Here are some recipes that highlight research on particular food types. We’ll cover nutritional benefits of organic ingredients, the importance of avoiding pesticides, and environmental impacts of different food types. We’ll post new recipes every month, so keep an eye out for the latest on food-centric science!
The holidays are over but we still have ways to go until spring. This delicious lentil soup will help keep you warm until the weather does. This lentil soup recipe is easy, hearty and healthy. You can make it even healthier by choosing organic lentils. A study published in Organic Agriculture measured the nutritional quality of traditional lentils grown under organic cultivation. Lentils grown under organic and traditional conditions have high nutritional quality with high levels of bioactive compounds.Read More
The holiday season is upon us, and that means it’s time for a smattering of gastronomic specialties ranging from special beverages to desserts to main courses. If you’re looking for an easy and elegant way to spruce up the presentations of your dishes, try these beautiful and delicious candied lemon peels. If you can restrain yourself from devouring them first, candied lemon peels can be used to decorate cake tops, garnish a roast, or embellish a cocktail. However, remember to choose organic lemons for this recipe to avoid exposure to pesticide residues. A study in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants tested over 240 samples of citrus for residues of over 200 different pesticides. Researchers found that 95% of the conventional citrus sampled tested positive for residues while only 3 of 23 certified organic samples showed very low pesticide residue levels. The remaining samples were considered pesticide-free.Read More
Looking for a simple elegant desert to serve at your next dinner? Well look no further. This delicious red orange sorbet is sure to wow the crowd with hardly any effort! Remember, increase your intake of antioxidants, anthocyanins, ascorbic acid, phenolics by choosing organic red oranges! These naturally occurring chemical compounds which are found in plants have been shown to play a role in protecting against heart disease and cancer and you can increase your intake by choosing organic red oranges for this delicious dessert! A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition sought to determine if organically grown red oranges are more nutritious than conventionally grown red oranges. In order to do this they compared the beneficial chemicals in each, quantified the total antioxidant activity and measured the protective ability of extracts from organic and conventionally grown red oranges against cellular oxidative damage using cell cultures. The study found that organically grown red oranges contained significantly more anthocyanins, ascorbic acid and higher total antioxidant activity than conventionally grown red oranges. Organic red orange extract was also more effective in protecting cells from damage than conventionally grown red oranges. The authors conclude, “Our results clearly show that organic red oranges have a higher phytochemical content (i.e. phenolics, anthocyanins and ascorbic acid) total antioxidant activity and bioactivity than integrated (conventional) red oranges.”Read More
Tonight make a dinner that your entire family will love. This simple garlic shrimp and spinach pasta dish is easy to prepare and so delicious that you won’t have to convince anyone to eat their greens tonight. Remember, in order to pack in as many nutrients as possible, choose organic spinach for this dish! A recent study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry compared nutrient quantity and quality among 27 different spinach varieties that were organically and conventionally grown. Specifically, researchers examined the levels of vitamin C, ascorbic acid (an alternative form of vitamin C), antioxidant flavonoids, nitrates, and oxalate (a naturally occurring acid that can contribute to kidney stone formation) present in the spinach leaves. They found that levels of ascorbic acid and flavonoids were significantly higher in the organically grown spinach, and that conventionally grown spinach had considerably higher levels of nitrate present. These results suggest that you can increase your level of ascorbic acid and antioxidant flavonoids while simultaneously decreasing your nitrate intake by choosing organic spinach over conventional spinach.Read More
Looking for a new way to use fresh tomatoes from the farmers’ market or the herbs from your garden? Try our slow-roasted tomatoes with garlic and herbs! Baking tomatoes slowly concentrates the sugars, giving them irresistible flavor. These gems can be served on top of crusty bread as an appetizer or used to spruce up the dullest pasta sauce. Make sure to increase your antioxidant intake by choosing organic tomatoes when you make this recipe. A study published in PLOS ONE found that organically grown tomatoes were more nutritious than conventionally grown tomatoes. Antioxidant levels in organic and conventional tomatoes were compared at three different stages: immature, mature, and harvest-ready. Organic tomatoes had higher levels of vitamin C and sugars and up to 139% more phenols including lycopene. The authors believe that organic farming places a certain amount of stress on the plants. The plants then respond by creating defensive compounds such as Vitamin C.Read More
