Matthew Kadey, MS, RD
Most bodybuilders rely on beef for a big chunk of their protein needs, but most of the shrink-wrapped steaks in the supermarket come from cattle living in miserable feedlots where they’re pumped full of antibiotics and hormones. Organic beef assures the animals stuffed themselves on feed that was grown organically and were not shot full of drugs. Both circumstances likely produce safer, healthier meat.
Recent stricter imposed rules from the USDA dictate moo juice carrying the organic seal must come from cows that spend at least four months of the year outdoors feasting on grass. That’s important because studies show pasture-fed cows produce milk that’s richer in nutrients, including fat-burning omega-3s.
The next time you’re making meat sauce for your pasta, be sure to use a jar of the red stuff labeled “organic.” A 2012 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry discovered tomatoes grown under conventional farming methods had lower levels of disease-thwarting antioxidants than those produced organically. Why? Organic farming shuns chemical pesticides and fertilizers, forcing the tomatoes to increase their own defenses against pests, which are often antioxidants.
Bodybuilders should load their grocery carts with plenty of vegetables that are laced with muscle-mending antioxidants and fat-busting fiber, but consider splurging for organic celery, bell peppers, spinach and lettuce. According to the Environmental Working Group, these veggies were found to possess the highest levels of pesticide residues that may sour your health.
Like vegetables, certain fruits have been found to be dirtier than others. These include apples, peaches, strawberries, grapes and blueberries. Conventional apples are particularly chemical ridden because they are highly susceptible to insects and are often sprayed heavily for cosmetic purposes to produce blemish-free fruit that’s acceptable to grocery stores.
In North America soy is one of the most genetically modified crops. Genetic modification entails adjusting the genes of a plant to achieve a desirable trait such as resistance to pests or drought. Food companies are not required to state on labels if their products contain genetically modified foods. If you are concerned about the still-understudied health impacts of this science, make sure to select organic soy products such as edamame, tofu and soy protein powder that are free of genetic modification.