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Archive for Valentines Day

February 14th, 2011

Organic Doesn’t Always Mean Healthy

There is something so special about Valentine’s Day when you’re a kid.  My kids spend endless hours reading through each valentine that comes home from school and sorting through all the candy, pencils and other loot.

We gave a lot of thought this year about what to attach, if anything, to the valentines handed out in school.  One idea was to attach organic lollipops.  This idea prompted a long discussion about why we would choose organic lollipops vs. their non-organic cousins.

We talked about what ORGANIC means

Organically produced foods must be produced without the use of:

  • Antibiotics
  • Synthetic hormones
  • Genetic engineering
  • Other excluded practices
  • Sewage sludge
  • Irradiation

Organic foods are minimally processed without artificial ingredients or preservatives to maintain the integrity of the food.

Ok-so far, so good.  The organic lollipops are made without all of the above.

But what about all the ingredients that organic lollipops are made with?

The lollipops I was thinking of buying listed the following as their first three ingredients:

  1. Organic evaporated cane juice (aka sugar)
  2. Organic tapioca syrup (aka sugar)
  3. Organic brown rice syrup (aka sugar)

Photo used under Creative Commons from Terrin in Virginia

All the ingredients in the lollipops were organic and therefore not grown with any chemicals or pesticides. The sugars used are not as processed and refined as the evil high fructose corn syrup or other processed sugars. But regardless of how sugar is made and where it comes from- corn, juice concentrates, cane, beets, tapioca, brown rice or honey, sugar is sugar. All sugar contains four calories per gram and are handled the same by the body. Sugar is addictive. Sugar can cause obesity, diabetes, gum disease, a weakened immune system and a myriad of other health concerns.

No matter how you look at it, too much sugar isn’t healthy.

There are so many organic sugary treats out there- ice creams, cookies and snacks- and although they might be free of chemicals, dyes and pesticides, they aren’t healthy.  Yes, it’s better to have sugar that’s organic, but too much even of organic sugar isn’t a good thing.

Sorry to pick on you, lollipops. You are just one example of  the many organic foods that are processed, contain lots of sugar and are unhealthy.

How to choose healthy organic food

Organic foods can contain all sorts of unhealthy ingredients. Sugar isn’t the only bad guy. When choosing where to spend your money on organic food:

  • Read ingredient labels carefully.
  • Be wary of long lists of ingredients that you don’t recognize.
  • Stick with organic fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts as much as possible.
  • Enjoy processed and/or sugary organic foods in moderation.

We didn’t end up sending in lollipops. Once class did get candy (after much begging from my son).  For the rest, we stuck with boring pencils and tooth brushes to help clean up the mess.

WHAT DO YOU SEND IN WITH YOUR KIDS VALENTINES?

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*Photo used under Creative Commons from D. Sharon Pruitt

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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