Recently, we came across an article pointing to some huge changes to the organic foods industry. Takeovers and rules changes that have crept into the marketplace without hardly anyone noticing. Contrary to the image of struggling mom and pop farms doing it the natural way, organic produce is now largely in the hands of the same industrial food producers that organic farming originally defined itself against.
It's not that big farms can't grow our produce according to safe, organic practices. It's that they don't necessarily want to go to all that bother. They just want the extra profit that comes with an organic label!
Organic produce is an area of agricultural commerce with a big quality markup built into its prices, which gives the grower a bigger profit margin on each unit of organic peppers, chickens, etc. sold. The big food conglomerates wanted in on that -- a $30 billion a year global market -- for sure!
So you might say, "Well alright, big fella, as long as you agree to abide by the rules of organic farming we'll see if we can't all get along." The trouble is that while the US Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 governs the industry, it's the industry members that largely govern the Act, and the food conglomerates who have gotten into the game have been bending those organic practices rules--sometimes to the point of genuine concern.
So now things like carrageenan, synthetic inositol, and docosahexaenoic acid algae oil (DHA) are considered acceptable food additives because "Big Food" got them onto the approved list.
If you would prefer that your own organic foods were genuinely organic, it's going to take a bit of extra effort but a few tips can set you on the right path.
International Organic Foods Tips
07/30/2012: Staff from Earth Clinic: "International Tips on Organic Produce
Internationally, organic farming is likewise taking off, with many countries offering similar levels of certification to those in the US.
- European Union farmers can be certified by the EU so that their produce can carry the starred Euro-leaf organic foods logo, signifying certified organic farm sourcing.
- The UK and other individual European nations also have their own organics certifications.
- India's National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) certifies national and export policies governing organic farming, at levels equal to those of the US and EU. However, within India most organic farming is done without certification, so you have to trust the farmer.
- In New Zealand, the Fair Trading Act 1986 covers organic farming practices, but certification is provided by outside groups such as AssureQuality and BioGro New Zealand.
- Australian certification is provided by two independent organizations, the Organic Growers of Australia and SAI Global.
- The Canadian government also certifies organic produce as "Canada Organic".
When talking to farmers, you want to ask about both pesticides and herbicides. The types of fertilizer a farmer uses and any hormones or other treatments employed in raising animals could be of concern to you as well."
Us Organic Foods Tips
07/30/2012: Staff from Earth Clinic: "A Few Guidelines on Organic Foods
- Farmers Markets give you the opportunity to talk to local farmers and find those genuinely dedicated to organic farming practices.
Local Farms allow you to visit and discuss farming practices right there with the farmer in his field. If their farming principles sound good, safe, and organic to you then you have an agricultural gold mine just down the road!
- In-State Farmers are more likely to be sending organic produce to your supermarket. If it's out of state or worse out of the country, it's very likely grown with unnatural assistance.
- In-Season Produce is much more likely to be local and organic. However, if it's grapes in the winter or the like, you can be fairly sure that it's coming from a chemically-polluted farm thousands of miles away.
Supermarket Produce that is organic will have a 5-digit PLU starting with 9, while non-organic goods are only four digits long. But this doesn't tell you what sort of farm produced the fruit or vegetable.
- Meat and Poultry buyers should look for the words "minimally processed" on food labels.
- Certification from the USDA National Organic Program is the only nationwide program to indicate and test organic farming practices, but this includes the big "organic" food conglomerates in the same harvest as the mom and pops.
While a USDA organics sticker or certifications from other organics programs may not be a foolproof sign of trustworthiness, it's usually better than trusting any old sign claiming that the produce was grown "spray-free", "naturally", "with organic methods", or the like unless you know the farmer personally. Many farmers and markets want to seem organic without the trouble and expense of being organic."
[YEA] 09/28/2012: Staff from Earth Clinic: "Another interesting and commonplace food additive is carrageenan, an emulsifying agent extracted from red seaweed. While this polysaccharide has been used forever as a thickener and bonding agent in everything from ice cream to toothpaste (taking the place of animal-derived gelatin), in the past several years there has been a growing concern about carrageenan as a potential carcinogen and trigger to bowel disorders. While there is some remote possibility that this is true, mostly this stems from confusion over an industrial agent that at one point was also called carrageenan, though it substantially differed from the naturally occurring molecule.
