Is Organic The Way To Go In This Modern World?
Part of being an informed and conscious consumer is being aware of the foods you buy and their health benefits and drawbacks especially if you’re looking at adopting the Paleo way of eating.
Buzz words float around the world of healthy eating so frequently that it’s hard to keep track of what’s what and why- and “organic” is certainly no exception.
Walk into your typical, everyday grocery store and chances are you’ll stumble upon a few aisles labeled “health food aisle” or “organic aisle.” Sounds pretty good, right?
The shelves are stocked with items labeled “natural,” “raw,” “sprouted,” and “organic.” The prices are a bit high but hey, that’s the price you pay for health, right?
It’s important to understand what these labels mean and if they really even mean much, at all.
The term organic refers to the way in which agricultural products are grown, raised, handled and processed.
Using natural fertilizers over chemical ones, and natural insecticides over synthetic ones are both ways in which food can be grown and processed to be considered organic.
Meat that is considered organic comes from animals that were given organic feed and no antibiotics, growth hormones or medications.
The USDA regulates the organic industry and requires food manufacturers to meet strict government guidelines. You can learn more about organic agriculture here. On the USDA website.
There are a variety of organic labels that you may have come across. Some foods say made with organic ingredients.
But who really knows what that means exactly?
Variations of “Organic” Labeling
- 100% Organic- completely organic or made of all organic ingredients
- Organic- at least 95% organic ingredients
- Made with Organic Ingredients- 70% or higher organic ingredients
It’s important to consider the value of buying a particular item in an organic variety. Just because organic costs more doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth it.
Here is a list of a dozen foods that you can buy non-organic (“least contaminated”). This guide is a great reference for your trips to the grocery store.
Adding Organic Foods Into A Paleo Diet
Now that you understand what the term organic means, what are some reasons you should start adding organic foods into your grocery purchases if following a Paleo Diet?
- More Nutritious- Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavonoids
- Safer- No pesticides, usually no GMO’s
- Pure- No flavor enhancers, preservatives, contaminants
While many argue that the price of organic food makes it impossible to afford, there are ways you can make it fit your budget.
- Shop at local farmers markets
- Join an organic co-op
- Buy directly from farmers
- Buy in bulk
- Grow your own
- Shop online
Those who are fans of organic foods believe it’s healthier and safer to consume than non-organic foods when following the Paleo Diet.
On the other hand, some argue that there is no way to ensure that what you’re buying is truly organic, the major factor being the consumption of these foods over processed.
Paleo Approved Foods
Foods You Can Eat:
(we’ll cover this in a bit more detail below)
- Fish and Seafood
- Herbs and Spices
- Natural oils (avocado, coconut, olive)
- Nuts (Seeds)
Big Paleo No No Foods
(as in no, you can’t eat these):
Grains, grains, grains (barley, rye, wheat)
– Among other things they contain gluten. Avoiding grains means no bread or pasta.
Sugars (includes high fructose corn syrup)
– No soft drinks, fruit drinks, ice cream, pastries, candy, etc. Sugars may promote weight gain, give you diabetes, energy crashes and blood pressure issues, among other health issues.
– This means no beans or lentils.
Stay away from all low-fat dairy products. If you don’t have problems digesting dairy it may be okay to consume some full-fat dairy products like raw whole milk and certain cheeses but only in small amounts.
Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (canola, corn, cottonseed, soybean, sunflower, etc.)
– These oils cause unhealthy levels of inflammation. And remember the essential fatty acids mentioned above?
One of the major problems today is our unbalanced intake of Omega-6 fatty acids compared to Omega-3. A major factor in this unbalanced intake is the high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids in these oils.
– margarine was created as a “healthy” alternative to butter. As it turns out, butter is the much healthier option. Most margarine has high levels of deadly trans-fats in them.
– things like acesulfame potassium, aspartame, saccharin and sucralose are to be avoided on the Paleo diet.
Obesity is an epidemic and many, many health problems have been connected to obesity.
Obesity has been linked to diets high in processed foods, high in processed carbohydrates, and excess sugar intake.
The potential health problems include heart disease, type two diabetes, cancer and stroke.
Yes, many of you are looking at this list of what you can’t eat and thinking you could never follow a Paleo lifestyle.
Well, take another look at the list of things that you can eat! How often do you see some of those on a list of foods you can eat while on a so-called ‘diet?’
Not to mention the fact that a Paleo diet does not ask you to count calories!
Yummy Paleo Approved Foods!
Remember that list above of approved foods?
We’re talking hamburgers, steak, pork, bison, lamb, duck, turkey, chicken and more! Bacon, baby! The world is better with bacon!
Grass-fed if you can. After all, meat with a bunch of added chemicals sort of defeats the purpose of the Paleo diet, don’t you think?
Seafood includes fish like salmon, trout, shrimp, a variety of shellfish, haddock and even more.
You can eat lots of vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, kale and tomato, as well as onions and peppers.
Sweet potatoes, yams and baked potatoes are on the approved Paleo eating list. This includes turnips, too.
Yes to eggs as well – hard boiled, soft boiled, scrambled, omelet (just add some of those vegetables and even some of the meat list, if that’s what you enjoy.
Approved nuts and seeds you can eat are almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, chia seeds and macadamia nuts as well.
A large variety of fruits can be eaten when you go Paleo.
On this list is all kinds of berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.), apples, oranges, mango and pears. This also includes avocados which is a fantastic source of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that your body needs.
Oils are an important part of the Paleo diet and include the aforementioned olive, coconut and avocado.
Finally, we have our herbs and spices. There is something here for everyone to flavor your food – Sea salt, garlic, turmeric, mint, basil, rosemary and many others can be part of your every day eating.
You will find slightly different approved foods with the Paleo diet or the “Caveman” diet.
Some will tell you that it’s okay to consumer certain things in limited quantities.
This includes red wine (science says there are a variety of health benefits to red wine), hot chocolate using dark chocolate, and certain teas, like green tea, that is packed with powerful antioxidants that have a lot of health benefits.
Hardcore Paleo enthusiasts will tell you to go organic as often as possible, to only eat grass-fed meat and consume wild-caught sustainable fish. If you can do this, great, but if not, don’t let that stop you.
Following the Paleo diet will do wonders for you even if you don’t go hardcore organic all the way. Do what you can.
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