Good morning!  I could hear the rain pitter-pattering against my window this morning, which made it sooo hard to get up.  Luckily, I had set my alarm for the latest time possible with the full intention to Shred after work.  Does anyone else find it ironic that I need MORE sleep after a vacation?

 

To say that I was looking forward to making my own breakfast this morning would be a totally understatement — I dreamt about OATMEAL!

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My oatmeal contained a surprise ingredient: Nature’s Candy! (AKA:  Dates!)

 

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 sliced banana
  • 2 chopped dates
  • Toppings: pecans and strawberries

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Home-brewed coffee is awesome.  I don’t miss that hotel sludge at all!

 

Eating Food That’s Better For You, Organic Or Not

 

This article on NYT really peaked my interest.  According to the author, Americans are obsessed with eating organic because we’ve been drilled to believe that is what’s "good" for us.  But, at the same time, we’re eating tons of other crappy foods.

 

While eating organic is important, "the truth is that most Americans eat so badly — we get 7 percent of our calories from soft drinks, more than we do from vegetables; the top food group by caloric intake is “sweets”; and one-third of nation’s adults are now obese — that the organic question is a secondary one. It’s not unimportant, but it’s not the primary issue in the way Americans eat."

 

Michael Pollan, who wrote one of my favorite eating books ("In Defense of Food") is quoted as saying: "There’s plenty of evidence that both a person’s health — as well as the environment’s — will improve with a simple shift in eating habits away from animal products and highly processed foods to plant products and what might be called “real food.”"

 

Just because food is organic doesn’t mean it leaves a smaller carbon foodprint or is produced locally — it fact, much of the allure of organic foods, the article argues, is merely a marketing campaign by our government and big business.  In fact, major corporations now are responsible for at least 25 percent of all organic manufacturing and marketing.

 

The article ends by stating, "But when Americans have had their fill of “value-added” and overprocessed food, perhaps they can begin producing and consuming more food that treats animals and the land as if they mattered. Some of that food will be organic, and hooray for that. Meanwhile, they should remember that the word [organic] is not synonymous with “safe,” “healthy,” “fair” or even necessarily “good.”"

 

I agree with Pollan’s argument that we should "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."  I also believe that organic vs. non-organic is probably a secondary issue for most Americans.  And lastly, I found the data and conclusions about organic food as a ‘marketing machine’ to be very interesting — I guess I never thought to look at it like that.  But knowing our government, it makes perfect sense!  What do you think of this article?

{ 43 comments }

 

  • Erica March 23, 2009, 4:10 am

    Glad you’re back safe! Breakfast looks so good- I love that berries are getting cheaper at the store!!

    I completely agree with the article- the focus should be on pushing people to eat better IN GENERAL. Once we’re on a better track, then we can focus on more organically or local produced foods! Lets get the crap out first. Love in defense of food- fabulous message

  • Mica March 23, 2009, 4:17 am

    Yay, back to sunny Florida and warm oats!

    Thanks for the article, Caitlin. I thought it was really interesting. I definitely do not buy organic, but in the summer, I’m going to try to eat more locally-grown stuff. (I though Michael Pollan makes a good point in “In Defense” that the organic benefits of something will most likely be destroyed if it has to be shipped cross-country for a few days.)

  • Mrs. LC March 23, 2009, 4:32 am

    I agree with the article. I have always personally thought that people should aim for eating as many fruits and veggies as possible as their first priority, then I personally think locally grown is more important than organic.

    And boo for the rain – can we say casual Monday? šŸ™‚

  • Jen March 23, 2009, 4:42 am

    I agree that companies have taken advantage of the fact that “organic” has become a buzzword. I think a lot of people lately buy organic without really knowing what it means, but that it’s “better”.

    Personally, I can really only afford to buy whatever produce (organic or not, local or not) is cheapest that particular week…. šŸ™‚ Your oatmeal looks lovely! Yay for dates!!

  • haya March 23, 2009, 4:46 am

    i read that article this morning and thought was pretty good. i haven’t really bought into the whole organic craze. pretty much the only organic stuff available to me is big market organic, flown in from california or chile. for me, supporting local farmers is a million times better for my community’s economy, for the people, the planet and my footprint.

