Know Your Food



Michael Centore

Know Your Food

Organic Foods

Know YOur Food

Fats and Cholesterol Fiber Flavorings, Colorings, and Preservatives Food Safety Genetically Modif ied Foods Gluten Organic Foods Protein Salt Starch and Other Carbohydrates

Sugar and Sweeteners Vitamins and Minerals Water

Know Your Food

Organic Foods

Michael Centore

Mason Crest

Mason Crest 450 Parkway Drive, Suite D Broomall, PA 19008 www.masoncrest.com

© 2018 by Mason Crest, an imprint of National Highlights, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the publisher. MTM Publishing, Inc. 435 West 23rd Street, #8C New York, NY 10011

www.mtmpublishing.com President: Valerie Tomaselli Vice President, Book Development: Hilary Poole Designer: Annemarie Redmond Copyeditor: Peter Jaskowiak Hardback ISBN: 978-1-4222-3740-3 E-Book ISBN: 978-1-4222-8047-8 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Centore, Michael, 1980– author. Title: Organic foods / by Michael Centore. Editorial Assistant: Leigh Eron Series ISBN: 978-1-4222-3733-5

Description: Broomall, PA: Mason Crest, [2018] | Series: Know your food | Audience: Age 12+ | Audience: Grade 7 to 8. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016053138 (print) | LCCN 2016055167 (ebook) | ISBN 9781422237403 | ISBN 9781422280478 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Natural foods—Juvenile literature. | Organic farming—Juvenile literature. Classification: LCC TX369 .C46 2018 (print) | LCC TX369 (ebook) | DDC 641.3/02—dc23

LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016053138 Printed and bound in the United States of America. First printing 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 QR CODES AND LINKSTOTHIRD PARTY CONTENT

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Table of Contents

Series Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Chapter One: What Is Organic Food? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Chapter Two: The Roots of a Movement . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Chapter Three: Organic Farming Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Chapter Four: Consumer Affairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Series Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Photo Credits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase the reader’s understanding of the text, while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, which will provide them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news coverage, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments, and much more. Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Research Projects: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. Series Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout the series. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field.

Key Icons to Look for:

SERIES Introduction I n the early 19th century, a book was published in France called Physiologie du goût ( The Physiology of Taste ), and since that time, it has never gone out of print. Its author was Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Brillat-Savarin is still considered to be one of the great food writers, and he was, to use our current lingo, arguably the first “foodie.” Among other pearls, Physiologie du goût gave us one of the quintessential aphorisms about dining: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” This concept was introduced to Americans in the 20th century by a nutritionist named Victor Lindlahr, who wrote simply, “You are what you eat.” Lindlahr interpreted the saying literally: if you eat healthy food, he argued, you will become a healthy person. But Brillat-Savarin likely had something a bit more metaphorical in mind. His work suggested that the dishes we create and consume have not only nutritional implications, but ethical, philosophical, and even political implications, too. To be clear, Brillat-Savarin had a great deal to say on the importance of nutrition. In his writings he advised people to limit their intake of “floury and starchy substances,” and for that reason he is sometimes considered to be the inventor of the low-carb diet. But Brillat-Savarin also took the idea of dining extremely seriously. He was devoted to the notion of pleasure in eating and was a fierce advocate of the importance of being a good host. In fact, he went so far as to say that anyone who doesn’t make an effort to feed his guests “does not deserve to have friends.” Brillat-Savarin also understood that food was at once deeply personal and extremely social. “Cooking is one of the oldest arts,” he wrote, “and one that has rendered us the most important service in civic life.” Modern diners and cooks still grapple with the many implications of Brillat- Savarin’s most famous statement. Certainly on a nutritional level, we understand that a diet that’s low in fat and high in whole grains is a key to healthy living. This is no minor issue. Unless our current course is reversed, today’s “obesity epidemic” is poised to significantly reduce the life spans of future generations. Meanwhile, we are becoming increasingly aware of how the decisions we make at supermarkets can ripple outward, impacting our neighborhoods, nations, and the earth as 6

