Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Yearn for Organic Foods

Dr Abe V. Rotor

Good health and good food go together, doctors tell us. Our schoolchildren learn the importance of proper nutrition, balanced diet, and even the advantage of food fortified with vitamins and minerals. Nutritionists advise us to take high protein food and inquire whether or not we are taking adequate calories. Lately, such terms, beta-carotene, and good cholesterol have permeated our conversations.

Here is a new term to remember, probiotics. This substance keeps our body always alert to fend off stress due to overwork and disease. Dr. Domingo Tapiador, a retired Filipino scientist of the United Nations introduced into the Philippines Spirulina, a type of algae developed from Cyanobacterla (or blue green algae). This is a revolutionary idea in food and agriculture, yet Spirulina is an ancient organism, one of the earliest kinds of living things that first appeared on earth three billion years ago. Some people think that probiotics and antibiotics (substances that directly kill germs), when working together in our bodies will help us enjoy healthier and longer lives.

Ailments From the Food We Take

There are many reported ailments and abnormalities that are traced to the food we take. Cancer for instance, is often related to carcinogenic substances. High uric acid leads to kidney trouble. High choles¬terol and high sugar levels are associated with high blood pressure and diabetes. Aftatoxin causes cirrhosis of the liver. Ulcers are food-related, as are many allergies. It is not enough that we produce sufficient food. We must also produce foods that ensure good health, reduce risks to diseases and ailments, and prolong life.

Here are seven suggestions to challenge present day agriculture. The Green Revolution during the 1960s that ushered in production gains from improved varieties and techniques. This was followed by agricultural concepts in the succeeding decades which were responsible for opening the fields to mariculture (farming the sea), and conversion of wastelands into farmlands. We soon realized that there is need “to go back to basics.” Thus, ecological farming was born, a kind of farming with a cause: That cause is the enhancement of the quality life through good health and longevity on one hand, and the maintenance of an ecologically-balance environment, on the other.

1. The rule of thumb is: It is always better to eat foods grown under natural conditions than those developed with the use of chemicals. This statement can be captured with one term "natural food". All over the world this is a label found in food grown without chemicals. People are afraid of becoming ill because of chemicals introduced into the food. They know that chemical fertilizers and pesticides enter with the crops and are passed on to the body.

2. People are avoiding harmful residues and artificial additives in food. Under the rules of the US Food and Drug Administration, any trace of certain farm chemicals is enough to condemn a whole shipment. One kind of residue that people are avoiding is antibiotics. Poultry and hog farms contain high levels of antibiotic to safeguard the animals from diseases, however, the antibiotics are passed on to the consumers. Unless we are ill, the body does not need antibiotics. But every time we eat eggs, chicken1 pork chop, steak, and the like, we are cumulatively taking in antibiotics. This roles our immune systems punishing organs like the kidney and liver. To others, antibiotics only causes allergic reactions.

Another culprit is radiation. Even a trace of radiation can be hazardous. That is why many countries immediately took preventive measures to avoid fallout contamination from the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident recently. Consider the deleterious effects of toxic metals (such as mercury and lead emitted by factories and from vehicles), and additives in food used for coloring, preservative, on just fillers.

3. People are becoming more conscious of the nutritional value of food rather than its packaging and presentation. More and more people now recognize junk foods for what they are, despite their attractive packaging. Soft drinks have taken the backseat, courtesy of fruit juices and mineral water. People have even learned that different plant varieties have different levels of food value. Beans grown on naturally fertile soil have higher calorie and protein content. This is also true for animals.

4. Freshness is the primordial rule in choosing a perishable food. There is no substitute for freshness. While freshness is a function of efficient handling and marketing, the farmer, himself, must enhance farm-to-market freshness. By keeping his standing plants healthy, his produce will stay longer on the shelf life. Products that are free from pest and diseases also stay fresher and longer. Too much water or fertilizer reduces shelf life of the commodity.

5. Food processing must be efficient and safe. Food processing such as drying, milling and manufacturing is key to higher profits. Whenever feasible, food must reach the table fresh. But processing is designed to lengthen the shelf-life of perishable commodities. There are products that require processing before they are used. These food items include vanilla, coffee, cacao, vinegar and flour. Profits generated through processing are value-added to production.

6. Food must be free from pest and diseases. By all means, food must be free from insects and pathogens. There are cases of food poisoning as a result of food deterioration, or contamination.

7. Food preservation must ensure quality, and above all, safety. Be aware of the fish that is stiff, yet looks fresh. It is easy to detect the odor of formalin. Salitre is harmful, so with vetsin or MSG (Monosodium glutamate). Too much salt (sodium) is not good to the body. Some puto makers add lye or sodium hydroxide to help in the coagulation of the starch. Sampaloc candies are made with bright red with shoe dye. The same diluted dye is used with ube manufacture to make it look like real violet-colored plant. ~

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