Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Salad With a Side of Hormones?

I'm drooling over this amazing organic section.  Wish I had a store like
this near my home!

Happy hump day, friends!  I just have to get through tomorrow, and I'm off to Bruce Peninsula National Park for some camping with about 12 friends for a long weekend.  What a beautiful park!  I'm super stoked to get up there.  Hope your week is going well!

On to the matter at ongoing crusade for health, balance and happiness.  I'm still fighting that war with my hormones, those pesky little jerks.  I just finished up with 19 horrendous days of my life being interrupted by them.  Yes, 19 days from start to finish.  How can someone live like this?  I know I'm not the only one, I'd love to hear your own stories!

My 2nd detox tool, along with eliminating plastic, has been to seek out organic produce and meat, whenever available.  Certified organic produce cannot be sprayed with pesticides, and no GMO's are permitted.  There is no way I can fully understand or explain the biological process of hormone disruption caused by eating food sprayed with pesticides, but I will try. 

Pesticides are chemicals that can mimic estrogen in the body (another type of xenoestrogen).  They fill up the estrogen receptors in our body so that the good estrogen can't get through to perform it's role properly (basically leaving all the good estrogen floating around, not getting used up).  The result is hormonal imbalance.  Simply put.

The Dirty Dozen

According to The Environmental Working Group, the following fruits and vegetables are most sprayed with pesticides, and if you have to be selective with your organic purchases, it's a good idea to buy the following in the organic section:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

The 12 least contaminated are:

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

I've gotta say, I find that some fruits and veggies taste way better organic.  I'm loving strawberries and blueberries this summer, and organic carrots are so sweet!

Of course, there is the GMO issue, which is HUGE!  It makes me feel quite sick to know that a company like Monsanto is allowed to exist and have patents on seeds that they have modified to withstand their own pesticides.  They own bits of Mother Nature, for crying out loud!  Watching the film "Food Inc." ( really opened my eyes to all this, and at this point, I will not eat corn unless it's organic.  I don't go near any soy products, as soy has very estrogenic properties, but if I did, I would only eat organic.  I do encourage everyone to watch that film, as it will really enlighten you about the unfortunate realities of the food industry, and will help you make more informed choices about the food you choose to eat.  It's hard to watch, but it's SO worth it.

I'd like to add one more thing about organic produce, as a word of caution.  On the weekend, I bought some organic veggies at an independent market which sells a lot of organics.  I came home, started putting away the veggies, and noticed that the tag on my celery looked kind of funny:

Sorry for the sideways pic!  But you can clearly
see that it says 'Red Leaf'.

I can't help but feel suspicious that the celery I bought was not organic, despite the higher price, and that a twist tie for organic red leaf lettuce was used to tie the celery.  I'm not sure that independent markets have the same level of accountability as larger markets.  There could be a perfectly innocent explanation for this, but I really have my doubts.

Incidentally, you might want to know about the numbers on those stickers you have to peel off your produce.  For conventionally grown fruit, (grown with chemicals inputs), the PLU code on the sticker consists of four numbers. Organically grown fruit has a five-number PLU prefaced by the number 9. Genetically modified fruit has a five-number PLU prefaced by the number 8.

Meat!!!  "You can't make friends with salad, you can't make friends with salad."

I have also chosen to buy only organic meat from animals raised without hormones and antibiotics, in a natural and humane environment.  Conventional livestock are injected with growth hormones and fed antibiotics.  Ingesting those hormones and antibiotics would also contribute to the hormonal havoc in my body (this world is dirty).  In addition, animals from factory farms endure the worst living conditions imaginable, and it absolutely turns my stomach.  If everyone knew how their meat got to the grocery store (again, see "Food Inc."), they would do their very best to only buy organic meat for the rest of their lives.

We buy our meat from Rowe Farms, as it is the most economical option for us.  Their steak is fairly comparable in price to steak at the grocery store, perhaps only a dollar or two more expensive.  We find the chicken is actually cheaper at Rowe Farms, provided you are okay with buying frozen chicken breasts.  They sell a package containing 4-5 large chicken breasts for $15.99.  Yes, you read that right!  At the grocery store, you can pay around $8 - $10 for 2 Prime chicken breasts, so the Rowe Farms price is either comparable, or even cheaper.  We like buying in slightly larger quantities, as we then have  enough chicken to last a week or more, and we usually end up popping them in the freezer anyway.  Perfect!  I do find that their ground meat (beef and turkey) is noticeably more expensive than the grocery store slop, so I cringe to buy it.

