• Organics Demystified

    September 10, 2010

    grace_food_final.jpgI care about my health. Taking care of my body is one of my strongest values. One of the eight limbs of yoga (ancient guidelines) is ahimsa, which simply means non-harming. I am very conscious of the food choices that I make and whether or not they are benefiting or doing damage to my body. I know that choosing a dark, leafy green salad to eat will give me more energy and vitality than eating an ice cream cone. Don’t get me wrong, I have cravings for ice cream all the time, but I understand how my food choices affect my overall well-being, and I do my best to choose accordingly.   

    I also believe that there is energy in everything, and the more healthy a plant or vegetable is, the more it will increase my prana, or life force, with it’s energy. One of the farmers that Tina met emphasized that the health below ground in the soil will transfer to the health of everything above the ground. So the healing energy of organically grown plants transfers to those people that consume them. More healing energy? Yes, please!

    We all know that foods sprayed and treated with pesticides can be toxic for our bodies. The FDA’s organic standards help us to determine which foods are safer to eat. But I can’t afford to buy everything that I eat organic, and not all foods that I eat are sold with an organic option. What’s a yogini to do? I was inspired by Tina’s informative posts re-capping her barnstorming adventures in Vermont to share one of the ways that I choose which foods that I buy organic and which I buy conventional.   

    Lucky for me (and you!), the US Department of Agriculture tests pesticides for us! Some of you may have heard of the list called “The Dirty Dozen” that tells us which fruits and vegetables are the most contaminated. I encourage you to purchase these completely organic, or to steer clear of them altogether (if you can’t afford or can’t find them organic):


    • peaches
    • strawberries
    • apples
    • dormant blueberries
    • nectarines
    • cherries
    • imported grapes


    • celery
    • sweet bell peppers
    • spinach
    • kale
    • collard greens
    • potatoes

    I’m not going to lie and say that every single time that I purchase these foods, I buy organic, but that is absolutely my preference.

    Another really helpful tool is the list of the “Clean 15”, which tells us which foods are the least likely to test positive for pesticides. Gobble up lots of these fresh foods with no guilt!

    There’s a handy dandy iPhone app of the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 for all you Apple lovers out there (I just bought my 1st MacBook, so I can’t say I’m not one of them…just no iPhone yet!). You can also print out the guide. That way, next time you’re at the grocery store or your local farmer’s market, you won’t have to dig deep into the drudges of your memory to figure out which foods are on which list! It can be confusing! So what happens if I forget my list at home? You won’t be struck down by a lightning bolt (I hope), but one of the general guidelines that I like to go by is that the thicker the skin on the fruit or veggie, the less contaminated it will hopefully be. For example, it’s pretty obvious the difference in skin between a strawberry (those toxins can soak right in) and a grapefruit (thicker cell walls for the chemicals to soak through). So use your common sense here.

    Another important thing to consider is that as consumers, we have the power to sway which businesses thrive by where we spend our money. That being said, if you put more of your pennies toward buying organic produce, you will be protecting the livelihood of all those awesome organic farmers that work so hard to give us food that nurtures and sustains! I know it may seem like spending a dollar here and a dollar there isn’t going to make much of a difference (http://www.starrbrite.com/starfish.html), but your contribution adds up with everyone else’s and ends up making a BIG difference after all!

    I feel that I am respecting my body and respecting the Earth when I choose to eat organic and support organic farmers!

    For another perspective on eating organic, visit Gina at Choosing Raw (another one of my favorite food blogs) who wrote a great post about choosing organic foods!

    Be kind to your body. It’s the only one you’ve got!

    Namaste- the divine light in me honors the divine light in all of you. And I honor the light in Tina that glows so brightly here on Carrots ‘N’ Cake. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my ideas in this creative, health-conscious space.

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    { 28 comments… read them below or add one }

    Christie {Honoring Health} September 10, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Great information! Thanks so much for the well written post!


    Jessica @ How Sweet September 10, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks for listing out the dirty dozen! I know of some but am always forgetting!


    Heather (Heather's Dish) September 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    it’s so great to get as much info on organics as possible…definitely helps justify the price tag!


    Christine September 10, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Hmmm, sometimes I wonder though, since the organic sections of supermarkets tend to be smaller, might the food not be as fresh picked? Conventional probably has higher turnover==fresher==more vitamins?!

    I just feel like you can’t win sometimes! Even if you grow it yourself, somethings just grow better (and more nutritiously) in certian places. Then there’s the shipping! Oh well, do the best you can.


    Elise September 10, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    thanks for the info! i’m always unsure of what to buy organic/what is okay not to. although, i’m pretty sure i got this info years ago…when i ignored all the ‘helpful’ information my mother tried to bestow upon me. apparently my mother did know best after all ;)


    Grace @ Front Porch Yoga September 10, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I didn’t realize I was supposed to write a personal introduction for my guest post, and I’m thinking it’s unclear to all you readers who the “I” is in this post because of that fact. So, I’m Grace Gravelle, a loyal reader of Carrots N Cake. I write about my adventures as a yoga teacher and student at http://www.frontporchyoga.com
    Nice to meet you all!
    Oh- and that’s me in the picture with the organic veggies :)


    Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) September 10, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Great post! Great information!


