Organic fruits and vegetables have gradually become an accepted norm in Singapore as consumer awareness of eating healthily and the integration of wellness into their daily lives grows. The term organic is used to define food that has been grown without the use of artificial chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The American non-governmental organisation Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a yearly “Dirty Dozen” list, comprising of produce with some of the highest levels of pesticide residue. The EWG further recommends consumers to buy organic food in order to reduce pesticide consumption.
Significant effort has gone into ensuring healthy and nutritious organic produce is provided to the end consumer; beginning with the farming process all the way to the labelling of organic produce.
Organic produce is derived from farms which employ a different approach from conventional commercial farming. Organic farming seeks to enhance the environmental ecosystem through a harmonious relationship with nature. Compost, organic matter derived from leaves and household food waste, is added within the soil to add rich nutrients and increase soil fertility as they decompose. Compare this to the use of chemical fertilisers which cling to the produce after the harvesting process. Surface runoff causes them to end up in water bodies leading to groundwater contamination.
Mulching, the process of covering the topsoil with plant material, acts as a protective cover to reduce water loss and erosion. As a bonus, decomposed mulch adds to the soil fertility. Organic farmers plant cover crops such as legumes and grasses to keep pests away and prevent plant disease. No pesticides are used as these can harm beneficial microorganisms including soil-aerating bacteria.
Crop rotation is the growing of different crops in succession to prevent exhausting the land. The crop rotation is planned throughout the year as some crops add nutrients, Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphate, to the soil while others draw a specific nutrient ratio from it. According to the multi-year Sustainable Agriculture Farming Systems (SAFS) project conducted at the University of California-Davis, organic farming showed greater water infiltration rates, higher soil quality, soil biological activity and increased amount of bio mass in the soil over the years.
Organic fruits and vegetables demonstrate higher nutritional value than non-organic food. Research from the British Journal of Nutrition showed organic produce possessing higher concentrations of antioxidants while reviews of multiple studies further demonstrated higher concentrations of Vitamin C, and minerals such as iron and magnesium.
Organic produce is distinguished by its organic label as it can often resemble non-organic produce. When picking organic produce, verify that the organic label comes from a reputable source. Australian organic certification is known to be one of the strictest certification process in the world. For example, the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) process grants a company the right to use their trademarked logo only after a successfully audit.
Organic fruits and vegetables can be some of the most nutritious, safest and environmentally-friendly produce that end up on your serving plate. The next time you visit a supermarket or grocer, add them to your shopping list for maximum nutritional benefits!
According to the Ministry of Health, 35 people are diagnosed with cancer with 15 people dying from cancer on a daily basis between the years 2011 to 2015. With such alarming numbers, it’s no wonder that the Singapore government has poured money into building a new National Cancer Centre to be ready by 2022.
The normal remedies for cancer defer to chemotherapy and drugs, which are debilitating and expensive. As an individual who wants to reduce their risk of contracting cancer or help a loved one suffering from cancer, one ultimately reaches the burning question:
What can one do to fight the risk of cancer on a daily basis?
Avoid the consumption of processed foods which are full of refined sugar, the main energy sources for cancer cell growth. Preservatives in the food can also accumulate over time in the body. This leads to higher toxicity in the body which causes cellular damage to encourage the onset of cancer. Processed meats including sausages and bacon have been classified as carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Eating 50 grams of processed meat increases the risk of colon cancer by 18% compared to the normal lifetime risk of 5%.
Consuming more fruits and vegetables is vital in the fight against cancer. Organic fruits and vegetables with their relatively low pesticide residue levels further reduce the risk of foreign toxins poisoning the body. Carrots are powerful cancer-fighting foods due to their high carotenoid levels which also gives them their bright orange colour. Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and limes are high in flavonoids which hamper cancer cells growth by depriving them of energy. In addition to cancer-fighting, they also contain plentiful vitamins and minerals essential to boosting the body’s immune system, preventing heart disease and strengthening bones.
Replace your normal white rice with brown rice for more antioxidants content. These antioxidants prevent free radical damage leading to cancer. Brown rice possesses more dietary fibre which when consumed in higher amounts are linked to a lower risk of colon cancer. Salt is regularly added to food during the cooking process for extra flavouring. However, high salt intake has been linked to a higher risk of stomach cancer. It is recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) to consume only about 6 grams of salt per day, so aim to cut down your salt intake by having more home-cooked meals instead of dining out.
There isn’t a single panacea to cure cancer for good. Eating healthily and avoiding non-beneficial foods can go a long way in preventing cancer. The key to doing so is one of discipline and patience.