Thursday, November 21, 2013

Organic Food: I'm Starting to Get It

I love going to Target to see what they have on the "end caps." I don't know why I even know the term "end cap" (I think I learned it from my mom--they're the ends of the aisles closest to the wall...where the store usually puts the clearance items), but it's like knowing some kind of secret shopping jargon. It makes me feel like I have a bargain-hunting superpower (don't worry; I'm just going to burst my own bubble and acknowledge that everyone knows about the end caps at Target, not just Prickly Mom).

Today's big score was Kraft Organic Macaroni & Cheese for $1.24 a box. I don't usually buy organics (unless they're on the end cap) fact, until this afternoon, I was still one of those people who rolled her eyes and said "oh brother" when thinking about buying organic foods. But it was on clearance, and I needed macaroni and cheese, so I threw two boxes in the cart.

It's the "organic-i-est"
Now for the backstory. Let me preface this by saying: if the following health information interests you, please follow the links I'm including within this paragraph. I am not a science professional and cannot begin to explain this in the proper way. Please read what the professionals have to say. Anyhoo...I recently found out that I have a double (homozygous) mutation of the gene called MTHFR (for those of you who already know about MTHFR, I have two mutant C677Ts. My A1298Cs are both clean). The MTHFR gene is responsible for a biochemical process called methylation. People with MTHFR mutations are not able to efficiently methylate, which converts folate and B vitamins into their usable forms, and are less able to detoxify the body, which can lead to a plethora of health problems including chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, migraine, increased risk of stroke, neural tube defects, treatment-resistant mood disorders, autism, ADHD, dementia, miscarriages, increased cancer risk, and much more. As such, those of us with any type of MTHFR mutation (which could be up to 40% of the population), need to avoid the typical folic acid and B vitamins sold in stores and added to flours and prepackaged grain-based products (our bodies can't process them efficiently and have trouble getting rid of them) as well as any unnecessary additives and everyday toxins. There are special pre-methylated versions of folate and the B vitamins on the market that I have been taking, which have started to improve my overall health (more on that another time).

Since I have a homozygous (double) mutation at position 677 of the MTHFR gene, that means both of my children automatically have one 677 mutation (I don't know Prickly Dad's status, so I'm just assuming, for now, that he gave them clean copies). This means that my boys are methylating their folate and B vitamins at around 70% capacity at best (I, on the other hand, am only operating at around 10% capacity, at worst. Scary, huh?). As a result of my MTHFR research, I have been making an effort to cut processed food--especially those grain-based foods enriched with folic acid and B vitamins--out of my family's diet. Unfortunately, two big kid-food staples, pasta and breakfast cereal, fall squarely into that no-no category.

Now, back to the organic mac. I had been doing a little unrelated research on un-enriched flours (I want to start baking more in an effort to cut out the pre-packaged treats), and discovered that a lot of "organic" flours seemed to also be un-enriched. Hmmm. So I went to the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese website to compare the ingredients of the organic and regular versions, and lo and behold...unlike the standard "blue box," the stuff I just got off the Target end-cap contains no extra folic acid and Bs! Score!

So today, fellow moms and dads, I apologize for rolling my eyes at organic foods. I finally get it. In addition to lacking the folic acid my boys and I need to avoid, organic foods probably also lack a lot of the additives and chemicals our mutant MTHFR genes have trouble ousting from our cells. Of course this calls for a lot of further research, but I think I made a lot of progress today on my path to better health for my whole family. Thanks, Target!


  1. I usually roll my eyes at organic too, but you've shared some new information! Thanks, I'll keep in this in mind next time I go shopping. Here from #SPP.

    1. Thanks, Tarana! It was a huge a-ha moment for me. I have no problem admitting I was wrong! :)

  2. Thanks, Monko. I still can't believe I wrote a coherent post about science (I was the non-science daughter in the family).