    Lisa September 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks for the info. Organics are sometimes confusing. I try to buy all my produce at the local Farmer’s Markets. But really–I know nothing about organic!


    Stacey September 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I love this post :) I try to eat organic when I can–it’s scary to think of some of the chemicals that are put into foods! Organic can be pricier, so my boyfriend and I pick and choose what organics to buy. Thanks for the insight!


    Heather September 10, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Great info, I went and printed out the wallet sized Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 to keep with me when I grocery shop.


    Stepf @ dailyspark September 10, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    @Grace @ Front Porch Yoga:
    Imagine my surprise when I saw a familiar face on Carrots N Cake. Grace, this is a great post! Thanks for sharing. I actually just reconnected with your blog a few nights ago. I was deeply in need of some yogic inspiration. A couple of minor injuries and plenty of personal stress have shaken my practice. Thanks for the inspiration at your site and here!


    Wendy (Give Love Create Happiness) September 10, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Being conscious of your food choices is a wonderful thing! Same goes with everything really :)


    Gina September 10, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Great post! Glad to hear about the iPhone app. I can never remember them all when I’m at the grocery store.


    LindseyAnn September 10, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for this! I downloaded the app you talked about! (I’m a new Apple user myself- I have a 16GB iPod Touch) Even better–it’s one of the free ones! :D


    Chelsea @ Strawberry Sweat September 10, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Great information. I have heard of the Dirty Dozen but I never knew exactly which types of produce were included. Thanks!


    Meryl September 10, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Some of you mention quality of freshness from organics. I work on an organic farm and all of the things we sell are fresh. Parishable foods simply don’t last that long off the vine. Especially without special chemicals and gasses to preserve them for a long trip. That’s why you want to buy your organics local. There is a reason organics cost more and part of it is because of the labor required. Farming is HARD. But the food is tasty and I feel good about what I’m doing. I love when customers thank us at the market for doing what we do. If the organic produce is not fresh, if is visible that it’s been sitting around. I suggest farmers markets and to eat what’s fresh that season. Mmmm winter squash and beets….


    Rachel September 10, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Great post about organics. Thanks! One thing though…a lot of small farms (especially at local farm markets) are not certified organic, however they may be using organic/sustainable methods. The certification process takes a lot of time and money, so many farmers choose not to do it. Don’t be afraid to ask the farmers about their methods – it is your right to know how your food was grown (Tyson and Perdue may disagree…)!


    Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) September 10, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Great info.. thanks for posting :)

    potatoes always interest me because I think they wouldn’t be on the list. Good to know that they are!


    Cynthia (It All Changes) September 10, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    This was so helpful. Thank you. One thing I like about buying organic is it forced me to think more about how much of the produce I was really going to eat. Knowing that it would perish more quickly and waste more money was a big reason to not over purchase like I am prone to doing.


    Holly @ couchpotatoathlete September 10, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks for the nice post!

    I do buy organic whenever possible, and I do my absolute best to get the dirty dozen organic at all times. I have asked at my farmers market if food is grown organically and they have always been very honest in their answers!


    Kate @ Spoonful of Vigor September 10, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks for the hint about the app! I just downloaded it, and I envision grocery shopping being much easier now :)


    Amber K September 10, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Grace, thanks for introducing yourself in the comments! I was wondering who the elusive “I” was! :)


    stacey-healthylife September 10, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Oh the dirty dozen. I just learned about it recently.


    The Wife of a Dairyman September 10, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I think it’s great that you really look into buying only produce you consider important to buy organic and still buy the others-conventionally.
    I also wrote a blog post on the Dirty Dozen list and just two months ago a new website created by the Alliance for Food & Farming came out with a new report challenging the Dirty Dozen claim. If you’re interested in the report, you can find it on my post here…

    Thanks so much:)


    Hannah September 10, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    What are “dormant” blueberries?


    Brenda September 10, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Great info! I’ve been buying local and/or organic since seeing the movie Food INC.


    Jay September 11, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Whatev. I buy non-organic veggies/fruit and am thriving.


    OrganicTrade September 13, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Thanks so much for your support for organic.The Organic Trade Association wouldjust caution people against basing their organic purchases on the list of items outlined in this blog. Doing so misses an important point: buying organic is about more than keeping pesticides out of our bodies. It is about supporting a system of sustainable agricultural management that promotes soil health and fertility through the use of such methods as crop rotation and cover cropping, which nourish plants, foster species diversity, help combat climate change , prevent damage to valuable water resources, and protect farmers and farmers’ families from exposure to harmful chemicals. In this sense, buying organic is a commitment to the bigger, more complex picture of which our personal health is a part.

    In thinking about which organic products to buy, consider choosing organic versions of the products you buy most. Whether that is milk, produce, or personal care products, buying organic will not only help reduce your exposure to harmful synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, but also support a system of agricultural management that is great for the planet.

    Organic. It’s worth it.


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