Wednesday, September 22, 2010

But It's orGANic...

I just got around to the August 21st, 2009 podcast of NPR's "Science Friday", during which Michael Pollan and others were talking about sustainable foods.  Michael Pollan's thoughts were so compelling that at midnight after a 4-hour car ride, I found myself sitting in the car in my driveway to finish listening to him.  Here's an example of his unconventional wisdom:  "Right now we're moving toward a supermarket full of organic junk food which people buy under the mistaken impression that it's healthy."

I agree, Michael Pollan.  I hear, "But it's orGAnic," from people all the time.  It's as if because it says "organic" on it, the package could contain a deep-fried twinkie and people would still feel virtuous consuming it.  Even though an organic, packaged product might be made with some ingredients that come from a field that wasn't sprayed with toxic chemicals and a cow that wasn't fed toxic sludge, it might still have been stripped of all of its nutrients and heated in an inferno to kill off all things bad and good.
Let's be real here.  If you're going to spend the time and money on organic food in order to avoid the chemicals that are in conventional foods that could cause cancer, hormone imbalances and neurological disorders, don't you want to stay away from any food that might cause those awful things?  The processed, organic foods we're substituting for conventional junk foods may have too much added sugar, salt and refined (devoid of nutrients) flour.  They may contain loads of Omega 6 fatty acids from soybean or corn oil, or they might have ingredients in them that you are sensitive to.   That food in a box certainly has no fresh vegetables or fruit in it, either.  All of these things can cause cancer, hormone imbalances and neurological disorders, too...

Here's an example.

Organic Newman O's
Yesss!  Healthy Oreos!  Let's compare them to regular Oreos to make sure.   

Looking at the ingredients, there's not much difference between the two, except that Oreos contain high fructose corn syrup instead of the three sweeteners that Newman's Own uses, and nothing is organic in the Oreos.  Note that not everything is organic in the Newman O's, either...

They're really similar in terms of nutritional value, too (chart below).  Both have lots of sugar, refined flour, Omega 6 fats, little fiber and not much protein at all.  You can't exactly call it a well-rounded snack.  I can't even demonize Oreos about having trans fats in them - they don't anymore.  These two products are almost exactly the same, except that Newman O's have no pesticides or GMO's in them (not that I don't think that's important).

The point is, they'll both spike your blood sugar, create inflammation, and do little to actually satisfy hunger.  Not to mention that if you make a habit of eating foods like this all the time, you're likely to have bigger problems (see third paragraph) as you get older.

To top it all off, upon further investigation, I found out that Nabisco came out with an organic version of the original Oreo.  You know that if Nabisco can do it, it's not healthy.  I rest my case.

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