Have you hugged your planet today? If you haven’t, you should – that’s because it’s officially Earth Day. Celebrated every April since 1970, this environmental and civic movement is credited with activating more than 1 billion people to take part in a wide range of earth-friendly initiatives. Whether saving whales, improving drinking water accessibility, “greening” schools or planting trees in impoverished countries, the diverse network of past and present Earth Day programs has had a profound impact on this place we all call home.
As a health advocate and food blogger, the issue of organic food is a personal area of interest. Not only does most conventional farming (with the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers) create tainted edibles that can negatively affect our health, it also harms the Earth through contaminated top soils, polluted drinking water and an array of ancillary issues. In general, I think it is best not to mess with Mother Nature. However, as a busy modern mom on a budget, I do understand that committing to a 100-percent organic diet is not always realistic – organic food can be expensive and hard to find and I don’t have the time or temperament to tend a garden.
I tell friends and family who want to “go organic” that they can get the most bang for their buck by purchasing a mix of organic and traditional products – the key is being an educated consumer. For example, when it comes to picking out produce, some fruits and vegetables are very prone to chemical contamination while others are not. Typically, it’s the low-to-the-ground growing foods (like berries and lettuces) along with fruits and vegetables with thin, chemical-absorbing skin (like peaches) that are the most tainted. This is where you should spend your money on organic options. Fruits and vegetables with thick edible skin, and better yet, an inedible protective encasing (like pineapple), usually have much lower levels of pesticide contamination and can be purchased through a traditional supply chain.
The country of origin should also play a role in the decision-making process of which organic foods to buy. I recommend purchasing products grown in the USA; locally-sourced is even better as it supports area farmers. Food from other countries, even when labeled “organic,” may not be held to the same production practices and standards. Also, don’t forget to wash all produce, both traditional and organic, before eating. Even the thickest-skinned produce, like cantaloupe and watermelon, should be cleaned prior to cutting – if not, the knife could drag harmful residue from the outside down through the flesh.
In honor of Earth Day and eating organic food, I created a delicious recipe for Triple Berry Quinoa Salad featuring one of Litehouse Food’s organic dressings, Raspberry Lime Vinaigrette. Litehouse Food’s collection of organic dressings is made with fresh, delicious organic ingredients and meets the high standards required for QAI Organic and USDA Organic certification.