With the mission of improving the quality of the environment in North Carolina, the nonprofit NC GreenPower was founded in 2003 as a statewide program. In 2015, NC GreenPower launched a new program to support solar PV installations at North Carolina K-12 schools.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Organic Food 101
Organic food has become a lucrative business with every
grocery store trying to get a piece of the pie. Industry experts estimate that
organic food sales were $28 billion in 2012 with expectations for continued
growth. So what’s the benefit of buying organic? Is it more nutritious? Is it
worth the extra cost?
First, let’s define what classifies a food as organic.
According to the EPA, organically grown food is food grown and processed using
no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Organic livestock must have access to the
outdoors, be given organic feed and may not be given antibiotics, growth
hormones or any animal-by-products.
Is it more
nutritious? What are the benefits? A recent Stanford study
shows little evidence to back the claim that organic foods are packed with more
vitamins making them more nutritious. Although studies do show that organic
foods contain higher antioxidants which have been linked to certain types
of cancer prevention. There is also a decrease in negative health effects and
issues associated with toxic residues that result from pesticide use. Consistent
pesticide exposure has been shown to contribute to deficiencies in
neurodevelopment, a factor in autism, ADHD and other neurological impairments
in developing children. Eating organic produce and meat could potentially
decrease this exposure.
Weighing the costs and benefits in choosing organic foods is
up to each individual person. While those unbothered by pesticide use opt for
the cheaper conventional items, others take a stand against industry farms
fighting for removal of all pesticides. For more information please visit the
USDA’s website here.
If you choose to buy organic, it is important to understand
the labeling. The USDA issues three categories of labels:
organic: foods that do not contain any non-organic ingredients
Food containing 95% organic ingredients with the remaining 5% not containing
organic ingredients: Foods that have at least 70% organically produced
ingredients (can contain up to 30% of nonorganic ingredients!)
So keep an eye out for buzz words and companies misleading
use of the word ‘organic’, making sure it has a UDSA seal of approval. Keep in
mind that organic is not synonymous with healthy; organic food can still be
packed in bad fats, calories and sugar!
Be sure to check out upcoming blogs that will give in depth
looks at which foods to buy organic, which to skip and recipes for in season
While choosing organic may be important, it is also just as
important to shop local in season produce. With asparagus being one of April’s
peak in season produce, here’s a simple recipe from the local Durham Farmers' Market incorporating asparagus into an appetizer or side dish.
Fresh Asparagus Salad
– (Chef Christy Quirk from Bull Street Gourmet & Market)
Bunch ASPARAGUS, Thinly Sliced
LEMON, Zested and Juiced
SHALLOT, Shaved (you may want less)
LAVENDER BUDS, Rubbed
BLACK PEPPER, Freshly Ground
NUTMEG or MACE
Prepare a medium
bowl. Combine all the flavoring/seasoning ingredients, mix well, then add the
asparagus. May serve immediately or chill until use.
This salad may also serve as a relish for
sandwiches, grilled proteins, etc.
As a side, welcome additions to the salad might
include nuts, goat cheese, fresh tomatoes, or mushrooms.