Categories

Best of MTTD……………

 

This post first ran on January 21, 2011. 

Today’s recipe was first published on August 20, 2010.

Is Organic ALWAYS Better

 

Some people say organic foods are healthier. They may be. But they are also more expensive. Some times way, way, WAY more expensive. For the unemployed and the underemployed and often even for just the average consumer organic food is a luxury that cannot often be afforded.

So what, if anything, am I missing if I do not eat organic? Is organic really better? Is organic food more nutritious? Do I have to send a lot of money to eat healthy?

The last few weeks I set out to get an answer to this question. What follows is a brief explanation.

 Believe it or not, the organic movement is not new. It actually began over one-hundred years ago by small farmers. It remained small for many years. But that has all changed. Today organic is a multi-billion dollar industry. So much for small.

Certification

Basically ‘organic’ is just a certification process. It means that our foodproducts are raised, grown, harvested, and are produced without the assistance of man made chemicals or hormones. True organic also means the food was raised or produced with no sewage sludge and is not genetically modified. This procedure is called, “sustainable.”

In America the use of the term “organic” on a food product label is regulated by the US Department of Agriculture. I won’t go into all of the specifics. If you are interested you can get the details by clicking on the preceding link.

I will say it again. Be wary of labels. They are usually nothing more than advertisements. Manufactures are very creative at legally getting around, under, and through regulations. So just like with the ‘natural’ labels I wrote about a week or so ago, be careful. Don’t believe everything you read on food packages. However, in general, if you see “100% organic,” on a label you will be OK.

What Organic Is Not

However, you should also know that “organic” on any label does not automatically mean or guarantee:

The food has been produced without the use of illegal labor.

The food has been produced under safe working conditions.

The food is grown or produced at a local site near the grocery store selling it.

The food is of high quality.

The food is grown or shipped in season.

To read more about this I recommend reading the entire WiseGeek article.

While interesting reading, none of the above answers the question I set out to answer: Is organic always better? Do I have to spend a lot of money to eat healthy?

To get an answer to that question took far longer to research than I thought it would. There is so much noise on organic out there these days by promoters and people with some thing to sell, it took some time to ferret out some small kernel of truth. 

But finally I found an old friend I tend to trust to give me accurate, reliable facts served up with a big dose of common sense: WebMD.

First off WebMD goes over the USDA standards. Then it answers the following questions.

Are Organic Foods Safer? 

When it comes to pesticides, the answer is a conclusive yes. 

BUT……..

……the amount of man-made pesticide residues found in conventional foods is still well below the level that the Environmental Protection Agency has deemed unsafe. The real issue is whether these small doses, over years and decades, might add up to an increased health risk down the line.

According to WebMD man-made pesticides are not the only consideration in this debate.

Man-made pesticides aren’t the only threats to food safety. There is also the question of natural toxins produced by the plants themselves. In this arena, conventional foods may actually have the advantage.

Because organic production steers clear of synthetic insecticides and herbicides, organic crops usually contend with more pests and weeds than conventional crops. This means the organic plants may produce more natural toxins.

“Plants can’t get up and walk away. If they’re being attacked, they’ve got to sit there and take it. So they may resort to their own chemical warfare [snip]………..

These natural pesticides could be just as harmful to people — or even more so — than the synthetic pesticides used in conventional agriculture. One familiar example is solanine, a substance produced by potatoes as they turn green, which can make you ill if you ingest too much of it. [All emphasis mine.]

Are Organic Foods More Nutritious?

According to WebMD:

Right now, no one can say for sure whether organic food is any more nutritious than conventional food. A few studies have reported that organic produce has higher levels of vitamin C, certain minerals, and antioxidants — thought to protect the body against aging, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. But the differences are so small that they probably have no impact on overall nutrition. [All emphasis mine.]

 So Is Organic Worth the Cost?

One area advocates of organic say is most important is the health of the environment and of society at large no matter the higher cost to theindividual.

Not so fast.

According to WebMD  

“Toxic and persistent pesticides do accumulate. They accumulate in the soil; they accumulate in the water; they accumulate in our bodies,” says DiMatteo. “So by eliminating the use of these pesticides and fertilizers in the organic production system, we are not contributing any further to this pollution.”

Again BUT…………….

What It Boils Down To: It Is An Individual Decision

Again from WebMD:

But food experts caution that while the big picture is important, you must make the decision that makes the most sense for you. If you can manage the higher price, and you like the idea of fewer pesticides and a more environmentally friendly production system, organic food may be for you. But don’t skimp on healthy conventional foods just because you think you need to save your pennies for the few organic items that you can afford. [All emphasis mine.]

Common Sense

For me it boils down to this. And I have said this over and over in posts here at MTTD. Eat as much fresh food as you can. Instead of buying fast food chicken make your own. Even when you fry it, it will be healthier than the fast food.

Buy local when you can. Here in Ohio that is easier for me in summer than right now in winter. So in winter I eat more frozen and canned vegetables and fruits. I still get some fresh veggies. Just not nearly as many.

Eat a variety of foods. The more variety the better.

If you are interested in the list of foods WebMD suggests you buy organic if you want to go that route click this link:  Here’s how to decide if it’s worth the higher price.

So as with most things, this issue is more complicated than than we think. And it finally boils down to what is best for me and my pocket book and what are my priorities.

Today’s Featured Recipe    Linguine with Sausage and Leeks

Today’s Note: This meal does not take a lot of time to prepare. So if it is still hot and humid where you are the stove will not be on too very long.

Today’s recipe has bold, BOLD flavors.

Leeks are a member of the onion and garlic family. However, the leek is actually milder than onions. Many people who do not like onions love leeks.

Leeks were used by ancient Egyptians, in Mesopotamia, and in Rome.

Leeks are also popular in Wales and are, in fact, a national emblem of Wales. Shakespeare refers to leeks in Henry V. When used to make chicken stock leeks impart a wonderful flavor to the stock.

I have absolutely, positively no remembrance in what woman’s magazine I found this recipe. I have been making and loving it for at least 15 years.

I know who created the recipe though, Linda Keith of Dallas, Texas. She won $100 from this unknown magazine for this recipe. Evidently the magazine  must have run a reader’s recipe contest. I do not know Ms Keith. Never met her. But I want to thank Ms Keith for many a great meal. I LOVE THIS RECIPE!!

It is both easy to make and easy on the budget as well. And I got a super deal on the linguine. I got a 16 ounce box  for $0.85 on an unadvertised special. That’s a steal.

This meal comes in at less than $2.00 per person. This recipe proves what I say all the time. You can eat better and healthier and for less money than you can eating fast food. The food is more delicious too.

You can use any kind of sausage from spicy hot to plain ‘ole ground sausage. I like to use sweet Italian sausage, as I did today. I like the interplay of the subtle sweet sausage with the strong bold leek flavor.

I used Ohio sausage from Bob Evans Farm. I can remember eating Bob Evans sausage as a child. Bob Evans has their farm in southeastern Ohio. As far as I am concerned, it is the best.

I have made one slight change from Ms Keith’s recipe. I like a slightly thicker sauce, so I use the heavier whipping cream instead of the light cream in her recipe. 

This is what you will need for 4 people:

1 pound of pork sausage

2 leeks thinly sliced (I only used 1 today as it was super large.)

¾ cup light cream (Or whipping cream if you prefer.)

6 ounces linguine

Grated Parmesan cheese

Here is what you do:

Wash the leeks. This will take a little time as leeks are very dirty and sandy. They must be well cleaned or you will bite into some sand when you eat the linguine. Not a nice thing. Trust me on this.

Click Here  and this link will tell you how to clean leeks. I used the last method as I like to keep as much of the leek whole and round as much as possible. Looks prettier in the finished dish that way. 

Fill a large pot of with water and cover with a lid. Place over high heat and bring to a full boil. Start this now so the water will be boiling when you need it. It does not take long to fix this recipe.

While the water is heating place the sausage in a hot skillet and cook the sausage until it is nicely browned on one side.

While the sausage cooks slice the cleaned leeks into rounds. You want both white and the lighter green parts.

Add the linguine to the boiling water and cook according to package directions, about 9 minutes for al dente.

Turn the sausage over and break the large chucks into smaller chunks. If needed drain the fat off the sausage first. I did not have to do that with Bob Evans.

Add the sliced leeks and cook until the sausage is done and the leeks are tender continuing to break the sausage into small pieces.

Add the cream to the mixture and heat through.

Serve sausage mixture over the linguine. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. I served with garlic bread and a simple tomato salad. This is a very filling meal.

If there are any leftovers you will want to refrigerate the sauce as soon as possible as you do not want the cream to spoil.

Bon appétit!!

Cost

1 pound of pork sausage                   $3.89

2 leeks thinly sliced                           $1.00

¾ cup light cream                            $1.40                          

6 ounces linguine                             $0.30

Grated Parmesan cheese                  $0.47

Cost for 4 people = $7.06
Cost per person = $1.77

Quote of the Day 

‘To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.”

Opening sentence, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), John Steinbeck

wwww

Print Friendly

1 comment to Best of MTTD……………