If you are looking for an easy recipe to spice up your menu, try this delicious dish. This robust vegetarian curry, commonly served on the streets of Northern India, is robust enough that it will satisfy both vegans and meat lovers and it is loaded with flavor, thanks to the array of delicious spices. Be sure to choose organic spices to avoid any unnecessary pesticide exposure. A study in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology examined Indian spices for organochlorine pesticide residues. Scientists tested multiple samples of commonly exported spices from India including cumin, chili pepper, dry ginger, caraway seed, anise seed, black pepper, fenugreek, turmeric, and coriander. They found that most samples tested positive for low levels of organochlorine residues. Due to the toxicity of these chemicals at higher levels, the authors conclude, “Spices should be monitored periodically as these products are exported in various countries.”Read More
Summer is in full swing and what better way to take advantage of sweet and seasonal fruits than with these scrumptious blueberry crumb bars. Whether you pick your own blueberries or get them from a farmers’ market or grocery store, make sure that you reduce your exposure to synthetic pesticides and support healthy soils by choosing organic berries! A study published in Scientia Horticulturae compared how the use of nitrogen-based fertilizer versus conventional nitrogen fertilizers affected highbush blueberry plants. The study demonstrated that blueberry plants grown with organic fertilizer had 36% more mycorrhizal fungi, which protect blueberry plants from pests, and higher soil microbial activity. Additionally, there were 70% more antioxidants in the leaves of plants grown with organic fertilizer. Overall, the use of organic fertilizer helped reduced the development of disease in the plants and improved soil biodiversity.Read More
Summer is approaching, and that means it’s almost strawberry season! Enjoy this delicious pastry in the morning with your coffee or as an after-dinner desert. Remember to always choose organic strawberries to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals. A recent report released by the European Food Safety Authority compiled pesticide data from 29 European countries on a total of over 80,000 fresh and processed food samples covering 685 pesticides. While the report found that 97% of the samples analyzed fell within legal limits for pesticide residues, 1.5% “clearly exceeded the legal limits.” Strawberries were the food most likely to contain excessive pesticide residues with 2.5% of all strawberries sampled exceeding the legal limit.Read More
As a tribute to honey bees, one of our most important pollinators, this month’s recipe features honey! Even your children will be begging for more of these sweet and savory roasted carrots. The secret to this delectable dish is the honey ginger glaze. When choosing your ingredients for this dish, make sure to avoid synthetic pesticides and support pollinator health by choosing organic! A study published in PLOS ONE tested honey, pollen, and wax for pesticide residues. They found a total of 121 different pesticides across almost 900 samples tested. The most common pesticides detected were synthetic miticides—synthetic pesticides that are applied directly to hives and bees to combat parasitic mites and which are prohibited in organic beekeeping. But that’s not all. Numerous studies have shown that organic farms play an important role in keeping our pollinators healthy by reducing their exposure to agricultural pesticides, creating better habitat and providing them with more nutritious food sources when compared to conventional farms. Bee sure to check out our upcoming publication for an in-depth review of all the ways that organic farming contributes to the health of our pollinators!Read More
The spring is finally approaching, but just because it’s getting warmer outside doesn’t mean you need to give up the exotic aroma and flavor found in your piping hot mug of Earl Grey tea. This innovative recipe from Numi Tea uses its Aged Earl Grey tea to infuse the flavors of aged organic Assam black tea and citrus from real Italian bergamot into these delicious shish kebabs. Make this delicious recipe on the grill or in the oven, and remember to support humane treatment of animals by choosing organic meat. A study published in Livestock Science found that when compared to conventionally raised chickens, organic chickens were healthier in spite of being kept alive twice as long and having access to the outdoors. Belgian scientists examined 140 chickens that were randomly selected from seven organic farms and seven conventional farms. They assessed animal welfare using multiple indicators of physical and mental health. Physical health was determined by assessing the condition of the chicken’s feet, legs and breast and the chicken’s ability to carry its own body weight. Mental health was determined by measuring the duration of time that the chicken’s ‘played dead’ when a predator was simulated, where longer periods of immobility indicate higher levels of fear. Organic chickens had better leg health than conventional chickens, and scored better than conventional chickens when all of the wellness indicators were averaged. The authors concluded that “despite the potentially elevated risk of immunological challenge, broiler chicken welfare is generally superior in organic farms as compared with conventional farms in Belgium.”Read More
This delicious salad is the perfect mix of sweet and savory with just a little kick! It’s hearty, healthy and can be served as a main course, as a side to any meal, or as a party snack with tortilla chips. Remember, those delicious peaches add much more than a little bit of sweet to this this salad. Peaches have been shown to contain antioxidants known as polyphenols that may prevent certain cancers—and you can increase your intake of these beneficial compounds even more by choosing organic peaches! A study published in the journal of Food Chemistry compared total polyphenol content in peaches grown under a variety of organic conditions with peaches grown using conventional farming methods. All peaches grown in organic conditions, regardless of organic methods (subterranean clover, weed cover crops, or tilled soil) contained significantly more polyphenols than peaches grown in conventional conditions. Researchers suspect that when the fruit trees are not sprayed with synthetic pesticides, they are forced to produce more polyphenols to defend themselves against herbivores. On the other hand, trees grown in conventional systems are sprayed with pesticides, reducing the number of herbivores and therefore allowing the plants to ‘relax’ their defense systems and produce fewer polyphenols.Read More
