Should You Buy Organic?
People line the grocery store aisles looking a lot like other fruits and vegetables. If organic produce is better, how is it better? What is organic food in the first place? It tends to be more expensive because of the farming practices used to produce organic foods. So, what are you buying, exactly? Read the Pritish Halder article and get satisfactory answers for the following reasons, we’ll know your organic foods are worth the extra benefits.
Why do people choose organic food?
Most people buy organically-grown food products because they are concerned about pesticides, additives, antibiotics, or other chemical residues They believe organic food is healthier. Other reasons include – concerns about the impact of conventional farming on biodiversity and the environment and the ethical treatment of livestock.
Consumers are looking for reasons to eat healthier and they want more information about where their food comes from and how it was produced. There are hundreds of reasons to choose certified organic over conventional products, but we’ve narrowed it down to the top 15 reasons to eat organic.
1. ORGANIC HAS MORE NUTRIENTS
Most people don’t know it, but the majority of our farmland soil is depleted of the nutrients necessary to grow healthy, sustainable, and bio-diverse crops. Many studies have documented this. As a result, today’s foods have fewer vitamins and minerals than they contained in the past. The nutrient deficiencies in the soil are also showing up in humans. In previous studies, the United States Department of Agriculture states that:
- 9 out of 10 Americans are deficient in potassium.
- 8 out of 10 are deficient in vitamin E.
- 7 out of 10 are deficient in calcium.
- 50% of Americans are deficient in vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium.
We are ALL micro-nutrient deprived! This matters because all chronic disease is caused by nutrient deprivation over time! When you buy organic, you are giving your body critical nutrients because it is grown differently than conventional farming.
2. ORGANIC HAS FEWER CHEMICALS
When you don’t buy organic, you’re exposing your body to an incredible amount of pesticide residue — even after the product has been washed! Every year the Environmental Working Group tests for the top 12 fruits and vegetables (called the dirty dozen) with the most pesticides on them after they are washed. (It also tests for the 15 foods with the least amount of pesticides called the Clean 15).
The first synthetic chemical used for conventional farming (DDT) was banned by the EPA after 30 years of research concluded that it was causing reproductive harm. And it also was destroying hormonal imbalances, tumor growth, and neurological disorders in humans (5).
Buying organic reduces your exposure to cancer-causing pesticides (that are there even though you can’t see them) and won’t wash off.
3. ORGANIC DOESN’T HAVE GMOS
Only organic foods are guaranteed to not have GMOs in them. GMOs, short for genetically modified organisms, are seeds and grains that have been altered at the DNA level. This is NOT the traditional cross-breeding that most people commonly envision. Their genes have been manipulated. Usually, to make them pest-resistant or for greater resistance to pathogens and herbicides. It is done to increase profit and food production.
Some studies prove they are safe, but not all studies do. “Consider this, in 2012 researchers from the University of Caen, France, published the results of a two-year study of rats. Those rats fed a diet consisting of a Monsanto genetically modified corn compared to rats fed non-GMO corn. The ones exposed to GMOs they reported, died sooner than the control group and had higher rates of tumors and organ damage.” (SuperLife, p.28)
The safest way to know you aren’t eating any GMO ingredients or whole foods is to buy organic.
4. ORGANIC IS BETTER FOR YOUR HEALTH
We eat at minimum 3 times a day, 365 days a year for every year that we are alive. If you live to be 80 years old, then that’s at least 87,600 opportunities to choose what ingredients to put into your body. Each decision you make can ultimately aid or disrupt your health. The accumulation over time of one decision in particular (such as eating non-organic produce) may ultimately be toxic to your health.
“We can wash off some pesticides with water, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide. But that doesn’t take care of the threat entirely. The pesticides will join all the other industrial toxins. For example, the harmful food additives, environmental pollution, and everyday chemical irritants we come into contact with now, in the past, and the future. At some point, our immune systems just become overwhelmed. A disease-causing bacterium or virus will find a hospitable place to grow. All these chemicals keep adding up, meal-by-meal, day-by-day, year-by-year. That’s the real danger – ACCUMULATION.” (SuperLife, p.25-26)
Buying organic food is one simple way you can reduce the workload your body has to do to keep you healthy and clear of toxins.
5. FOOF FUTURE
Eat organic because supply meets demand. As consumers, we have three votes per day for our food future. This puts us in a powerful position to design the $1 trillion food industry market in America. Spending dollars in the organic sector is a direct vote for a sustainable future for the many generations to come. Although organic is the largest growing sector in the food industry, it still only accounts for around 5% of purchases. Costco passed $4 billion in annual sales from organic produce in 2016. If the organic industry continues to grow, more opportunities, like the one Costco provides to farmers, will be available to people looking to move into the organic space.
6. SOIL HEALTH
Organic farming creates healthy soil. Healthy soil creates healthy food and a healthy environment.
Healthy soil is the basis for organic agriculture. Organic farmers use natural organic fertilizers and soil amendments like organic matter (things you can compost).The green manures (cover crops grown specifically for soil improvement, e.g. legumes), and animal manures (with safety restrictions) to build healthy soil. When food is grown in healthy soil, crops are better able to resist disease, survive drought, and tolerate insects. Learn more about building soil fertility on an organic farm in the USDA’s Guide for Organic Crop Producers.
