Although there are many reasons to go organic, it’s important to remember that choosing to eat organic food doesn’t mean that your food is automatically safe. A recent outbreak of botulism in Europe caused by an organic jar of almond-stuffed olives reminds us of this.
Not to worry though, Bio Gaudiano organic almond stuffed olives have been recalled in the United States.
Organic foods are great because you can count on not being harmed by the numerous harmful pesticides that are used on non-organic foods. However, there’s another side of organic safety many people aren’t aware of.
When I get organic food, I usually lazily justify not washing it and just assume it’s super-safe. However, NPR’s blog, The Salt, reminds us that, “organic food is often fertilized with manure, which can carry dangerous spores that occur naturally in soil. And if clostridium botulinim, the bacteria that causes botulism, makes it as far as a jar packed with oil and not much oxygen, it can flourish.”
Because clostridium butulinim is such a strong bacteria, even able to withstand boiling temperatures for hours, the FDA has taken various measures to assure improved safety standards for foods.
Although rare, botulism is a serious bacterial infection that usually is introduced into the body through foods, mainly canned or preserved foods. Occurring 8-36 hours after consumption of contaminated foods, symptoms can include difficulty breathing that can lead to respiratory failure, nausea, vomiting, weakness with paralysis, cramps and difficulty speaking or swallowing among others.
So for now, I think it’s just important to remember that organic isn’t always safer. Although I am an organic food enthusiast, there are some negative aspects about the stuff.
For one, it tends to get pretty expensive, being about 30-40 percent more costly than food that isn’t organic.
A few ways to be more certain that your food is safe:
Know where it comes from. Not only does eating locally help financially support your community, it also often helps to ensure freshness and quality.
Wash your produce well (even if you plan to peel it), avoiding chemical soaps or detergents to do so.
Scrub hard produce with a clean brush or sponge.
Dry with a clean cloth to further clear away any bacteria.
I don't want to discourage anyone from buying organic, by any means.
Being empowhered means obtaining as much knowledge as possible, and being able to make your own informed decisions!
Being aware of what’s in your food and where it comes from are steps in the right direction for food empowherment!
Botulism - PubMed Health. (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001624
Paramapoonya, O. (n.d.). Facts about Organic Food. Hub Pages. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from
Produce Safety. (n.d.). U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from http://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm114299
Schute, N. (2012, November 7). Organic Isn't Always Safer When It Comes To Botulism : The Salt : NPR. NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2011/11/07/142110648/organic-isnt-always-safer-when-it-comes-to-botulism
Reviewed November 14, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith