When it comes to what we eat, people are paying more attention to what they are putting in their body. Sure, you are making a point to stay away from sugar and junk food and eat clean, focusing on fruits and vegetables but did you know that if you aren’t buying organic, you are still putting a ton of chemicals into your body? But buying organic isn’t just about avoiding chemicals. Yes, buying organic foods benefits you and your family’s health, but it’s also a way for you to help the environment and local economies as well.
Eating organically grown foods is the only way to avoid the massive amount of chemical poisons used in commercially grown food. Did you know that there are more than 600 chemicals registered for agricultural use in America? And many of these chemicals were approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before extensive diet testing. There are billions of pounds of chemicals used each year on food in the U.S. which equates to about 16 pounds of chemical pesticides per person per year. So when you choose organic, you are choosing to leave the chemicals off your plate!
If you aren’t currently eating organic, you may not realize that organic foods actually taste better and are better for you because they contain more nutrients than commercially grown food. That’s because the soil is managed and nourished with sustainable practices and well-balanced soil produces healthy, strong plants. There have been multiple studies comparing the nutritional value of organically grown vs. conventionally grown fruits, vegetables and grains and they concluded there are significantly more nutrients in the organic food crops. Those studies went on to show that five servings of organically grown vegetables provided a sufficient amount of vitamin C where the same servings of conventionally grown vegetables did not. On average, organically grown foods provide 21.1% more iron, 27% more vitamin C, 29.3% more magnesium and 13.6% more phosphorus.
When it comes to animal products, buying organic not only helps to avoid chemicals but the growth hormones, antibiotics and drugs that are used to increase the amount of meat and milk in animals. Conventional meat and dairy are the highest risk foods for contamination by harmful substances with more than 90% of the pesticides we consume found in the fat and tissue of meat and dairy products. Tens of millions of pounds of antibiotics are used in animal feed every year. The hormones fed to cows can’t be broken down, even after they’ve been cooked so they remain in their whole form and pass directly to us. Hormone supplementation is a big concern with beef, dairy and farmed fish. While the U.S. still uses hormones, Europe’s scientific community feels there is no acceptably safe level for the daily intake of hormones currently used in the U.S. and has banned all growth hormones. The use of the hormones can lead to the early onset of puberty, tumor growth and even genetic problems while the growth hormones in milk are genetically modified and have been directly linked to cancer, especially in women.
Buying organic is also a great way to avoid genetically engineered food (GE) and genetically modified organisms (GMO). A genetically modified food has had lab-replicated genes from other plants, animals and even viruses added to it to give it a new characteristic (like a resistance to insects or extreme drought) that provide advantages to growth. These items do not have to be labeled in the U.S. and are quickly overtaking the supermarket shelves with GMO’s present in 80% of the processed foods available and even some whole foods.
In addition to being healthier for us, organic farming is really good for the planet. Agricultural chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers are contaminating the environment, poisoning water supplies and destroying fertile farmland. Organic farming is all about farming in harmony with nature or eco-sustenance. They do not permit the use of toxic chemicals in farming, instead looking to wildlife, insects, frogs, birds and soil organisms to play their roles in the management of healthy soil and biodiversity. Organic farming does not cause soil erosion, groundwater contamination, ocean dead zones or a loss of biodiversity. Instead, it mitigates the effects of climate change with research showing that organic soil can remove around 7,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. Organic farmers are focused on preserving the soil for future generations.
When shopping for organics, be careful. There are many items that advertise as “organic but not certified” or “pesticide free” but there are no standards in place to verify those claims. Make sure you are choosing certified organic foods which guarantees what you are eating has met all federal standards and that a 3rd party inspector has visited the facility.
Spending your food dollars on organics is not only good for your health, it’s a way to help move toward a sustainable future for the generations to come.