For the most part, carrageenan is probably safe. In fact, the red seaweed that provides carrageenan has been consumed as a natural remedy for respiratory disorders and as a laxative. However, for those who already have digestive disorders such as colitis, it might be worth avoiding this food additive as much as possible."Replies
09/28/2012: Ed2010 from Oakville, Canada replies: "This does not sound like EC. I always stay away from carrageenan added products.
Even EC is stating that Carrageenan is PROBABLY SAFE, and you recommend people with UC or other digestive disorder to stay away from it.
When you say probably safe then even you are unsure about the safety of this product. "
09/29/2012: Rob from Manhattan, Ny replies: "Dr. Weil, recommends that one avoid products with it. I do... Especially when I buy soya milk. Plus I don't care for its thickening qualities... it seems completely unnecessary to me...
more info here... http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA44833"
10/01/2012: Melissa from Tel Aviv, Israel replies: "That's the least of your worries when it comes to soy milk. Unless stated otherwise, you are most likely drinking "milk" made from genetically modified soy since the vast majority of soy grown around the world is now GMO. This is already reason enough to avoid it.
Other than that, soy disrupts hormones. This leads to a whole host of problems. Check this out http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/170-scientific-reasons-to-lose-the-soy-in-your-diet/"
10/01/2012: Rob from Manhattan, Ny replies: "I don't quite buy the bad soy movement.. Preferring to go with the larger epidemiological studies of populations consuming soy and their relative health.. Still for the individual it is always worth a try to eliminate to see if there is an improvement in health. Natto is a favorite of mine.
Not that Weil has the last word but I tend to trust his conclusions/logic over large bodies of studies.. And one can cross referrence with other respected Dr... Ted I believe gives it thumbs up as well...
Still if your tuition is telling you its not good for yourself than I would go with that..."
10/01/2012: Lisa from Thousand Oaks, Ca, Usa replies: "I stay away from soy products as they can mess with one's hormonal balance and also most soy in the US is GMO. On the other hand, natto is fermented and so are tempeh and miso so it changes the composition and makes it quite beneficial. These I will use. I'm also careful in choosing my natto as many of the Asian companies add MSG. Just curious Rob, how do you eat your natto? Best to you, Lisa"
10/02/2012: Rob from Manhattan, Ny replies: "Hi Lisa, I like to add natto to brown rice and sometimes have it with a scramble egg and sprinkled seaweed on top.. I hope it might cancel out any of the negative cholesterol effects of the eggs.. ?? I buy organic from a local Japanese shop but the little styrofoam containers are a concern... Ideally, I should try to make it myself...
Eating it by itself is not palatable for me.. And visually, well, it looks like something the cat coughed up.... sorry for the gross image..:)"
"05/21/2009: Tim from LA, CA writes: "Hi, could vinegar and baking soda cleaning mixture be used to clean vegetables and fruits, or is there something even better or that? I use dishwashing liquid for it."Replies
"05/21/2009: Deirdre from Atlanta, GA replies: "I was wondering the same thing because I've started to juice recently and am throwing entire unpeeled lemons and apples into the juicer! An article I found on NPR called "What Does It Take to Clean Fresh Food?" says vinegar works the best. Apparently, a diluted vinegar rinse removes 98% of bacteria while a scrub brush removes 80%. Here's the article: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14540742"
"05/21/2009: June from Wichita, Kansas replies: "What about removal of pesticide? Would the vinegar remove that as well? Very curious."
