Junk food versus organic

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by tansy, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. tansy

    tansy New Member

    By MANDY FRANCIS, Daily Mail 08:36am 18th July 2006

    More of us than ever are choosing organic foods. But while it might seem a
    healthier option, would you really notice a difference in wellbeing if you went
    totally organic?
    We challenged a dyed-in-the-wool organic family to swop lifestyles for a week
    with a family who love ready-meals. The results make fascinating reading. MANDY
    FRANCIS reports.

    William and Gaby Lana, both 38, are the owners of Greenfibres, an organic
    clothing company. They live in Totnes, Devon, with their children, Megan, 11,
    and Max, nine. Gaby says:

    We started to eat organically about 15 years ago. Now, just about the only thing
    in our kitchen that isn't organic is a jar of Marmite - and that's only because
    we haven't found a satisfactory substitute - yet.

    We choose to eat organic mainly for health reasons. We feel it's really
    important to eat food that is as close to its natural state as possible -
    freshly picked, in season and not sprayed with a cocktail of chemicals, pumped
    full of antibiotics and growth hormones or packed with artificial additives and

    We cook everything from scratch, so we know exactly what is in our meals. On an
    average day, breakfast is no-sugar, organic cereal with unhomogenised milk -
    milk that has not been processed to break up natural fat globules - as well as
    fruit and apple juice from local organic farms.

    Lunch might be a wholemeal cheese sandwich (all the ingredients organic and made
    locally) with tomatoes from our organic garden. Supper might be organic pasta
    with a home-made sauce, salad from a friend's allotment and a glass of local
    organic wine - followed by ice cream or fruit for dessert.

    We were nervous about the life swop - but determined to immerse ourselves in it
    nonetheless. On the first day, we took the children to a large, local
    supermarket just outside Totnes - a new experience for all of us.

    It really did feel like walking into another world. We're used to small,
    friendly, local shops - so everything about the supermarket was different: from
    the controlled temperature and lighting to the weird, deodorised smell.

    It's strange that you can't actually smell food in a supermarket - I guess
    because most of it is so tightly packaged. William makes a homemade pizza once a
    week, which we all love - so our first mission was to buy a ready-made version.

    We were stunned by the choice. There was literally, a whole aisle of pizza! Thin
    crust, thick crust, stuffed crust - it was really hard to know what to choose,
    but we eventually settled for a Goodfellas pepperoni - averting our eyes from
    the scary food label with its salt and fat.

    The children were allowed to pick whatever they liked and quickly scooped up
    packets of chocolate coated cereal, bags of crisps, a huge bottle of lemonade
    (they only drink fruit juice or water at home) and Cheese Strings - which they
    had seen on TV at a friends house (we don't own a TV).

    Megan was seduced by an ice cream because it came with a free pink plastic
    spoon. That's the kind of marketing you never see on the kind of food we
    normally buy.

    The display of fruit and vegetables looked lovely - so we took Pink Lady apples,
    bags of salad leaves and broccoli florets to go with the selection of ready
    meals that took our fancy.

    We finished off with a couple of bottles of wine from California and South
    Africa. We normally only buy organic wine from Europe as we're conscious of air
    miles and resulting pollution.

    That night we decided to try some ready-made chicken and herb crepes. The flabby
    specimens lying in the plastic tray looked nothing like the picture on the box -
    but we hoped they would improve with cooking.

    William and I then spent about 15 minutes arguing about whether to put the
    plastic tray in the oven as it advised on the instructions.

    You don't need a degree in chemistry to realise something from the plastic must
    leach into the food when you're heating the whole thing up to 180c for 30
    minutes. Eventually, we gritted our teeth and got on with it.

    The crepes didn't improve with cooking. The sauce was gloopy and stuck to our
    teeth - revolting. We left most of it and had a bowl of super-sweet cereal each
    instead. Breakfast next day was toast made with sliced white bread,
    ready-prepared pineapple and melon chunks, and orange juice.

    The best way to describe the toast was 'bouncy' - it had an odd, bland, spongy
    texture - not at all like the local wholemeal, seeded, handmade stuff we
    normally buy.

    The pineapple chunks were delicious, but the melon was fluffy and had no taste.
    The children loved the milk and orange juice because it was smooth and had no
    bits - the local unhomogenised milk we buy has lumps of cream in it and the
    apple juice is cloudy, but then neither has been processed goodness knows how
    many times.

