People often ridicule organic food, saying it’s no better than the normal options and they just charge a lot more for it. I hear people say “how do you know it’s any better?” and even “I don’t like the look of it” or “I don’t like the taste of it”. This article is all about why eating organic food could be one of the most important steps for our lives (and the life of the planet) in many more ways than we might imagine.
The first important thing with organic food is that it’s grown without the use of artificial pesticides. Conventional agriculture has turned towards “monocultures” where a single crop is planted across a vast field (see the movie Fresh). Now, this is just perfect for any pests that enjoy feeding off this single crop, because they have a pure source of what they enjoy. Such monocultures will obviously attract this lucky pest in large volumes and this pest community will have a great time. Nature always intermingles various plants in a field and they can effectively help protect each other from pest attacks.
In this way, monocultures have driven up the need to use pesticides. Farmers just can’t grow a successful monoculture without coming up with new ways to fight off the marauding influx of happy pests. So, in come the chemical companies with new versions of artificial pesticides that can be regularly sprayed over the crops to kill off the pests.
Whenever we buy crops that are not organic, there is a very large risk that we’re consuming some of these pesticides at the same time.
With organic food, the use of artificial pesticides is banned.
No Artificial Fertilizers
Monocultures also cause problems for the soil. Apart from the soil getting damaged by the large amount of pesticides often needed to control the rampant pests, the lack of diversity in a monoculture and the lack of the presence of animals, lead to a nutrient deficient soil.
When the soil becomes nutritionally deficient, the crops can’t grow so well and a vicious cycle begins. They are not as healthy as they could be with more nutrient rich soil, therefore they are weakened and can’t resist the pests as well as normal, hence the farmers need to spray more pesticides and add more artificial fertilizers, which lead to even more nutrient deficient soil. It’s nice to hear Charlotte Gerson talk about this in the Food Matters Film. Also see the movies One Man, One Cow, One Planet and Dirt.
With organic food, artificial fertilizers are banned.
No Genetic Modification
Genetic modifications are introduced so that big companies can make more money. I have not seen any genetic modifications that have had the intention of trying to make the product better for the consumer. And it’s very easy to find studies that show that genetically modified crops carry dangers for us, for example, see this page from Dr. Mercola called Why GMOs Can Never Be Safe (GMO = Genetically Modified Organism).
One example is “roundup ready” genetic modifications for things like rapeseed or Canola. See the post Rapeseed invasion and monocultures. Rapeseed oil is in a large percentage of processed foods now and it’s mostly from genetically modified rapeseed crops. Companies don’t have to label GMO’s and they don’t even have to label the use of rapeseed oil. If you have a processed product that labels “vegetable oil”, there’s a high chance that this is genetically modified rapeseed oil. This annoys me and I’m not happy about it. “Vegetable oil” sounds quite innocent but genetically modified rapeseed oil is nasty stuff.
With organic food, GMO’s are banned.
No Factory Farming
Conventional animal farming has turned to factory farms in the same way that crop agriculture has turned to monocultures. Huge warehouses are used to raise pigs, chickens, etc., indoors and all packed in very tightly (see the documentary Fresh). Someone has had the bright idea that they can raise animals more quickly and cheaply in this way (so they can make more profits). But it’s an unnatural and unhealthy environment and it leads to unhealthy animals (just like the unhealthy crops in monocultures) and the farmers have to use considerable amounts of antibiotics to keep the animals alive.
There is a very high chance that any conventionally farmed meat that you buy today contains antibiotics that you’ll be consuming.
With organic food, factory farms and antibiotics are banned. The animals are naturally healthy and don’t need antibiotics.
It’s highly suspected (see Vanishing of the Bees) that monocultures and artificial pesticides and fertilizers are the cause of the rapid reduction in the bee populations recently. Also see this article by Dr. Mercola – Bees Dying by the Millions.
Organic food is friendly to bees because it bans monocultures, artificial pesticides and artificial fertilizers.
Less toxins and less food processing
Go into any organic food store and the check the ingredients on the labels. Notice that there are no artificial preservatives, no artificial colorings, no artificial sweeteners, no strange chemicals in general. If you buy everything from an organic store you are greatly increasing the chance of keeping all these unnecessary chemicals out of you life and the lives of your family members.
Here’s one good example. The two photos below are both of dried apricots but one is of conventional dried apricots and the other of organic.
I always thought that dried apricots were juicy and bright orange, like the ones on the left. When I first bought organic dried apricots, I was disappointed. They looked brown and not as juicy. If you take a look at the ingredients you can see why.
Organic dried apricots have a very simple ingredient list – it just says dried apricots. That’s it – nothing else. For conventional dried apricots you get an ingredients list like this – dried apricots, preservatives (sulfur dioxide, potassium sorbate) – see this page. These so called preservatives are also injected into the apricots to keep them plump and colorful, not just to extend their shelf life (see this page). The food companies are adding chemicals to the dried apricots to make them look more attractive to us so that we’ll buy them. These chemicals are not being added for our benefit. They are being added to trick us into wanting to buy them.
With organic food, artificial additives are banned.
Less toxins in our homes
If we buy everything organic (food, as in this article, but also personal care products and cleaning products) then we’ll be significantly reducing the amount of toxins in our homes and in our bodies. This is because we’re carrying less toxins into our homes and because we’re supporting agriculture and animal farming that inherently avoids the use of toxic artificial chemicals.
A challenge – could our grandmother have cooked it?
Here’s one interesting thought. When you have a processed product in your hand and are about to heat it up or cook it for dinner, ask yourself if your grandmother could have cooked the same dish. There’s no way grandma’s version of the same dish would have had all the preservatives, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, etc., that we find in todays processed foods. If grandma wouldn’t have added it to her dish, then there’s no reason to have it in our food today.
With organic foods, the only ingredients should be things that grandma could/would have used.
Is organic food more expensive?
If you check item for item, you’ll often find that organic foods are more expensive than the conventional alternatives. This is partly a result of the size of the organic food industry compared to the conventional. As more people support organic foods, we’ll see prices drop.
In my case, I found that switching to organic saved me money. I cut out buying all of the processed products that I used to buy and now buy only organic products. So I’m not buying many things that used to be regular purchases. The good thing is that the organic store doesn’t even have those tempting processed options. Overall, I’m buying less food and my weekly food bill is lower than it was before. That’s a good thing overall.
The simple step of starting to buy organic food can have immediate effect on your personal health, reduce the toxins in your body and your home and begin to save the world (including the bees) from ever increasing amounts of artificial pesticides, artificial fertilizers and antibiotics.
Buying organic food is a relatively simple step, but the knock-on effect can be huge.
Do you have any experiences, good or bad, with organic foods? Please share in the comments below.