p. 10 - October 2011 | London Edition | FYI Food Should you go organic? FOOD & DRINK / Habeeb Salloum “Organic vegetables! What do you mean
‘organic’?” I asked my university friend some decades ago when I fi rst heard of organic food. He smiled, “It’s what you grew on your south Saskatchewan farm. It’s naturally grown fruits and vegetables as well as meats from animals raised on natural feed.” I came to learn that organic meats and vegetables were what we as poor farmers consumed. In those days there were no chemical fertilizers and even if there were, we, or any other of the neighbouring farmers, would not have the money to afford them. Hence, we grew our vegetables naturally, sharing the produce with the insects, wild animals and other blights that often make farming an unrewarding enterprise. To be organic, food must be produced
from its origin to the mouth without the use of any antibiotics and hormones or man- made chemical products such as pesticides, artifi cial fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides and any genetically engineered products. A good number of markets today have a section offering organic produce and meats. As more and more people become health conscious, customers are stopping more frequently in the organic section.
Here are the pros and cons as I see them.
Positives: • Organic farming is friendlier to the environment with less soil contamination and less pollution.
• Organically processed food contains no hydrogenated fat, which is often linked to heart disease. This is especially true when it comes to processed meat.
• The food is in its natural state with no chemical contamination.
• Meats, eggs, and dairy products from animals fed organic food are free from antibiotics and hormones.
• Purportedly, organic food contains high levels of anti-oxidants and other vitamins as well as minerals. Drawbacks: • Organic foods are more expensive – generally, about 60-per-cent more for fruits and vegetables and 100-per-cent more for meat and dairy products. But shop around for better deals.
• Recently, some lab studies have suggested that the health benefi ts and the nutrient levels in organic food are the same as for non-organic foods.
This dish is made from organic ingredients. I bought an organically grown avocado at a much higher price than the regular. The Saskatoons were picked from the wild; the tomato, sweet peppers and mint from my garden. The pine nuts are from Lebanon where, I believe, the trees are never treated with man-made chemical products.
1 large avocado
2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 cup fresh Saskatoon berries 1 large tomato, diced into 1/2 inch cubes 1 large bell sweet pepper, fi nely chopped 3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted 2 tablespoons fi nely chopped fresh mint 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 clove garlic, crushed 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper Avocado/Saskatoon Guacamole
• Organic food rots more quickly than non-organic produce since it do not contain artifi cial preservatives. In sum, if you can afford it, buy locally produced organic fresh meats, fruits and vegetables. I do! Overall they are safer than conventional food and, in my view, tastier.
Pit and peel the avocados then dice into 1/2 inch cubes. Place in a salad bowl then stir in lemon juice. Gently stir in all the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use. Gently toss and serve. (Serves 6 to 8)
Habeeb Salloum is a Toronto-based author of fi ve cookbooks including Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East and North Africa (2000) and Bison Delights (2010).
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