"05/22/2009: T from Maryland, USA replies: "Good article, Deirdre - thanks! I've been using white vinegar in water along with about 10 or so drops of grapefruit seed extract (Citricidex) for good measure. I've never been certain just how much it might kill/clean off, but I knew it was better than just rinsing or scrubbing with plain water. That article makes me feel more confident in what I am using. I've also heard of people adding baking soda; apparently this helps remove wax coatings (think apples, peppers) but I can't say for sure... need to go do some more research! As far as pesticides, this is a good reason to buy organic where possible. If I can't get good organic apples, I peel mine even after washing thoroughly. On a related note, here is a PDF file with info on washing cantaloupes to avoid salmonella. It includes the vinegar wash, and also talks about H202: http://www.marlerblog.com/234-928.pdf"
"05/24/2009: Janka from Boston, Ma replies: "T is right, organic is always best. Pesticides not only reside on the outside of the fruit or vegetable, but they can also permeate the core of the produce. A great list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides here: http://www.foodnews.org/fulllist.php"
05/10/2013: Kathy from the USA: "When I have mentioned cooking vegetables until they are tender I failed to mention I NEVER cook in plastic. I use a clear glass casserole with a lid. Because all of our food is being genetically engineered, in one way or another, to last longer it is important to note that this makes it harder to digest. I am on SSD and limited to what I can purchase. Maybe canned or frozen are not the best but they are all I can afford. They have been picked at their peak and blanched. Cooking in glass with a lid retains nutrients, because they have been blanched it reduces the cooking time. I never cook meat in the microwave."
01/07/2013: Sue from Fairfax, Va Usa: "I used to stir-fry using extra-virgin organic olive oil, but learned that any olive oil is unhealthful when cooked at high temperatures. I love organic virgin coconut oil but my husband does not, he can't stand the taste. So what other oil is best to use for sautéing or stir-frying? Or, what about butter?"Replies
01/08/2013: Ed2010 from Oakville, Canada replies: "Try Mustard Oil, very stable even in high temperature. When you cook with butter, it becomes Clarified Butter which is occasionally good."
01/08/2013: Rob from Manhattan, Ny replies: "I've read Canola oil is better for higher heat... According to Weil, it is a distant runner up to olive but ok to use in moderation. Buy organic (non GMO) and expeller pressed... some info from Weil here... http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400093/Choosing-Canola-Oil.html"
01/08/2013: Linda from New Haven, Connecticut replies: "Don't use butter at high heat - it will burn. Peanut oil can take the heat and I have used that for my stirfrys in the past.
I now use coconut oil for health and don't notice a difference in taste in the food - I DO smell it in the container, as well as when it's cooking but I do NOT taste it in the food. Has your husband said he can taste it in the food or just that he smells it beforehand?"
01/08/2013: Sue from Fairfax, Va Usa replies: "Thank you to all who have replied -- so very helpful. My husband is open to healthier choices, so is willing to try coconut oil in cooking. If the taste is minimal (or who knows, maybe he'll even like it??! ), we will cook with that. But if he still can't stand it, we will proceed to peanut oil or organic expeller pressed canola oil. Thank you! Sue"
01/08/2013: Mmsg from Somewhere, Europe replies: "Sue, you can cook with refined coconut oil. Even though it's not optimal for "raw" use, it's very acceptable for cooking/frying and has no odor."
01/08/2013: Ed2010 from Oakville, Canada replies: "Canola Oil, sunflower oil are not traditional oil. So Use Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Gingelly Oil, Peanut Oil.
Coconut Oil is rich vitamin E, keeps your fat and blood flow in optimal condition. It smells delicious and is tasty."
07/30/2012: Staff from Earth Clinic: "Dirty Dozen in the Produce Aisle
Unless your vitriol for the Big Food companies knows no bounds, you can and should be a little less picky about opting for whatever organic produce you can find if the item is on the "dirty dozen" list of pesticide laden fruits and vegetables. Dairy and meat products are also high in pesticides and hormones, if you don't go with the organic alternative."
09/30/2012: Staff from Earth Clinic: "The dye known as cochineal or carmine and has been widely used in food and cosmetics going back to early civilizations, evidently quite safely. The same can't be said for artificial red dye #5 and red dye #40, which at their roots are petrochemicals. The former is perhaps better known, and the FDA requires that it be specifically listed on a product's ingredients label because some people have allergic reactions to the dye. Red dye #40 actually seems to be of greater concern, primarily because it is so much more extensively used. It has been judged safe for use but is a potential carcinogen and trigger for ADHD, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest has called for it to be banned along with seven other commonly used commercial food dyes.
