Natural and Organic Foods
By Editorial Staff
by Catalogs.com Info Guru Angela Bushong
When looking for natural and organic foods, there is a lot of information to wade through.
What has the most pesticides? What’s healthiest for my body? We’ve collected a list of the very best to make the process just a little bit easier.
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10. Organic Oats
Oats always seem to make the list of super-foods due to their heart healthy, cholesterol reducing fiber content. And let’s face it, it’s one of the original comfort foods. But you want to be sure to get this one organic because, like most grains, conventional oats are notorious for being laden with harmful pesticides and other chemicals.
9. Sweet Potatoes
These little beauties are chock full of vitamins and a deliciously fantastic substitute for white potatoes for those needing to restrict their sugar intake or trying to lose weight. What’s even better, sweet potatoes make the Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15 list for 2013 as being one conventional (non-organic) crop with relatively low pesticide levels.
8. Grass Fed Beef
The benefits of grass fed beef, as opposed to its grain fed counterparts, are extolled far and wide. Not only is grass fed naturally full of all the good fats and relatively low on the bad, it also carries much less risk of carrying deadly antibiotic resistant e. coli. To top that off, farmers who raise grass fed cattle do much less damage to the land and the planet than sickly feed lot raised cows. If you’re going to eat red meat, do yourself and your planet a favor and go for grass fed.
7. Organic Apples
Apples are a staple in the American diet, and rightly so. This super portable lunchbox standard is a super healthy way to get more fruit into your (and your kids’) diet. Full of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t include them as part of your regular diet. Be warned, however, this is the number one fruit to make sure to buy organic. On EWG’s Dirty Dozen list this year, apples top out as containing the highest levels of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. The agricultural chemicals used today are largely systemic, which means they are literally inside the apple, so you can’t wash them off. Pay the extra pennies and always buy these organic.
6. Local Honey
Local honey is a great all natural sweetener that packs an antioxidant punch to battle free radicals along with tiny doses of the season’s pollens, to help you get control of your seasonal allergies. Why must it be local? For one, much of the honey from “away” you see in the stores can contain such additives as high fructose corn syrup (a bad guy all around), and some that is flooding the market from China is highly unregulated and may contain unapproved antibiotics or other unknown elements.
5. Pastured Chicken & Eggs
Regardless of which came first, your chickens and your eggs really need to be pastured, if you can get ’em. Pastured chickens are healthier, better for the environment, and create eggs so superior in their nutritional content (and flavor!) to their pale, caged cousins, it just makes sense to make the switch.
4. Organic Blueberries
Blueberries are another touted superfood, with a low glycemic index and so antioxidant rich they practically make nutritionists and doctors drool. If you have a blueberry farm nearby, you can ask the farmer if they use chemicals on their berries. Many local farmers don’t. But if you have to buy them from a store, play it safe and buy organic.
3. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is getting a lot more attention these days. Science is now coming around to what many island natives have known for centuries—this stuff is really good for you! Topping the list of its many health benefits are its ability to help fight viruses and bacteria, help stabilize blood sugar levels and hormone balances, and increase the body’s absorption of a host of other nutrients you may have been missing out on. However, be sure you only buy expeller pressed, unprocessed, virgin coconut oil. Once the stuff goes through the industrial process of partial hydrogenation, like with other vegetable oils, it turns into a trans-fat, which is to be avoided like the unholy plague that it is.
2. Organic Tea (green or black)
Another antioxidant powerhouse, tea (both green and black) has been known to reduce cholesterol and reduce the growth of cancer cells. Conventional tea can be pretty high in agrochemicals, however, so it’s best to buy your tea organic. And if you can get it fair trade, all the better. You’ll be an eco-and-social hero then, all while you drink yourself to better health.
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Here’s an interesting grain that is just starting to make a name for itself in the realm of natural and organic foods. From an environmental standpoint, this hearty plant grows like a weed and can tolerate all sorts of conditions, making it an ideal sustainable food crop. Also, most of the plant can be used, from the leaves eaten as a leafy green (much like spinach or collards), to the seeds as a highly nutritious gluten-free grain. It contains a whole host of vitamins along with a heavy dose of calcium, iron, and amino acids. If you try just one new thing this year, make it amaranth.
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