By Isaac Hopkins
A recent Critical Issue Report from The Organic Center (TOC) focuses on the benefits of eating a healthier diet. The report’s author, Dr. Charles Benbrook, follows “Jane Doe” as she eats her way through two days, first her “before” diet of pizza and apple pie, and then her “after” diet centered on fresh, organic produce.
The report emphasizes that “even relatively modest changes in diet can dramatically alter long-term health outcomes.” By decreasing her daily calorie intake by just ten calories, Jane Doe is able to prevent the 0.8 pounds that the average American adult gains each year. She also more than tripled her intake of fruits and vegetables, while decreasing her consumption of pesticide residues by choosing organic produce.
The report points to the importance of awareness and access to quality information as keys to making healthy choices. Pesticide residues are of particular concern for women who are planning on having children, and the benefits gained by sound decisions now, the report notes, tend to be passed from one generation to the next. To facilitate those decisions, TOC presents two new tools, the Dietary Risk Index (DRI) and the Nutritional Quality Index (TOC-NQI). Both can be used to evaluate individual foods, as well as an entire diet.
“Awareness is growing that more disciplined and data-driven food choices can tip the odds toward sustained, good health,” according to the report. The Organic Center’s “hopeful message” is that Americans now have the tools that they need to make simple adjustments in their diet that will help them, and their children, live healthy, fruitful lives.
Isaac Hopkins is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project
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