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10 Myths About Organic Food Debunked

10 Myths About Organic Food Debunked

Last Monday as we wandered around the streets of Naples after lunch, we noticed yet anther green, organic and bio food shop. We also noted the layout and the colors which were mainly green, of course. We commented on the pricey food and then got to wondering whether this organic food is healthier and if it really protects the environment. When I got home, I did some research and this is what I found.

Here are the top 10 myths about organic food that are widely believed.

1. Organic farming protects wildlife

You hear people saying it all the time. Yes, organic food does not use pesticides or herbicides therefore it is not damaging the soil or wildlife. The only problem is that this type of farming needs lots of land which is already scarce. We would have to cut down 10 million square miles of forest if the world decided to adopt organic food globally. The fact is that modern farming has actually saved about 15 million square miles of wildlife habitat.

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2. Organic farming will save the world from hunger

If we think that this type of farming will save us from hunger, we should think again. Yes, it is true that it may be better to avoid pesticides and herbicides in an ideal world. But reducing food production will only make less food available for the hungry people in this world. It costs three times as much as traditionally produced food. This is a controversial topic. Reading Denis Avery’s book Saving The Planet With Pesticides and Plastic on the benefits of high-yield farming is an eye opener.

3. Organic farming never uses pesticides

The fact is that organic farmers also use pesticides and fungicides so you cannot get away from that. Did you know that there are 20 chemicals which are approved by the US Organic Standards and these are used all the time in organic food production? The alarming thing is that these are not so effective as the synthetic ones used in conventional farming. So, it may well be that organic food contains more chemicals than is really necessary. Some estimates say that organic farming uses double the amount of copper and sulphur organic fungicides than conventional farming!

4. Organic food is more nutritious

The bad news is that this is not true at all. Various studies have shown that organic corn may have more flavonioids than normal corn. But there are lots of studies that show there is no nutritional advantage in eating organic food. The sad fact is that nutritional value really depends on the shelf life of vegetables. It may be organic but if the spinach has been in the store for a week, then it has lost 50% of its valuable foliate content.

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5. Organic food is safer

Many people think that organic always means safer and healthier. Unfortunately, this is not always true. Let us take an infamous organic pesticide called rotenone. Yes, it is organic because it is extracted from the roots and stems of subtropical plants. The only problem is that researchers found that it killed off the mitochondria which are like energy powerhouses for our cells. It was also linked to possibly causing Parkinson’s disease. This is just one example, but overall, lots of plants have toxic mixes of their own bacteria and fungi. Just because they do not have chemical name which is impossible to pronounce does not necessarily mean they’re totally safe for us.

6. Organic farming is always ecological

This may be true in a few cases but look how statistics and labels have been manipulated to satisfy this thirst for organic ingredients. Let us take the case of organic milk. There has been such a demand that giant food companies who boast that they are producing organic milk actually import the ingredients to make up the shortfall. How ecological is that and who is controlling the source, quality, purity, and safety of these imported ingredients?

7. Organic food is cleaner

Whether the food is grown organically or not, it is still at risk of containing the deadly E.coli bacteria which is very difficult to treat with antibiotics now. People foolishly think that organic food is somewhat safer from all these germs. In fact, they are not and they need to be washed just as vigorously as vegetables which have been produced on a high-yield farming unit. In a ten year period from 1999-2001, over 10,000 people suffered food poisoning from E.coli infected food and organic foods were to blame in many of these cases.

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8. Organic labels are a guarantee of quality

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has started an organic certification program (the USDA Organic Label) which helps producers meet the high standards when they use this seal. But the label needs to be treated with a certain caution and scepticism as pointed out by Peter Laufer in his book, Organic: A Journalist’s Quest to Discover the Truth Behind Food Labeling. Investigating the origin of certain organic foods was extremely difficult, Laufer found.

9. Organic food products are carfully inspected

Yes, organic farms, staff, transportation and other relevant production processes are inspected and their goods are then certified. The only problem here is that the process is often poorly carried out and there are certifiers who are much less rigorous and less expensive to hire. There are many conflicts of interest so there is no 100% guarantee that every producer of organic cereal or apple you buy has been properly inspected. Organic accreditation by the USDA is plagued by competing certifying agents.

10. Organic food demand is growing

There are powerful lobbies at work which claim that the demand for organic food is growing at an exponential rate. In the UK, only 1 percent of food sold there can be considered as organic. The Soil Association in the UK is claiming that it is pursuing sustainable development. However, many claim that it is nothing more than a trading group. Maybe there is a conflict of interests here.

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It is impossible to say whether organic food is automatically safer and more nutritious than the conventional food produced on farms. It is a minefield. As we have seen, many myths abound and there are many false claims made. There’s nothing inherently wrong with organic, but you need to take that label with a grain of salt, or two!

Featured photo credit: Take Back Your Health Conference Los Angeles 2015/Flickr via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

1. Take the scenic route.

Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

2. Distract yourself.

No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

3. Listen to music or podcasts.

There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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4. Bring a friend.

Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

5. Accessorize.

There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

6. Compete.

A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

7. Relax.

The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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