a whole. Increasing numbers of us are demanding organically produced foods and ethically sourced ingredients. Some shoppers reject products that contain artificial ingredients like trans fats or high-fructose corn syrup. Some adopt gluten-free or vegan diets, while others “go Paleo” in the hopes of returning to a more “natural” way of eating. A simple trip to the supermarket can begin to feel like a personality test—the implicit question is not only “what does a healthy person eat?,” but also “what does a good person eat?” The Know Your Food series introduces students to these complex issues by looking at the various components that make up our meals: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and so on. Each volume focuses on one component and explains its function in our bodies, how it gets into food, how it changes when cooked, and what happens when we consume too much or too little. The volumes also look at food production—for example, how did the food dye called Red No. 2 end up in our food, and why was it taken out? What are genetically modified organisms, and are they safe or not? Along the way, the volumes also explore different diets, such as low-carb, low-fat, vegetarian, and gluten-free, going beyond the hype to examine their potential benefits and possible downsides. Each chapter features definitions of key terms for that specific section, while a Series Glossary at the back provides an overview of words that are most important to the set overall. Chapters have Text-Dependent Questions at the end, to help students assess their comprehension of the most important material, as well as suggested Research Projects that will help them continue their exploration. Last but not least, QR codes accompany each chapter; students with cell phones or tablets can scan these codes for videos that will help bring the topics to life. (Those without devices can access the videos via an Internet browser; the addresses are included at the end of the Further Reading list.) In the spirit of Brillat-Savarin, the volumes in this set look beyond nutrition to also consider various historical, political, and ethical aspects of food. Whether it’s the key role that sugar played in the slave trade, the implications of industrial meat production in the fight against climate change, or the short-sighted political decisions that resulted in the water catastrophe in Flint, Michigan, the Know Your Food series introduces students to the ways in which a meal can be, in a real sense, much more than just a meal.



Chapter 1 What Is Organic Food? W ords to U nderstand GMO: short for “genetically modified organism”; in agriculture, used to describe a plant or crop that has been altered by humans. growth hormone: a substance either naturally produced by the body or synthetically made that stimulates growth in animals or plants. herbicide: a substance designed to kill unwanted plants, such as weeds. ionizing radiation: a form of radiation that is used in agriculture; foods are exposed to X-rays or other sources of radiation to eliminate microorganisms and insects and make foods safer. pesticide: a substance designed to kill insects or other organisms that can cause damage to plants or animals. Salmonella: a type of bacteria that sometimes contaminates meat and dairy products. S ay the word “organic” to most people, and you’ll conjure up images of small mom-and-pop farms along country roads, communes where hippies grow their own vegetables, or small-batch products with funky labels that line the aisles of health food stores. It’s true, organic foods can be found in all these places, but they’re also turning up in more mainstream places. Restaurants, supermarkets, and “big box”


Organic Foods

stores have all jumped on the organic bandwagon in recent years. People are more knowledgeable than ever about what they put into their bodies, and a demand for healthier options is one of the reasons why organic foods racked up $43.3 billion in total sales in 2015—a number that’s expected to keep growing. So what’s all the hype about? To find out, we’ll have to start with the key question: What, exactly, makes food organic?

Educational Video

Organic Labeling

Scan this code for a video about the USDA Organic label.

O rganic S tandards : A n O verview At one time, all food was grown organically. Humans used the natural cycles of the earth to grow and harvest their crops. Chemical pesticides to repel bugs did not exist. Neither did the technology to modify plants in laboratories so that they grew in certain ways or were resistant to certain diseases. In the 20th century, these technologies, and many others, were introduced into farming. Agriculture became industrialized, meaning that machinery was employed to produce food on a larger scale than ever before. Farmers could produce more crops, but they had to rely on chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, and other techniques that introduced toxins into the food supply and endangered the long-term health of the soil. What became known as organic farming rose up in response to these dangers, as a small group of people began advocating for agricultural methods that respected the environment and produced food that was healthy and safe. Over the years, the definition of organic has evolved to mean foods grown without chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and sewer sludge (the leftover solids from


What Is Organic Food?

wastewater we flush down the toilet). Additionally, organic products do not use GMOs or ionizing radiation . Animals raised organically for food or to provide eggs, milk, or other dairy products have to live up to similar standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They can’t be given antibiotics, which are special medicines that are used to help animals grow and prevent disease. The concern about animal antibiotics is that, over time, bacteria that resist antibiotics develop. Those bacteria can be transmitted to humans, making infections more difficult to treat. Organically raised animals also can’t be given growth hormones . They must be given food that qualifies as organic and has no animal by-products, and they must be able to access the outdoors. Cows, goats, and sheep should be allowed to graze on open land for a certain period each year, and the land should be managed without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or other nonorganic materials.

