Dr. Weil is in my kitchen today, talking about all reasons why he’s organic, his simple-yet-can’t-live-without kitchen staple, and the current news issue on his mind.
Andrew Weil, MD, is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing-oriented approach to health care that encompasses body, mind, and spirit. He’s the editorial director of DrWeil.com, a leading Web resource for healthy living. He authors the popular Self Healing special publications, and is the director of integrative health and healing at Miraval Life in Balance Resort in Tucson. As a columnist for Prevention magazine and a frequent guest on Larry King Live, Oprah, and the Today Show, Dr. Weil provides valuable information and insight into how to incorporate conventional and complementary medicine practices in one’s life to optimize the body’s natural healing power.
Why is living organic important to you?
This topic is probably worth a book, but I’ll give you the four main reasons why I think organic food and organic gardening and farming are best for human and planetary health.
No pesticides: We know that conventionally grown foods consistently contain residues of pesticides that may be harmful. Some 865 pesticide active ingredients are now registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and thousands of products containing them singly or in combination are used in conventional farming to kill insects and other agricultural pests. Many of these chemicals have been implicated in human and animal cancers, nervous system disorders, and other serious diseases.
More antioxidants: Organically grown fruits and vegetables appear to have higher antioxidant levels than conventionally grown foods. Data released in 2005 by the Organic Consumers Association showed that, on average, the organic crops studied contained about one-third higher antioxidant content than comparable conventional produce. It also noted that levels of specific vitamins, flavonoids, and other health-protective compounds in organic foods were two or three times those found in matched samples of conventional foods.
Better for the earth: Raising crops organically produces the same yields as does conventional farming, but uses 30 percent less energy, less water, and no toxic chemicals. Organic farming also conserves more water in the soil, causes less erosion, maintains soil quality, and conserves more biological resources than conventional farming.
Efficient: Contrary to arguments that only conventional farming methods can meet the world’s need for food, a series of studies has shown that organic farming is just as productive, if not more so. These investigations suggest that organic methods produce as much wheat and alfalfa as and 90 percent of the amount of corn, soybeans, and winter wheat yielded by conventional methods, and organic farming methods build up soil instead of depleting it.
To which I would add, in my experience, organic food simply tastes better! Making a commitment to buy, or better yet, grow your own organic food is one of the best resolutions you can make in pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
What was your favorite food growing up?
I never liked traditional American breakfasts. Even growing up as a kid I wanted things other than eggs and waffles, but being raised in Philly in the ’50s I followed a typical dietary course, and I remember being particularly fond of hoagies in my youth.
What’s your go-to comfort food now?
Dark chocolate, definitely. Also very good, organic thin-crust pizza.
What’s the one thing in your kitchen you just couldn’t live without?
Extra virgin olive oil. It’s my main dietary fat and an indispensable part of my cooking.
What magazine, website, book, album, or product are you most obsessed with right now?
I’m not really wired with the kind of intense focus required for acute obsession, but I have always had a strong interest in the storytelling and cultural aspects of movies. Lately, I’ve been spending a little free time each day on the Internet Movie Database (imbd.com). I also frequent Amazon.com for most of my purchases—everything from books to clothing to specialty foods. (I have no financial interest or connection with either site.)
What’s the most important news story today that you think we all need to pay more attention to?
Medical marijuana just passed in Arizona, and I think people nationwide should pay attention to Will Humble’s decisions about doing things right and not repeating the mistakes made in other states.
Where do you get your news?
Good question, as I practice (and recommend) long periods of “news breaks” as part of a healthy lifestyle. I’m still connected, though. In addition to a network of close friends and professional colleagues who send a friendly heads up about relevant topics, I also tune in to NPR and use Google News.