The New York Times printed an article yesterday titled “It’s Organic, but Does That Mean It’s Safer?” The article is really interesting; it’s a good question, and the answer’s a little scary. The article explains the common misconception that food marked with the “certified organic” seal is safer than other products. However, even organic foods were tainted by the recent peanut butter/salmonella mess and being certified organic doesn’t necessarily mean that food is safe. The article notes,
“Because there are some increased health benefits with organics, people extrapolate that it’s safer in terms of pathogens,” said Urvashi Rangan, a senior scientist and policy analyst with Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. “I wouldn’t necessarily assume it is safer.”
So…here I am. Once again trying to define what it means to eat better. Does it mean eating less meat, because Americans consume more meat than is needed for good nutrition and meat production adversely affects the environment? I’ve stopped eating meat at lunch and I’m feeling good about it and not even really missing it, but I need to add more fruits and vegetables and eat less carbs. I have a friend who gave up processed sugar last year, extolling the health benefits, should I do that? I’m a bit of a chocoholic; I don’t think I could do that. Does it mean eating more? A nurse recommended to me last year that I put on some weight (I’ve always been thin).
Should I only eat locally grown food? Obviously, local doesn’t mean organic either. It’s all very confusing:
Some shoppers want food that was grown locally, harvested from animals that were treated humanely or produced by workers who were paid a fair wage. The organic label doesn’t mean any of that. (also from the NY Times article)
At this point in my exploration of food, I’m more concerned with eating complete meals, increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables and decreasing my meat intake. But articles like this one make me wonder if I’m doing all I can and should be to improve my health and use my purchasing influence for the right causes. I’m hoping Mark Bittman’s Food Matters will shed some more light on the subject, but I suspect it will be a while before I get it from the library; every copy in the system is checked out. At any rate, his interview on The Colbert Report yesterday was pretty good. Check it out.
Thanks to Serious Eats for the NY Times link.