    For their school lunch, Megan and Max took bouncy white sandwiches filled with
    turkey breast, a pack of Cheese Strings, a bag of crisps and a very sweet
    non-organic cereal bar. They go to a progressive, alternative school that
    teaches environmental sciences and only serves organic food - so we had to get
    special permission to do so. I think their lunch was an object of curiosity all

    When the children got in from school, they were much more hungry than they would
    normally have been. They had another Cheese String each, but were clamouring for
    a bowl of chocolate cereal 20 minutes later.

    That night we peeled off three layers of packaging and put our pizza in the
    oven. It wasn't too bad, just a lot heavier and fattier than our homemade
    version. Max left some of his - which is really unusual.

    By the second day, William complained of an upset stomach and constipation - and
    the children seemed more hyper and irritable than usual. But we continued with
    our new lifestyle, going for a second shop at a different superstore this time.

    We came home with some tasty-sounding ready-meals, cheesecake and chocolate
    cake. But aside from an Indian meal and some sushi - both of which were
    delicious - everything else tasted rather similar.

    I'm not sure what they put in the sauces, but it gives everything a weird,
    rather unpleasant texture. A lot of food was left on plates and had to be thrown
    out, which we felt guilty about. Unlike home-cooked food, it's not really safe
    to refrigerate and reheat ready-meal leftovers.

    By the end of the week, the children - particularly Megan - seemed
    uncharacteristically aggressive and ill-tempered - which I'm sure was down to
    all the sugar and additives they had been consuming. Max had trouble getting to
    sleep at nights, too. William's stomach problems were worse. He felt gassy,
    bloated and irritable, probably because he had not been to the loo for three

    I felt really bloated and lethargic. I also suffered a couple of crashing
    headaches during the week - which is unusual for me. We were all desperate to
    detox. The life swop was an interesting exercise - but only served to prove to
    us that the organic lifestyle is by far the healthier way to go.

    We felt unwell, spent more money - £214 compared to our usual £120 and ended up
    with two enormous bin bags full of wasteful packaging. However we do plan to
    make a couple of changes as a result of the experience.

    We will swop our unhomogenised milk for homogenised organic milk as the kids
    prefer it, and we'll buy their favourite non-organic chocolate cereal for
    sleepovers and birthdays - but otherwise, everyone prefers the sort of food we
    were eating before.

    Jacqui Matthiole, 40, is married to Maurice, 52, a senior executive for an IT
    company. They live with their twin four-year-old daughters, Grace and Amelia, in
    Camberley, Surrey. Jacqui says:

    I used to love cooking - but once I had the twins, I suddenly found I had very
    little time to shop and cook. I started to rely on ready-meals and convenience
    foods - and it's now become a habit that's hard to break.

    While I try to make sure we get our five portions of fruit and veg a day, and
    avoid junk food, ready meals are pretty much all we eat.

    I do most of my shopping at Marks & Spencer. I like the fact that I can buy
    everything from lasagne to shepherds pie and Sunday lunch oven-ready. With the
    exception of potatoes, I buy all our vegetables pre-washed and chopped, too.

    I've always thought organic food was a rather expensive gimmick, so it never
    crossed my mind to try it.

    Another reason I have been reluctant to try anything new is that the girls - in
    particular Amelia - are fussy eaters. For quite some time, I've bought them only
    what I know they'll eat: Cheerios for breakfast, chicken dippers, pizza, chips
    and spaghetti bolognese for tea.

    They take a packed lunch to nursery, so that would usually contain something
    like Dairylea Dunkers or a white bread sandwich, a packet of crisps and fruit

    I was interested to see if the lifestyle swop would make a difference - although
    I was dreading all the food preparation and cooking from scratch.

    Because we don't have a farmer's market or many local shops that specialise in
    organic food, I decided to rely on supermarket organic ranges and organic box

    First stop was Waitrose - where I found it surprisingly easy to buy organic
    versions of almost everything, and I took organic chicken and vegetables home
    for our first supper. Funnily enough, I really enjoyed preparing our first
    organic meal - even though it took me half an hour longer than usual.

    The girls wanted to help and it was lovely spending time in the kitchen
    together. I wondered how they'd take to 'real' roast chicken after being used to
    ready prepared roasts. But do you know what? They ate the lot - which is a

    The chicken was delicious - much more succulent than non-organic, which really
    surprised me. The following day we had plain, organic Weetabix for breakfast
    with organic milk and organic toast - the latter was a bit heavy in texture and
    went off more quickly than out normal 'plastic' bread - but everyone tucked in
    without complaint.

    I filled the girls' lunch bags with organic egg sandwiches, fruit juice and
    organic fruit - and again, surprisingly, they ate everything. With the bit
    between my teeth, I went online and ordered an organic meat box from Eversfield
    Manor Farm, and an organic fruit and veg box from Abel & Cole.

