Organic Doesn’t Always Mean Healthy

Organic Doesn't Always Mean Healthy

I wrote this article a few years back. Sadly, since then, all of our ferrets have died. However, they all made it to ten, an advanced age for a ferret; clearly, we were doing something right. Spike the Cat is happily still with us, along with Dexter the Pug and Jed the Hero Dog, both of whom eat low carb, as well.

My husband and I are pet people. Among our pets (we have six, all told) are a cat and three ferrets. Both of these species are obligate carnivores – animals who absolutely must have meat to live and thrive, and for whom a high protein diet is vital. Because their needs are similar, they can eat the same diet: high quality, high protein cat food.

I’ve long been convinced that quite a lot of the health problems of modern pets – dental decay, obesity, diabetes, and the like – are caused by the same dietary reliance on cheap carbohydrates as causes those problems in humans. I read a lot of pet food labels before making a decision on food for the cat and the ferrets. Having settled on the formula with the least corn and rice – foods that are not part of the natural diet of cats or ferrets – I fed that food exclusively, with excellent results.

Imagine my dismay when I discovered my pet store had discontinued the food I had so carefully selected. In its place, the manager told me, they had started carrying this wonderful new brand. What was so great about it? It was “organic.”

“That’s nice,” I said. “Let me read the label.” Sure enough, the food was organic – absolutely loaded with organic rice and organic corn, neither of which was going to do my beasts any good at all. I told the manager I was sorry to change pet stores after so many years, but I’d have to pass up the organic food, and find something that fit the dietary needs of my furry friends.

The point is this: “Organic” is no kind of guarantee of nutrition.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not against organic food. I buy a lot of local, small farm, organically raised stuff myself. I love the local farmer’s market, I get my milk from an Amish farmer, I buy eggs from local folks who keep a few chickens in the yard, and let ’em run around outside. When I garden myself – didn’t get around to it this summer – I use compost, not chemical fertilizer, and never spray poisons around my garden. I’m convinced that food that’s carefully raised not only avoids a lot of toxins, but also has a higher nutritional value.

But organically raised junk is junk nonetheless.

This is the main reason I changed health food stores, as well. The one I had frequented for years kept discontinuing products I relied on to make room for more and more organic junk – organic white sugar, organic white flour (be aware: “organic wheat flour” or “organic unbleached flour” are refined white flour – if it’s whole wheat, the label will say “whole wheat,”) organic white bread, organic sandwich cookies (just as full of refined flour and sugar as the familiar kind,) even, God help us, organic cigarettes. Health food my Aunt Millie.

I would choose an organically-grown apple over a conventionally grown apple, but I’d choose that conventionally grown apple over an organic sandwich cookie or candy bar. For that matter, my grocery store has a number of organic kiddie cereals, clones of the popular varieties. Having read labels, I can tell you that they have roughly the same carbohydrate, fiber, and sugar content as Lucky Charms, no one’s idea of health food – and the same lack of protein. I’d far, far sooner recommend that you feed your child conventionally raised eggs for breakfast than organic but sugary kiddie cereal.

So please, don’t fall into the “if it’s organic, it’s healthy” trap. Organic junk carbs are still junk carbs. Organic soybean oil is still loaded with unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids. Organic cane sugar is still sugar.

I am 100% in favor of your making this refreshing and nutritious beverage with organic raspberries – but even made with conventionally grown berries, it’s more nutritious than organic soda! (Yes, there is such a thing – made with “the highest quality organic sugar on Earth.” Yeah, right.)

Raspberry Fizz

  • 1 pint raspberries, fresh or frozen with no sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Stevia/FOS blend
  • 1 liter carbonated water (club soda, unsweetened,) chilled

Put the raspberries and the splenda or stevia/FOS blend in your blender or food processor, and puree. If you like, strain out the seeds, but this involves putting the puree in your strainer and rubbing it through with the back of a spoon, which takes a bit of time. I wouldn’t bother.

Divide the puree between four tall glasses, fill with ice, and top with carbonated water.

4 Servings: 34 Calories; trace Fat; 1g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 4g Fiber; 4g usable carbs.

(Note: Find stevia/FOS blend, an all-natural sugar-free sweetener, at CarbSmart or your local health food store. I purchase it under the name “SteviaPlus.“)

(Recipe reprinted with permission from The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook by Dana Carpender, 2006, Fair Winds Press.)

© Dana Carpender. Used by kind permission of the organically-grown author. What do you think? Please send Dana your comments to Dana Carpender.

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