What’s the big deal with this craze over buying organic? Nowadays, almost every store has some kind of organic produce or products. Is it just another health trend or fad, or is there some purpose behind buying organic?
Whenever possible, I try to buy organic. Here’s why:
- Voting with my dollar
The main (and obvious) reason to buy organic is to avoid dangerous and toxic chemicals like pesticides and herbicides.
If you wouldn’t spray it in your mouth, why would you spray it on your food?
The National Academy of Sciences reports that 90% of the chemicals applied to foods have not been tested for long-term health effects before being deemed “safe.” Further, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tests only 1% of foods for pesticide residue. The most dangerous and toxic pesticides require special testing methods, which are rarely if ever employed by the FDA.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers that 60% of all herbicides, 90% of all fungicides, and 30% of all insecticides are carcinogenic (cancer causing). A 1987 National Academy of Sciences report estimated that pesticides might cause an extra 1.4 million cancer cases among Americans over their lifetimes. The bottom line is that pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms, and can also be harmful to humans. In addition to cancer, pesticides are implicated in birth defects, nerve damage and genetic mutation.
Another health related reason I choose organic is to benefit from the higher nutrient content and for the better taste! Organically grown produce has a higher nutrient content because the soil is managed and nourished with sustainable practices by responsible standards. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine conducted a review of 41 published studies comparing the nutritional value of organically grown and conventionally grown fruits, vegetables, and grains and concluded that there are significantly more of several nutrients in organic foods crops.
American farms have changed drastically in the last 50 years, from the family based small businesses dependent on human energy to large scale factory farms highly dependent on fossil fuels.
Modern farming uses more petroleum than any other single industry. More energy is now used to manufacture synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate, and harvest all the crops in the United States. Manufacturing petroleum-based synthetic fertilizer is now responsible for 5% of total world fossil fuel consumption. While organic farming is still mainly based on labor-intensive practices, such as weeding by hand and using green manures and crop covers rather than synthetic, petroleum-based inputs. Organic produce also tends to travel a shorter distance from the farm to your plate.
Mono cropping is the practice of planting large plots of land with the same crop year after year. While this approach tripled farm production between 1950 and 1970, the lack of natural diversity of plant life has left the soil lacking in natural minerals and nutrients. To replace the nutrients, chemical fertilizers are used, often in increasing amounts.
Agricultural chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers are contaminating our environment, poisoning our precious water supplies, and destroying the value of fertile farmland. According to Cornell entomologist David Pimentel, it is estimated that only 0.1% of applied pesticides reach the target pests. The bulk of pesticides (99.%) is left to impact the environment.
Voting with my Dollar
When you buy organic, the store takes notice. It’s supply and demand. At my local Costco, organic produce was in high demand simply by purchasing organic. Now, my local Costco is flooded with organic produce and products because we decided to vote with our dollar.
Buying organic food is an investment in a cost-effective future. Commercial and conventional farming is heavily subsidized with tax dollars in America. A study at Cornell University determined the cost of a head of commercial iceberg lettuce, typically purchased at 49 cents a head, to be more than $3.00 a head when hidden costs were revealed. The study factored in the hidden costs of federal subsidies, pesticide regulation and testing, and hazardous waste and cleanup.
Putting our money where our mouths are is a powerful position to take in the $1 trillion food industry market in America. Spending dollars in the organic sector is a direct vote for a sustainable future for the many generations to come.
Tips on Buying Affordable Organic Produce & Products
- Go to your local farmers market the last hour or last 30 minutes that it’s open. Usually the farmers want to get rid of everything they brought so they’ll slash the prices towards the end of the market time. I’ve gotten a huge organic watermelon for only $3!!
- Grocery Outlet. This store is my new fav. They have an entire section of all organic products for crazy cheap!! They get new stuff in every week, so check it out!!
- Food stamps are accepted at farmer’s markets.
- Grow your own!!!
- Check out the ‘clean 15, dirty dozen’ list