LIVING: Going Organic

Written by Paul Fairchild in the March 2013 Issue

Organic Food“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” The familiar cliché gets drilled into every elementary school student and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives. Generally, we hang on to clichés because, while overused, they’re true. This one is not. More than 90 percent of conventionally grown apples are loaded with at least two pesticides—and several other chemicals, as well. As consumers learn more about the chemicals in their food, they’re increasingly adopting organic diets and embracing foods that are completely free of pesticides, herbicides and hormones.

Edmond resident Carolina Elizabeth is on board with organic diets. “I think what scares me the most is the word cancer and its link to hormones, pesticides and other chemicals in our foods. The insane amount of antibiotics given to farm animals also frightens me. We find organic fruits and veggies tastier and my girls are more likely to eat them, making them healthier,” she says.

Like the rest of the nation, Edmond has felt the rising demand for organic food. February 2012 witnessed the opening of Edmond’s Uptown Grocery. The company’s philosophy is uncomplicated: offer the highest quality foods at the lowest possible prices. With its expansive offering of organic foods, Uptown Grocery is riding the wave of a national increase in demand for clean, chemical-free food.

Cindy Dicken, Natural and Organic Manager for Uptown Grocery, thinks the explanation for the increased interest in organic foods is simple. “People are just becoming more health-conscious,” she says, “The data is not very clear on what pesticides, hormones and other chemicals used on conventional crops are doing to us. Our customers are becoming more concerned about these. They believe those chemicals are behind a number of the diseases that have taken off in the last ten years. The increased interest in organic foods is simply a result of consumers’ health concerns. They want to know what they’re putting in their bodies.”

Edmond’s resident nutrition expert, Dr. Michele Menzel, owner of Energetic Wellness and author of The 48 Day Transformation, doesn’t hold back when laying out the benefits of organic diets.

“I’ve been eating organic food for almost 20 years,” she says, “Organic produce is much healthier for you than conventional produce because it doesn’t have the pesticide load that conventional fruits or vegetables have. Human beings weren’t designed to have 87,000 chemicals in their food. Organic food is a perfect match for the design and function of the human body.” Menzel conducts nutrition seminars for the general public every second and fourth Fridays.

Watching their grocery budgets carefully, some shoppers shy away from organic foods. They’re looking at price tags and the costs of organic foods can be almost double the cost of their conventional counterparts. Jennifer Webster, co-owner of Edmond’s Providence Farms, believes that figure is misleading. “You’ve got to take into consideration things like nutritional levels. Organic food is 25 percent more nutritious, with a lot more vitamins and minerals. You’re really actually getting more bang for your buck with organic foods even thought they cost more,” she says. Webster’s lost 22 pounds over the last year by simply loading her diet with organic foods.

Janet Little, Nutritionist for Sprouts Farmers’ Market, shares that opinion, but cites additional benefits of an organic diet. “When you buy organic food, you’re supporting a movement to support local food providers. It’s a movement about caring about the planet. Typically, you’re supporting the farmer that values Mother Earth and still values putting good quality products out to the consumer,” she says.

Edmond and Oklahoma City consumers enjoy at least a dozen sources for organic foods. And those aren’t just grocery stores. A night on the town could include Ludivine, a restaurant offering dishes featuring only organic and locally grown foods. Edmond in particular is blazing a trail toward healthy, organic diets—for those that are tired of those chemical-soaked apples.

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