A wolf in sheep's clothing...

A Wolf in Sheep's ClothingCredit: Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wolf_sheeps_clothing_barlow.jpg

 Would you feed your family chemicals that kill living things?  Although we wouldn’t choose to do this intentionally, people all over the world today are buying and consuming chemically treated produce without knowing the danger to their health.  Due to insects destroying crops on a large-scale, the agriculture industry has evolved and developed conventional methods over the years to destroy these pests without killing off the produce. This focus on mass production of goods using genetically modified organisms (GMO's) and less on the nutrition and safety of the produce it claims to protect puts public health in jeopardy.  There are many reasons to go organic.  Here’s my top 3 list of reasons why you should consider making the switch.

1. Minimize your risk of cancer

Until last year, organic produce was never a topic of concern for me.  Then again, I didn’t even know that non-organic fruits and veggies were called ‘conventional’.  More importantly, I was unaware of the important differences in organic vs conventional processes of the agriculture industry itself.  I thought that the organic fruits and vegetables in the grocery stores were the same as conventional ones and that anyone who bought ‘organic’ was an uptight health freak who ignorantly burned money choosing this so-called healthier option.  Then again, I rarely consumed anything that wasn’t meat except for the occasional ‘conventional’ apple or banana I managed to throw in my shopping cart once in a while.  My decision to waste my money was on steaks and cheesecakes so I wasn’t a health advocate by any means.  One would think that someone with a long family history of cancer and unplanned youthful exits from this world would take care of himself better.  To be honest, I just didn’t really know how I could take on fighting what I thought is an inevitable fate.  For many years after losing my grandfather, father, aunt and cousin to various forms of cancer, I just thought if it happens it happens and whatever I do will not decide my fate.   This was purely self-defeating behavior to justify my bad habits of living an unhealthy lifestyle.  What changed that?  This year has given me my son, my first child and then something clicked.  No matter what happens I can’t go on living with such a pessimistic outlook on life and expect him to grow up happy, healthy and optimistic and confident about the future.  And at least I could make an effort to take better care of myself hopefully increasing my chances of being around longer to see him become a man of his own someday.

A change for the better...

I now drink organic, raw fruit and vegetable juices every day and have done so for about 10 months.  I feel great and with a baby growing so fast it’s a challenge to keep up with him so being at my best is essential.  Of course, I didn’t just decide to start juicing on my own.  In addition to the arrival of my son, I saw a documentary about a year ago called ‘Food Matters’.  The film touches on raw produce consumption and orthomolecular medicine as the main topics of discussion for treating chronic diseases and prevention of serious ailments. 

A few days later, after researching different types of fruit and vegetable juicers I finally took the plunge and bought my first high quality juice machine, an Omega Vert 350.  Although it was more expensive than the cheaper juicers, I've went the cheap route before and only to my disappointment.  The inexpensive 'centrifugal' style juicers spin super fast, heating up the final product only to leave you with a mouthful of foam and barely any juice.  The heat created also destroys good enzymes that the body needs for absorbing the most nutrition from the juice.  The one I picked up has a slower turning motor which generates minimal heat and still gets me a nice glass within a few minutes and zero to little foam.  

What is raw produce consumption?  It is the act of eating or drinking uncooked or barely cooked fruits and vegetables.  Produce cooked at high temperatures or microwaved destroy healthy enzymes and natural properties that would otherwise aid in the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Raw foods provide the natural sources for health and disease prevention and support orthomolecular medicinal claims.  According to orthomolecular.org, 

Orthomolecular is a term that comes from ortho, which is Greek for "correct" or "right," and "molecule," which is the simplest structure that displays the characteristics of a compound. So it literally means the "right molecule.'' [5145]

"Orthomolecular medicine describes the practice of preventing and treating disease by providing the body with optimal amounts of substances which are natural to the body." [5145]

Along with other orthomolecular medicinal practices, raw food consumption enables a person to prevent and heal sickness in a natural way instead of flooding the human body with prescription drugs that potentially have more harmful side effects than benefits.  Drugs also treat the symptoms and not the cause of the problem.  Health professionals today would agree that eating your fruits and vegetables are part of a ‘healthy’ diet and help disease prevention but what they don’t specify is a distinction between organic versus conventional food choices.  Without this critical piece of knowledge the patient is unable to make an informed decision on what is the most nutritious option to put on their family’s table. 

