Quite often when I tell people it’s very important to eat organic food whenever possible, the common response is, “It cost too much.” So I have to tell them that is not true in so many ways. Are you ready for one of my favorite rants?
First I like to tell them that an organic farmer that I know answers this question by saying, “ Have you checked the price of cancer lately?” This always gets people’s attention. Conventionally grown foods have been sprayed with pesticides, irradiated, gassed, genetically modified and in the case of processed packaged foods, laden with chemical additives and highly processed sugars. It is also now well known that many of these chemicals in various forms are not only carcinogenic, they are addictive and are the root cause of obesity, diabetes and many other serious health problems that so many Americans are facing. This knowledge should be enough to convince everyone to begin eating organic whole foods.
What is organic farming?
Organic farming refers to agricultural production systems used to produce food and fiber. Organic farming management relies on developing biological diversity in the field to disrupt habitat for pest organisms, and the purposeful maintenance and replenishment of soil fertility. Organic farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Many kinds of agricultural products are produced organically, including produce, grains, meat, dairy, eggs, fibers such as cotton, flowers, and processed food products. Some of the essential characteristics of organic systems include: design and implementation of an “organic system plan” that describes the practices used in producing crops and livestock products; and maintenance of buffer zones to prevent inadvertent contamination by synthetic farm chemicals from adjacent conventional fields.
What does “certified” organic mean?
Certified organic refers to agricultural products that have been grown andprocessed according to uniform standards, verified by independent state or private organizations accredited by the USDA. Organic foods are minimally processed to maintain the integrity of food without artificial ingredients or preservatives. All products sold as “organic” must be certified. Certification includes annual submission of an organic system plan and inspection of farm fields and processing facilities. Inspectors verify that organic practices such as long-term soil management, buffering between organic farms and neighboring conventional farms, and record keeping are being followed. Processing inspections include review of the facility’s cleaning and pest control methods, ingredient transportation and storage and audit control. Certified organic requires the rejection of synthetic agrochemicals, irradiation and genetically engineered foods or ingredients. Since 2002, organic certification in the U.S. has taken place under the authority of the USDA National Organic Program, which accredits organic certifying agencies, and oversees the regulatory process. To find out more about the national organic certification requirements and organic program, please go to the USDA National Organic Program website www.ams.usda.gov/nop.
Is organically grown food more nutritious than conventionally grown?
Many healthcare practitioners share my opinion that organic foods are more nutritious and health building as opposed to conventional foods that have been grown with chemical fertilizers on depleted soils. Our opinion is based on hundreds of scientific studies that have looked at just that question for various fruits and vegetables. In some cases, researchers have measured significant differences. A 2010 study by Washington State University scientists found organic strawberries have more vitamin C and antioxidants than conventional strawberries. Organic tomatoes also have more of a type of antioxidant called polyphenols than commercially grown tomatoes, according to a study published in July by scientists at the University of Barcelona.
It is logical that fewer pesticides and organic growing methods like composting and biologically based soil amendments for more nutrients in the soil will raise the nutritional content of organically grown foods. Conventional grown foods use chemical fertilizers that contain potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen which is what plants require to grow, however humans require many more nutrients to be healthy. Other variables like ripeness may influence nutritional content even more. A peach or berry that reaches peak ripeness with the use of pesticides could contain considerably more vitamins than a less-ripe organically grown fruit.
A recent study by Stanford University researchers has added fuel to a debate about the differences between organic and conventionally grown foods. The Stanford report, an analysis of 237 studies of organic produce, meats and dairy foods, concluded that organic foods are no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts. The Stanford study reviewed decades of research to determine whether choosing organic produce, meats and milk would lead to better nutrition generally. They concluded the answer was no. That is, just following “organic” for everything does not bring obvious, immediate health benefits.The Stanford researchers said that by providing an objective review of the current science of organic foods, their goal was to allow people to make informed choices.
Advocates for organic farming said the Stanford researchers failed to appreciate the differences they did find between the two types of food differences that validated the reasons people usually cite for buying organic. Organic produce, as expected, was much less likely to retain traces of pesticides. Organic chicken and pork were less likely to be contaminated by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.The study also found that organic milk contained more omega-3 fatty acids, which are considered beneficial for the heart.
Advocates of organic foods also say that the study takes a narrow view of organic food choices, and that most people choose organic because they want to avoid pesticides, hormones and other chemicals
A definitive study has not been done mainly due to the multitude of variables involved in making a fair comparison between organically grown and conventionally grown food. These include crop variety, time after harvest, post-harvest handling, and even soil type and climate, which can have significant effects on nutritional quality. However, a 2002 report indicates that organic food is far less likely to contain pesticide residues than conventional food (13% of organic produce samples vs. 71% of conventional produce samples contained a pesticide residue, when long-banned persistent pesticides were excluded).
Why the initial cost of organic foods are higher?
The cost of organic food is higher than that of conventional food for a variety of reasons. Organically produced foods must meet stricter regulations governing all the production steps than conventional foods. The intensive management and labor used in organic production are usually more expensive than the automated chemical systems routinely used on conventional farms. Organic farmers are using organic materials to fertilize their soils while conventional farmers use only the minimal amount of cheaper chemical fertilizers.
Real reasons why organic whole foods are not more expensive:
1.Yes a box of organic berries is most likely priced higher than a box of
conventionally grown berries. However when you check a broad
spectrum of food items that are labeled as deluxe,fancy,natural or other
marketing hype words,they are actually more expensive.
When you buy organic whole foods in bulk and prepare soups, salads,
whole grains dishes etc., they are much more economical than the
processed packaged convenience foods.
2.When you consider the health and environmental costs of conventionally
grown foods which are borne by society you will view the benefits of
organic foods in a new light. These costs include cleanup of polluted
water and remediation of pesticide contamination. If we included the cost
of treating related health issues, the cost comparisons would be quite a
reversal. There is mounting evidence that if all the indirect costs of
conventional food production were factored into the price of food, organic
foods would cost the same, or likely be much cheaper than conventional.
3. I know many people who say that when they began preparing most of their meals and stopped buying highly processed packaged foods and eating junk food at fast food restaurants they actually spend less on their monthly food bills.
The concept here is; if you want to eat for health, vitality and longevity,
you have to prepare the majority of your meals. In addition to all the
health benefits, whole foods prepared with love are so much more tasty,
satisfying and enjoyable than eating packaged so called convenience
foods. It’s also not very convenient or inexpensive when you are lacking
in energy and dealing with multiple health symptoms.
Who Deserves Your Support and Shopping Dollars?
Why would you want to support multinational chemical and food corporations that have no concern for your health or for the health of our planet. They produce the cheapest possible products with long shelf lives and spent their money on enticing packaging and advertising. Their only concern is their bottom line. It’s all about the money.
There are a growing number of hard working, conscientious organic farmers and food manufactures who care about the health of our food producing animals and our food producing Mother Earth. They need and deserve our support. Educate yourself on these matters, learn to read labels and shop wisely. The health of your family depends upon it.
The Real Gazillion Dollar Question?
If you take time to think about why do you eat, the answer is for energy, for good health and of course for enjoyment. So why would you want to put anything in your body less than the most energetic, health building and tasty, organic whole foods as possible? Do you consider yourself a Ferrari or a Yugo? I doubt that you would put the cheapest low quality fuel in your Ferrari so why put it in your body?
You can’t put a price on good health.
Without good health and lots of energy you will not be able to live the highly successful and enjoyable life you desire and deserve!