A health-nut I am not, but I have begun paying more attention to what I’m eating. For some time now, I’ve been incorporating more organic foods, especially meat that has not been injected with hormones and the like, in to our family’s meals.
Besides meat, I’ve never been exactly sure of what else should be on the organic “priority” list since I obviously can’t afford to purchase everything organic. And then November’s Prevention magazine came to the rescue! In this issue, they contacted leading Food scientists, Endocrinologists, and others in the health-related field to come up with “Seven Foods That Should Never Cross Your Lips”. My grocery list has been altered as a result. You can read all the nitty gritty details in the magazine, but here’s a snapshot for the recent alterations:
- The Endocrinologist won’t eat: Canned tomatoes. The resin linings of tin cans contain a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to numerous diseases. The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles. Budget Tip: Substitute pasta sauce whenever possible.
- The Farmer won’t eat: Corn-fed Beef. Cattle were meant to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up animals faster for slaughter. More money for farmers means a lot less nutrition for us. The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. Budget Tip: Cuts on the bone are cheaper because processors charge extra for deboning.
- The Toxicologist won’t eat: Microwave popcorn. Chemicals, including PFOA, in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize – and migrate into your popcorn. “They stay in your body for years and accumulate there,” says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in lab animals. The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet.
- The Farm Director won’t eat: Non organic potatoes. Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. Potatoes are treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes that they sell.” They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals. The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing simply isn’t good enough if you’re trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.
- The Fisheries Expert won’t eat: Farmed Salmon. It’s lower in Vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. There is also concerns about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get doused with the same drugs and chemicals. The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon. Budget tip: Canned salmon, almost exclusively from wild catch, can be found for as little as $3 a can.
- The Cancer Researcher won’t eat: Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones. Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. “There’s not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans,” admits North. “However, it’s banned in most industrialized countries.” The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. Budget tip: Try Wal-Mart’s Great Value label, which does not use rBGH.
- The Organic-Foods Expert won’t eat: Conventional apples. If fall fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win. Grafted varieties don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it’s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” he says. The solution: Buy organic apples. Budget tip: If you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them.
Maybe you were as surprised as I was by some of the suggested “hands-off” food listed above. I can attest to #7 myself as I’ve tried eating an apple a day for awhile now and at times, it tasted as if I was chewing pure pesticide. It tasted like a “chemical” and I’ve thrown the apple away immediately. If you know me, you know I’m a wash-a-holic, beginning with my hands, but also the things we eat. If a well washed apple still tastes chemical-like, I’m making some changes.
I’m just thankful “chocolate” wasn’t number eight. 🙂