by Dawn B. Olcott
Information on nutrition and health selected
from a variety of publications for your enjoyment and edification.
September is Organic
Do you remember when organic brussels
sprouts were the only organically grown food you could find during
the winter? The availability of organic products has expanded tremendously
over the last 10-15 years. You can now get organic grains, cereals,
teas, herbs, frozen foods, and even ketchup.
Some studies have shown increased levels of
nutrients in organic foods, although other studies have not found
any significant differences between organic and conventionally grown
foods. The nutritional value of food depends partly on the fertility
and mineral richness of the soil, and successful organic farming
depends on soil that has been well composted and is rich in nutrients.
A recently published study featured in Organic Gardening (Sept/Oct
1996) showed that vegetables grown in cow manure contained two to
three times as much vitamin B12 as plants grown in "plain"
soil. This finding, if it is proven to be accurate in further tests,
would add strength to the argument that organically grown foods
are more nutritious. (Organic farmers often rely heavily on manure
to fertilize their crops.)
Organically grown products usually cost more.
However, the societal costs of toxic chemical use are not included
in the cost of conventionally grown foods that people pay at the
cash register. If you add all up the costs of producing conventionally
grown foods--environmental contamination, illnesses of farm workers
from pesticide exposure, loss of wildlife, organically grown food
is often actually less expensive. And the more organically
grown foods people buy, the more of them farmers will grow, causing
a greater economy of scale and eventually leading to lower prices.
Harvest has been committed to bringing organic
products to the community for 25 years now. Harvest stocks as many
organically grown products as possible, and has one of the best
selections of organic foods in the Boston area. We have lots of
fresh organic produce, as well as breads, cereal, beans, flours,
juices, grains, tofu, canned soups, herbs, coffee, butter, milk,
yogurt, frozen vegetables, t-shirts and more.
As you may know, Olean, or Olestra as it is also called, is a synthetic
"fat-free fat." It is not digested or absorbed into the
body, and it exits the body unchanged. Olestra may also cause cramps,
diarrhea, and other intestinal problems in some people. In addition,
it appears to prevent the body from absorbing vitamins A, D, E, and
K, as well as carotenoids.
This new "fat" is being test-marketed
by Frito-Lay in "Max" brand potato and tortilla chips,
which will soon appear on store shelves in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Eau
Clair, Wisconsin; and Grand Junction, Colorado. We will keep you
posted about any further test marketing of Olestra that we hear
For World Wide Web information about Olestra,
contact the Center for Science in
the Public Interest at www.cspinet.org.
Northeast Cooperatives Produce Division puts out a newsletter for
retail produce buyers. In August they listed World Wide Web sites
for produce news and information. We thought some Co-op web surfers
might find it interesting to check out some of these sites. For
example, Friedas, one of the largest vendors of specialty produce,
has opened up their Web site as an online "encyclopedia,"
which will soon expand to include photographs, history, nutrition
information, and use and storage tips.
(Thanks to my husband, Keith Olcott at Northeast
Cooperatives, for his research on these hot sites.)
Dawn Olcott is Harvest's
Education and Marketing Specialist, and a budding chemist.