Organic Vegetables

Organic Vegetables

It's been said that organic vegetables aren't worth the extra money you pay. The only reason that anyone could say this is simply because of a lack of subjective information. Lack of knowledge about anything, be it organic vegetables or cars, usually leads to the commoditization of that product or a competing product that looks and seems the same yet costs less. This is because no additional value can be found in a more expensive product that looks just the same as a cheaper one. But looks aren't everything...we need to know what's under the hood.

The information that can give us knowledge about organic vegetables (or organic anything) is conveniently swept under the rug away from prying eyes. In fact, we have to actually go looking for it to get any good information on what all the fuss is about with organic vegetables vs. "conventional".

The food industry has done a great job of making sure they won't be required to label GMO foods here in the U.S.A. despite strong public support to the contrary. Food issues such as this are seldom shown to the public via the media. Big business likes it this way...They don't want things mentioned in the media they don't want us to know about or could impede on potential profits and revenue. And they certainly don't want anyone thinking critically about conventional farming methods.

To learn a bit more about how our food has changed over time and how our vegetables have become either organic or conventional, visit the healthy diet food page where there is really interesting information about how this all came to be.

Although this seems like a pretty simple topic, organic versus conventional actually has quite a few moving parts but we'll be focusing on what we need to know and why. In order to empower us to make informed and conscious decisions about what you eat, this is critical. 

Organic Vegetables 

Organic vegetables are essentially what humans have been eating since there have been humans. Before farming, these would have been harvested from the wild and grew unattended by people. We started farming and learning agriculture about 12,000 years ago.

Today's organic farming practices and requirements vary from country to country but generally have common attributes such as:

  • Biological pest control as opposed to the use of synthetic pesticides.
  • Weed control is handled by weed pulling, crop rotation, tilling and mulching instead of chemical weed killers.
  • Crop rotation. This enhances the nutrition available to the crop in the soil and is also diverse in that several different crops are grown in an area instead of one large crop.
  • Natural fertilizers.
  • Not genetically modified (no GMO's).
  • Not irradiated. Food irradiation has been used to sterilize food and also stop the ripening process to prolong shelf life. The problem is that it can also reduce the positive nutritional and enzymatic properties of the food and also increases free radicals in the food.
  • No synthetic food additives.
  • No chemical ripening.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

Organic vegetables are what we have always eaten throughout our entire existence on this planet until just recently in about the last 100 years or so. Of course, this is about the time we started seeing wide spread health issues such as obesity, diabetes and all kinds of diseases rarely seen in our not-so-distant past. Don't get me wrong...I'm not saying that moving away from organic vegetables as a society is the sole reason for our health woes...but it is certainly a part of the problem.

Conventional Vegetables

"Conventional" farming was created out of a need for higher profit margins and higher yields for a growing population of people largely centrally located in large communities such as cities. 

  • Synthetic pesticides used for pest control. Of course, this gets all over the crops we're supposed to be eating and gets into the soil. Also is a big problem for water pollution.
  • Weed control is all done using synthetic weed killers. This also gets all over the crop you're supposed to eat and gets into the soil. Also is a big problem for water pollution.
  • Instead of a diverse farm, many conventional farms produce a single crop.
  • Fertilizers are also synthetic.
  • Foods can be irradiated, chemically ripened and all the food additives the food industry can get past the FDA can be used.

So what does all this mean to your vitality, health and strength? Let's break it down into 2 primary sections: synthetic chemicals and GMO's.

Synthetic Chemicals

The synthetic chemicals used by conventional farming practices include fertilizers, herbicides and for pest control.

Let's be clear...none of these chemicals are good for you, your family or the environment. But aren't these chemicals just residues on the vegetables you ask? Yes. But we should not be getting ANY of these destructive chemicals in our bodies for a whole bunch of reasons. 

Case in point: at a high level, here are some of the health hazards associated with the use of these chemicals:

  • Hormone disruption
  • Cancer
  • Nervous system damage (neurological)
  • Harmful to reproductive organs
  • Immune system disruption  

To add perspective, these chemical disruptors contribute to reproductive problems, birth defects, cancer, mental health, allergies and behavioral problems.

