Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Demystifying organic

Stratford University in Falls Church, Va., issued a press statement to help demystify the term "organic."

The statement notes that the concept of organic exists on several levels. According to the American Dietetic Association, food labeled "100 percent organic" means the food must contain only organically produced ingredients, except for water and salt. Items labeled "organic" must contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients, except water and salt. Products with claims that the food is "made with organic ingredients" must contain at least 70 percent ingredients that are derived from organic products.

There is a list of items considered organic must-haves in the kitchen, according to the statement. This list comprises crops that environmentalist groups agree are the most heavily sprayed with chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and rodenticides. The items are: peaches, apples, sweet pepper, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes. Additionally, organic is recommended when purchasing meat, especially beef.

What is so bad about these chemicals on food? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, they can cause health problems such as birth defects, nerve damage, cancer and other side effects when used over a long period of time.

"At first, it can be a little daunting trying to figure out what is worth putting out the extra money on to get organic," said Carla Skornik, culinary arts instructor at Stratford, in the statement. "But once you think about it, and make a list of the most important items on which to go organic, it's much easier, and soon you won't even have to think about it."

For more information, contact Stratford University.