EAT TASTE HEAL: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living
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Why Buy Organic?
ayurveda 101
what's my dosha?
the six tastes
ayurveda detox
ayurvedic resources
why buy organic?
why buy organic?
genetic modification
food additives
refined foods
microwaved foods
water quality
cow's milk
healthy food resources

Why Buy Organic?

Consider two apples sitting side by side: The first is picture-perfect, almost plastic looking, while the other has a few minor blemishes and looks like it was just picked from a tree. Biting into the first apple, you experience a bland flavor and chalky texture. Biting into the second apple, sweet juice literally trickles from the corners of your mouth.

The first apple is a creation of modern industrial farming. Sprayed with pesticides from infancy and then polished and waxed with more chemicals after picking, it harbors a toxic secret. It’s looks flawless but contains residues from these harmful chemicals. The second apple is organic. It didn’t require any chemicals, pesticides, or artificial beauty treatments- just sunlight, rain, and the nurturing forces of Mother Nature.

Rather than settling for the first apple, consumers are beginning to demand the organic variety in record numbers. Organic foods are now the fastest growing sector of the food industry in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Despite being a now-familiar term, many still wonder what “organic” actually means? Organic foods are those produced in rich, fertile soils without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Organic farming also shuns genetic modification, irradiation, and the use of sewer sludge as fertilizer. In addition to organic fruits and vegetables, you can now also buy organically grown grains, legumes, nuts, oils, sugars, teas, wines, and a variety of other foods and beverages.

3 Reasons to Buy Organically

1.) Organic Foods are Better for You

Organic foods are grown in bio-diverse soil that is rich in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients. Recent studies suggest that the nutrient levels in conventionally grown foods, by contrast, have declined over the past twenty-five years as fertile topsoil has eroded.

Currently, little long-term research has been conducted comparing the nutritional contents of organic versus conventionally grown foods. A study in the Journal of Applied Nutrition, however, suggests that organic foods are higher in several essential nutrients. In comparing conventionally grown apples, potatoes, pears, wheat, and sweet corn over a two-year period, the study found that organically grown foods averaged 63 percent higher in calcium, 73 percent higher in iron, 118 percent higher in magnesium, 60 percent higher in zinc and 29 percent lower in mercury than the conventionally raised foods.

According to Ayurveda, organic foods also contain a higher concentration of energy or prana, thus nourishing both mind and body on deeper levels. In eating organic food, you can also feel safe knowing you’re eating clean, vibrant food.

2.) You Support a Healthier Environment

Organic farming is a reciprocal process: We take care of the land and the land takes care of us. This arrangement is in harmony with an understanding of the interconnectedness of all life.

Conventional farming treats land as a commodity. Vegetables are likened to money springing up from the soil. Thousands of consecutive acres are typically planted with the same crop, without giving the soil a chance to regenerate between harvests. This type of mono-crop farming has resulted in depleted topsoil and a consequential deficiency of vital nutrients in our food supply.

When we choose to eat organic foods, on the other hand, we celebrate a natural cycle of life that has taken place for millennia. We also support a sustainable farming method that will allow this cycle to continue for millennia to come.

3.) You Support the Small Farmer

Farming has traditionally been a great art form—women and men living in accordance with nature, getting to know the ins and outs of every plant and season. Over the last three decades, however, multinational corporations have virtually wiped out this ancient tradition. Today, for example, five companies account for 90 percent of the food consumed in the United States.

Organic farming has given rise to a new era of small farmers. A common misconception about these farmers is that the higher retail prices of organic foods bring them great wealth. In reality, most organic farmers work at much smaller, less cost-effective scales and therefore don’t enjoy the same profit margins as larger companies.

Another common misconception holds that organic foods cost significantly more than conventionally grown foods. Some people claim they’d love to buy organic foods, but they can’t afford to double their grocery bills. In reality, prices for organics are closer to 15 to 25 percent higher on average than their conventionally produced counterparts. Fresh produce and dairy products, however, may be higher, depending on the store and season.

One way you can verify this for yourself is to price five regular items in your supermarket against comparable items in the health food aisle of the store (or in your local health food store). You may find that you can only afford select organic items. This is fine. Even buying one organic staple each week represents a conscious decision to improve the quality of the food you eat. One way to cut prices dramatically is to buy directly from your local farmers. Often, you will end up paying less than you would for conventionally grown items. As organic farming becomes more widespread, the prices of these foods should also drop, making them available to a broader spectrum of society.

Through buying organic foods, you directly support the small farmer. Even if you buy items from a larger organic food company, you still support organic farming as a movement. This, in turn, helps small organic farmers, since larger companies frequently will also buy their raw materials from a number of smaller producers. As organic foods have grown in popularity, however, huge conglomerates have begun to create subsidiaries dedicated to tapping into this profitable market. If you prefer not to support such conglomerates, do a little research to determine what companies are behind the products you’re buying.

Organic Labeling

Until recently, a number of private and state agencies have regulated organic standards in the United States. In October 2002, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented a set of organic labeling guidelines. These are currently the most extensive organic labeling standards in the world.

Some may say they’re also the most confusing guidelines. To help you untangle them, here’s a simplified summary of what the government-issued terms mean.

USDA Guidelines for the Organic Label

“100 Percent Organic”:
-Must contain only organically produced ingredients, excluding water and salt.
-The USDA seal may be used on these products.

-Must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients, excluding water and salt.
-The USDA seal may be used on these products.

“Made with Organic Ingredients”
-Must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients, excluding water and salt.
-May list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups on the main display panel.
-The USDA seal may not be used on these products; however, the certifier’s seal or mark may be used along with the percentage of organic ingredients.
- Non-organic ingredients (30 percent or less) may not be genetically modified, bio-engineered, irradiated, or fertilized with sewage sludge.
-Must not contain added sulfites or nitrates, except wine, which may contain added sulfur dioxide.

Products made “with some organic ingredients”
-May contain less than 70 percent organic ingredients, excluding water and salt.
-May only identify organic ingredients in the ingredient statement and may not use the USDA organic seal or a certifier’s seal or mark. When organic ingredients are identified, the total percentage of organic ingredients must also be given.

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