Meat labeled “organic” has to come from animals that grazed freely on land not treated with pesticides.


Organic Foods


IFOAM Principles

Organic production methods aim to conserve natural resources, release fewer toxins into the environment, and respect the natural life cycles of plants and animals. However, some people worry that the increased popularity of organic foods has decreased quality, as suppliers work to keep up with demand. They feel the term “organic” is losing its meaning as large-scale producers find loopholes in standards, such as being able to use manmade chemicals if regulators (the people who enforce the standards) believe they are essential. It can be hard to find solutions that please both growers and consumers. • The Principle of Care. We must be cautious with new technologies and respect traditional agricultural methods to ensure the health of farms, ecosystems, and the planet. ▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲ In 2005, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) came up with four “Principles of Organic Agriculture” that serve as a good overview of the organic mission: • The Principle of Health. Organic farming is concerned with the well-being of humans, animals, soil, and plants, and with the understanding that they are all connected. • The Principle of Ecology. Every ecosystem—a community of living and nonliving things that interact within an environment—has ways of maintaining balance, and we should try to work with these processes rather than alter them. • The Principle of Fairness. Farmers should see themselves as caretakers and not just owners of the land, and be as concerned about the health and safety of their customers and future generations as they are about their own.


What Is Organic Food?

GMO s and P esticides : A C loser L ook To understand why people make the extra effort to farm, buy, and eat organically, it helps to know a little bit about what they’re trying to avoid. At the top of the list are GMOs and pesticides. In one sense, farmers have been producing GMOs for centuries, by selectively breeding animals and plants with desired characteristics or grafting different plants together to create new hybrids. For example, over 2,000 years ago, Mediterranean farmers began selectively breeding long-leaved cabbages to create what we now know as kale. This is, in a strict sense, genetic modification. But today, when people speak of GMOs, they usually mean something else. Genetic modification refers to scientists in a laboratory taking genes from one species and inserting them into an unrelated species to create a desired trait. Examples of modern

The popular green called kale was bred from cabbage more than 2,000 years ago.


Organic Foods

GMO crops can sound a little unnatural. Consider strawberries modified with fish DNA to keep the fruit from freezing, or goats given spider genes to increase the protein content of their milk. A common GMO crop is corn modified with genes from soil bacteria that make it resistant to the herbicide Roundup. This means that farmers can spray the herbicide and kill weeds around the corn without damaging the corn plants themselves. Some corn is also modified to produce its own pesticide called Bt toxin. Supporters of GMOs say they help farmers increase crop yields and even improve nutrition. They are also a valuable tool for improving food security as the global population continues to explode. Detractors point to studies in animals that show GMOs result in tumors, organ damage, slowed brain growth, birth defects, and a host of other problems. GMOs have been linked to food allergies and digestive problems in humans. However, some researchers have disputed these claims, saying that GMOs undergo extensive health and safety testing before being allowed into the food chain and that the studies showing links between GMOs and health issues used methods that are not dependable. Many of our crops are genetically modified, including 93 percent of soy and 88 percent of corn, as well as significant amounts of canola, papaya, beets, and squash. Since ingredients like soy protein and high fructose corn syrup are found in lots of prepackaged foods (think of your morning cereal or favorite cookies), GMOs are becoming harder and harder to escape in our daily diets. In fact, it’s estimated that approximately 75 percent of processed foods in your local supermarket contain GMOs. One concern about GMOs is increased pesticide and herbicide use. Since crops are modified to resist herbicides like Roundup, farmers can spray large amounts to keep weeds out of their fields. The problem is that over time, the weeds begin resisting the Roundup, forcing the farmers into a vicious cycle where they have to keep increasing the amounts (and strengths) of herbicides they use. These herbicides end up as residue in our food and seep into our water supply. They are highly toxic, and some researchers have theorized that they may contribute to the risk of cancer and other health problems. Since Roundup-resistant crops let farmers spray weed killers indiscriminately, they end up killing weeds that other species depend on—like milkweed, which is the one thing


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