When I think about this a little deeper, I can't help but to think this could have a negative influence on ADHD and autism. I also hear stories of people who "ate well" and exercised and still got cancer. 1 + 1 = 2. There must be a link here that it seems few want to talk about. 

Chemicals that can do this to your body are certainly not contributing to optimum health. They can't...regardless of how good the vegetable is for you.

As mentioned on the healthy diet foods page, this is the reason I could not have just simply listed a bunch of organic vegetables that I recommend you should be eating because there is more to the story. Without the knowledge to go along with it, organic vegetables would just mean vegetables.

A healthy vegetable laced with synthetic chemicals is no longer healthy.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's)

GMO's are foods that have had their genetic makeup altered using genetic engineering. GMO foods have not been fully studied for their effects on health either. Regardless, they promote this as good and healthy for everyone and everything.

For the studies that have taken place about their effects on health, some have shown to leave behind harmful materials in your body that are linked to cancer. Animal studies have shown to damage organs, create immune disorders and infertility.

Since GMO's were first introduced in 1996, the percentage of people with chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% within 9 years. Food allergies suddenly became commonplace where before it was a much more rare occurrence. Autism, digestive problems and fertility issues increased. Toxic pesticides found in GMO corn was detected in the blood of unborn fetuses.

No way can this contribute to optimum health. Regardless, the companies that promote it as good are the same ones reaping big-time profits and running the farmers out of town who are trying to do the right thing.

Yet another really good reason to buy organic vegetables.

Healthy Organic Vegetables

Ok...finally. Now we can get to the organic vegetables themselves. First, let's take a look at the ones that will expose you to the most chemical residues that I very highly recommend you buy organic. But just to be clear, I think we should buy all veggies in organic form!

  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Grains (oats, barley, wheat)
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Onions
  • Leafy greens like kale and spinach

That being said, here are a listing of organic vegetables I highly recommend you add to your diet for maximum health benefits to help you achieve vitality, health and strength:

  • Artichokes: High in potassium, vitamin C, folate, magnesium and vitamin K with an awesome antioxidant profile. It's beneficial to the liver and helps regulate cholesterol levels.
  • Asparagus: High in vitamins A, C and K, high in folate and lutein and has a great probiotic called inulin. It helps prevent heart disease and help with kidney function.
  • Beets: High in antioxidants, vitamin A, C and B, and iron. 
  • Bell peppers: Have a great antioxidant profile, especially red bell peppers. High in vitamin A and C. Helps prevent heart disease and is great for digestive health.
  • Cucumber: Helps reduce blood pressure and has good levels of vitamin C and A and lutein.
  • Leafy greens: This includes bok choy, spinach, collard greens and swiss chard. These are packed with nutrition and have all kinds of vitamins like A, C, and K and have all kinds of anti-cancer properties because of a fantastic antioxidant profile. Minerals are all over the chart with all kinds of health benefits.
  • Broccoli: Great antioxidant profile with high amounts of vitamin C. Great for eye health, reduces inflammation and supports the immune system.
  • Carrots: Lots of vitamin A / beta carotene. Great for the skin and eyes and can help reduce the risk of cancer.
  • Leeks: Has antimicrobial properties, lowers cholesterol, thins the blood and reduces blood clotting. Full of vitamin A, C and K, iron, manganese, and folic acid.
  • Onions: High in vitamin C, B6, manganese and helps to lower blood pressure and is an anti-inflammatory.
  • Sweet potatoes: Great for healthy vision and skin and can also slow the signs of aging. Full of beta carotene and are low in the glycemic index.
  • Tomatoes: High in vitamins A, C and K, manganese and potassium. Helps with bone health and osteoporosis and also helps prevent macular degeneration. Also helps lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease.
  • Zucchini: Excellent antioxidant properties and helps prevent cancer. Gret source of B vitamins and A and C.

This is just a short list of my favorites. And don't let the brief description of benefits for each one fool you. Those were just the highlights!

Buying organic will ensure you are not getting GMO's and greatly reduces your exposure to damaging chemicals. 

At the end of the day, any organic vegetable you can get your hands on will provide you with a multitude of health benefits from vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Many can be eaten raw which can provide enzymes cooking may otherwise destroy. But even eaten cooked, these things will do you some good. Also, if you do cook them, steam them whenever you can for maximum benefits.

› Organic Vegetables