What is Organic Food and Why Should I Eat It?
Organic farming is a whole system or wholistic way of producing food. It maintains and improves the productivity of the soil by encouraging natural biological processes. It works with the environment to grow food sustainably, rather than trying to control the environment with chemical inputs. Farmers also use crop rotation and cover cropping to enrich the soil.
Organic food is really just natural food – the way food used to be grown without the use of man-made synthetic chemicals. And certified organic is important because it means that a 3rd party has verified that the food has been grown and handled in accordance with strict regulated procedures.
Choosing organic has been shown to significantly reduce exposure to chemical residues. One recent study showed that kids who switched to an organic diet had the levels of pesticide residues in their blood drop by 50% in just 48 hours.
So, eating organic improves health and overall wellness, protects food and water sources, sustains local economies and is regenerative for the planet. Supporting sustainable food production promotes the continuous well-being of ourselves and our planet, helps protect the environment and minimize climate change.
Organic for your health
Many herbicides and insecticides commonly used in conventional agriculture have been found to be carcinogenic, affect hormones, or negatively impact children’s development. Recently the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer said glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide made by the chemical company Monsanto, was “classified as probably carcinogenic to humans”.
Organic for your child’s health
Foods commonly consumed by children are likely to carry one if not dozens of pesticides. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, long-term exposure to synthetic pesticides may cause serious health effects such as birth defects, learning disabilities, behavioral changes, organ damage, asthma symptoms, or forms of cancer, including leukemia, breast cancer, and brain tumors.
Choosing organic has been shown to significantly reduce exposure to chemical residues. When children have switched from a conventional diet to an organic diet, the amount of pesticides in their bodies is reduced dramatically. Certified Organic also means food is not genetically modified as the organic standards forbid the use of GMOs in seeds, in animal feed, and in the ingredients of processed organic food and products. In addition organic production does not permit the use of sewage sludge, ionizing radiation, or growth hormones.
Organic is ecologically beneficial
Organic is not just about personal health. Organic methods also reduce pollution and wasted energy. More energy is used to produce synthetic fossil-fuel-based fertilizers than to cultivate and harvest crops or to transport food. Studies have shown organic farming practices can use as little as half the energy of other farming methods, and help to sequester carbon back into the soil. Organic farms take water usage seriously and organic farmers are required to manage the land and life around water systems very carefully. And, they are inspected annually. By not using synthetic fertilizers and persistent toxic chemicals, organic farming is also easy on our precious water reserves, while building good soils that fight erosion. Soil is the foundation of the food chain. Organic farming is focused on using sustainable practices that build healthy soil microbiology and prevent erosion, leaving fertile land to provide for future generations.
Did we mention that organic food tastes great and is full of nutrients?
It’s common sense: healthy soils produce strong, healthy plants that become nourishing food for people and animals. Oh, and organic food is rich with nutrients and disease-fighting antioxidants. Switching to organic crop consumption is equivalent to getting the antioxidants from 1 or 2 additional portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
Organic protects Bees
Synthetic pesticides, specifically neonicotinoids used in conventional agriculture, have been linked to CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) which is killing massive amounts of bees worldwide. This is a huge concern because bees pollinate 1 in 3 bites of food we eat. Organic agriculture does not allow the use of neonicotinoids and builds healthy ecosystems and increases biodiversity both on and around the farm, promoting sustainability and ecological balance.
So, if there are no synthetic pesticides, how do organic farmers deal with pests?
Pests are controlled through crop rotation, physical removal, and biological controls. On many farms weeds are controlled by hand hoeing and mechanical cultivation. Some farms will use approved products from the Organic Permitted Substances List that are fully reviewed, natural, and non-persistent, meaning they do as little damage to the environment as possible and break down rapidly. When they are used, it is often as a last resort. Organic farmers enhance soil fertility and soil structure which are maintained through the introduction of organic matter, such as compost, and cover crops. Micro-organisms from this matter also break down minerals in the soil so that plants can absorb them and grow to be strong and healthy.
But can I trust organic?
Organic products meet strict national standards — The USDA logo is the public’s assurance that products have been grown and handled according to strict procedures and rules. Organic is the most heavily regulated and scrutinized food system in the USA, so always look for the USDA Organic logo -- it means that your food has been verified to be chemical and GMO free.