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Eating organic is catching on

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image Organic coffee is available at many stores. Publix has extended the organic market to a new type of store called GreenWise that sells nothing but organic products. Photo Penny Fletcher

We may have come a long way since our great-grandparents time, but many say our food isn’t nearly as good for us.

By PENNY FLETCHER

We may have come a long way since our great-grandparents time, but many say our food isn’t nearly as good for us.

Some claim the pesticides and chemicals to lengthen ripening and/or shelf life have made a lot of the things we consume less safe.

That’s why organic foods are catching on.

The American Cancer Society has a statement on its website that says food additives are added in small FDA approved amounts, but that many things — including chemicals used in farming and the raising of farm animals — often find their way into the food supply inadvertently and can raise your cancer risk.

“Adding substances to foods to prolong storage life and to enhance color, flavor and texture is an area of great public interest,” said Erin Stawarz, communications manager for the American Cancer Society’s Tampa office. “Some food processing, such as freezing and canning vegetables and fruits, can actually preserve vitamins and other components that may decrease cancer risk. Cooking or heat-treating — like with canning — breaks down the plant cell walls and may allow the helpful compounds in these foods to be more easily digested. But some of these methods may also lower the content of some heat-sensitive vitamins, such as vitamin C and some B.”

Stawarz added that concern about the possible effects of food additives on health, including cancer, is one reason that many people are now interested in organic foods. “But whether organic foods carry a lower risk of cancer because they are less likely to be contaminated by compounds that might cause cancer is largely unknown,” he said.

Still, many swear growing organically makes a difference. They say that not putting pesticides and ingredients you can’t pronounce into your body has to be the best course of action.

Just looking at the growth of organic sections of major chain supermarkets tells a story.

“Many of our customers say they are looking for groceries that are less processed and more pure. They want to avoid foods treated with pesticides, chemicals, hormones and antibiotics,” said Shannon Patten, spokeswoman for Publix Southwest Florida stores based in Lakeland. “We strive to meet the needs of our customers and provide them a greater range of choices, so we continue to offer more organic products throughout every category of our store.”

Publix has also initiated a different type of store, called GreenWise Market, dedicated completely to organic products although none are yet in the coverage area of this newspaper.

“We opened our first Publix GreenWise Market store in Palm Beach Gardens in 2007 and one Tampa location in 2008. These locations have all organic, all natural and earth-friendly products, along with freshly prepared meals, a great selection of artisan cheeses, fine wines, handcrafted fresh breads and much more,” she added.

There are no plans to open a GreenWise Market in South County, Brandon or other Tampa locations at this time but Publix (as are other chains) is adding more and more organic choices and whole sections as older stores are remodeled or enlarged. Addresses of existing GreenWise stores are available on the Publix website.

There are several mom and pop organic stores in range of this newspaper however, and additionally there are several roadside stands and Farmer’s Markets where organically-grown products are available, including the long-standing Ybor Fresh Market on weekends in Centennial Park in Tampa and the South Shore Sunday Market held the last Sunday every month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the corner of U.S. 41 and Shell Point Road in Ruskin.

My Mother’s Garden is a certified organic farm in Wimauma that grows culinary herbs, salad greens, edible flowers and native plants. It also has grass-fed beef cows and hogs that have been raised without antibiotics or animal by-products and hens for fresh brown eggs.

In Tampa, Sweetwater Organic Community Farm gives group tours and organic growers workshops for home gardeners as well. It also has a website for those who are interested. This farm has been in business since 1993 and its published materials say it has served more than 15,000 people.

More information may be found by putting Tampa FL organic farms and/or stores in a web search bar.

Information about this topic is also available online from the American Cancer Society at http://www.cancer.org/healthy.

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