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Green Christmas: Five Reasons to Have an Organic Christmas Dinner
by Vikki Scovell BA(hons), PG, DIP



Editor's Note from
Susan Lutz: The holidays can be an easy time to stray from an organic lifestyle. Reaffirm the commitment to go organic during the holidays with these ideas.

1. Buying local fruit and veg from your farmers market is healthy for you, the environment and the local and national economy. Support our farming industry, cut down on food miles, and ensure that your food is fresher and more nutritious. Even local veg in the supermarket will have been taken by lorry to storage depots and packaging factories which could be hundreds of miles away (sometimes abroad) before being sent back to the area in which it was produced. A typical Christmas meal may travel 49,000 miles, the equivalent of two journeys around the world, and yet uas it is based around seasonal produce, you will be able to get your sprouts, carrots, potatoes, and meat from local producers.

2. Organic farmers are only permitted the use of four chemicals on their crops, and many farmers will go to great lengths to avoid having to use any chemicals. Mainstream farming uses millions of tonnes of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fngicides which may remain present on your food, and also wash into local river systems affecting wildlife and decreasing biodiversity; the loss of otters in out waterways is linked to the use of agricultural chemicals (Around £120 million a year is spent removing pesticides from the UK's water supply - mainly from conventional farming, this adds £7 to your bill each time you pay it). In 2003 the government tested British potatoes for the pesticide Aldicarb (classified by the WHO as hazardous) and residues were found in 2% of those tested, suggesting that the British public may have consumed more than 25,000 tonnes of affected potatoes. Aldicarb blocks the nerve signals in worms and insects, killing them; mmm tasty.

3. Conventional farming releases six kilos of carbon dioxide per kilo of nitrogen fertilizer, hugely contributing to the greenhouse effect. You may think that your small contribution will do nothing in the face of global warming, but the organic food market in the UK grew by 30% in 2005; that is a big change for farming and animal husbandry, all of which will soften the environmental impact caused by conventional farming. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem!

4. Christmas is the season to be jolly; not so if you happen to be a turkey, goose, chicken, pig, beef-cow or lamb. We are encouraged to celebrate with succulent cuts of meat, cured hams, and our oversized-friend the turkey. Many animals in the production process suffer lives of unimaginable misery, ending suddenly in traumatic and terrifying deaths. Much of the meat that we buy contains residues of pesticides, and antibiotics, and some is plumped with water and animal-based fluids. Recent research in the US and UK has shown that some producers continue to use illegal amounts of pesticides and antibiotics, leading to consumption of unsafe meat. EVEN WORSE, large amounts of meat consumed in the UK is sourced from non EU countries, (such as chicken from brazil); it may be much older than you think, produced using illegal chemicals, and depending on the cheap labor of people living in appalling poverty; need I continue? Organic meat seems expensive in comparison to mass-produced meat, but it reflects the cost of animal welfare, quality feeds, and good animal husbandry. Organic turkeys are free-range and this is reflected in the quality of their meat. The Soil Association endorses the highest possible levels of animal welfare; make sure you buy meat with the soil association stamp. Look out for meat at your local farmers market which may come from smaller farms: ask the people about the size of the farm and any welfare issues which concern you. For your local farmers market visit www.farmersmarkets.net lists of local meat producers for the UK try www.soilassociation.org/christmas (For Canada farmers markets and the US)

5. For food to be labeled organic, it can only contain 32 of the 290 EU-approved food additives. Christmas foods are notoriously high in chemical additives, hydrogenated fats, artificial sweeteners and cheap bulking ingredients. Organic food will never contain harmful chemical additives or any hydrogenated fats. This will protect you from heart disease, hyperactivity, neural problems, cancers.....

Yes, your organic shopping list may seem to cost you more. In reality you may save money, as it is unlikely that you will over-buy and over-consume, avoiding the Christmas isle in the supermarket, and the problem of cupboards over-stuffed with unhealthy, out-sized boxes and bags of crisps, snacks, cakes, biscuits and chocolates, (all of which seem like a good idea at the time, but leave you feeling unhealthy, flabby and depressed when the new year comes). Choosing Organic or locally produced food will improve your health, increase the welfare of food-animals, and soften the environmental impact of the festive season. That has GOT to be more in keeping with the spirit of Christmas.

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About the Author

Vikki Scovell BA(hons), PG, DIP is a fully qualified Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach. She is a qualified Nutrition Adviser, GP Referred Trainer and runs successful Community and Corporate Exercise classes and events. Vikki is a consultant in Healthy Eating and Exercise initiatives to schools in the independent sector and publishes School and General Healthy Living newsletters. Vikki believes passionately that everyone can make small changes to their lifestyle to ensure that they live happier, longer and healthier lives. She lives in Bristol in the U.K. with her partner Jeremy and two young children Apple and Honey. For inquiries for nutritional advice, personal training, corporate wellness and general inquiries visit www.getfitter.net




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