Since 1990, sales of organic products have risen at a rate of 20% annually. 70% of Americans buy organics occasionally and 25% buy them on a weekly basis. I fall into the latter category. But is this just a craze or what’s all the fuss?
Research is showing how damaging even low-level pesticide exposure can be, especially to children and fetuses whose delicate immune systems are still developing. Pesticide exposure can cause neurological damage, cancer, birth defects, and more.
Fruits & Veggies
If that is not enough, research is also showing that conventional produce is lacking in nutrients compared to its organic counterpart. Pesticides and fertilizers can interrupt their production of the phytochemicals (vitamins and antioxidants). Organic produce use these phytochemicals to strengthen their resistance to bugs and weeds. Interesting, isn’t it? We are taking away from the plant’s own natural defense mechanism when we use fertilizers and pesticides.
The use of pesticides and fertilizers is harmful to the environment as well. They take years to get out of the soil and some never leave. These pesticides are washed away and get into public water supply.
Meats, Eggs & Dairy
No they are not treated with pesticides, but the food they eat is, and they are treated with hormones and antibiotics which are not healthy for the animal or humans. When you do something too quickly it affects the quality, right? Same thing when you use hormones to speed up the growth of animals for food.
Antibiotics are also bad for our health and the environment. Water run off from stockyards carry the antibiotics into our soil and water supply. When this happens, bacteria learns how to fight off these antibiotics and mutate to become resistant to them. Sound familiar? That is how we get drug-resistant infections and illness. It’s why the flu shot is not reliable (I think the flu shot is crap anyway – see my article on this).
Buy beef from cows that have been GRASS-FED in an open pasture; and range-free chickens and eggs. Preferably milk and other dairy should be organic, but at minimum you can buy hormone-free milk. You can definitely taste the difference with organic meat and dairy in my opinion. I had no idea organic milk and organic unprocessed cheese was so good. I can’t go back to conventional milk and cheese just based on the taste.
But Organics are Expensive
Yes they are, but I figure it will all balance out in the end since I feel better and can be more productive when I have more energy. I also figure it’ll be cheaper and easier than chemo!
There are things you can do to save on organics:
1. Buy in bulk (you can freeze what you don’t use, or share with family/friends who are also eating organics)
2. Join a local farm co-op. To find one in your area, check out www.localharvest.org
3. At least buy the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables: peaches, strawberries, nectarines, apples, spinach, celery, pears, sweet bell peppers, cherries, potatoes, lettuce, and imported grapes
4. Shop local farmers markets. To find one in your area, check out www.localharvest.org
5. Grow your own produce, seeds are cheap. Herbs, tomatoes and peppers do very well in most environments. You can even grow them in planters if you have limited space. Freeze or share the surplus. Most of these plants yield lots of produce, so even 1 or 2 plants will go a long way. (see note below about seeds)
6. To expand on the grow-your-own idea, buddy up with a few friends or family and grow different items that you can all share.
Just a note about seeds if you elect to grow your own produce. If you want to truly grow organic produce, you will need to search out organic seeds as they have not been treated with pesticides like conventional seeds. Even if you use conventional seeds, your exposure to pesticides will still be lower since you will not be treating the plant once it grows. I found this site where you can search for organic seed suppliers. A Google search for organic seeds will also turn up many ways to purchase organic seeds online.
The Bottom Line
Pesticide, fertilizer, antibiotic and hormone use in our food supply is bad for human consumption, our health and for the environment. The US is lagging way behind other countries in banning the use of these substances. The greater the demand is for organics, the more that will be produced making prices come down as well. This is the way food should be anyway, just as natural as the day God put them on this Earth.
Environmental Working Group’s Food News on Pesticides and Organics
The Truth About Organic Foods, Redbook Magazine