We also buy our eggs at Rowe Farms, because they are free-run, hormone and antibiotic free, and about $2.00 cheaper than the equivalent at the grocery store.  Sometimes organic is more affordable than we might think.

That said, I know that it is simply not in the budget for many of us to buy organic.  It's an unfortunate reality of the food industry as it stands.  Hopefully one day organic food will become more affordable and accessible to more people.  I think it will just take a bit more time.

I'm grateful that I have the means to spend that extra money on organic.  I feel that I can keep my body cleaner, and hopefully help my hormone imbalance along so I don't have to live this way for much longer.  Here's hoping!

Cheers y'all, have a great weekend!  I'll come back next week and hopefully I'll be able to tell you that I was able to go camping CleanLiving style!


  1. Thanks for the tip regarding GM produce beginning with the number 8 -- I didn't know that.

    For our household, we aim to buy organic, too -- or, at the very least, hormone/antibiotic/pesticide free.

    Personally, I'm not keen on Rowe Farms eggs -- their hens are still kept indoors -- how can a chicken eat it's natural diet indoors?

    I buy meat at Rowe Farms out of convenience (ie, when I haven't made it to my usual haunts) - they claim that their animals are grass-fed, but do not mention whether they use pesticides or chemical fertilizers on their property. I prefer to shop at The Healthy Butcher, or at independent markets (Leslieville Farmers Market or Brickworks -- both have organic meat vendors). It's a bit of a pain (and extra money) to haul *ss all over the city to get high quality meat, but we find it worthwhile.

    FYI - sign up for a Livegreen card (free!)
    and use the card at The Healthy Butcher; you receive 10% off a whole organic chicken. They are more than happy to chop it up for you (quarters or eighths). Buying a whole chicken is cheaper than 3 chicken breasts!

    I don't always have the time to hit the markets/The Healthy Butcher/The Big Carrot, so we have an organic produce box delivered each week. Green Earth Organics is one of the few (maybe only?) box schemes that allows you four free substitutions each week/delivery (you can set your delivery as weekly, biweekly, monthly). The small box is $37 and it lasts us a week. Having a variety of produce delivered ensures that I'm not buying the same things week in and week out. GEO also has connections with organic meat farmers.

    Christine, thanks so much for sharing your insights and learning experiences!

    Have a wonderful weekend away!

  2. Wow, thanks for the comment and insight! I guess you're right about the Rowe Farm eggs. Indoor is not fully free-run. And I will definitely contact them to ask if they use pesticides and chemical fertilizer on their land.

    I would love to shop at Healthy Butcher, but it's just a bit too expensive for me. We bought 2 chicken breasts there once and it came to $30! I do realize that buying a whole chicken is much more economical, but I'm really only a fan of the white meat...unless my boyfriend ate all the other parts. I've checked into Beretta Farms as well, but they're pricey too.

    I've looked into Green Earth Organics before, and it's definitely on my horizon. I think it might be good for me to have a variety of produce, as I too just buy the same things all the time.

    Yesterday I was at St. Lawrence Market for the first time, and I fell in love with it! I especially loved the Harbourfront Organic Market, where I picked up some organic corn on the cob for our camping trip. YUM!

    I will indeed have a great weekend, I'm sure, and I wish you the very same.

    Please keep my blog bookmarked and check in from time to time. I'd love to hear from you again!


  3. Update: I wrote to Rowe Farms re: pesticide and chemical use. This was the response:

    "We do not allow the use of pesticides or chemicals on our farms. Our farmers are committed to a sustainable agricultural model and believe as we do, that there are better alternatives for the land, our animals and our customers."

    That satisfies me. But their meat is not organic, and therefore the feed they use is probably not organic, which almost guarantees that their animals eat GMO corn and soy.

    As such, I have placed an order with Healthy Butcher for some meat, and I'm picking it up on Friday. I'm a little anxious about the price point, but it is worth it. We can always cut back on our meat consumption and eat vegetarian a few nights a week.

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