Thursday, March 5, 2009

What's with Organic?

(My business feasibility group and instructor - I learned a lot drawing up a business plan and looking at building a survivable business. We wanted to open a rehearsal studio in Montreal in which bands come to our soundproof, well equipped rooms and rock out.)

During the past few days of feasibility presentations there have been a few groups proposing "healthy restaurants" or "organic snacks". Due to time constraints I was unable to pose my questions but here is what I gathered from the presentations:
a) the nutritional information obtained was from the Canada food guide
b) Calories were the end all, be all of a meal
c) The word Organic meant Healthy
d) Saturated Fat and Cholesterol are SO BAD!

I am not an expert in nutrition but from my experience I have noticed certain things that work for me, my friends and my family. I have also done reading in areas that deal with nutrition that enhances performance such as the Zone and the Paleo diet. I'll address the four points I have noticed come up.

a) I consider the Canada food guide a joke in that they receive funding from General Mills (I can't confirm this) so they recommend a ridiculous amount of grain products as part of your daily intake. As stated before grain has a high glycemic index and spikes insulin levels which contributes to a major problem of hyperinsulemia. I would like to discuss grains in a whole seperate post.

b) Countring calroies is not required and there is such a thing as good calories and bad calories. Eat meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds some fruit little starch and not sugar. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and get some exercise.

c) The word organic means Healthy. I don't know much about this organic thing but the people presenting said that their product would have a shelf life of 9 months. 9 months!!! How can something be healthy that lasts that long on a shelf? The Paleo diet is sometimes refered to as a caveman diet because you eat as a caveman would have. If you can't kill it, pick it or grow it, you don't eat it. Maybe if people worried more about what they ate instead of how it was grown, they might be healthier.

d) Finally,  saturated fat and Cholesterol are not evil. If I was on a strict zone diet and I had to chose between a baggle, apple and orange juice and a McDonalds quarter pounder; I would pick the quarter pounder. Why? It would fit more into my daily block intake and I would not be overloading on carbs and getting a crash afterwards. This isn't an option that should be taken all the time but if you are in a bind its a better choice. I was once criticized for eating 4 eggs every day. To think my cholesterol would be high because of that is total BS, because I don't eat other crap food and I exercise. So whats my point? Saturated Fat and Cholesterol are not all that bad if a proper diet is followed and exercise is implemented.  Plus the majority of stuff you think that is probably saturated like meat, eggs, bacon, lard, etc. is almost 70 percent polyunsaturated.  I will post more on the cholesterol con in a separate post.

Now this is my view on things and there may be some holes in my arguments so a discussion of this is encouraged. I am constantly trying to improve my knowledge on this topic. Although it is basic right now, that is all I would need if I just wanted to increase performance and be healthy. That is the beuty of what we do, it is simple and easy to understand.


  1. Sean, excellent post. I have some supporting evidence for point a):

    One way in which General Mills (as well as Cadbury Schweppes, Campbell Canada, Coca-Cola Ltd., Hershey Canada Inc., Kellogg Canada Inc., Kraft Canada Inc., McCain Foods, McDonald's Canada, Nestle Canada Inc., Parmalat Canada Inc., & PepsiCo Canada) may be sponsoring the Canada Food Guide:

    Read this article and correct me if i am wrong. This is a quote from the article:

    "Participants (the companies listed above) will devote at least 50%1 of their television, radio, print and internet advertising
    directed primarily to children under 12 years of age ... This will be achieved in one of the following ways (or some combination of each):
    1. By advertising products that represent ... advice of Canada’s Food Guide"

    Let's look at this endorsement logically. The companies want to market their products. The Canada Food Guide gets free marketing when other companies market it. Wouldn't it make sense from a business perspective to have the Canada Food Guide include many products (they may not necessarily be healthy) so it can gain popularity by getting lots of free advertising. It seems possible to me that the Canada Food Guide may be willing to put their check of approval on a product in order to get free advertising.

    Okay, I agree with points b and c. I think your argument on fats could benefit from some more information. When you are syaing that saturated fat and cholesterol are not good but not evil ... I interpret that to mean that they are not good for you so try to limit their intake. In other words, everyone should be eating fat. Ideally, you should incorporate good fat into your meals/snacks but if you fall of the wagon sometimes and eat some saturated fats that is okay. As long as you are generally sticking to meats and vegatables, nuts and seeds, some fruit little starth, no sugar.

    Let us discuss FATS in a little mor detail but keep it simple. I am taking my information about this article (
    1. Good fats come in two forms: monounsaturated fats and long-chain omega-3 fats. Monounsaturated fats come from olive oil, some type of nuts aznd avocados etc. Long-chain omega-3 fats can come from fish oil.

    2. Bad fats come from animal meat and high-fat dairy products. They are created by the food industry, commonly listed as partially hydrogenated oil. Then there is a type of omega-6 fatty acid known as arachidonic acid, found mainly in fatty red meats, egg yolks and organ meats. We do need some arachidonic acid in our diet, but too of this acid much can be damaging to our health just like any other fat.

    Why it is okay to for Sean to eat 4 omega 3 eggs in the morning:

    I did some research today on the nutrients in Omega 3 eggs vs. the Classic egg and here it is:
    Comparison of Fat Profile
    Omega-3 Enriched** Classic Egg**
    Total Fatty Acids 4.9 g 5.0 g
    Omega-6 0.7 g 0.7 g
    Omega-3 0.4 g 0.04 g
    Monounsaturated 1.6 g 2.0 g
    Saturated 1.2 g 1.5 g
    Cholesterol 185 mg 190 mg

    I am beginning to understand why omega 3 eggs are good to eat in the morning and it is because they contain roughly the same TOTAL amount of fat, but more omega 3(good fat), less saturated fat (bad fat) and less cholesterol (bad fat). What does not make sense to me is that for the extra 0.36 g of omega 3 (good fat) you are getting there are 0.4 g of monounsaturated fat (good fat) that you are losing. Personally, when I cook eggs for breakfast I usually have 2 and I do not avoid eating eggs for fear of saturated fats or cholesterol. I think they are an excellent source of fat and protein and the yolk is my favourite part.

    The Message:
    Try to eat good fats but do not compromise your protein, carbohydrate, and fat portioning just because you might incorporate a little saturated fat.

  2. Sean,

    My only additional thoughts are people want everyone...including themselves think that they are doing everything to get "in-shape". Everyone starts with good intentions, so we buy things now with the ideal we will use them later. This is everything from globo gym memberships, to 10-min abs videos to low fat and now "organic" foods. I do not think it is anything more then a marketing ploy. But, the one organic thing I swear by is coffee. I like it black, no sugar and I swear organic tastes better.

    So, for the last year, I ate all the red meat I can eat, drink whole or at least 2% milk. Use real butter. I really limit my CHO intake to fruits and vegtebles, but honestly 2-3x a week I loosen up. Here is my blood work form last month:
    Glucose: 88 (70-99 normal)
    CHOL: 146 (this is total, I did not get an HDL)
    The only thing high was my urea level (might be due to high protein, but it is not pathologic, my eGFR (kidney function was normal)

  3. Are You Having Problems FOLLOWING with your Paleo Diet?

    Want to munch on healthy delicious recipes as soon as TONIGHT?

    Download your awesome Paleohacks Cookbook.