Wednesday, December 3, 2008

100% organic

"Organic" is a buzz word these days, and it seems everyone has an opinion about it. Some people feel organic is better and healthier than conventional, while others feel there is no difference.

One doctor set on a quest to see, well, if he could really be
100% organic. Dr. Greene, a pediatrician in California, decided to eat everything organic for three years to see if his health would improve.

This experiment proved to be a little more challenging than Dr. Greene thought. In order to complete this test, one of the main things he had to do was to cut back his consumption of meat due to the high cost and availability. Besides shopping at places like Whole Foods, he also went to local farmer's markets, and joined a Community Support Agriculture group. Dining out, he had to call in advance to find whether a particular restaurant had organic items.

After three years,
he hasn't decided yet whether he will continue on the organic diet, however, Dr. Greene says he has more energy and wakes up earlier. Apparently, his urine is also a brighter yellow, signifying the consumption of more vitamins and minerals.

I think this is an interesting experiment, but certainly not one I would take on. For starters, just the shear cost would be difficult, let alone really "searching" for your food. It almost reminds me of the hunter-gatherer type days with a little more obsession involved. For some foods, I do think organic is the better way to go since I really don't want to ingest x, y, z pesticides and hormones. However, actually adhering to it would be so inconvenient and financially difficult unless money grew on trees. ;-)

So, the question is, if money was no object, would you go all organic? Or would it just not be worth the hassle at all?


Rachel said...

If money were no object? Sure. I am wary of chemicals in general, and even if they aren't unhealthy or dangerous, at least eating organic gives me peace of mind. Plus, its environmentally-friendly, too. Those chemicals really take a toll on environmental health and as an environmentalist, I'd love to be a better steward of the planet. Of course, this is assuming that along with cost, access and availability of organic foods also improves. It's difficult enough being a vegetarian in a meat-eating world. One of the reasons I am not vegan is because it requires an inordinate scrutiny of foods eaten and I find that it triggers past eating disordered behaviors for me.

Cammy said...

From an environmental/scientific standpoint, organic looks good on paper but really it doesn't live up to the hype. It has become more and more of an industry, and they do use chemicals, they're just restricted on what they can use. Most importantly, an inordinate amount of fossil fuels go into shipping the stuff to health food stores all over the country, I read somewhere that if you buy organic lettuce, it took 650 calories of oil to get every 1 calorie of that lettuce to the store, on average. Basically, organic is not bad, definitely not worse than other stuff, and it's a nice luxury, but it couldn't feed a majority of our population without major habitat destruction because of lower yielding crops. Do I like the regular, pesticide-ridden stuff either? Nope. Just no easy answers....have you read Michael Pollan's books?

Anonymous said...

If money were no object, sure, I'd do as much organic stuff as possible. I don't think I'd do it 100%, though. I don't know if I could keep up with that much rigidity without going crazy.

Kim said...

Hmm, this is a tough question. I still find myself very influenced by what I'm told is "good" for me. I feel like, at this point, any restriction on my diet (ie "all organic") hits a little too close to the ED home. I'm sure the pesticides won't shave too many years off my life...and it's definitely better for me to consume pesticide-covered stuff than nothing at all :) Right? :)

Anonymous said...

Organic is a big deal, and of course I do local organic.. all of it is just when you can. The 100% thing is way too restrictive I think. Dumping chemicals in the ground isn't good for the environment but the way things are, you can't be perfect. You do your best and that means everything.

Tiptoe said...

Thanks for all the great commentary.
Everyone has made good points.

Rachel, peace of mine means a lot to me too. You are right that the availability of organic is difficult.

Cammy, yes, I've read Pollan's books, and he makes great points. After reading In Defense of Food, I felt a bit guilty for not being totally organic. I have read the research you said. I think we do forget all the shipping costs and all.

Charlynn, I hear you on the rigidity.

Kim, certainly, you must do what is best for you. I can definitely see with EDs how being restrictive in any sense can be a set back.

Anon, I agree with you about just doing the best you can. I think that's mostly my philosophy in terms of the organic/conventional debate.

Kyla said...

I have a lot of questions about his "experiment" - maybe he was healthier because he actually changed his diet? As in, did he eat as many fruits and veggies as he did before the diet? Plus, statistically you need more than one person for an experiment. I'm not sure if I would go all organic if I could. I'm torn between human rights and environmental rights. It's better for the environment, which I absolutely support, but usually it means that farmers have to work harder for a disproportional pay raise and they have to do literally backbreaking work in the fields that machines and pesticides could otherwise do. Then we often have to ship this organic food all over the world, using up fossil fuels. So I think that organic is not completely wonderful, though it does have its virtues.

Kyla said...

ps - readign through these posts, I see Pollan is mentioned. Have you read The Omnivor's Dilemma? It's on my bookshelf and I've read bits of it, but I worried it might be triggering. From an ED perspective, do you feel it contributes to obsessions about food? Or do you think it's okay for an EDed person to read? Thanks!

Rachel said...

RE: Pollan - I've read only parts of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" but I have "In Defense of Food" and even got to meet Pollan at a local book signing once. He can be kind of extreme and he really doesn't address class issues that hinder his promoted diet and I wish he stressed vegetarianism more, but overall, I'm largely in agreement with him.

Sarah said...

Kyla, I didn't find the book triggering because it reinforced the way I already eat rather than instructing me to eat a different way.

That being said, my dietician would like me to eat a different way and be a bit more flexible about what I put in my mouth--i.e., it doesn't ALL have to be a beneficial or "health" food.

The mantra he introduces in the book is "eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much." He never defines what "too much" is, and he actually talks a lot about loosening up our nervousness and hyper-vigilance around food and diet, which I think you might like, but then he does boil it down to not eating certain things (i.e. "things your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food, like gogurt.") If you would find any of that message triggering, don't read the book.

Also, I skipped all the meat-industry stuff because I don't eat meat, but that could be gross and triggering if you do.

Side note: this is my first comment after reading for a few days. Tiptoe, I enjoy the blog very much!

Tiptoe said...

Kyla, I certainly understand the difficulty the environmental and human rights issue when it comes to organic. I think a lot of us feel similarly.

As for the Dr., other factors were left out of the article, so who knows for sure. The one thing I did like, or at least it wasn't mentioned was that the Dr. did this as a way to be healthy, and not about obsession. I am curious whether he did develop and obsession or had any orthorexic thinking at all?

I agree with Sarah that Pollan's books are not that triggering. Omnivore's Dilemma was very factual, more learning all the background information. I thought it was a pretty fascinating book. In Defense of Book was good, but again for me, it just left me feeling guilty in not eating all organic, locally based.

Rachel, that is cool you got to meet him. I've listened to Pollan on some video clips. You're right about his extremism to a degree but I to agree with a lot of what he says.

Sarah, glad you like the blog :-) Hope to see you more.