All of which is ironic, given the increased focus on natural plant color-compounds (such as lycopene) that are strong antioxidants and otherwise full of health benefits. Seems like there must be potential food dyes out there that can not only create the desired food color, but also bring along health benefits rather than threats!"
Genetically Modified Soil and Organic Food
05/23/2013: Kt from , The Usa: "When I posted I never trusted organics I did not have this link. When I found this last fall I was so glad I had trusted my gut on this one. http://naturalsociety.com/admittedly-illegal-genetically-modified-soil-fungus-present-in-organic-products/."
08/25/2012: Lisa from Thousand Oaks, Ca, Usa: "Hi Everyone, I know many of you who come on here are interested in health and being informed as consumers. In a recent Earth Clinic newsletter, the organic food industry was a subject. I try to keep abreast of what is going on and am an advocate of GMO labeling. I think it's only fair that we know the truth about what we purchase! In the meantime, big food corporations are taking over the organic foods and many don't even realize it. They are pouring BIG money into blocking GMO labeling from going through. I am posting this information plus a link to read more regarding this important issue. Please stay informed, Lisa
Here is what I received this week from the Organic Consumers Association:
In recent weeks, several public interest groups, including the Organic Consumers Association, Cornucopia Institute, Mercola. Com, and Natural News, have pointed out the gross hypocrisy and greed of large food and beverage corporations selling billions of dollars of organic and natural food, while meanwhile bankrolling the industry opposition to GMO labeling. These organic and "natural" traitor companies and brands include: Kellogg's (Kashi, Bear Naked, Morningstar Farms); General Mills (Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, Larabar); Dean Foods (Horizon, Silk, White Wave); Smucker's (R. W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic); Coca-Cola (Honest Tea, Odwalla); Safeway ("O" Organics); Kraft (Boca Burgers and Back to Nature); Con-Agra (Orville Redenbacher's Organic, Hunt's Organic, Lightlife); and PepsiCo (Naked Juice, Tostito's Organic, Tropicana Organic). All of these companies are profiting from the sale of billions of dollars of their proprietary organic and "natural" food brands while at the same time funneling large sums of money to the Monsanto-led campaign to defeat the November 6th GMO labeling ballot initiative (Proposition 37) in California.
We need to send a clear message to these traitor brands, in the only language they understand: lost profits and lower sales. Today, the Organic Consumers Association and Mercola. com are formally calling for a boycott of 7 organic and "natural" brands.
08/26/2012: Mmsg from Somewhere, Europe replies: "Lisa, if more and more people eat "closer to the earth" as you advise, (fresh produce etc. ) then these boycotts would be superfluous!"
08/26/2012: Lisa from Thousand Oaks, Ca, Usa replies: "Hi Mmsg, Yes, you are absolutely right! And since I eat this way, I don't use any of the products or companies listed. Still, I find it criminal that these companies would rob the people from the truth. If people would return to eating "close to the earth" they would restore their health and shut this situation down! Thanks for your input, Lisa"
08/26/2012: Bill from San Fernando, Philippines replies: "Lisa is quite right, we are actually losing the battle to preserve alternative medicine now for the following reasons:
* Worldwide Codex laws have corrupted the proper formulation and manufacture of herbal nutrients. So the standards for the production of herbs, vitamins and minerals with respect to manufacturing and dosages are now firmly in the hands of the medical drugs cartels whose actions are widely protected by US law. Remember that alternative medicine is the direct competitor and enemy of the drugs cartels.
* Many popular alternative nutrient brands have now been taken over by the well-known food cartels who have access to the media to more heavily and successfully promote their own brands.
* The USDA, the drugs cartels and the FDA are now working in cosy symmetry to make us all sicker. The USDA first ensures the promotion of GMO crops, fungicides, pesticides, and heavily chemically processed food and water. This diet makes the population sicker and sicker. So what happens? People then go to their doctors who feed them drugs that make them sicker still.
