I write a lot about eating organic food, whether it be how to eat organic on the cheap, or choosing healthier organic options instead of conventional processed foods. So what makes organic food my Mamavation muse? It is really all it’s cracked up to be? I’ve done the research and narrowed it down to the top 10 reasons to feed your family organic food.
1. USDA Certification for Organic Food
The USDA Organic seal isn’t just a label, it is backed by specific rules and criteria for organic farmers, as well as costs to the farmers. When a product is certified organic, it means much more than just containing a few organic ingredients. Organic farms have to be free of prohibited substances for 3 years to be eligible for the USDA organic seal. In addition, they must go through inspections and yearly re-certification.
2. No GMOs
One of the substances required to be prohibited for organic certification is genetically modified organisms (GMOs). There are two main types of engineered GMO crops. One type, Bt crops, produce an insecticide that dissolves the gut lining of insects. Then that same crop which just killed all insects who ingested it, is harvested for humans to eat.
The other most common GMOs are Roundup Ready crops. These are engineered to be resistant to the pesticide Roundup. This means the crops can withstand being sprayed heavily with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. In a 2009 article published by Toxicology, showed evidence that suggested herbicides, like glyphosate, act as endocrine disruptors in human cells. Some endocrine disruptors can alter the functions of the hormonal system, and are linked to numerous types of cancer.
3. No Persistant Pesticides
Organic farmers don’t uses persistent pesticides such as glyphosate and organophosphate pesticides. These were originally developed for chemical warfare. Organophosphate pesticides are a neurotoxin and exposure can affect brain development, fertility, testosterone and hormone levels. Studies have linked herbicides to obesity as well. Long-term exposure to obesogens has been linked to diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
In lieu of these synthetic chemicals, organic farmers use natural methods to keep pests off of their crops. Some methods organic farmers employ are sophisticated crop rotation to disrupt the pest’s environment, introducing soil organisms and insects that benefit the crops, and traps or barriers.
4. No Artificial Flavors or Preservatives
There’s no sense in mucking up what Mother Nature has done by adding artificial flavors. You can be sure that no chemical concoctions or flavoring are added to organic food. A single artificial flavor can contain hundreds of chemicals. Consuming these flavorings can lead to hyperactivity and allergic reactions.
In addition, if you choose to eat organic food, you’re choosing to avoid preservatives. Organic food is fresh food. You may have heard the saying “if your food can go bad, it’s good food”. There’s truth to that. Foods that last forever are loaded with artificial preservatives. These can cause issues such as allergic reactions, nausea, diarrhea, and even DNA damage.
5. No Antibiotics or Hormones
Antibiotics and hormones given to animals on conventional farms make their way into the foods those animals provide. The prevalence of antibiotic usage with livestock leads to resistance and stronger strains of dangerous microbes. This can lead to antibiotic resistance in humans as well.
Hormones, such as rBGH, are injected into cows on non-organic farms to boost milk production. This can lead to various health problems with the cows, such as abnormal milk, fertility issues, and hoof disorders. In addition, rBGH milk has significantly higher levels of the IGF-1 hormone. This hormone has been shown to greatly increase the occurrence of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.
6. No Biosolids
Sewage sludge, also referred to as biosolids, are not permitted in certified organic foods. Biosolids contain heavy metals, toxins, steroids, and more substances that can pose a threat to your health. Possible health risks from substances in biosolids include kidney damage, adverse effects to the immune system, hormone disruption, and even cancer. Be sure you’re informed about all the risks of biosolids by reading about their 10 ten dangers.
7. More Nutritious
In a 2014 article from the LA Times, organic food was said to be more nutritious than it’s conventional counterpart. The findings were from a review of 343 studies on organic nutrition, and data showed organic foods, on average, contained more antioxidants. Other research showed much higher levels of vitamin C in organic fruits and vegetables. They also contained 18% more polyphenols. These can boost longevity and improve gut health. By avoiding the persistent pesticides, it’s thought that organic food actually develops more antioxidants as a defense against pests and insects.
The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences studied livestock and found organic animals had lower fat content than conventional livestock. Lower fat isn’t the only reason to eat organic meat. Organic cows eat a vegetarian or grass based diet, as opposed to feed that may contain animal products. This questionable feed of pork remains, horse tallow, manure, and more is what led to the outbreak of mad cow disease.
8. Better Taste
The key to better tasting organic food is the soil in which the crops are grown. It is nutrient rich and ideal for producing a flavorful crop. Organic farms on average produce smaller crop yields, allowing more nutrients available to the plant. The higher antioxidant levels and the lower crop yields are also to thank for the added flavor. Organic food is harvested when it’s ripe, rather than gassed with ethylene to quickly ripen it, or injected with dye for a more desirable color, a practice often used on non-organic produce. Organic food is allowed to ripen naturally to perfection. This difference is evident in the taste of organic produce. As for organic meat, the lower fat content provides a better flavor as well.
9. Support the Farmer and the Farm
Animals on organic farms are given land to graze on. The organic farmer must accommodate the natural behavior of the animal. They live in an environment with clean bed, fresh water, sunlight, and access to the outdoors. Organic farming practices keep the soil rich for future agriculture. Wildlife and insects are also able to play their part in the ecosystem without chemical interference.
10. Reduce Pollution and Save Energy
As discussed, organic farming does not use synthetic pesticides. This reduces chemical contamination of ground water and the environment. In findings from Cornell entomologist David Pimentel, up to 75% of pesticides sprayed from aircrafts never reached the acres targeted. Up to 35% of ground applied pesticides failed to reach their target. That’s a large amount of these chemical pesticides left to impact the surrounding environment.
Organic farming processes require less energy than conventional farming, and less water. These findings were from a 22 year study on the subject. In another study by David Pimentel, he stated “Organic farming approaches for these crops not only use an average of 30 percent less fossil energy, but also conserve more water in the soil, induce less erosion, maintain soil quality and conserve more biological resources than conventional farming does.”
Is it time for a new approach to farming?
With all these benefits and reasons to eat organic, shouldn’t the newly adopted way of farming with chemicals, GMOs, and hormones be on it’s way out? It certainly makes sense for our future to choose a sustainable and more nutritious option when it comes to producing food. Maybe we need a New MacDonald on the farm.
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