Top 7 reasons to eat organic
When I think about my great-great-grandparents, I think about how they ate foods that were so much healthier than what we have today. They ate all natural, locally grown potatoes, beans, rice, vegetables, and fruit. They baked their own breads, and existed on a completely natural, organic diet. Conventional farming methods, with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides just didn’t exist back then. Over many years, our farming methods have changed, but our genetics and our bodies have not. For anyone who thinks it’s okay to eat conventional (non-organic), here are my top 7 reasons to eat organic foods.
How will I know if it is the right kind of organic?
Take a look at the lower right corner of this box of my favorite crackers. It uses the USDA Organic Logo that is used on all organic products.
Here’s the tricky part:
Foods labeled “Organic” or “Made with Organic” may still contain some non-organic ingredients.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “organic products have strict production and labeling requirements.” They go on to explain that organic products must be produced without ionizing radiation, sewage sludge or genetic engineering. The farmers and growers much be overseen by a USDA National Organic Program or an authorized certifying agent.
Should I buy 100% organic?
Ideally, you want to find a food product that says “100% organic ingredients”. Processed or raw agricultural products in the “100 percent organic” category must meet these criteria:
- All ingredients must be certified organic. Any processing aids must be organic.
- The information label must indicate the name of the certifying agent.
- May include USDA organic seal and/or 100 percent organic claim.
- Each organic ingredient must be identified (e.g., organic carrots) or via asterisk or other mark.
Can a product be labeled organic without proper certification?
Technically, if a grower isn’t certified, then they cannot make any organic claims or use the USDA seal anywhere on the package. They can only identify the certified organic ingredients, if any, and the percentage of organic ingredients. There will always be an unscrupulous grower out there, but I can almost guarantee that the larger stores (Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Wild by Nature, etc.) have pretty stringent criteria with respect to the vendors they use, so chances are, you won’t be organically scammed.
If you really want to know more, check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture website. There’s lots of info over there about organic standards.
Reduce your body’s toxic burden
Veggies and fruits, beans, legumes, sprouted grains, and nut milks that are labeled organic, have not been treated with pesticides, herbicides, radiation, growth hormones, fertilizers from synthetic ingredients, sewage sludge, or antibiotics. Consuming foods that have been treated with pesticides and herbicides consistently expose you to very dangerous toxins.
If you eat animal products, keep in mind that conventionally raised livestock consume feed which is laced with hormones and antibiotics. You’ve heard of rBGH? That is a bovine growth hormone given to dairy cows to increase milk production, which then causes infections, and so the animals are given more antibiotics! Yes, the hormones and antibiotics make their way into the dairy products that you are consuming.
Read more about ingredient substitutions here and the dangers of dairy here.
Fact: Children who adopt an organic diet, experience a dramatic decrease in urinary concentration of organophosphorus pesticides in as little as 15 days.
Support farmers who maintain crops
Organic farmers rely on companion planting, crop rotation, and animal manure to control pests and maintain the integrity and quality of the soil. They use sustainable methods and don’t use synthetic fertilizers, weed killers or pesticides. Organic producers use practices that are in balance with the natural environment, with a commitment to replicating the natural environment by fostering healthy soil and growing conditions.
They receive their organic certification after 3 years of farming on land that has been free of known toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers.Their crops are rotated from field to field, rather than growing the same crop in the same spot over and over again, which depletes the soil of nutrients. Instead, the crops are planted on a rotating basis, and cover crops such as clover are used to add nutrients to the soil, and to prevent weeds.
More healthy fats
Bet you never knew that organic products have about 50% more Omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally-produced products, according to a 2016 study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Also tested in the study was organic milk, which had less fat than it’s conventional counterpart.
Organic livestock is raised with a grass-fed diet and spend more time outdoors. It stands to reason that making the switch from conventional to organic, would raise your Omega-3 intake, without increasing calories or saturated fat. I’m not endorsing the consumption of animal products, but I am also realistic, and realize that if you aren’t completely plant-strong, you’re working on it, and that’s cool.
As I mentioned above, eating organic means consuming products that have little or no pesticides. Organic farms use pesticides, BUT they are naturally-derived, rather than synthetic which are used on conventional farms. Consuming conventional pesticides year after year creates a burden on our bodies that can increase the risk of certain cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, breast and prostate.
Also, the widespread use of pesticides has led to a new strain of super-weeds and super-bugs which can only be killed using very toxic poisons like 2,4-Dichlorophenozyacetic acid (Agent Orange). TIP: When you buy organic produce, wash it as best as you can, and try not to peel the skins, because valuable nutrients will go into the trash along with the skin. The best approach is to buy a varied selection of produce and scrub thoroughly.
Organic foods are non-GMO
You’ve heard of GMOs? According to the Non-GMO Project, “Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.”
Genetic engineering alters crops, making them more disease- and pest-resistant. Some crops, (like GMO corn), were combined with bacteria, creating their own insecticide, called Bt-toxin, which kills insects by destroying the lining of their digestive tracts. This toxin also pokes holes in human cells, damaging the intestines. Knowing this, why would we eat anything that is not organic?
Organic crops are more nutritious
There is sufficient evidence to prove that organic foods are richer in antioxidants and nutrients than their conventional counterparts. Not only do they have a sweeter and richer flavor, but they are also lower in heavy metals, specifically cadmium. Healthy soil increases the production of flavonoids, or cancer-fighting compounds, which are destroyed with conventional farming practices. Just by virtue of the fact that organic crops aren’t treated with chemicals, is enough for me to know that they are more nutritious.
Organic promotes biodiversity
There’s a great buzz going on at organic farms that you won’t hear at conventional farms: birds and bugs! Organic farms are oases of flourishing, diverse habitats, with native plants and birds which return year after year. Beneficial insects bring balance to the land, and small animals find their safe haven.
Organic farms are the same as reforestation, while conventional farms are focused on high yields through deforestation of native flora and fauna.