Spring may be a long way off but that doesn’t mean the winter blues need to get you down. Draw yourself a warm bath, close your eyes, and take a sip of this coconut water mojito (delicious with or without alcohol) to instantly transport yourself to a tropical beach. Coconut water is rich in vitamins and minerals but palm trees are also treated liberally with pesticides meaning that your coconut water may also be rich in chemicals such as carbabmates, pyrethroids and organochlorine. When making this drink be sure to choose organic coconut water to reduce your exposure to pesticides! Palm trees used to produce coconuts are often treated with by way of foliar sprays and trunk injections. Despite the intensive use of dangerous pesticides for coconut cultivation in South East Asia and South America, few governments have established maximum levels of pesticide residues for coconut water. A recent study published in Microchemical Journal aimed to quantify the presence of residues from these chemicals in coconut water that may be a risk to consumer health. Three different brands (not specified in the study) of coconut water from commercial markets as well as fresh coconut water were tested for pesticide residues. Researchers found residues from 19 different pesticides including carbamate, pyrethroid, and organochlorine pesticides, across all sampled coconut waters. The highest concentrations of pesticide residues were found in the three brands of coconut water compared to the fresh coconut water. The authors suspect that coconut palms grown commercially for coconut water retail are treated more heavily with chemicals to increase production.Read More
Welcome the holidays to your table with this refreshing side dish that will compliment any holiday meal. Cranberries are not only delicious, they’re healthy, but make sure that when you’re in the grocery store, minimize your pesticide exposure by choosing organic cranberries! Conventional cranberry bogs rely on a large number of insecticides, fungicides and fertilizers during fruit production. In fact, a 2008 report found that cranberries had the highest dietary risk index score across all tested domestically grown fruits due to both the number of chemicals used and the toxicity of those chemicals.
Get ready for the holidays with our decadent Banana Walnut Oat Bread. This easy sweet treat is great as a dessert after dinner or first thing in the morning with your coffee. It’s so delicious you’ll hardly believe how many nutrients are packed into one slice. Bananas are rich in potassium, walnuts provide loads of omega-3s, and oats are a great source of fiber. If that’s not enough to make you feel good about this dessert, you can up your micronutrient intake even more by using organic wheat flour! A recent study published in the journal Food Chemistry compared organic and conventional wheat flours available in retail outlets, and found that organic flours had more micronutrients than flours made using conventional wheat. Organic wheat flours contained proteins that were of higher quality and that were more easily digestible than proteins found in conventional wheat flour. Researchers also found that organically produced wheat flours had higher levels of essential nutrients including potassium, zinc and molybdenum, and lower levels of toxic elements such as aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, and lead.Read More
Fall is finally here and what better way to welcome changing leaves and chilly evenings than with a hot apple cobbler. When picking out apples for this dessert, choose tart apples for their flavor and organic apples for their antioxidant properties. A report published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that organic apples were more likely to have higher antioxidant concentrations than apples grown using conventional systems. After compiling three years of data, the authors report that organic apples have a 12% higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally grown apples. Antioxidants protect your cells by binding to free radical—molecules that are thought to play a role in diseases such as cancer and heart disease. The authors conclude that “in the present study, the organically produced apples displayed a higher phytochemical concentration and a higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally produced apples.”Read More
Here’s a refreshing chopped salad that can be served as a side to any meal or can hold its own as an easy and delicious main course. When choosing lettuce for your salad, it’s important to make sure you choose organic. A recent study found that conventional head lettuce has higher levels of commonly used insecticide residues than other vegetables. Insecticides are regularly used on leafy vegetables including lettuce, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and broccoli to combat common pests such as aphids and moths. When cabbage, head lettuce and Chinese broccoli were treated with the same combination and quantity of insecticides, researchers found that the chemicals applied to head lettuce dissipated slower than they did from the other vegetables. This phenomenon was explained by the difference in leaf shape and size. Even more startling is that in a second trial, researchers applied a lower dose of insecticides to head lettuce and a higher dose to Chinese broccoli, and, they continued to find more chemical residues on the head lettuce. Avoid unnecessary exposure to pesticides. When you think leafy greens, think organic!
