Why Buy Organic?
Organic food is food that is produced without synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, genetic engineering, radiation or sewage sludge. Animal products that are labeled as organic do not use antibiotics, growth hormones or any medications except for vaccines and those used for illnesses. They are also fed only organic non GMO feed. Organic foods are, however, more expensive than conventional foods, and many people wonder if the health benefits justify the extra cost.
Sixty percent of studies show that certain nutrients are higher in organic foods than in conventional foods. This is likely due to the stronger natural defenses of organic plants. Organic plants develop stronger defensive compounds since fewer pesticides are used to combat insects. Additionally, the nitrogen in conventional fertilizer dilutes nutrients in the plants because the plants are bigger but the nutrients are less concentrated. This causes decreased nutritional value in conventional foods.
Organic foods are also lower in toxic pesticides. Over 600 chemical pesticides are used on conventional foods in America, and according to the National Academy of Sciences, 90% of those chemicals have not been tested for long-term health benefits. Pesticides are hazardous to your health. They impact the body neurologically and affect development. Children are especially at risk since they are more sensitive to adverse effects and because they are exposed to more pesticides. Chemicals have been shown to cause cancer, hormone disruption, and skin, eye, and lung irritation.
It is important to note that organic foods are not always 100% pesticide free because they can pick up traces of chemicals from air or water from conventional farms nearby. In the US, the EPA does have certain standards for pesticide use. However, the US does not control how produce is grown in other countries, so it is probably a good idea to avoid conventional fruits and vegetables grown outside the US.—- not sure this is necessary? Eating organic allows you to lessen your exposure to pesticides. To further lower pesticide intake, make sure to wash all fruits and vegetables and peel their skins.
Certain fruits and vegetables contain more pesticides than others. The “dirty dozen” are apples, celery, sweet bell pepper, peaches, strawberries, imported nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, domestic blueberries, and potatoes. The “clean 15” consist of onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, cabbage, sweet peas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, kiwi, domestic cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, watermelon, and mushrooms. It is especially important to buy organic produce from the “dirty dozen” list.
Organic farming helps maintain our ecosystem by preserving the soil so that wildlife and insects can play their natural role. It also helps protect the water and soil and reduce overall pollution since it doesn’t permit the use of toxic chemicals, resulting in healthy soil and biodiversity. Organic farms tend to grow an assortment of food instead of focusing on one or two varieties of crops. This diversity is critical to keeping the soil and environment healthy.
The bottom line is that the value of eating organically does seem to be worth the extra cost. It will keep your