There have been a lot of exciting events going on over the last month. The stories and race reports keep rolling in. It's great to see everyone continuing to enjoy the road.
Here are a few highlights from this summer
Racine Multisports has been busy this summer! Lots of Speed Shop athletes have been taking on these well run events. Check out the website for a list of all the events and services as well as lots of familiar names in the results from winter training sessions!
I have no picture evidence but the husband/wife combo of Ray and Judy Trentini recently took on another fine addition to the Racine Multisport calander, the Ft. Ritchie Sprint Triathlon. Ray placing 4th overall and Judy finishing well in her age group. Another regular at the Speed Shop, Geoff Irwin was the overall winner of the event!!
Why go organic?
Organic fruits and vegetables can cost about 30% more than standard produce, if not more. If you are a hungry athlete who requires a lot of food, you might be wondering: Are organic products worth the extra cost? In terms of taste, some athletes claim organic foods taste better. Taste is subjective and may relate to the fact freshly grown foods have more flavor. In terms of nutrition, some research suggests organic foods may have slightly more minerals and antioxidants than conventionally grown counterparts, but the differences are insignificant. You could adjust for the difference by simply eating a larger portion of standard broccoli.
One important reason to buy organic—preferably locally grown organic—is to help sustain the earth and replenish its resources. Buying locally grown foods supports the small farmers and helps them earn a better living from their farmland. Otherwise, farmers can easily be tempted to sell their land for house lots or industrial parks—and there goes more beautiful open green space.
Yet, if you buy organic foods from a large grocery store chain, you should think about the whole picture. Because organic fruits, for example, are in big demand, they may need to be transported for thousands of miles, let’s say from California to Massachusetts. This transportation process consumes fuel, pollutes the air—and hinders the establishment of a better environment. Does this really fit the ideal vision of “organic”? The compromise is to buy locally grown produce whenever possible. To find the farm stands in your area, visit www.localharvest.org.
A second potential reason to choose organic relates to reducing the pesticide content in your body and the potential risk of cancer and birth defects. The Environmental Protection Agency (www.EPA.gov) has established standards that require a 100- to 1,000-fold margin of safety for pesticide residues. They have set limits based on scientific data that indicates a pesticide will not cause “unreasonable risk to human health.” According to Richard Bonanno, PhD, agricultural expert at University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a farmer himself, 65% to 75% of conventionally grown produce has no detectible pesticides. (When used properly and applied at the right times, pesticides degrade and become inert.)
Results of testing vegetables from farms in Massachusetts showed no pesticide residues in 100% of the samples. Bonanno reports only 0.5% of conventionally grown foods (but 3-4% of imported foods) are above EPA standards. A 2005 survey of 13,621 food samples revealed pesticide residue exceeding the tolerance was 0.2%. (1) Yet, watchdog groups such as www.beyondpesticides.org and www.foodnews.org wave red flags and remind us, for example, that small amounts of pesticides can accumulate in the body. This may be of particular concern during vulnerable periods of growth, such as with young children.
Clearly, whether or not to buy organic foods becomes a matter of personal values. Bonanno sees “organic”, in part, as a marketing ploy, with organic foods portrayed as being safer and better. He argues we do not have a two-tier food system in the US--with wealthier people who can afford to buy organic foods being the recipients of safer foods.
Options So what's a hungry but poor athlete to do?
• Eat a variety of foods, to minimize exposure to a specific pesticide residue.
• Carefully wash and rinse fruits and vegetables under running water; this can remove 99% of any pesticide residue (depending on the food and the pesticide).
• Peel fruits, such as apples, potatoes, carrots and pears (but then, you also peel off important nutrients).
• Remove the tops and outer portions of celery, lettuce and cabbage.
• Buy organic versions of the foods you eat most often, such as organic apples if you are a five-a-day apple eater.
• Sometimes (if not all the time), buy organic versions of the fruits and veggies that are known to have the highest pesticide residue, even after having been washed. According to the Environmental Working Group (www.foodnews.org.) the “Dirty Dozen” includes these fruits: apples, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, strawberries, red raspberries; and these vegetables: potato, bell peppers, celery, spinach.
• Save money by choosing conventionally grown versions of the “Clean Dozen” (with little or no pesticide residue): banana, kiwi, pineapple, mango, papaya (note that foods like papaya, mango and banana have their own protective shell, so this reduces pesticide exposure on the flesh of the fruit); asparagus, avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, sweet corn, and green peas. (For a complete list of 43 fruits and veggies, see www.foodnews.org.)
When all is said and done, whether or not to make the extra shopping trip and pay the higher price is an individual decision. But for athletes who are concerned about the environment, buying organic foods can help save the small farms—and may contribute to a better future for our planet.
If you have any concerns or questions about your nutritional needs, seek the consultation of a local sports nutritionist for appropriate care. To locate a top sports nutritionist in your area, please visit our Find a Sports Nutritionist Near You section. Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD (board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics) counsels casual & competitive athletes at Healthworks (617-383-6100), the premier fitness center in Chestnut Hill MA. Her bestselling Sports Nutrition Guidebook and food guides for new runners, marathoners, soccer players and cyclists are available at www.nancyclarkrd.com.
*photo credit to Carol Baker
*video credit to Scott Gordon