Not Convinced About Organic Food?

March 27th, 2009

Smashed EggDespite the undeniable evidence supporting the superiority of organically farmed food, many people are still not convinced enough to buy it. If you’re one of them, there are several tests you can try at home that are likely to change your mind and increase your appreciation for organic food.

Not all benefits of eating organic food are immediately apparent, and as such, it’s understandable why people are hesitant to spend the extra money on it. However, if you go about it the right way, buying organic food is not as expensive as you may think. But regardless of the cost, the following tests will hopefully convince you to buy organic based on principle alone.

Experience it for Yourself

The following tests are used by many excellent health practitioners to help give reluctant clients a better appreciation for the importance of organic food. I’ve also added a few additional comparisons based on my personal experiences. With the right perspective, conducting these tests can be a fun and educational experience.

Test 1: Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of nutrition, but are also one of the foods more commonly produced by factory farming. For this reason, many of the eggs available in local supermarkets are of very poor quality.

Eggs from an organically raised free range chicken tend to be dark and brown in color and have a deep colored yolk that doesn’t break easily. In contrast, eggs from conventionally raised chickens are white and often have pale colored yolks that are easily broken and have a thin consistency.

Organic Free Range Eggs vs. Conventional Eggs

With two empty drinking glasses next to each other, break open a conventionally raised egg into one and a free range organic egg into the other. The first thing that you’ll probably notice is that the conventional egg is delicate and the yolk may have broken from the short fall to the bottom of the glass. The yolk of the organic egg should be much stronger and remain intact.

Take a moment to study the two eggs and compare their consistency and color. The organic egg will likely have a much darker yolk indicating it’s superior nutritional content. In general, the contents of the organic egg should also appear to be thicker and more robust while the contents of the conventional egg will likely settle at the bottom of the glass in much sloppier form.

Although eggs are best consumed raw, I don’t recommend consuming conventionally produced eggs this way. Have someone else cook the eggs lightly without breaking the yolks and see if you can notice a difference in taste.

When I did this test, the conventionally produced egg actually looked decent and similar to the organic free range egg, but the yolk of the organic egg had a much richer taste to it. The quality of whole foods can vary greatly, and I suspect that I happened to get a conventionally produced egg that was of better quality and probably not from a factory farm.

Test 2: Chicken Legs

In many cases, conventionally raised chickens are deprived of their natural diet, are not given much freedom to move, and in some cases, are never exposed to sunlight. These chickens are unable to maintain their health and have weak bodies that are a poor source of nutrition.

In contrast, free range chickens that are raised organically are able to consume their natural diet and enjoy all the sunlight and movement they desire. As a result, they are much stronger and healthier animals and also a much much better source of nutrition.

Organic Free Range Chicken Leg vs. Conventional Raised Chicken Leg

The primary objective of this test is to help you appreciate what an unhealthy lifestyle can do to an animal. To get started, you’ll need a full chicken leg from a conventionally raised chicken, ideally one that is from a factory farm, and also a full chicken leg from an organically raised free range chicken. The knee joint of the leg needs to be intact, and because of this, you may need to use whole rotisserie chickens.

Try to cook the two chickens the same way, and when done, try pulling the leg apart from the thigh with just your hands. Many people find that the knee joint of the conventionally raised chicken practically comes apart on it’s own while that of the organically raised free range chicken is quite difficult to separate. I haven’t done this test myself, but I’ve definitely noticed a significant difference when cutting through the tendons, ligaments and cartilage found on various cuts of meat from organically raised animals.

While you’re not a cooked chicken, it’s still likely that if you eat poorly and live an unhealthy lifestyle as factory farmed chickens do, your joints will be weak and vulnerable to injury. Furthermore, your vital organs and glands will be impacted as well, and this will make you susceptible to disease.

Finally, if a chicken is so unhealthy that it’s knee joint basically falls apart, do you think it’s a good source of nutrition? Obviously the chicken didn’t have enough nutrients in it’s diet to keep itself healthy, and therefore, it’s not going to offer much nutrition to keep you healthy either.

Test 3: Vegetables

We all know that vegetables are a valuable source of nutrition, but between the chemicals and lower nutritional values found in conventionally farmed varieties, few people fully realize that they’re a poor choice. Furthermore, many people avoid vegetables because they don’t like their taste.

Until I started eating organic food, I forced myself to eat vegetables that I didn’t like because of the health benefits I believed they would provide. Organic vegetables have so much more taste that I actually enjoy them now. However, when eating at a restaurant, which isn’t too often, I typically don’t bother ordering vegetables because of how bland and tasteless they usually are. In the same regard, many parents have much more success getting their kids to eat vegetables that are organic.

Organic Green Beans vs. Conventionally Grown Green Beans

While you can use any vegetable you’d like for this test, I chose green beans because they’re one of my favorites, and conventionally grown green beans tend to taste particularly bland.

Have someone else prepare two separate servings of the same vegetable for you. One serving should be all organic while the other serving should be all conventionally grown. To preserve as much of the taste and nutrition as possible, steam the vegetables lightly, or even better, consume them raw. To prevent altering the taste too much, avoid using any condiments or sauces. Trying not to develop an opinion based on the appearance of the vegetables, see if you can notice a difference in their taste.

Test 4: Beef

Because cattle are commonly raised more inappropriately than most other livestock, it’s especially important to be conscious of quality in regard to beef. In fact, buying beef from organically raised cattle is not enough. The cattle should also be grass fed. Nearly all conventionally raised cattle are fed grain instead of being allowed to freely roam pastures and consume their natural diet of grass, and this significantly compromises their health. To make matters worse, the grain they’re fed is often of very poor quality.

Organic Grass Fed Steak vs. Conventional Grain Fed Steak

Any cut of beef will be sufficient, but I think you’ll gain more appreciation for the difference between organic grass fed beef and conventionally produced beef by using a good cut of steak such as NY strip or sirloin.

So that you don’t know which steak is grass fed and which isn’t, have someone else prepare for you a small piece of each. Make sure that both pieces are the same type of cut, and to preserve the original taste, avoid using seasoning or sauce, and try to avoid cooking the steaks any more thoroughly than medium. The more rare the steaks are, the more taste will be preserved.

In my opinion, organic grass fed meat has much more flavor and has a different texture. After cutting through a piece of meat, I can even see that the tissue of the organic grass fed meat has more integrity and is not damaged as much by the cutting. In contrast, the tissue of the conventionally raised meat shows more fraying.

Based on my Metabolic Type, I eat a lot of meat, and steak is one of my favorite foods. When I have steak at restaurants, sometimes the flavor is so bland that I don’t even enjoy it, even with the seasoning that most restaurants put on their steaks.

Taste is Just the Beginning

You are what you eat, and because this also applies to animals, you are what your food eats as well. The tests described in this article don’t account for the pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals that are commonly found in conventionally farmed food. Because the quality of these foods can vary drastically, remember that even if they taste good and look good, they may still be full of toxic chemicals that impose a significant threat to your health. The only way to ensure that your food is supporting your health by containing as much nutrition and as little contamination as possible is to buy food that is farmed organically and responsibly.

If you’ve tried any of the comparisons described in this article or have tried other comparisons of your own, I’d love to hear about your results!

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