Going Organic: the Why’s and How’s

Going Organic: the Why’s and How’s

Most of you grew up in an era of simpler times; we walked to school, played outside with friends until dark, sat in the front seat of our parents’ car, and ate more local farm fresh produce and meats.

Fast forward a few decades to a new era which epouses consuming bigger and more goods. Although only 2% of the U.S. population are farmers, technology has allowed each farmer to feed 125 people, well above what is needed to sustain our country, as well as export any excesses. But this economies of scale has come at a significant cost. The majority of these farmers are huge corporate conglomerates, which have stripped the land of much of its nutrients and polluted the land and animals with toxic, persistent pesticides, antibiotics, and sprays. Mass conventional farming also uses a significant amount of a nonrenewable resource, oil (more than we use in filling our gas tanks!). Much of this comes back to the consumer via our waterways and drinking water, the air we breathe, and the produce and animal products we eat.

organic-farm

Organic farmers, on the other hand, avoid the use of toxic pesticides and antibiotics, which creates healthier soil, groundwater, and air for our planet, while providing products that are better for our bodies.

When producers- both large and small- choose to go organic, more acreage is farmed by methods that are good for the land, their workers, and the communities in which they are located. Buying organic supports this system of agriculture, regardless of the size of the farming operation.

Beyond going organic for environmental or altruistic reasons, you also have to consider that the average American consumes 5 to 10 pounds of dubious flavorings, preservatives and dyes each year, along with antibiotics and hormones in our food supply via animal products and packaging. Toxins are everywhere! We’re using 33 times more pesticides on foods than we did 50 years ago. While a single dose may not effect you, a lifetime of exposure could contribute to health issues such as asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Toxins may also be wrecking havoc on our body shape. Hazardous chemicals in our foods and environment-even at low levels- have the ability to alter weight. It may not just be the calories that cause weight gain! They effect the hormones in our bodies. And young girls are not only susceptible to altering their body shaping hormones, but are also altering hormones that regulate puberty.

This table pulled from PAN North America’s report, A Generation in Jeopardy: How pesticides are undermining our children’s health & intelligence, highlights the impact of these hazardous chemicals:

health issues related to toxins in enivronment

What to do? Its actually quite simple- start adding organic produce and meat to your shopping list. No persistent toxic chemicals are used in organic food production. Don’t forget dairy products, as pesticide residuals tend to be higher in fatty foods.

You may cry that organic is expensive and it is cost prohibitive. If your pocketbook is your biggest concern, be discernible in choosing what to buy organic. Start with what you consume the most in meats, dairy, and produce. If you missed TWM’s post on Environmental Working Group’s annual guide on pesticides in produce, click here to get up to speed on produce that contain the most toxins, hence, should be avoided especially if consumed alot.

As more and more consumers are demanding more organic options, prices are coming down, and will continue to do so, as we all start to feel the detrimental impact of nutrient stripped foods. If you do a price comparison of most in-season produce, you’ll see that the price difference is not so significant.

organic section from walmart

Most of your large grocery chains have whole sections devoted to organic produce, as well as organic and/or hormone-free meats and dairy. Most also carry their own lines of organic products; i.e.; here in Florida, Publix has the Greenwise line. These lines are usually priced competitively with conventional products.

Your local health markets are always a good source for organic and high quality foods. They also tend to offer local produce and products. Don’t forget your farmer’s markets and produce stands! Because local produce is not shipped far, less or no pesticides are used in farming. Many abide by organic standards, but can not afford the costly federal registration to be officially labeled organic, therefore, most local produce is as good as organic.

As a consumer, never underestimate your power. We live in a capitalist society that is driven by demand. You can make a difference by supporting organic farming methods, with the end result being more choices, lower prices, higher quality, and sustainable land to leave for future generations.

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