Is Organic really better? If so, why?
First of all, what is organic? Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides or fertilizers. The process and expense a farmer has to go through in order to be certified organic is very lengthy (up to 8 years) and very expensive. It is not only the produce itself that must be free of these, but the soil must be free of any pesticides/fertilizers. There cannot be any water runoff or contamination from the farm next door either! Now we know why organic is more expensive. The organic standards and practices are very strict and much higher than conventional. Here is why it is worth it to me and I hope to you.
What is the advantage of purchasing and eating organic? How is organic healthier than conventional or non-organic produce? Organic produce is significantly higher (at least 50%, sometimes 800%) in vitamins, minerals and fiber and retains the nutrients longer than conventional produce. Nutrients are absorbed best when eaten from food rather than taken in a pill form. That said, I am not suggesting we all stop taking vitamins/supplements. I am asking that we look at and consider how we can get the most amounts of nutrients from our food.
Research shows that our immune system is more able to fight off infection and disease when it is strong. Pesticides are a chemical that are toxic to our health, and the body needs to use a lot of energy to rid itself of these toxins. Therefore, we will have more energy reserved if it is not being used to constantly eliminate toxins.
Did you know the average piece of fruit contains more than 20 pesticides? Did you know that if you consumed an average apple you would be eating over 30 pesticides, even after you have washed it? So, no washing it does not solve the problem. In some cases peeling the skin can get rid of the pesticides, but how much of it has been absorbed by the remaining flesh?
There are two basic types of pesticides:
· Organochlorides kill pests by attacking their central nervous systems. Linked to cancer, birth defects and genetic changes in animals. They are fat-soluble and stored in body fat. They are far more persistent than organophosphates.
· Organophosphates interfere with nerve conduction in pests. They are the most common pesticide used today. They are water-soluble and break down rapidly.
Another problem with pesticides being sprayed is that it is not only directly contaminating our food, but it is indirectly being transferred to our food supply and water supply. Yes, it is getting into the oceans, rivers which in turn are affecting our fish and seafood. It is also in the water supply that livestock (cows, pigs, chickens etc…) are drinking. Do you see the connection? If it is not in the water, most likely it is in the feed that these animals are consuming. Bottom line, it all ends up on our dinner table or in our sack lunch or on that lovely plate in a restaurant unless it is organic.
I understand that not everyone has the means or access to all organic food. Thankfully, the prices of organic food are coming down, and sometimes I find it is the same or lower than conventional! However, we can make better choices. Thank goodness, We, the consumer do influence farming and purchasing practices-Safeway and Wal Mart are now carrying organic because we, the consumer, demanded it. I am a strong advocate of shopping at farmer’s markets because it is fresh (usually picked within 1-2 days); and I feel good about supporting the local people/farmers-which directly effects the local economy.
Here is a list( you can cut out and keep in your wallet) of the most heavily sprayed produce (sometimes called the dirty dozen) that we can choose to buy organic (either at the grocery store or farmer’s markets):
- Grapes, imported (Chili)
- Bell peppers
- Sweet Corn(frozen)
- Sweet Peas(frozen)
- Kiwi fruit
- Sweet Potatoes
Other organic foods worth considering:
- Dairy-milk, cheese, cream
Something else to think about…our skin is actually our largest organ! Yes, it’s true, and anything put on our skin is directly absorbed into the bloodstream! Shocking, I know. So, if we are making such a conscious effort to eat healthy, shouldn’t we want to be as careful about what we put onto our skin? I choose to use organic or at least all natural soaps/creams/lotions and cosmetics. At the very least I avoid anything that is petroleum based-ingredients such as petroleum, mineral oil. And, harsh ingredients such as, sodium laurel sulfate (which can be drying) and parabens (linked to cancer). There is a lot of this kind of information available on the web, and I will continue to write about it in future articles. For those of us who are allergic to wheat and/or dairy, it is good to read labels since many body products contain wheat protein and dairy! I hope you will do your own research and share it with us on www.nowheatnodairynoproblem.com
Finally, cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops. Remember, it is not only the crop, but the reside and run off that contaminates water supplies too. I know organic cotton and clothes are very expensive, but we can buy them when possible. Personally I’d rather have less and have organic. What about you?
Here’s to being more informed so we can make the best choices for ourselves and our planet. I am off to go to the local farmers market to find all the fruit and vegetables that are in season! Delicious!