Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Is organic food really worth it?

Is organic food really worth it?
By: Chef Cristian Feher

Is organic food really better? Is it all hype? Should I be spending my hard-earned money on it? Is it worth it?

These are the questions people ask when faced with the question of buying organic foods versus conventional foods. These are also the questions people ask when they’re handing over a $50 bill for the three measly organic items in a brittle paper bag at the local health food shop.

We live in a decadent age where yesterday’s “bad” is today’s “good”. And that’s what’s wrong with organic food. 

Not too long ago, when I was a kid, “organic food” was known simply as “food”. You ate it and you were healthy and happy because of it. It was grown by farmers. It was not toxic, poisonous or genetically modified.  The dentist told you to stay away from sugar, and the doctor told you to lower your salt intake to avoid high blood pressure.

Today, salt is good for you in comparison to such things as mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), tri-polyphosphate (the stuff they preserve frozen seafood with), and disodium EDTA (a preservative found in many foods). Common sense tells me that if it sounds like it belongs in a lab or a jet engine, it’s probably not a good idea to eat it.

And what about sugar? It still might rot your teeth out, but it’s nothing compared to high fructose corn syrup. It’s doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that obesity and diabetes increases in relation to the amount of high fructose corn syrup being put in our food supply. Actually, it takes a food scientist to make it happen, a consumer to eat it, and a doctor to treat it.

Cows and other livestock are now on antibiotics, growth hormones, and more than you think may even be on antidepressants. They are fed unnatural diets high in genetically modified grains like corn. And these chemical and genetically-altered meats make up the bulk of the protein in our food supply.  Have you ever wondered what drugs, chemicals, or modified genes lay hidden in that steak you’re eating? And how do they affect the human body?

I’m not going to quote any studies, or findings by scientists. You have been told that scientists know everything and that you know nothing, so you better believe what “scientists” tell you. I say, just look around. Are the people in your neighborhood healthy? How do you feel after you eat? Are you healthy? Are you overweight? Do you feel upbeat and full of energy after you eat? That’s your answer. You are your own scientist. Think and observe for yourself.

So the problem is not that organic food is hype, or fake, or expensive. The problem is that we have to go out of our way to find it. The problem is that there is such a scarcity of real, healthy food, that we have to spend three to five times more money to buy it from specialty shops or specialty sections in our grocery stores.

I find it ridiculous that we have to call it “organic food” in the first place. We should call it “food”. And by definition, we should call conventional food, “artificial food”. You should be able to walk into a grocery store and find 80% of it stocked with real “food” at a fair price, and there should be a small section for “artificial food”, or “experimental food”, or “pharmaceutical food” that you can buy at a really cheap price. Because, after all, that’s what it boils down to. Our conventional food supply (artificial food) is cheap to manufacture, returns a high profit, and even promotes business for dentists, doctors, lawyers, insurance companies, the weight loss industry, etc. America runs - financially - on conventional foods and their after-effects.

I’m not an organic food faddist. I still enjoy some conventional foods. But I am aware of the differences, and I know how these foods affect me. And by observing, I am able to make educated choices in my diet.

So, let’s get back to the question. Should you buy organic food? My answer is this: If you eat conventional food and find yourself full of energy, fit, and healthy, then your body has probably adapted to it, and there is no need for you to buy organic food. However, if you’re overweight, tired, or deceased, you may want to give organic food a try - it may be worth the extra money.

The picture is not as bleak as it may look. In the last couple of years I have seen more and more organic foods on store shelves, and it's evident that big food manufacturers are being forced to remove the bad stuff in their products - it's not uncommon to find "no high fructose corn syrup" written on bread bags, for example. At the end of the day, if the consumer won't buy it, they'll stop selling it. And so the way to get our food supply back to where it should be, is education. Pass it on.

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