I’ve been running my global organic cooking school for over 14 years and have witnessed the rise of organics and also the trends that follow. Here are a few of my observations and points of interest for our Healthtalks audience.
Organic agriculture does not use synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers and may actually promote the production of flavonoids.
Conventional Agriculture depends on the heavy applications of chemical fertilizers, chemical pesticides and irrigation which may inhibit the natural production of cancer-fighting flavonoids in plants.
The Soil Association UK believes that organic farming is a viable alternative. Organic farming works with nature to produce food without relying on chemicals to meet consumer demand. The Food Standards Agency recognises this as well: “Organic food contains fewer residues of the pesticides used in conventional agriculture, so buying organic is one way to reduce the chances that your food contains these pesticide residues.” In the long run, the problems pesticides cause will only be solved when all farming and food is organic.If you are concerned about pesticide residues in your food, buy organic.
Organic wholefoods have a quality, a vitality that refined or processed foods lack. In the Eastern traditions, there is a universal concept of the energy that flows through all things. Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to this energy as chi or qi, the Ayurvedic system of India calls it prana and the Japanese call it ki. In the West we know this as a life force or bioenergy. This energy which I’ll label as chi, is an important component of all foods. The chi quality of a living food is maintained in a wholefood to a much greater extent than in a food that has been fragmented or over processed.
Both Australia and the US boast some of the highest recorded figures of obesity and degenerative disease due to a daily intake of processed foods, where the minerals and vitamins have been extracted during the refining process. For example, the alevrone or outer layer of grains contain polyphenols called lignans which are cancer preventing, yet when these are removed, the full nutritional component of the food is no longer valid and much cancer has been linked to an excessive intake of the refining of foods such as these.
The refinement of foods results on over processing by our bodies and can lead to the onset of degenerative disease. Refined or fragmented carbohydrates, such as white flour and sugar are assimilated within the body faster than their whole counterparts. This means that they are converted into to glucose, the body’s energy fuel, more rapidly. If the body does not require fuel at that time it will happily store the excess in fat tissues, leading to weight gain and other potential health hazards.
Organic farming was developed in the first part of the 20th century in Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. It was in the 1980s however, that organic farming really took off, when the production method continued to develop, along with consumer interest in its products.
There was a major increase in the number of producers and new initiatives got under way for processing and marketing organic products. This situation conducive to the development of organic farming, was very largely due to growing consumer concern in being supplied with wholesome, environment-friendly products.
Studies show that conventional farming has removed an average of:
- 29% of the vital ingredients originally found in meat
- 20% of the vital nutrients originally found in fruit
- 40% of the vital nutrients originally found in vegetables that our grandparents ate.
SOURCE: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, American Chemical Society (the world’s largest scientific society) Feb. 26, 2003 1940 vs 1990′ McCance and Widdowson,1940, 1991, ‘The Composition of Food’, RSC, MAFF
The nutrients abundant in organic food are flavonoids are plant by-products believed to protect it from insects, bacterial & fungal infection and photo-oxidation. These plant chemicals are also thought to be useful in humans, helping to prevent cancer and heart disease and combating age-related neurological dysfunctions. Flavonoids work by protecting the cell against damage caused by active oxygen radicals. Oxygen radicals can cause cancer and are also associated with cardiovascular disease and age-related nerve cell damage.
Biodynamics is a science of life forces, a recognition of the basic principles at work in nature, and an approach to agriculture, which takes these principles into account to bring about balance and healing. Biodynamics part of the work of Rudolf Steiner, is known as anthroposophy – a new approach to science, which integrates precise observation of natural phenomena, clear thinking and knowledge of the spirit. It offers an account of the spiritual history of the Earth as a living being and describes the evolution of the constitution of humanity and the kingdoms of nature. Sustainable farming techniques that rely on phases of the moon and other specific environmental guidelines laid down by Steiner. All aspects of this agricultural method are pesticide free including the soil.
On the other hand…
Sex spokeswoman Bettina Arndt reckons:
“The organic food industry is booming with ever more people deluded into thinking that paying two or three times more for organic food products will provide them with healthier, safer food.
With the nonsensical claims made about these food products, it is surprising how few Australian scientists, nutritional experts, or just people with common sense speak out about this subject in Australia. It makes no sense to revert to practices used a couple of centuries ago such as using animal manure as the major fertiliser for food crops and refusing to pasteurise milk and fruit juices.” Courier Mail April 17, 2007
So what do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts about organic vs convention, so drop us a line here at healthtalks.