Do You Really Need To Eat Organic Food?
Someone just asked this question in the PEERtrainer community:
"I'm considering signing up for the PNR program. It sounds great. I'm wondering though if it is realistically possible to commit to the program without fully getting on board with the organic everything component. I like the idea of going completely organic, but it is not something I can commit to fully right now.
When faced with the choice, I'd prefer to buy locally-produced foods that aren't organic, than buy organic produce that is transported from growers far away from my home. Also, I'm super crunched for time and do my grocery shopping at night after putting my kids to sleep. I can't shop at farmers markets and specialty foods stores on a regular basis because their limited shopping hours don't correspond with when I can go shopping. I do my best with what's available at the grocery stores in my area - but that doesn't include bison or organic chicken or beef because they often aren't available.
Can I still benefit from the PNR program and Cheat System?"
The answer to this question is yes you can benefit and most importantly, there is not an "organic everything" component to the program.
But there are some incentives built into the Cheat System to guide you to certain organic foods when possible. And we wanted to share some of our thinking and experience on this issue with you.
The first thing to note is that this, like many food issues, is the subject of vigorous debate. Dr. Fuhrman for example, does not think that organic food is necessary. From his perspective, when you give your body enough greens and nutrient dense foods, your body has the ability to detoxify itself. That includes the ability to get rid of whatever extra pesticides you ingest from non-organic foods.
Other people we have met vigorously disagree with this point of view. We have a colleague in common with Dr. Fuhrman, a gentleman who founded a very large health insurance company. This person strongly believes in eating organic food. He even has built a very large organic garden at his country house just outside of New York City, and he worked for years to get it "certified organic."
From his perspective, organic foods are a critical piece of the health puzzle. This is someone who spent years looking at actuarial tables trying to figure out the levers that could be pulled to make people healthier..and his company more profitable! (He views PEERtrainer as one of those levers, and this is why you see us have a health focus as opposed to simply focusing on weight loss. Our whole concept of "Point Of No Return" is part of our effort to help get people to long term equilibrium.)
At PEERtrainer, we are always very aware of these kinds of debates, and especially aware of the fact that this stuff confuses people to no end.
In this area we have developed a view that incorporates both these points of view. If you do go "full Fuhrman" then you probably will do fine without organic food. The thing is, very few people end up doing his approach 100%. One of the reasons we developed the Cheat System, was that we saw a need for people to have an approach that was more nutrient focused than conventional diets. But we also saw that people had a really hard time with the very aggressive approaches, unless they had some serious health problems.
(And if you are in a serious situation, Fuhrman's online member center is an unreal resource for a variety of reasons. Highly recommended.)
The high nutrient focus of the Cheat System is likely to help your body be cleaner than it otherwise would. But it also makes sense to avoid as much "junk" as possible. There is no escaping the fact that since the advent of modern chemistry there are now all sorts of "creative substances" that we breathe in, drink, ingest and absorb. We have even altered foods that were perfectly fine (like wheat and corn) that have now become toxic to many.
A more toxic environment is the simple reality of things. And some toxins pack more of a punch than others. Pesticides are something can have particularly nasty side effects, especially for people who are not at the weight they want to be or whose energy is not where it needs to be.
From our perspective, we would agree heartily with the person who asked the question above. It makes sense to eat organic, but the practicality is the big issue. What we have decided to do at PEERtrainer is to identify some of the areas that it makes sense to focus on. Meat and berries are two areas in particular that we address in the Cheat System.
Jonny Bowden is someone that we think has a very practical approach to this issue. He has a PhD in nutrition, and has extensively researched most issues surrounding food. We asked him to summarize his views on the question "Do You Really Need To Eat Organic Food?"
Here is what he said:
"The research on organic food vs "conventional" food is all over the map, with some studies saying the nutritional content is the same, others saying its higher in organic food. What makes it even harder to figure out is that there are powerful interests on both sides that fudge the evidence, fund studies to support their point of view, and cherry pick what evidence there is to make their case.
What does seem really clear is that nutritional composition aside, the real advantage of organic food is what it doesn't have- heavy loads of pesticides and chemicals. But the truth is organic is expensive. So I'm of the opinion that you choose your battles.
Anything that's on the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of most contaminated fruits and vegetables I'd buy organic, including for example strawberries and blueberries. I'm not as concerned about fruits that have huge thick skins like bananas and melons and pineapples.
I'd also buy organic coffee since coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. Finally, it's important to make a distinction between grass-fed meat and organic meat. "Organic" meat just means the factory farmed cows were fed organic grain-- a step up from sprayed grain, true- but the point is that cows aren't meant to eat grain.
Grass-fed cows eat their normal, omega-3 rich diet of pasture/ grass. While many grass-fed farms are also organic, some don't quite meet the government standards for organic, but I'd still go with grass-fed over anything else. Nearly all grass-fed farmers are very conscientious and use only as little chemicals as possible if they use any at all."
We hope this reasoning and approach makes sense. You don't need to feel restricted or paranoid or any of that. Just know that there are certain choices and distinctions you can make. We think that a little less meat for the money is probably a good thing. You will get increased nutrients, decreased chemicals. Maybe shift a few of the calories over to the left side of things. Which is going to help get your body in balance faster.
We know that we throw a lot at you at PEERtrainer. Our view is that if you give yourself enough time, you'll be able to make some amazing changes. And if you haven't yet, please download a copy of the Cheat System and also definitely do the Point Of No Return Program if you have not yet. It is a special journey, that gives you a unique view on things.
And please keep the questions coming!
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