  • Susan March 23, 2009, 5:01 am

    Oats are always the first thing I make when I get home after being out of town!

    I totally agree about the whole organic thing. I think a lot of people think they are buying healthier when they buy organic, but junk food is still junk food, regardless of being organic! I find packaged foods are the worst for this.

  • Leanne March 23, 2009, 5:06 am

    Love this post. There’s so many empty calories at my food co-op! It’s hard to believe that people would go there to buy that stuff, even though it’s “organic”.

    The part I love about organic, is that usually it’s synonymous with minimal ingredients as well, which is what I look for in food.

  • VeggieGirl March 23, 2009, 5:12 am

    LOVELY OATS!!

    I agree with the article – people shouldn’t avoid produce because it isn’t organic; they should just focus on getting the vitamins and nutrients that they need (and THEN if they can have organic, then that’s great).

  • ely7 March 23, 2009, 5:14 am

    I actually heard Pollan speak on Friday! He’s great. I think eating local is way better than eating organic food that’s traveled 2000+ miles. We also need to stop subsidizing corn syrup/processed foods and get produce prices down.

  • Brittney March 23, 2009, 5:15 am

    Hi Caitlin! I’ve been reading your blog for the past few weeks and have really enjoyed it šŸ™‚

    I think the article you posted is interesting. I usually don’t eat organic food just because I find it to be a little more expensive, but I think it’s interesting how the word organic can be used for marketing purposes. I never thought about it in that aspect, either, but it definitely doesn’t surprise me.

  • Jen March 23, 2009, 5:15 am

    That is really interesting, I didn’t think of the way organic is now pushed so much and that it’s importance is secondary to just eating healthier foods, period. I think for someone like me, who already eats a vegetarian diet with whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies, and legumes, getting the top ten offenders (strawberries, bell peppers, etc) organic is a good idea. However, that’s a great point that people who don’t eat that stuff at all should be led in that direction, regardless of if the products are organic. Very interesting!

  • RhodeyGirl/Sabrina March 23, 2009, 5:48 am

    I just try to focus more on local foods over organic. i was laughing at the market yesterday bc someone was SO CONCERNED with buying an organic eggplant but then bought like 6 boxes of mac n cheese. really?

  • inmytummy March 23, 2009, 5:58 am

    Have you read the Omnivore’s Dilemma? He talks about that issue there too. It’s very interesting.

  • Bec March 23, 2009, 6:20 am

    I know what you mean, I always feel like I need a few recovery days after a vacation…

  • jane March 23, 2009, 6:41 am

    i think it’s quite sad that organic food has “given in” to (some) evils of mass production. i was amazed when i read the section in In Defense of Food where Pollan talks about how many organic companies are run by larger corporations like General Mills. I think the most important thing in eating whole foods- real foods- and more produce. Americans need more fresh produce, organic or not, in their diets and less processed crap. Waaay less processed crap!

  • Meredith (Pursuing Balance) March 23, 2009, 6:48 am

    I always feel like I need more sleep after a vacation too! I think it’s just going a few days without the usual routine that does it.
    I totally agree with the article. There’s such a strange dichotomy going on with what Americans eat. On the one hand is the notion that there’s no time for anything but fast food, and the other is this push towards different trends that are seen to be healthier (eating organic, raw, vegetarian, locally-grown, etc).

  • Carolina John March 23, 2009, 6:50 am

    glad you had a safe and fun trip. i always need a rest from my vacation. Especially travelling with the kids will wear on your nerves. nothing like 5 hours with screaming girls in the back seat to calm you down, huh?

  • Nicole (anotheronebitesthecrust.wordpress.com) March 23, 2009, 6:53 am

    Your bowl of oatmeal looks amazing!

  • Haleigh March 23, 2009, 6:54 am

    I try to buy organic sometimes, but it’s just not possible all the time since it is always more expensive. The oats look delicious, enjoy being back in sunny Florida šŸ™‚

  • Sarah W. March 23, 2009, 6:56 am

    great article!!!!

    b/c really, Annie’s mac n cheese is still considered “junk” even tho it is organic – know what I mean?!