    I loved their websites, because they explain where everything is sourced, what's
    in season and so on. It's more personal and inspiring than the supermarket. The
    meat box was amazing - even Maurice, who will eat absolutely anything, commented
    on how delicious the lamb chops were.

    I'm not usually keen on steak but the ones we were sent were really, really
    tasty. I was less sure about the organic fruit and veg box at first. You only
    receive what's in season, so there seemed to be an awful lot of things in there
    I was sure we wouldn't eat. But yet again, the girls surprised me by trying kiwi
    fruit for the first time (and loving it), and chomping their way through the
    tiny, sweet tomatoes (they never eat salad normally).

    By the middle of the week, I felt really energetic. The food we were eating was
    just so crisp, fresh and tasty - even the organic tea tasted better, cleaner
    than my usual brand. And I noticed that I didn't feel headachy the morning after
    organic wine.

    By the end of the week, I was enjoying cooking again. I also realised the girls
    had been exceptionally well behaved - eating their meals without complaint and
    even going to bed when asked - there were none of the usual tantrums. They also
    asked for far fewer snacks between meals. Interestingly, Amelia suffers with
    eczema on her legs, and by the end of the week, even that was much better than
    it normally is, much less red and raw, and I like to think the change in diet

    After seven days I am converted. I have ordered a second meat box - and we will
    definitely be eating more organic food and cooking from scratch more regularly.
    I've become much more aware of issues such as pesticides and additives and I
    feel as though I'm now nurturing my family. I spent £115 during the week,
    including several very drinkable bottles of organic wine.

    That's less than my normal weekly shop, which comes in at £140 without alcohol.
    So it's not true that organic has to mean expensive.

  2. Tantallon

    Tantallon New Member

    Very interesting article Tansy, and I was surprised that organic was cheaper, I have always thought differently. I've learnt now that diet is very important to your health and wellbeing, something I never considered before I came to this board.

  3. cymbeline

    cymbeline New Member

    I changed to an organic diet and have also found that it costs me a lot less than i was spending before. This might be because i eat so many more fruit and veg and simple foods like rice/grains/beans, which are generally cheaper (and healthier) than processed food anyway.
    I am also able to get a organic veg box which works out cheap. I am in the UK so don't know if this kind of option is available in the US.
    Changing my diet has made a big difference and i feel much healthier for it.
  4. barbinindiana

    barbinindiana New Member

    aware of one thing. There was a law passed that says for something to be labeled organic, it only has to contain 25% organic ingredients!

    Don't you just love it.
  5. tansy

    tansy New Member

    Donnaneil eating healthy food does not have to be expensive as Stormyskye’s posts point out.

    Jamie Oliver, who is mentioned in the article, has campaigned for school lunches to comprise of real food and for them to be healthy. Bad fats, additives, refined carbs and additives can adversely affect health and chidren’s behaviour; this was observed by professionals working with children and adolescents in the ‘70s but it has taken this long for it to really sink in.

    Nutrient dense food is more satisfying than junk food, so often less is needed. Junk food, too many refined carbs and sugar, can create cravings so once again the quantity eaten tends to be greater.

    I live in a city where there’s a lot of the classic inner city and poverty problems. The local council is making a concerted effort to promote healthy eating and to educate the young. When I look at the difference between my shopping trolley, and those who opt for the theoretically cheap junk foods, I am getting better value for money.

    Food retailers respond to consumer demand, here in the UK changing eating patterns are having a positive effect upon what the major food store chains put on their shelves. Organic fruit and veg is now cheaper than it used to be and other organic foods are too. These stores are also increasing the shelf space for fresh foods and basic ingredients, due to the high level of competition these have also become relatively cheaper over the years.

    Yes I understand that feeding our families is important, it’s the choice of calorie sources that counts as much as the number of calories. We can only do our best within each our individual budgets and access to retailers who sell real food as against mostly processed food.

    Cymbeline I’m delighted you have found an organic diet cheaper. My diet is not wholly organic but it’s as close as I can manage and it’s not costing me an arm and leg.

    TC, Tansy[This Message was Edited on 07/22/2006]
  6. tansy

    tansy New Member

    Hi Barb

    I read about that %, the food industry still appears to have too much clout regarding policy decisions.

    In the UK farmers are struggling financially thanks to EU policies/funding and a food industry that will not pay them a fair price for their produce. Now some farmers are swapping over to organic; or sell direct to the public through farmers markets and small local businesses.

    TC, Tansy
  7. tansy

    tansy New Member

    Most Contaminated

    Bell peppers
    Grapes (imported)
    Red raspberries

    Least Contaminated

    Sweet peas
    Sweet corn

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