If someone offered you an organic apple or a conventional one, most would choose the organic one because we know that organic products are healthier. However, even so, many of us still choose to purchase non-organic products all of the time. Sometimes this is because we view them as more convenient, less expensive, more attractive or simply because we’ve convinced ourselves that organic isn’t that much better than the alternative.
However, if we were to really understand the difference between organic and commercial farming practices and the impact that has on our own lives and the lives of our children, paying a bit more or going out of our way to ensure that we are consuming the highest quality products, wouldn’t occur as an inconvenience or as a sacrifice.
In the simplest terms, when something is labeled as organic, it means that it has been produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides or any other chemical food production techniques.
Prior to World War II, products were grown naturally without chemicals and excessive food processing. However, with the increase in demand for faster, more, and better; our soils have been depleted of many of the minerals and nutrients they once had. As a result, the foods we’re eating are not only significantly less nutrient-rich and consequently not providing the vitamins and minerals that we need, they are also slowly poisoning us, with the chemicals used in production, that over time can lead to serious health problems including cancer, liver and kidney problems, blood diseases, brain damage (recent studies indicate that Parkinson’s disease may be related to pesticide exposure), birth defects, a weakened immune system and many others.
In the United States, foods that are monitored and labeled as “organic” must also be produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering, artificial ingredients, preservatives and/or irradiation, in order to maintain the integrity of the food.
Genetic engineering alone is one of the most dangerous developments to arise in our food production system in recent years. Most soy, canola (rapeseed) and corn farmers have become dependent on one company's manufactured seeds (called Roundup Ready and produced by Monsanto) allowing them to apply more chemicals to their crops than ever before. Many genetically modified foods have been linked to health problems in research studies, with the long-term effects still unknown. Additionally, farm animals are also being fed these engineered foods, which subsequently enter our bodies when we consume their flesh.
This is a critical moment for our future and it’s more important than ever that we begin to recognize the effects of this damaging and worsening food production system that has disrupted the natural environment in ways that we can’t even begin to understand the consequences of long term.
By choosing organic foods, you are taking a stand to protect your own health and the health of our children. You are also preventing soil erosion, protecting water quality, saving energy and promoting biodiversity, which is imperative to our survival as a species. In order to preserve the human race for generations to come, I believe that it’s imperative that we do what we can personally to return to a harmonious relationship with our environment that supports our health and life force.
While living in Argentina, I’ve had many challenges finding organic foods in a country in which many do not have a understanding of these issues. Nevertheless, I travel by subway every Wednesday and Saturday to one of the only organic farmers markets in the city, located 45 minutes away, to purchase my vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and seeds. For me, the extra cost and energy it takes to purchase organic products is well worth the prevention of disease and the dangers to the environment that sustains us.
“Organic Foods” by Institute for Integrative Nutrition
Published On: February 03, 2010