Organic food is often considered as being unaffordable, over-hyped, inconvenient, and sometimes just downright confusing! Some people know of its health benefits, others of the environmental, ethical, or economic benefits that it brings. But many of these claims come without scientific backing and have an anecdotal focus, which can lead to questions of the validity of them.
That’s why I went on the hunt for a scientific study that applies to my life as a woman and my mission to integrate more organics into my life. A recent study on JAMA Network’s online journal examined the role of organic food in cancer prevention. Of the 69,000 participants, more than 75% of them were women.
The researchers wanted to find out if there was a correlation between the number of organic foods that they integrated in place of non-organic foods and the rate of cancer. What they found was that 1,340 cases of first incident cancer were observed within the whole group during the study, and yet when more organic foods were consumed there was a significant reduction in rates of post-menopausal breast cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and other lymphomas. The consumption of organic food seems to correlate to the reduced risk of developing these cancers in humans.
This finding for me was enough to motivate me, even more, to search out organic foods in my everyday life. However, this was when I was faced with possibly the biggest barrier to eating primarily organic for most of us: The price tag. We all know that organic food is more expensive and yet we have also been shown time and time again that we need to eat more organic! So what’s the solution?
Well, what was interesting too about the JAMA Network’s study, was that it showed that improvements were made even when participant’s diets weren’t strict and solely health-focused.
Now I’m by no means saying to ditch the greens and go for a microwave TV dinner. But I am saying that perhaps you don’t need to be buying bucketloads of potions, superfoods, high-end snacks, and unpronounceable nuts/seeds/fruits, etc. We often pair the word organic with a diet filled with health elixirs, supplements, naturopathy, and exotic products. But these are part of the problem of price and for me was one of the stereotypes which made me think that maybe the organic lifestyle just wasn’t possible for me.
However, this study showed that participants saw a marked reduction in cancer risk even when they were eating a variety of foods, many of which weren’t “healthy.” Think: organic cakes, ready-meals, chocolate, snacks, etc. Some of these things can make going organic seem a bit less restrictive and more compatible with your lifestyle. Many of these organic alternatives are healthier than their conventional counterparts anyway because of the health-conscious consumer market that organic companies target. I know this was certainly the case for me and opened up a whole bunch of options which I hadn’t considered.
So you may be sitting there itching to start incorporating more organics into your diet now! But how? For many of us, there are still challenges in learning how to make the shift, find the organic alternatives, ensure they’re legitimate, etc.
Learning how to substitute: Most of the time, substitution is simple and requires no more than simply buying a different product to use in the same way. However, it’s more about your mental approach to this as the taste may be different. You just need to be aware that there may be variations in taste and texture which might mean you need to tweak the recipe a tad. Don’t worry though, I have always found the organic alternatives to be mind-blowingly close to the conventional product.
How to make sure it’s really organic: This for me was a big hurdle. Especially traveling! This is because many countries have different definitions of organic and different measured on what can be called ” organic ” and what can’t. In the U.S.A for example “100% Organic ” means that it’s 100% organic… obviously. However, if the product only says ” Organic ” up to 5% of the ingredients can be non-organic. “Made using organic ingredients” can include up to 30% non-organic ingredients. As well as this there are issues like pesticide drift from non-organic farms, organic pesticides, and incorrect labeling. So my best advice for getting this part right is to do you research! Make sure you know what organic means in your country before you go out buying.
This small lifestyle change has the potential to change so much, not just aid in cancer prevention. But even if that was the one reason to make the switch… I think it’s enough. The JAMA Network study proves that it doesn’t have to be incredibly costly and inconvenient and the benefits loud and clear. So check out the study and get yourself to the grocery store.
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