Organic Foods

On a week by week basis, I have been trying to incorporate more organic food into our household.  Yes, it is more expensive, but I think it is an important way to vote with my dollars for helping create a larger organic market.

Organic farming builds healthier, more fertile soil without the use of toxic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, as well as through incorporating crop rotation.  It prevents the erosion of topsoil.  It lowers greenhouse gas emissions and conserves energy.  It keeps toxic substances out of nearby water sources.  (The excess nitrogen that makes its way to the ocean has created “dead zones“.  These are low oxygen areas of coastal waters where marine life is literally suffocated.  There are 150 of these zones in the world’s oceans.)  It ensures that no antibiotics, genetic engineering, cloning, sewage sludge or irridation (using x-rays to sterilize food) are used in the production of the food.  It avoids the use of intense feedlots or factory farms for raising animals.  It can protect us from the adverse health effects of pesticides, as well as farmers and farm workers.

Should we be concerned about the pesticides and fertilizers?  Here is a list of a few of the ingredients found in some of them: nitrates, arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, and dioxin.  The dangers become the fact that most of these are persistent (don’t disappear), bioaccumulative (stored in the fatty tissues), and are toxic.  Not all produce absorbs the chemicals to the same degree.  To see what fruits and vegetables we should be wary of check out the dirty dozen list done by the Environmental Working Group.  I live in peach country, and that is NUMBER ONE on the list!!  What am I going to do this summer?

I think I need to find the local organic farmers and the Canadian Organic Growers has a website that can help locate farms, restaurants, and producers.   Another place to look for local farms is the Local Harvest website.  It looks like a site specific to the States, but you can find Canadian farms or producers on there as well.  Another place to find local food suppliers is on the Eat Well Guide website or you can locate local grass-fed food on the Eat Wild website.

Before I finish off with the organics, I just wanted to touch on seafood.  Remember my dilemma about what to eat at The Keg?  Well, I have found a website to help us navigate our seafood choices.  They even have a printable seafood guide that you can keep in your wallet.

Happy shopping and eating!  The beautiful thing about eating organic food is that they taste soooo good!

Published in: on March 4, 2009 at 3:31 am  Comments (3)  

Cotton

Before, when I thought about cotton, I thought clean, comfy, and pure.  Well, I have to let go of that image now that I really know about cotton. 

Conventionally grown cotton is not a pretty crop.  Here are some of the dirty details:

  • Cotton requires a long growing season and huge amounts of water, causing desertification in some parts of the world.
  • Cotton consumes around 25% of the worldwide insecticides and more than 10% of the pesticides, while occupying only 3% of the farmland.
  • The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies 7 of the top 15 cotton pesticides as human carcinogens.
  • It takes around a 1/4 lb of chemicals to produce  1 T-shirt.
  • After harvest cotton is typically bleached (chemicals), dyed (more chemicals), and then treated with a formaldehyde finish (yet more chemicals).
  • In California cotton gin trash (the left-over leaves, stems,  and short fibers) is so contaminated that it is illegal to feed it to cows.  So instead the gin trash is used to make mattresses, pillows, tampons, cotton balls, etc.

Supporting conventional cotton growing is not something that I want to be a part of, so what are the other options out there?  Organic products are, of course, the recommendation: cotton, hemp, bamboo, ramie (an asian grass used to cover mummys back in the day), linen, silk (the caterpiller friendly kind – in which they let the caterpillers live), wool, alpaca, cashmere, and lyocell (wood pulp).  Choosing hemp and bamboo, even if they are not organic, are still a better choice because they require little to no fertilizer.

Avoid nylon, polyester, and acrylic which are all fossil fuels. 

I did a little web surfing the other night, and I found a few Canadian companies that are offering some of these products online, including fabric.  A lot of the products in clothing tend toward yoga wear, t-shirts, items for women and infant/toddlers.  So, as far as I can tell at this point, the selections are somewhat limited.  There is more choice if you are looking for houshold linens and towels.

I think, for the moment, second hand stores are going to be the ticket for me.  That way I will not consume raw materials and I will help limit new uglies from being created in the environment (as well as not unknowingly supporting sweatshops).  Swapping clothes with friends is another great way to get a new wardrobe without being wasteful, and it would be so fun to organize a Swap-O-Rama-Rama. http://swaporamarama.org/  The website states at the outset of their philosophy:

“There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.”  –Gandhi