Is Organic Really Better?
Some people do it for taste. Some for the environment. Others buy organic food for their health.
And here are some other great reasons:
- To keep chemicals and poisons off your plate.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that most synthetic fertilizers are carcinogenic. The average child receives four times more exposure than an adult to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. The food choices we make impact all children’s health – now and in the future.
- To help save energy.
On average, food today travels 1,500 miles from a farm to plate. If we all ate just one meal of local and organically raised meats and produce, we could reduce our countries oil consumption by 1.1 million barrels of oil per week.
- To support local farm families.
- Most organic farms are independently owned and operated family farms of 100 acres or less. It’s estimated that the United States has lost more than 650,000 family farms in the past decade. One hundred years ago, 40% of the U.S. population farmed. Today, less than 2% farm. When I buy direct from local farms, I’m re-establishing a time-honored relationship.
- To support a true economy.
Organic food may seem more expensive than processed and big-farm foods, but not when you look at the hidden costs we pay in taxes in the form of federal subsidies, pesticide regulation and testing, hazardous waste disposal, and environmental damage. Does your grocery store head of lettuce cost 59 cents or two or three dollars?
- To preserve genetic diversity.
Rather than growing only produce chosen to withstand packing, shipping, and long shelf life in a store, local farms grow huge varieties to provide a long harvest season, and the best flavors and nutrition. Many varieties they grow are passed down through multiple generations. This helps preserve genetic diversity that may be needed even more in the future as our climate changes.
- To ensure that there will be local farms in your community
so future generations can have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food. Organic farming starts with the nourishment of the soil which eventually leads to the nourishment of the plant and, ultimately, our plates. By supporting sustainable farming practices, you help reverse the trend of topsoil erosion. Planting the same crop on the same land year after year may increase production, but the lack of plant diversity robs the soil of natural minerals and nutrients, and the food grown cannot nourish us.
- The Environmental Working Group has put together a GREAT guide to help shoppers pick the least toxic fruits and vegetables.
- TED Videos:
“What’s Wrong with Our Food System?” 11-year-old Birke Baehr presents his take on a major source of our food — far-away and less-than-picturesque industrial farms.“How I Fell In Love with a Fish.” Chef Dan Barber squares off with a dilemma facing many chefs today: how to keep fish on the menu.
- Here’s the latest research on the dangers of conventional foods, and the benefits of organic foods.
- Consumer Reports explains the origin and credibility of labels like “antibiotic free.”
- Health Benefits of Pasture-based and Grassfed Farming
- Organic Farming Combats Global Warming – Big Time
- Some conventional fruits and vegetables have more pesticides than others. Learn which ones here.
- Some claim the world requires synthetic fertilizers and troubling pesticides to grow enough food. Not so, according to this acclaimed report by the Rodale Institute.
- Wonder what the term “local food” means? Choice Magazine tackles the topic from all angles.
- Sustainable Agriculture Research Education (SARE) publication, “What Is Sustainable Agriculture?”
- Here’s a thorough yet enjoyable 26-pager: “A Brief Overview of the History and Philosophy of Organic Agriculture,” by Georgia Kuepper.
- Which is better, organic or local?
Did You Know
- Foods grown without pesticides contain 50 to 60 percent more antioxidants when compared with foods grown with pesticides.
- 20 percent of U.S. food ends up in the landfill.
The U.S. used 50 million lbs. of pesticides and had 7 percent crop loss in 1948. The year the U.S. used 1 billion lbs. of pesticides and had 13 percent crop loss in 2000.
- 93 - The percent of U.S. food diversity that has been lost since 1900.
- 33 - The percent of U.S. livestock varieties that have disappeared since 1900.
- 30,000 - The number of vegetable varieties that have become extinct worldwide in the last century, one every six hours.