Looking for a quick, easy, and healthy appetizer to bring to a potluck? Try endive boats. These perfect little salad bites are sure to be a big hit and break up the mix of all of those heavy dips and nachos at the party. Make sure to use organic when it comes to the cheddar included in this recipe, because recent research shows that organic milk has a healthier nutritional profile than conventional milk. Specifically, a recent study showed that organic milk contains 25 percent less omega-6 fatty acids and 62 percent more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk, yielding a 2.5-fold higher omega-6: omega-3 ratio in conventional compared to organic milk. This is important for your health, because current Western diets are notoriously unbalanced when it comes to omega fatty acid profiles, providing unhealthily high omega-6 levels and low omega-3 levels. High omega-6 and low omega-3 levels are associated with many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Low omega-6:omega-3 ratios, on the other hand, suppress these conditions. In addition to being more nutritious, organic dairy avoids the use of chemicals that you might not want to ingest on a daily basis such as pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones!Read More
For those of you (over 21 years old) looking for the perfect organic summer cocktail – look no further! This recipe for The Silver Jubilee from Choice Organic Teas and Bluewater Organic Distilling is a fresh take on using ice tea to mix fantastic cocktails that will help you withstand the heat of summer. It is especially important to choose organic when you are buying tea, because pesticides used on tea leaves can be extracted into your beverage during the steeping process. One study found that pesticide residue transfer rates from dried tea leaves to brewed tea were up to 92.4%. Also worrisome are the high levels of pesticides that have been found on conventional tea samples. For example, a recent test of pesticide levels on dried teas by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation showed that some teas on the market contain levels of pesticides that exceed standards. To ensure that you are avoiding a high dose of pesticide along with your iced or hot tea always choose organic!Read More
Several studies have shown that using antibiotics in poultry rearing can increase the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria on eggs. Researchers swabbed the outside of conventional and organic egg shells to test for bacterial antibiotic resistance, and found that bacteria on the conventional eggs was less susceptible to antibiotics than bacteria on the organic egg shells. One study concluded that their results “show that organic livestock farming plays a part in contributing to reduced antibiotic resistance”, while another states “organic livestock farming with its restrictions and additional requirements contributes to further effectiveness of antibiotics.”Read More
Quinoa is one of the most healthy grains out there (or pseudo-grains, anyway – it’s not actually related to most other grains!). In addition to having high protein content it also can have beneficial effects on blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. One research study found that eating quinoa lowered overall cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL levels in research participants. The authors state that “it can be concluded that the use of quinoa in diet can be considered beneficial in the prevention and treatment of risk factors related to cardiovascular diseases that are among the leading causes of death in today’s globalized world.”Read More
Kamut khorasan wheat is an ancient grain that is full of protein and nutrients, not to mention delicious! Several studies have come out recently comparing kamut to durum wheat, consistently finding that the kamut had health benefits over durum wheat. For example, one study that compared kamut to durum wheat found that kamut had higher protein content, antioxidants, and several other health benefits when compared to durum wheat. Another paper reported that study participants who ate kamut had lower inflammatory profiles and improved blood variables such as lower cholesterol and higher levels of potassium and magnesium.Read More
It’s especially important to buy organic for children, because they are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of exposure to synthetic pesticides. A few years ago a report was issued by the President’s Cancer Panel on ways to entitled “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What we can Do Now”, going over ways to reduce environmental exposure to carcinogens to decrease the risk of cancer. The report detailed how eating organic can reduce one’s risk of developing cancer, especially in infants and children. For example, in the executive summary they cover pesticide contribution to chronic diseases and cancer, concluding that “Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues”. Also, on there is a section about how animals raised on non-organic farms add to the runoff of medications (such as antibiotics, growth hormones, etc.), and there is speculation that these chemicals can disrupt the human endocrine systems. Because children are especially sensitive to environmental toxins, make sure to choose organic when you stock your child’s lunchbox.Read More
One reason to choose organic salmon is that it’s a sure fire way to avoid genetically modified (GM) fish. A recent study found that GM salmon could be posing a threat to native fish through hybridization with common trout. The research shows that the offspring of genetically modified (GM) salmon and wild brown trout could pose a risk to wild fish species, because hybrids formed between the two species can out-compete both parent species for food, suppressing the growth of GM salmon by 82%, and suppressing the growth of wild populations of fish by 54%.
“These findings suggest that complex competitive interactions associated with transgenesis and hybridisation could have substantial ecological consequences for wild Atlantic salmon should they ever come into contact [with GM salmon] in nature,” wrote the study authors. Unfortunately, the contact between GM salmon and wild fish may become more frequent in the future, as fisheries farming GM fish continue to expand. The researchers warn that “escapes and introductions of domesticated salmon can increase rates to as much as 41%,” which could result in the slow spread of GM genes.
When you make this recipe be sure to use organic salmon, and help contribute to native fish health and population strength!Read More
Professor John Reganold teamed up with eight other researchers to examine the differences in fruit quality between organic and conventional strawberry production. Their research showed that strawberries that are grown organically have longer shelf lives, higher antioxidant levels, and higher concentrations of ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds than conventional berries. They also found that organic strawberries taste better than conventional ones! If nutrition and taste weren’t enough to convince you, they also showed that the organic farms that grew strawberries had higher soil health than conventional strawberry farms. You can learn more about the study here.Read More