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Is Organic Really Necessary?

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    By Jillian Teta

    We will talk about this in terms of contest prep, but certainly much of this will relate to anyone wanting to improve health, fitness and fat loss.

    During contest preparation, you are going to be eating a lot of chicken, turkey, fish and vegetables.  It would be imprudent to not have a discussion and put some thought into the quality of the food that you will be putting into your body, particularly with the greatly increased volumes that contest prep demands. Like putting premium fuel into a car, or a lot of care and study into learning, high quality foods are the optimal cornerstone of the contest prep diet.

    So what are “organic foods” anyway? Organic vegetables have not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides and have not been grown with synthetic fertilizers. Organic meats have been fed with organic foods without added animal products (yes, some animal feed has animal by-products in it!) and are not given hormones or antibiotics in their feed.

    Choosing these “cleaner” foods translates into practical realities for your contest prep goals and results. Things like synthetic hormones, antibiotics and pesticides are all endocrine disruptors, meaning they disrupt the body’s normal hormonal signaling, and can actually be detrimental to your fat-burning machinery – especially in women whom we would consider more “estrogen dominant”, who will have larger hips and thighs. During contest prep, we want to be harnessing your body’s hormonal machinery to turn you into a fat-burning machine.

    There is a perception out there that organic foods are vastly more expensive than non-organic foods. We have found that this is not the case at all. Many supermarkets carry pre-frozen organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts for a price per pound that is comparable to non-organic. Stores like Costco and Sam’s have large containers of organic salad greens and spinach and other organic vegetables, all in bulk.

    The Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list each year of the top 12 foods that are contaminated with the greatest amounts of pesticides and they call this list the “Dirty Dozen”. These are the foods that, if you are wondering what to spend your money on, you should buy organic. Number 1 on the list is the worst, most contaminated food.

    The EWG also puts out another list, the “Clean Fifteen”, of foods that have very low residual pesticides and do not have to be bought organic. Number 1 on the list is the cleanest, least contaminated food. This will be a good guide for you if you are looking to save money, you don’t have to be too worried about buying these ones organic. Here are both lists for 2011:

    The Dirty Dozen:

    1. Celery (worst)
    2. Peaches
    3. Strawberries
    4. Apples
    5. Blueberries
    6. Nectarines
    7. Bell Peppers
    8. Spinach
    9. Kale
    10. Cherries
    11. White potatoes
    12. Grapes, imported

    The Clean Fifteen:

    1. Onions (best, cleanest)
    2. Avocado
    3. Sweet corn
    4. Pineapple
    5. Mangos
    6. Sweet peas
    7. Asparagus
    8. Kiwi
    9. Cabbage
    10. Eggplant
    11. Cantaloupe
    12. Watermelon
    13. Grapefruit
    14. Sweet potato
    15. Honeydew Melon
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