    I love me some nature’s candy too!!!

    I haven’t read in defense of food – but I agree with Pollan’s statement, eat FOOD, mostly plants šŸ™‚

  • ksgoodeats March 23, 2009, 7:18 am

    Whenever I get home I’m always EXHAUSTED! Hope you got lots of rest!!

    I agree that “organic” has become the new designer label it seems! People now equate organic = good but that’s not always the case.

  • tfh March 23, 2009, 7:20 am

    I always feel a bit alarmed when I see someone claiming, say, their sugar or butter is healthy because it’s organic…since we’re in money-saving mode much of the produce we buy is not organic, but hey, it’s produce at least! Thanks for sharing the article.

  • Susan March 23, 2009, 7:37 am

    I always thought that the “organic” craze was a bit overrated. Just because something is organic doesn’t make it healthy…much like how just because something is labeled trans fat free doesn’t mean that it’s healthy!

  • Run Saraaah March 23, 2009, 7:37 am

    I agree with the article…buying only organic is really not possible for most people at this time. I prefer locally grown fruit & veg.

  • Brandi March 23, 2009, 7:49 am

    glad you got home safe!

    Great article – I don’t buy organic unless something is cheaper that week, but I do try to buy local when I can.

    My FIL works for the biggest meat producing company in the US, and it actually costs more and wastes a lot of the animals so others can be labeled “organic”

  • Victoria March 23, 2009, 8:04 am

    I used to worry about the oragnic arguement, but I don’t so much anymore, mostly becasue I’m too broke. However, I still try to purchase organic for our animal products, just because that is more important to me because I’ve read that animals retain higher levels of pesticides, just like humans do with some chemicals.

  • Hallie March 23, 2009, 8:08 am

    I just wrote a guest post for another blog (yet to be posted) that advocated buying local first, and then organic if you can’t buy local. I haven’t read the article yet, but I think in general I agree with the principals you listed.

    I think it’s silly all the “organic” cookies etc that we see in stores today. However, I think there are benefits to buying organic that go beyond personal health. I don’t always buy organic, but I think being aware of the food you purchase and eat is an important first step.

  • Burp and Slurp~! March 23, 2009, 8:33 am

    great info! I think what’s more important than eating organic is eating locally. I can be eating organic fruits, but what use are they if they traveled all across the ocean?
    have you read Marion Nestle’s “WHat to Eat”? she has some terrific advice on eating organic…you should check it out!

  • Mara @ What's For Dinner? March 23, 2009, 8:40 am

    So glad you made it back ok! It looks like you had a blast šŸ™‚

    I love that article! It’s so true that its really the QUALITY of what we’re eating, not necessarily that its organic. AND, I love Michael Pollan šŸ™‚

    I sent you a FB message this weekend, and I’d love your opinion!!

  • Sarah (lovINmytummy) March 23, 2009, 8:42 am

    The hubs and I were just talking about this last night, and how even though we are eating healthier than 99% of society there are still items in our pantry that are not FOOD. I think there are huge segments of our population that can go all day without eating one real food. And that is sad to me, because if you give it a chance, it is delicious. I think they need a tastebud enema first.

  • Ryan (Chase Daylight) March 23, 2009, 9:13 am

    Evan and I have been talking about this issue a lot lately. Evan compares it to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Healthy, natural food is at the bottom as being the most basic, fundamental thing we need. Organic is completely secondary and should only be worried about if you’re meeting the primary level.

    Great article!

  • Caitlin March 23, 2009, 9:30 am

    I think it’s so silly to talk yourself into the idea that a cookie is healthy because it is “made with organic ingredients”, and it is sad that the word has become a marketing campaign. I also agree that the first priority is to get people to eat their veggies and fruits, regardless of the processing practices.

    That being said, I choose to buy organic produce and animal products whenever I can. I live on a students budget, but that’s what I choose to spend my money on. I’m lucky to have organic farms close by so I can buy local AND organic. Not so much the processed foods, but the organic label on produce and animals represents not only the benefit of not consuming pesticide residue, but also to engage in better practices for the soil and for the environment. That being said, if I lived somewhere where my choice was to buy organic lettuce from mexico, or locally grown, I would go for the local food in a heart beat.

