Healthy eaters turn to organics

Herbicides, pesticides and insecticides are all a part of the food we eat. If it weren’t for these products, there would probably be more worms in your apples and more spiders in your vegetables.

“It’s a trade-off for cleaning or eating bugs,” said Charles Magee, interim dean and director of land grant programs for the College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture.

However, with an increasing number of people embracing the latest health trends, natural and organically grown food is becoming more of a concern to citizens.

Organic foods grow without the use of drugs, hormones or synthetic chemicals with human assistance. Natural food production is dependent on nature; examples include wild berries.

“It’s all a matter of getting to know your food,” said Jean Crozier, the Community Outreach and Member Services coordinator at New Leaf Market.

But few studies have been produced to verify any side effects of mass-produced foods (foods that grow on corporately owned farms).

“We don’t know all of the effects yet, but the government says the effects are minimal,” said Daniel Wims, director of the Academic Division of Agricultural Sciences.

“We generally say that they [mass-produced foods] have to be safe and it’s up to others to determine the safe levels,” said Charles Watson, public affairs specialists for the Food and Drug Administration. “We have them (farmers and companies) provide us with proof the food is safe.”

Growing one’s own food results in minimum nutrient loss and maximum food vitality.

“When you grow your own food you know how long it’s been in a certain place,” said Lillie Bailey, a resident of Columbia County, Fla.

Bailey has been growing her own food and gardening since she was a child.

“When I was a little girl, my daddy would plant his garden, and I would plant my little garden.”

Knowing where your food has been is a major benefit of growing your own food Magee said. A lot of the food we eat is produced in South America, and “you don’t know what they are putting on it, or how long it’s been wherever,” he said.

However, not everyone is interested in growing own food.

“It’s challenging to grow your own garden,” Crozier said. “There are a lot of pests, but the [Florida] weather allows for year round growth.”

Consumers say time and money are issues with growing food.

“I would like to eat healthier by eating organic foods, but I don’t have the time to look for those stores, and I don’t have the money to spend on the organic foods. The supermarket is around the corner,” said Jawan Stewart, a senior elementary education student from Upper Marboro, Md.

Organic and naturally grown foods can be costly, but both usually yield better results as far as taste, nutrient intake and health.

To make sure that organic foods are grown on a consistent scale throughout the country, and last year, the U. S. House of Representatives passed the National Uniformity for Food Act of 2003.

This bill assures the quality and consistency of producing organic and natural foods.

A study conducted by food scientist, Virginia Worthington, confirms that more nutrients and vitamins are contained in organic foods. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 27, 2003 edition, Worthington, studied nutritional composition information from 41 separate studies published from 1946 to 1997.

From analyzing this information, Worthington discovered that fruits and vegetables organically grown contained, on average, 27 percent more vitamin C, 21 percent more iron, 29 percent more magnesium, 14 percent more phosphorus and 15 percent fewer nitrates than conventional produce.

However, some choose not to eat organic foods because of the belief of becoming a vegetarian.

Crozier explained that people do not have to become vegetarians or vegans in order to eat more organic or natural foods.

“What people want is healthy meat that is grown without shots and antibiotics,” she said. Crozier also said there are meats such as beef, sausage, bacon and chicken that are organically grown.

Organic and natural foods produce greater results but time, money and effort are generally things consumers don’t have to go into organic foods. However, growing your own food naturally cost pennies to do Crozier said.

Yet, the result of growing food varies with each individual Magee said.

If you have problems growing your own food or want to learn more on how to do so, CESTA offers short courses in which they take what they’ve researched to share with the broader community. If you are interested in buying organic foods, New Leaf Market and Everett Market, in Quincy are places to start.

contact Robyn K. Mizelle at,i/>