2. Nutrition and Safety

Providing our bodies with the proper nutrition is the key to our good health.  In addition, being safe by staying away from less nutritious and harmful ingredients or additives is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.  Like cars, our bodies need the right fuel to run properly.  Just as you wouldn’t put garbage in your car’s gas tank, the same goes for which kinds of food we choose to put into our bodies.  In all fairness, the numbers are against us.  It is more convenient to eat unhealthy food as it’s more readily available. Fast food chains lurk around every street corner, offering up engineered foods for the masses at attractive prices.  High fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate (also known as MSG) and other cheap methods of sweetening and enhancing flavor to over processed foods are standard ingredients in what companies put in today’s food supplies.  The only weapon against this is knowledge.  By educating the public on the current status of the food and agriculture industry in our world today, we can actively seek healthy options instead of believing what companies tells us we should eat.  However, there is some good news. Organic food options are increasing and becoming less limited to small health conscious grocers, even some of the big chain supermarkets, though with a limited product line, are beginning to give organic choices to customers as the demand increases.  Again, this is all due to empowering people through education and knowledge, therefore progressively influencing the overall availability, quality, nutrition and safety of our food supply.

Granny Smith Apple(113703)

3. Organic tastes better

Taste testing isn’t a perfect science but deserves some merit depending on the season and produce choice available during this time.  It also depends on a person's likes and dislikes for certain tastes.  Fruits and vegetables in season always taste better but even more so when comparing organic and conventional produce side by side.  My favorite comparison is using organic Granny Smith green apples and carrots versus their conventional counterparts.  I first compare by taking a bite out of each fruit and then sampling juice extracted from the organic and conventional sources.

Granny Smith apples are crisp and delicious.  These seasonal treats were born in Australia around 1868 and are known for their sweet, tangy and sour flavor.  In the U.S. they are mostly in abundance during the fall but get imported from places like New Zealand, Chile and Australia during the rest of the year.  Organic carrots are more readily available and are found all year round in most grocery stores. 

Here’s the comparison. 

Note that this was a blind test at home and done 3 times on 2 different days with organics introduced first on day 1 and conventional items on day 2.  I wanted to make sure that any after taste wasn’t too much of a reason for skewed results.

Organic Granny Smith taste results:

  • Instant burst of flavor.  When biting into an organic granny smith apple, the immediate tangy taste and sour sensation immediately created a mouth-watering sensation that was impressive. 
  • Drinking freshly made juice tasted no different from eating the apple, although the juice had a bit more kick to it.

Conventional Granny Smith taste results:

  • I'll admit I was skeptical at first and thought there wouldn’t be much difference between organic and conventional apples but to my surprise the conventional apple didn’t pack the same flavor punch.  Although the flesh was just as crispy, the taste lacked in sourness and overall flavor.
  • The juice seemed blander than the organic option.

Organic Carrot taste results:

  • Crunchy and slightly sweet, I noticed the dry fibers crunching as the juice as the juice left the pulp and the fibers were the only thing left to swallow.
  • The juice had a hint of creamy texture to it with a sweet and gentle aftertaste that one could expect from a carrot.

Conventional Carrot taste results:

  • Crunchy with a chemical taste while eating which lingered for some time after consuming.
  • Drinking the carrot juice produced the same after taste, although this time it lasted longer.

This was the deciding moment for me.  I started drinking a glass of carrot/apple juice almost every day and for 10 months I do not get sick of it one bit.  In fact, my wife gets disappointed if I happen to miss a day due to running out of stock.  If you’re interested in a quick and easy recipe for this nutritious beverage, see my article on “How to make fresh carrot and apple juice”.   Wishing you well.