    Thanks for putting up such a thought-provoking article!

  • RunningWithin March 23, 2009, 9:33 am

    I always need a vacation to recover from my vacation!

    I agree with the article also. Healthy eating should come first. I can’t always afford to eat organic, but I can always eat healthily.

    Fast food is what needs to go. Americans can’t even comprehend fast food not being an integral part of our daily lives, they see preparing your own food as impossible. We were discussing this in one of my classes the other day. When I said I eat fast food maybe once a month on a date (and by fast food, I mean like Pei Wei, Pita Pit, Subway), the other students were just baffled by that concept. One student flat out told me that wasn’t possible, that you have to eat fast food because there isn’t time to make your own meals.

    I work FT, run, go to school, have a boyfriend, do yoga, and I make time to make my own meals. I think the #1 priority should be making our own healthy, nutritious meals more. And if those meals are organic, great, if not, then at least they are good for you.

  • eatingRD March 23, 2009, 10:47 am

    I do agree that organic is not the answer to all our problems because it does not mean that is local and always the best choice like the article said. Also, organic products are usually considerably more expensive. I try to buy organic for things like lettuce and milk because I can actually notice a flavor difference. But, most of the time I don’t buy organic because of the price. There is also a list called the dirty dozen where the EWG has found certain fruits/veggies to have higher levels of pesticides at http://www.foodnews.org/ I just wish that Vegas was more conducive to buying from local farmers! I went to Portland last summer and their farmer’s market was amazing!

  • Julia March 23, 2009, 11:14 am

    Interesting article. I took a class in college about agriculture and we spent a good amount of time discussing the “cons” of organic foods; such as it costs a LOT of money and fuel to ship organic tomatoes from Chile to USA and so forth. You hardly ever hear about the “cons”, so it was extremely interesting to learn.
    I do agree that its ironic how we pair an organic apple with soda and other highly processed foods. And those “organic” cookies. People tend to forget that yes indeed, organic cookies contain calories and fat too! haha.

  • Sarah March 23, 2009, 11:15 am

    I read this same article this morning! Really appreciate it’s message.

  • bhealthier March 23, 2009, 1:07 pm

    we actually had to debate books for class last semester- we had to compare in defense with Slow Food Nation ( very similar but I think better than In Defense) and French Gastronomy and Gastronomical Me .

    I of course agree, especially after reading Slow Food Nation, that while organic foods can have specific benefits, we should also include local foods that can help improve our economy and create sustainable practices- in addition to consuming less processed and packaged foods.

  • Erin March 23, 2009, 2:38 pm

    I am obsessed with Twilight as well and have yte to get a copy (I did watch it 4 times illegally at my friend’s house, lol)

    Thanks for posting the article on “Organic or not”. I feel people should focus more on purchasing from co-ops and local businesses and if your eating just “organic” sometimes your not in the clear!!!

  • Julie March 23, 2009, 3:22 pm

    I just finished up ‘In Defense of Food’. I liked it and plan to pay more attention to what I am putting in my mouth. ‘Organic’ is a buzzword and doesn’t hold a ton of weight in my book. I’m going more with the Pollan approach and simply trying to avoid eating things/ingredients I can’t pronounce.

    The article is interesting.

  • livelovelaugheatlearn March 23, 2009, 4:59 pm

    I think the article is probably pretty accurate! I know I get pulled towards organic foods sometimes because of it’s pretty packaging or thinking that it’s super healthy for me. When really organic chips are still chips!1

  • theskinnyplate March 23, 2009, 7:58 pm

    I am pretty torn about the whole organic vs non organic thing too. Thanks for the article.

  • Gretchen March 24, 2009, 11:36 am

    This is a really interesting article. And I definitely agree. While eating organic is important – especially with certain produce that easily absorbs chemicals – I think its much more important definitely better for the planet to buy local! And much better to buy conventionl fresh produce than something processed that happens to be organic.

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