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What lurks in what you eat

A couple months ago when it was particularly oppressive outside, I would have paid a good amount of money to don some sort of ice jacket for the walk between the metro and my office. For breakfast, I wanted everything to be cold, so one day, I chose an iced coffee and some fruit. Shortly thereafter, I was whining to my “better” half about how hot it was outside and that I had scarfed down some watermelon and cantaloupe to cool down from my less-than-a-mile jaunt.

“You ate cantaloupe?” he said, gasping in horror.

“Yes, why?”

“A bunch of cantaloupe just got recalled all over the East Coast and South.”

I felt my stomach grumble with nausea. Listeria is not to be messed with because it causes meningitis and sepsis. I immediately wanted to expunge all fruit I had happily consumed just 45 minutes ago.

As I read more about the offending bacteria, I discovered that the July incident was not an isolated one. It happened again in August, when a farm in Indiana was the source of a salmonella outbreak that involved 178 reported illnesses. Out of the 178 reported cases, 62 of them required hospitalization. As I made a mental note to never eat melons again (which I have not upheld by the way), I also told myself that I needed to transition into a career involving FDA investigations, or food and beverage litigation.

I try to buy organic whenever it is possible, especially to avoid produce that may be heavily laden with pesticide residue. S0 I was surprised by the results of a study conducted at Stanford that found that organic foods were not healthier or more nutritious than their non-organic counterparts.

“Some believe that organic food is always healthier and more nutritious,” one of the researchers said. “We were a little surprised that we didn’t find that.”

I was baffled by the purpose of this study and its conclusions. You did a study to differentiate the health benefits of an organic fruit or vegetable versus a non-organic one, and your results end up showing that the nutritional benefits of said apple or orange are the same? This may be because the real reason most people aim to buy organic products is to avoid the pesticides, antibiotics, or any other chemicals that can often be involved in the growing or raising process of conventional produce or livestock.

What do you think? Have you gravitated toward buying organic produce or meats? Have you had any experience researching the requirements of the USDA organic certification of approval? Do you think that some “organic” or “natural” labels are false advertising?