7. ORGANIC IS BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Organic farming stands for pure food, pure soil, and nutrient-rich crops. Organic certification ensures that farmers are growing food and maintaining their farmland by protecting natural resources. Also conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances without the use of synthetic chemicals.
A research article published in February 2016, written by John Reganold and Jonathan Wachter, reported that ‘organic farms are more profitable and environmentally friendly. And also deliver equally or more nutritious foods that contain less (or no) pesticide residues, compared with conventional farming. Our planet needs a healthy farming ecosystem and buying organic supports this.
8. SEWAGE SLUDGE
Organic farming never uses sewage sludge. Sewage sludge is a product of wastewater treatment and contains numerous known and unknown hazardous materials. For example, everything that is flushed into the sewer system. Once treated, sewage sludge can be applied to agricultural cropland as fertilizer – meaning. This chemical soup that is often full of toxic compounds, nanomaterial, hormones, and dangerous pathogens. This is applied to the very food we eat. But not on organic food!
Organic food is never irradiated. Irradiated food is exposed to intense ionizing radiation. This is done in a processing room for a specified duration. With food irradiation, radiant energy (electrons, gamma rays, or, x-rays) breaks chemical bonds and the intention is to reduce microorganisms. The concern is that radiation is known to cause cancer. Irradiated food does not meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s definition of organic. The USDA works with the FDA to incorporate food irradiation where it is appropriate.
10. CLIMATE CHANGE
Organic farming supports carbon sequestration, which helps to mitigate rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. The primary benefit of organic crop and livestock production, compared to conventional agriculture, is that it is focused on soil-based production with underlying principles of maintaining or improving soil quality. Healthy soil counteracts climate change by pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. This is similar to how native ecosystems, including prairies and forests, act as carbon sinks in nature.
Recent data from farming systems and pasture trials around the globe show that we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to regenerative organic agriculture practices.
Organic farms and crops are pollinator-friendly and protect bees, pollinators, and wildlife from toxic chemicals. The Organic Center released a report showing that organic farming has an important role to play in supporting the health of our pollinators. Large-scale, chemically intensive agricultural production has been implicated as a major source of threats to pollinators.
Increasingly, scientific research demonstrates that the use of toxic synthetic pesticides, destruction of native habitat. In the research they observe a decrease in nutritious forage due to extensive use of mono-cropping are detrimental to pollinators. Several studies reviewed in this report have demonstrated that organic farming practices alleviate many threats to honey bees. That organic farms support significantly more pollinators than conventional farms. This is because organic farming standards not only prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides but also many of which are highly toxic to bees.
Choosing organic protects the streams and lakes downstream from the toxic runoff that conventional farming produces.
Effects of Creating dead zones
Many byproducts of conventional farming threaten watersheds and pollute drinking water. Runoff from farms carries soil and farm inputs-like fertilizer and pesticides- into nearby creeks and streams. Excess nitrogen and phosphorous that has leeched into the water causes an overgrowth of algae in a short period (algae blooms). The lack of oxygen makes it impossible for aquatic life to survive, creating dead zones. The use of organic soil amendments rather than synthetic fertilizers provides crops with complex nutrient sources that are slow to release and limit their loss into the soil and our waters.
Common strategies of using water in organic agriculture
Other solutions to curbing farm runoff include the use of buffer zones, removing the use or need for synthetic inputs, and creating healthy soil. Cover cropping helps prevent soils from washing away, and helps recycle nutrients; crop rotations prevent nutrient stripping from the soil. The composting of plant and animal materials and the use of manure as fertilizer results in higher rates of nitrogen recycling reducing the introduction of new nitrogen pollution to the environment.
Eating organic can reduce your risk of cancer. A new study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that those who ate organic foods frequently lowered their overall risk of developing cancer. Specifically, those who primarily eat organic foods were more likely to ward off non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer compared to those who rarely or never ate organic foods.
Farmworkers are at great risk for exposure to agricultural pesticides and the adverse health impacts that can occur as a result. Neighbors are also at risk for exposure through pesticide drift if they live near a big farm or a conventionally managed park or playing field. Pesticide drift is a threat to human health as well as to wildlife and ecosystems.
15. ORGANIC SUPPORTS SMALL FARMERS
Organic farming doesn’t expose neighboring communities and farmworkers to dangerous persistent pesticides.
In 2018, the Organic Center released a report that details the impacts of the conventional use of synthetic pesticides on farmer and farmworker health – and how organic can be used as a model to decrease the exposure of this important part of our society. A recent study published in Environmental Research adds evidence to a larger body of research showing that eating organic very well may reduce pesticides in the human body. The study found that families eating a 100 percent organic diet rapidly and dramatically reduced their exposure to four classes of pesticides—by an average of 60 percent—over six days.
It goes back to the simple concept of supply and demand. When you make a conscious decision about the product that you’re buying, you’re ‘voting’ with the money you spend and ultimately shifting the demand on the farmers and corporations responsible for producing our food to ensure that those items you are choosing to buy remain on the shelves and in the produce bins. This in turn creates a healthier economy.
ORGANIC IS THE BEST CHOICE
Why buy organic? Your decision matters not only for your health but also for the future of the food that will be available to you and your family and friends. Buying organic is more than just a price tag or one less chemical. It’s an entire movement towards a healthier you, a healthier environment, and a healthier future.
Want to learn more? Contact Pritish Kumar Halder, who has some awesome resources to explore your knowledge.
Composed by: Suma Sarker