As more and more people join the organic food movement, it’s become easier than ever before to cook an easy and delicious organic meal. Prices continue to come down as well, a result of increasing demand. Not only does this result in fewer pesticides and synthetic fertilizers getting pumped into our soil and water – future generations will thank us – but some studies have shown a link to lower cancer rates among those who steer away from conventionally farmed food. While scientists are slow to declare mass-produced, pesticide-treated foods as unsafe without further study, fans of both the farm-to-table movement and those simply worried about the state of the planet are embracing the idea of a delicious organic meal.
Table of Contents
It’s not just plant products that benefit from the organic label. Animal products such as meat, milk, and eggs are generally healthier as well, for a variety of reasons. One big one is that the animals that produce these products aren’t pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones, which are the suspected cause of everything from fertility conditions, such as fibroids, to premature puberty. The European Union has gone so far as to ban hormones in beef, something the United States has yet to do. Moreover, from a practical point of view, organic milk is usually processed through ultrahigh temperature (UHT) processing rather than regular pasteurization, leading to longer shelf life. Less waste is always a good thing in the kitchen.
Sweets are another area in which synthetic flavors and colour should be avoided. No need to give up whimsically dyed cakes or cookies, however. You can simply try natural food colouring instead, and avoid the risks that conventional food dyes present. These include hyperactivity in children and increased allergic reactions. Green Number 3, a popular colour in the Unites States, is yet another substance banned in Europe for safety reasons. If you’re ready to try natural food colouring instead, it can be easily and tastily made in your own kitchen from ingredients such as saffron and purple sweet potato. Safe AND delicious – a win all the way around.
With all that said, if in doubt there are some foods to be particularly wary of, and others that aren’t quite as risky. Fruits such as strawberries, stone fruit, grapes, and apples are particularly pesticide-laden. Salad greens such as spinach and kale are also more important to avoid if you’re sensitive to chemicals and synthetic pesticides. Tomatoes and potatoes, a favorite in American kitchens, make the “Dirty Dozen” list, as well. On the other hand, avocados, corn, and pineapple are on the “Clean 15” list of foods that are a bit safer to buy conventionally. Onions and eggplants qualify for that list as well, as do mushrooms and broccoli.
At the end of the day, putting together the perfect organic meal is as simple as buying clean ingredients from a trusted source, and then just follow your favorite recipe. There’s no magic potion or secret sauce. Ultimately, if the food is chosen with care, the end result will be a healthy, satisfying meal that not only nurtures the body but helps to preserve the world we all live in.