than a dish we’ll create in our own kitchen from scratch. Buying from organic farm shops typically entails buying fresh produce to cook meals ourselves, which is generally a healthier practice than eating packaged meals.
As a child, Ohlson had easy access to gardens. Her grandparents maintained a small orchard and grew produce on their farm.
While Ohlson didn’t develop a deeper agricultural interest until she grew up (all those hours harvesting vegetables cut into childhood playtime, after all), she eventually started researching how food is grown. And that research turned into a minor obsession.
Disturb the soil as little as possible
Soil health starts with one basic principle: Don’t disturb the dirt. Sure, soil supports roots and helps hold up plants, but it also serves as a habitat for beneficial microorganisms. “Underneath our feet is this incredible world teeming with billions of microorganisms that have been working in the soil for millions of years,” Ohlson says.
It may sound counter-intuitive—maybe even chaotic, in terms of landscaping—but weeds don’t need to be treated as an enemy. Even uninvited plants can help protect soil and feed the microorganisms at work below the surface. I used to dig up weeds or pull them out by the roots, but now I don’t want to disturb the soil.
Every gardener has heard this one before, and Ohlson is a firm believer as well.
She aims to keep her garden soil engaged, either by covering it in dead plant material or by nurturing live roots in the ground. Cover crops play a dual role. They interact with microorganisms by extending their roots as they grow, they provide extra organic material to protect the soil once they’re harvested. Simply clip cover crops with scissors.
Chamomile is known by almost everyone for it’s ability to ease us into sleep, when steeped into a tea. It also is used for stomach upset. Dry the flowers for long term storage in ziploc bags, or use them fresh steeped into a tea. This is a gentle herb that can be used for children as well. The best variety to grow, and the most commonly used for tea is German Chamomile. This is an annual that grows into a bushy plant about 2 feet tall. It prefers well draining soil, full sun to part shade, and moderate water. Chamomile is easy to grow from seed.
Are you getting enough of this crucial vitamin? An antioxidant, vitamin C promotes wrinkle-free skin, supports good immunity.
And may help the body protect itself against some diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Oranges and other citrus aren’t the only sources. These fall/winter vegetables offer ample amounts too. With cold and flu season around the corner, now is a good time to revamp your crisper drawer with these fresh picks.
Vitamin C can be easily lost in the cooking process, particularly when veggies are boiled and drained. To retain more nutrients, cook into soups or stews, or lightly steam or microwave. Roasting or broiling results in less vitamin retention than other methods, but the results are very delicious.
Frying virtually obliterates vitamin C and other volatile nutrients. Our advice? Avoid frying, vary other cooking methods, and enjoy. Broccoli provides about 100 mg vitamin C per cup (chopped), plus sulforaphane, a potent antioxidant studied for its anticancer effects.
Try lightly steaming and dressing with lemon juice (more C!), olive oil and salt.
A cup of cauliflower contains approximately 93 mg vitamin C. Bonus: You’ll also get several grams of fiber. Steam cauliflower, then mash with miso, sesame oil and ginger; or garlic, olive oil and herbs. A cup of kale contains tons of vitamin A (twice your daily value), vitamin K, trace minerals and 80 mg of vitamin C.
Besides being astronaut-approved, sweet potatoes are a great source of easily digestible fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants such as beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes also contain bioactive compounds such as phenolic acids and anthocyanins, which contribute to the bright orange color of their skin and flesh and boast health benefits as well.
Choosing organic meat and dairy for your kids is the best way to ensure that they’re not exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals like the synthetic hormones given to nonorganic livestock to speed growth and alter reproductive cycles. And choosing organic meat and dairy means your children are not fed meat that was raised on daily doses of antibiotics to speed growth, leading to dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Improving your diet lowers your risk for heart disease in many ways, including helping to lower high cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as preventing obesity and improving the function of your heart and blood vessels. If you are watching your heart health, the following foods should not make it onto your meal plan very often. In fact, if you can cut them out of your diet, your heart will be healthier for it.
It’s no secret that I love to eat. My favorite food of all? Avocados. I’m bananas for them! Avocados are truly one of nature’s little miracle foods and I encourage you to enjoy them several times a week. These little green gems can do so much to help keep you well from head to toe, they’re simply too good to pass up.
The heyday of food-fat-phobia is over. If you’re still avoiding avocados because of some misguided, left-over-from-the-80’s belief that avocados will make you fat, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You’re also missing out on an excellent source of monounsaturated fat – the good fat also found in olive oil – that helps boost heart health.
What’s more, those good fat and fiber-rich avocados can also help curb hunger. Studies indicate that meals which include avocado tend to increase feelings of satiety for longer than those without, so consider adding a few avocado slices to your daily diet to help tame between-meal munchies.