A food revolution is underway. The number of plant-based converts increase annually. Food allergies & sensitivities are on the rise at alarming rates. People are realizing that Hippocrates was on to something when he said, ‘Let thy food be thy medicine & medicine by thy food.’ Food should heal not poison.
I’m not proud but there are times when I eat half a pack of Oreos without taking a breath. When I bake my own, it takes weeks to go through the same amount. The reason for this is that one is made of whole, organic ingredients while the other is full of strange compounds & fillers that never seem to fill. Neither is healthy by any means but the difference between organic & inorganic, homemade & packaged is the difference between eating one cookie a day, fully satisfied & eating eight cookies in a single sitting, only stopping because you really should. It is the difference between real food & a chemistry project.
Organic, Understanding the Terms
Organic chemistry studies chemical compounds containing carbon. This is the traditional, scientific standard of the term organic as it relates to life on earth. When discussing food, we refer to items grown & produced without pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, or antibiotics. Essentially, the food our grandparents would have made.
The post-WWII era of agriculture resulted in an upsurge of convenience food, as North America especially, experienced unprecedented wealth. Most of this was poorly planed management to feed a growing population but further, it served the interests of the large corporations that distribute them. Very little research went into the effects of the chemical compounds used to grow & preserve these new consumer goods. It is only in the last few decades that we are starting to understand what’s really at stake for our health & the environment.
What Does ‘Certified Organic’ Mean?
Each country has its own set of standards by which they qualify something as organic. Most of you have surely seen the ‘Certified Organic’ logo on various food items. To receive this label, a company must adhere to the standards named above. However, it’s important to note that the certification process can be quite expensive & thus, inaccessible to many small operations.
It is not in each companies budget to get this certification & I caution you against using it as the only measure to determine whether something is organic or not. Many non certified farms use similar, & at times better farming practices but cannot go through the certification process. This is when it is particularly beneficial to shop directly from the source. Speak with them, ask questions about their practices. Visit the farms when you can. Most will be quite honest with you. The same goes for small businesses. Read their labels. There are strict rules claiming ‘organic’ on labels so if they are but not certified, it’s very likely that you’re getting the real deal. Again, feel free to contact the companies directly & ask questions. Most are very happy to inform you. I sure know we are!
5 Great Reasons to Eat Organic Food
I can think of several excellent reasons to make the switch to organic but below are my top five:
1) Organic Farms Have Fewer Heavy Metals & Toxins
What you need to know is that our soil has been soiled by heavy metals & toxins. They seep into our water table & pollute our eco-systems through decades of industrial disposal & negligence. Inevitably these enter our food system & for those who consume animal products, these toxins are higher as they enter our bodies through both the animal & its food. While there isn’t much we can do about existing toxins, we certainly can avoid ingesting additional ones. With this consideration you can reduce your toxin intake by adhering to a plant-based diet. Biomagnification is the term used to refer to the increased level of toxins we are exposed to as we go further up the food chain. So if you consume animal products, absolutely make sure they are organic.
2) Organic Farm Practices are Easier on the Environment
Since organic farms are not reliant upon chemical fertilizers & pesticides, farmers learn to work with the land opposed to beating it into submission. They rely instead on practices such as compost & crop rotation in place of chemical fertilizers. Instead of herbicides & pesticides, they use companion crops & non-chemical treatments. They are not planting huge mono-crops that trash the soil & spread erosion. This hasn’t even touched yet on the fact that chemical pesticides kill our pollinators putting our entire food chain at risk or that genetically modified seeds are reducing plants’ natural ability to fight disease & challenge the health of the entire system should one pop up. Nature has a robust set of natural checks & balances used to protect itself so when humans manipulate seeds & other resources for profit, it does not consider the long term harm of these practices.
3) Soil is Life
I could write a whole post on soil health alone & maybe someday I will but for now, I will keep it simple. According to The Organic Centre, “Healthy soils are essential for resilient crop production. They positively contribute to soil water retention, support a diversity of organisms vital to decomposition & nutrient cycling, provide crops with essential nutrients & can maintain carbon stores, contributing to global climate change mitigation. Healthy soils also play an important role in pest, pathogen, & weed suppression…”
Healthy soil is gold & essential to organic practices. A healthy soil supply can tend to all of a crop’s needs, making it unnecessary to use many of the modern farming chemicals. Adding chemical compounds to a crop makes it impossible for soil to do its job as the many beneficial elements are destroyed which results in a complete & systemic reliance upon these chemicals.
4) Organic Food is Nutrient Dense
Expanding upon the soil narrative is the fact that organic food is more nutrient dense than non-organic. So much of our dirt has been leached of its nutrients due to poor management & contamination. Large mono-crops are not typically rotated & the land is not given time to regenerate between harvests. They are heavily reliant on chemical fertilizers & other forms of management, resulting in unhealthy soil.
The micro-nutrients & cancer preventative phenols are stripped from the dirt by conventional farming & thus, are excluded from our food. A 2006 University of Sydney study discovered that micro-nutrients are found in higher concentrations of organic food than non. We live in a world where even those who eat a well-balanced diet, rich in fresh fruits & vegetables, are suffering from sever nutrient deficiencies. This is because our soil & overall food supply is seriously lacking in them. Organic options are shown to provide higher amounts.
5) Organic Food Tastes Better
I try not to be spoiled about eating organic exclusively. Where I live, it isn’t possible more often than not. But have you ever eaten a bowl full of organic berries one day, then non-organic the next. There is literally no comparison. If you have healthy & alive taste buds, you really notice the chemical taste on the latter bowl. Whether you’re eating organic or not, food is expensive, so why invest in tasty food, that will be eaten instead of throwing your money in the garbage every week after it rots. If it tastes good, you are more likely to eat it.
This post ended up longer than expected so visit part two for tips on how to reduce your expenses & when skipping the organic section isn’t a big deal.