Before we get into this, let me just state for the record that I learned the following through an accredited, well-regarded, professional institute — and am not just spouting pseudo-facts I dug up somewhere on the interwebs. That said, I am not going to confuse you with technical terms or overwhelm you with information that probably won’t hold much meaning in your regular, day-to-day life. (That’s not what this site is for.) Instead, I’ll give you my honest, simple assessment of the facts — and pop some links down below for you to check out.
So basically, if you compare life from 100 years ago to life now, it looks a lot different. Agreed? No big surprises there.
Back in the early 1900s, we had less environmental pollution, very few processed foods on the market, healthier soils, different farming practices, less chemicals were being used, plus most (if not all) of your food was locally sourced. In fact, you likely grew or raised some of it yourself. The general food supply was organic.
Still with me?
Nowadays, most of our food is shipped in from other countries (and left to ripen in transit), most people eat fast food several times a week, seasonal fruits and vegetables are chemically preserved so that they’re available for sale all year-round*, most farmers use a regular cycle of chemical pesticides, antibiotics, and fertilizers, GMOs (genetically modified organisms) proliferate our food supply, our standard western diet consists of mainly processed and bleached foods, and most of us cannot decipher 90% of the (chemical) ingredients on food labels. The general food supply is, without a doubt, no longer organic.
Okay, fair enough… But why should you care?
In a nutshell, our modern food supply is much, much less nutrient-dense than it was when our great-great grandparents were kids — we’ve even touched on some of the reasons why above. (Trust me when I say, though, that we’ve barely scratched the surface on that one.) This means that you, the consumer of said food from said modern food supply, are literally receiving less nutritional bang for your buck along with quite a few invisible, nasty, unexpected surprises.
The human body is designed to take in and use essential nutrients (the ones it cannot make on its own), along with other good stuff like fibre and water, in order to function optimally. And where do you imagine these essential nutrients are supposed come from…? You guessed it: through the food we eat! When the-powers-that-be start messing around with the food supply, they also start messing around with people’s health — and inevitably invite chronic illness and disease to the party.
Now, I promised at the beginning of this post that I’m not here to overwhelm you, so let’s just focus (for the moment) on how to avoid as much pesticide contamination as possible, starting with your daily intake of fresh produce (a.k.a. your fruits and veggies). Pesticides all on their own (without even looking at any other factors) are responsible for doing some pretty scary stuff to your body on a chemical level, such as tinkering with your hormones, causing organ toxicity, and even promoting cancer.
If you want more nutrient-dense, GMO-free food choices,
start investing your grocery dollars in organics.
You might be thinking, “Are all foods equally affected by modern farming practices, and pesticide use in particular?” I know I wondered about that. Luckily, this was recently covered in class.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) there are 15 fruits and veggies you don’t have to worry about as much, and 12 that you should literally avoid at all costs unless they are organic. (Organic produce is definitely more expensive, but just keep in mind that your health, and that of those you love, is so completely worth it!) You may have even heard of these lists on the news — they have pretty catchy titles!
If you are unable to afford a purely organic diet (like most of us, let’s face it), these lists will help advise you about where you can be investing your money on safer, better quality produce. Your homework this week is to check out both lists and to write them down or save them in your smartphone for future use at the grocery store. It’s a great place to start, and it does make a difference.
*Oh, but before I go…! My instructor pointed out something to our section the other night that gave pause for my second facepalm moment in as many weeks. He asked, “When is apple season?” We all chimed in, agreeing that it was mainly during September. He then, with his trademark I’m-about-to-tell-you-something-you’re-gonna-kick-yourself-for grin, follows up with something to the effect of, “Where do you think the apples you buy in July come from?” Yup. Simple but shocking, eh? They sit in warehouses full of gas that “preserves” them for sale throughout the year until the next growing season’s crops become available for storage. Talk about nutrient depleting!
For more useful health hacks, click here.
Creative Commons Photo Credits:
“Mohamed, Entrepreneur” courtesy of USAID Egypt
“Good Farm Box, Week of August 13-19” courtesy of Susie’s Farm
“Apple” courtesy of Open Grid Scheduler
“Invert Sugar?” courtesy of Dan4th Nicholas