Wellness Wednesday: Eat Organic

According to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), eating organic foods is not only healthier for your body, it is also better for society and less expensive in the long run.

What Is Organic Food? Organic foods are farmed or processed in an earth-friendly manner. Organic applies to agricultural products, meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Instead of traditional farming techniques, farmers control weeds and pests using environmentally safe practices that not only benefit the earth but also consumers’ health. Foods can bear varying organic labels depending on their makeup. Regulations The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the use, definition and meaning of the word “organic” on food labels. Organic food was the only option for thousands of years.  Now, with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and genetically-modified foods, organic is still the best option.  Here are 17 reasons to eat organic food:

1.  Genetically-modified foods were unleashed on the environment and the public by corporations like Monsanto without prior testing to determine their safety.  In other words, eating genetically-modified foods (which most people in in large amounts) is participating in a long-term, uncontrolled experiment. Choose organic to avoid participating in this experiment.

2.  More and more research is coming in about the health threat of genetically-modified food.  The results range from intestinal damage, allergies, liver or pancreatic problems, testicular cellular changes, tumors, and even death in the experimental animals. Eating third-party certified organic foods or those that are guaranteed to be grown from organic seed helps protect you from the health consequences of GMOs.

3.  Fruits and vegetables are real food, not pesticide factories. Eighteen percent of all genetically-modified seeds (and therefore foods that grow from them) are engineered to produce their own pesticides.  Research shows that these seeds continue producing pesticides inside your body once you’ve eaten the food grown from them. Foods that are actually pesticide factories…no thanks.

4.  They’re free of neurotoxins—toxins that are damaging to brain and nerve cells. A commonly-used class of pesticides called organophosphates was originally developed as a toxic nerve agent during World War I. When there was no longer a need for them in warfare, industry adapted them to kill pests on foods. Many pesticides are still considered neurotoxins.

5.  They’re supportive of growing children’s brains and bodies.  Children’s growing brains and bodies are far more susceptible to toxins than adults.  Choosing organic helps feed their bodies without the exposure to pesticides and genetically-modified organisms, both of which have a relatively short history of use (and therefore safety).

6.  In study after study, research from independent organizations consistently shows organic food is higher in nutrients than traditional foods.  Research shows that organic produce is higher in vitamin C, antioxidants, and the minerals calcium, iron, chromium, and magnesium.

7.  The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that pesticides pollute the primary drinking source for half the American population. Organic farming is the best solution to the problem. Buying organic helps reduce pollution in our drinking water.

8.  Organic food is earth-supportive. Organic food production has been around for thousands of years and is the sustainable choice for the future.  Compare that to modern agricultural practices that are destructive of the environment through widespread use of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers and have resulted in drastic environmental damage in many parts of the world.

9.  Organic food choices grown on small-scale organic farms help ensure independent family farmers can create a livelihood. Consider it the domestic version of fair trade.

10. Most organic food simply tastes better than the pesticide-grown counterparts.

11. Organic food is not exposed to gas-ripening like some non-organic fruits and vegetables (like bananas).

12.  Organic farms are safer for farm workers. Research at the Harvard School of Public Health found a 70% increase in Parkinson’s disease among people exposed to pesticides. Choosing organic foods means that more people will be able to work on farms without incurring the higher potential health risk of Parkinson’s or other illnesses.

13.  Organic food supports wildlife habitats. Even with commonly used amounts of pesticides, wildlife is being harmed by exposure to pesticides.

14.  Eating organic may reduce your cancer risk.  The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides, and 30% of insecticides potentially cancer-causing.  It is reasonable to think that the rapidly increasing rates of cancer are at least partly linked to the use of these carcinogenic pesticides.

15.  Choosing organic meat lessens your exposure to antibiotics, synthetic hormones, and drugs that find their way into the animals and ultimately into you.

16.  Organic food is tried and tested. By some estimates genetically-modified food makes up 80% of the average person’s food consumption. Genetic modification of food is still experimental. Avoid being part of this wide scale and uncontrolled experiment.

17.  Organic food supports greater biodiversity.  Diversity is fundamental to life on this planet. Genetically-modified and non-organic food is focused on high yield monoculture and is destroying biodiversity.

Organic foods are typically priced higher when compared to traditional foods due to stricter handling and production standards that organic farmers must adhere to. Want to buy organic but can’t afford the price tag? Here are some tried and true tips to save more while shopping organic:

1. Stay organized. Plan out your meals for the week according to organic foods that are on sale and/or ones that which you have coupons.

2. Do it yourself, rather than buy it. Make your own organic granola bars, kale chips, smoothies, juices to replaced store-bought with more overhead.

3. The organic frozen produce at the store is cheaper than fresh, especially if the fruit or vegetable is out of season. Also, buy local produce when in season and freeze to save for out of season.

4. Buy a whole organic chicken for less per pound, vs. just the breast, legs or wings which are more expensive per pound. You can use the carcass to make your own chicken broth.

5. Do not buy pre-washed and ready to eat fruits and veggies, as they can cost twice as much.

6. Local food can be significantly cheaper than food shipped from miles away. Find a farmer’s market near you. Get to know your local farmers, create a personal relationship and negotiate prices.

Sources: http://www.bsi-ins.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Eating-Organic.pdf

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/17-essential-reasons-to-eat-organic-food.html/2

http://foodbabe.com/2013/05/20/how-to-eat-organic-on-a-budget/

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