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Organic/Natural Foods vs. Processed Foods

| November 7, 2010 | 0 Comments

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Organic/Natural Foods vs. Processed Foods

This is the second in our series of blogs, guaranteed to guide you towards a disease-free, healthy and fit lifestyle. The decision is of course yours, to put into practice the ways and means by which you can slowly but surely take baby steps towards wellness, well-being and a holistic way of life. This again, brings us into harmony with our environment, as everything around is interdependent and melded together into one whole. So, let us continue this fascinating journey and please do not forget to send us your comments, views and vehement opinions; we value the brickbats as much as the bouquets!! Today, we will discuss the organic/natural food vs. the processed food debate; which is better and good for our bodies and minds? Is processed food really harmful and why is organic produce beneficial? And so on and so forth… Enjoy!

What are processed foods?

So the first question to address is, what exactly is processing and what are processed foods? Foods are usually processed for the reasons of safety and prolonged shelf life. The methods used include freezing, refrigeration, canning, dehydrations and others. Processed foods are not all bad, for example pasteurized milk, frozen vegetables and fruit juice. When we talk of harmful processed foods, we generally mean foods which contain additives which are highly detrimental to health. There are many processed foods that contain transfats, saturated fats, monosodium glutamate and massive amounts of sugar and sodium, all of which have serious adverse effects on the human body. Apart from sugary cereals and packaged snacks like chips, processed meats are probably the worst of the all the packaged processed foods. Consuming these meats on a regular basis could increase your chances of getting colorectal, kidney and stomach cancer. Hot dogs, sausages, ham and bologna fall in the category of processed meats.

What are organic foods?

Organic foods are those which are produced or manufactured according to standards, that ensure that this is more “natural” and without artificial additives. Hardly any chemicals and pesticides are used and all efforts are made to keep the process simple and close to the way of nature and the environment. In short, organic food is clean, safe, health-promoting, contain no synthetic chemicals, and grown in a way that is natural as possible, as intended by nature. Organic farming also means clean water and clean soil, as no deleterious substances are added to increase yield or to destroy pests. Everything is done with due regard to the soil, water and the ultimate produce which would be consumed.

We can therefore see clearly that there is a world of difference between organic foods and processed foods. It can be said with some amount of certainty that food which is grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers and produce which does not contain artificial additives must be more beneficial for health. Now, we will go on to talk about what it is that affects our bodies when we consume processed foods and if at all we can do something to offset this impact.

How processed foods affect us

All the chemical fertilizers and pesticides used in conventional farming and the additives put into packaged foods have their impact on the environment and on human health. The first category is pesticides and herbicides, highly toxic residues of which are found in all kinds of foods. The second is sewage sludge, which was initially used to fertilize non-organic crops, but ultimately was contaminated with chemical and industrial waste before being sent to the treatment plant. Tests have revealed that this can contribute to chronic diseases if ingested in the human body. The third highly damaging development is the widespread use of hormones, antibiotics and animal offal in various products like eggs, meat and dairy products. The last of these is irradiation, where radiation is used on spices to destroy bacteria and microorganisms, which again if consumed can lead to several diseases.

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What we can do about it

What can be done to counteract these effects on the human body, you?  Well, apart from opting for organic produce as far as is realistically possible, there are many simple and natural ways in which one can ensure optimum health and wellness, despite all the negative factors around us.

When our bodies accumulate toxins from various sources, it results in an imbalance which then breaks forth in various ailments and disease. It is therefore important that certain measures are brought into our lifestyle to eliminate these poisonous substances as far as possible. Very basic rules would include breathing clean air, drinking adequate amounts of pure water and eating healthy meals. Using natural toiletries and cosmetics and wearing natural fabrics like cotton and linen are also part of this regimen, which would counterbalance the damage caused by the unnatural components in our air, water and food. Natural therapies, massage, exercise and shunning addictive habits are also helpful.

The benefits of going organic

There are many benefits that you derive from consuming organic foods. The methods of farming and production are in tune with nature and use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides is totally avoided. This result in produce which is packed with nutrition, and picked when ripe, gives you the ultimate benefits. Commercial foods are picked when the vegetables are still green and do not have the opportunity to absorb all the trace vitamins and minerals in the soil.

Organically farmed animals are those raised without the use of antibiotics, drugs, artificial hormones, steroids, or other chemicals. Roaming free on farmland, they are fed healthy organic foods. This is unlike the conventional method, where animals are kept cooped in filthy, closed surroundings and fed unclean foods just to fatten them up. Animal-based food products, such as dairy products and eggs, coming from animals raised organically have the full nutritional benefits of such produce.

In every aspect, living, farming and producing in tune with nature’s rhythms and with respect for the environment is more beneficial both in terms of your health and the future of our planet.

Organic Certification

Certification to the National Organic Standards is mandatory for all organic produce if it is to be sold as organic. In October 2002 the US National Organic Program was implemented as a federal law to ensure that all organic food products adhere to the same standards and be certified under a uniform certification procedure. There are accredited organic certification agencies that are authorized to give the certification to all organic producers and manufacturers if they wish to qualify for the organic label. The Organic Production and Handling System Plan must be followed by all producers of organic produce. This Plan lays down the parameters and procedures that must be complied with, to get the certification.

The term “organic” is not a strange word any more, as stores are flooded with organic alternatives in food, cosmetics and cleaning products. From the periphery, these have now moved into the mainstream of American shopping and people too with growing awareness, make an informed choice. Your health, your wellbeing and your life is entirely in your hands.

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