The FDA simply does its best to so ably ensure that the food and drugs cartels have an unassailable position in the market place, which is so oddly protected by US law, which sadly enables both these corrupting industries to make vast sums of money at the expense of a nation's health.
The next stage will be when we have absolutey no choice at all but to obey the drugs cartels wishes. This has already happened in Texas where a certain Texas Governor, who unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination, this year ordered that young teenage girls in Texas have no choice but to be vaccinated against HPV with Gardasil. Vaccines are way bad enough, but has anybody checked out the dangerous side-effects and history of Gardasil lately?"
08/27/2012: Timh from Louisville, Ky, Usa replies: "Bill, thanx for your awareness concerning natural treatments and the threats we face today. We natural folks will all need to remain vigilant and active in order to preserve our god-given rights to healthy foods and supplements."
01/09/2013: Alena from Jihlava, Czech Republic replies: "To Lisa from Thousand Oaks, Ca, Usa: Thank you so much for your information. I'm very into healthy livinig. So are my friends. Of course will be best eat everything from nature, but sometimes is just convinient (for many reasons, not enuf time, because we are all busy). So I apretiate for your posting.. My husband is vegetarian and sometimes we just grab vegieburgers from companies you just mentioned. Next time I will pay more atention. Thank you."
[YEA] 02/16/2010: Trish from Dusseldorf, Nrw, Germany: "I tried organic brocolli and it cured my shoulder-arm pain, severe lower back pain and knee pain in 3 days. Every winter I have been suffering from these pains for years. I read the cure posted by G. Michael and since I had some organic brocilli at home I decided to give it a try. I had it raw, one small brocolli head per day and after 3 days the pain is gone!!!! And i have had these pains for years! They come every winter and get better in the summer... I am frankly quite shocked because I was pretty skeptical.
Thanks G. Michael ...may God bless you!"
Organic Garlic and Sulphur
04/29/2008: Patrick from Murray, Utah: "We are currently studying the effects of returning sulfur to our diets. Organically grown garlic has roughly 39% sulfur and is a good source of sulfur. When grown with chemical fertilizers we have not have benefits reported. All of the results reported regarding garlic have been seen with Organic Sulfur, pure crystal MSM with no anti caking agents and in its crystal form. We believe that the sulfur may be the most important aspect of the garlic. We also believe that most of us are sulfur deficient and Linus Pauling's concern for mineral deficiency as the cause of many of our current disease processes. But how we become deficient makes us question what we feed our food, what types of fertilizers are used."
Organic Juicing Diet
[BETTER BUT WITH SIDE EFFECTS] 06/13/2009: Natalie from Cleveland, OH: "Hello, My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer about 2 years ago and as soon as she was notified she went on an organic raw food juicing diet. She only drank organic juices and ate fruit and vegetables for the past 2 years. She drank apple/carrot juice and a green leaf veggie juice mixed with red cabbage and red apple. She alternated the apple/carrot juice with the green juice throughout the day, drinking about 8-10 juices daily with 3 meals in between. She also drank organic orange juice freshly squeezed every morning. She got the diet from Dr. Lorain Day. Dr. Day cured herself of breast cancer using this diet.
Everything has been going well so far, but in the past 6 months, my mom's gums have receded drastically. She has been to the dentist but he told her she does not have periodontal disease. She is afraid that if they get any lower then her teeth might start to fall out. Do you have any idea if she is missing any vitamins? Maybe she needs some oils, or B vitamins that she does not get from her diet. Please let me know if you can help.
She does not eat any sugar, animal products, or take any vitamins/minerals/oils. This is what Dr. Day did for when she beat breast cancer.
Thank you, Natalie"
09/04/2012: Haveaplan from Jax, Fl Usa replies: "Sounds like the Gerson diet. Search amazon/netflix for the movies, Gerson Miracle, Dying to Know, or the Simple Truth, and they have more detailed information on this diet.
One of the tips I've seen for the gumline is to ensure that the magnesium and vitamin D levels are adequate.
Also, search iblp. org for the book, the 7 Deadly Stresses (http://store.iblp.org/products/RSDS/) and it has some good information as well."