Welcome to Week 10 of the Eat the Rainbow Fruit and Veggie Challenge!
This week we are going to debunk another common produce myth – that organic and non-GMO fruits and vegetables are healthier than the alternatives.
What is a GMO crop?
- The term GMO stands for “genetically modified organism” aka a type of animal or plant that has had its DNA altered by human intervention.
- The creation of “GMO crops” has been used by farmers for centuries to resist pests, make it easier to control weeds, enhance nutrition, or survive changing climates. Many GMO crop varieties have also led to increased crop yield and reductions in the amount of pesticides that need to be used.
Are GMO foods bad for you? Should you avoid them?
- This is a common question, as these modified crops have gotten a bad reputation. Many have said that they can cause disease and negative health outcomes.
- However, there is currently no scientific evidence that GMO crops are bad for your health or cause harm to humans in any way. In fact, more than 275 independent science organizations from around the world have concluded that foods grown from genetically engineered seeds pose no unique health concerns.
- The US National Academy of Sciences has also concluded that GMO crops have not caused increases in cancer obesity, gastrointestinal illnesses, kidney disease, autism, or allergies.
- Therefore, there is currently no scientific evidence that would suggest you should avoid GMO foods.
Ok, now that we have a little background on GMO foods, what exactly does organic mean?
- Organic produce is grown by farmers who have paid for an organic label, and adhere to certain USDA guidelines such as not using certain pesticides and growing food using environmentally friendly techniques.
Are organic foods healthier for you? Do they contain higher levels of nutrients?
- As of today, there have not been any direct studies on humans to show that organic foods can prevent cancer or other diseases any more effectively than conventionally grown foods.
- There is also no consistent evidence that organic food is any more nutritious than conventionally grown foods.
Are there any benefits to buying organic?
- Yes, there are some benefits. These may include lower pesticide residues (although this is not guaranteed, as organic pesticides can be as harmful as conventional pesticides) and lower amounts of man made food additives.
- But none of these benefits have to do with the nutritional content of the produce.
The Bottom Line: At this point, the scientific evidence does not show that non-GMO or organic produce are healthier for you than conventionally grown produce.
If you prefer to buy non-GMO or organic produce, go for it. If you’re not particularly concerned – don’t worry about it!
Any fruits and vegetables are better than no fruits and vegetables! The most important thing is that you consume plenty of fruits and vegetables every day.
The health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables outweighs any unknown potential risks from GMOs or pesticides from non-organic produce.
So next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t agonize over what type of produce to buy. Get what is affordable and available, and eat your fruits and veggies!
Week 10 Challenge: Educate yourself! Listen to past episodes of the Cancer Dietitian podcast on GMOs and organic foods. Share one new thing you learned with us over on our group Facebook page!
Produce Highlight of the Week: Kale
Kale is another member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which are known to have anti-cancer properties from glucosinolates (natural plant compounds). Kale is also extremely high in vitamins A, C, and K and also contains many B vitamins along with folate, manganese, calcium, copper, and iron.
How to Use
Kale can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Use it in salads, in wraps/sandwiches, add it to soups and stir frys, or add it to a smoothie! You can also make kale chips for a nutritious snack! When raw, kale can sometimes be tough and a little bitter, so we recommend “massaging” your kale with a dressing, olive oil, or some lemon juice to make it softer. Check out our salad recipe below for tips on how to make your kale taste delicious!Print
- Yield: Serves 4 as a side 1x
- 2 bunches kale
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup pistachios, shopped
- Red pepper flakes, to toaste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Strip kale leaves from the woody stems. Wash and dry the leaves and place them into a large bowl.
- Mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce, pepper, and salt together in a jar or small bowl. Pour over the kale.
- With clean hands, massage the dressing into the kale until the leaves start to darken and soften.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. Add red pepper flakes to taste.
- Top with pistachios and Parmesan cheese (if using).
-Julie & Intern Carolyn