Organic is more than a reason to mark up food prices. Avoid poisonous pesticides by choosing organic.
We’re starting to see organic on the labels of just about everything these days. As a consumer, I’m happy to see a greater selection of organic food. But it also comes with a healthy price tag. So is organic food really worth the extra cost? I’d have to say yes, and here is why.
Organic Protects the Health of the Entire Farm
First of all, what does organic mean? We’re used to seeing the term on our plant-based foods and from it we know that the plants were grown without the use of pesticides or fertilizers, and contain no genetically modified material. But did you know that this certificate also protects anything within that farm, including soil, organisms, animals, and people? So choosing organic isn’t just for our health, it protects the health of our soil, ensuring it is nutrient dense for many generations to come, and it protects the health of the farmers and any animals they may have. That’s pretty great!
Many governments regulate the organic industry; for Canada, when a product meets the high standards of organic, it will be given an official Canadian organic certificate. Keep in mind that many of our smaller farms may not be able to afford to go through the extensive certification process but may adhere to all the requirements. Before passing them by, ask some questions about whether they follow sustainable farming practices. You may just find a great source of local, organic food, often more reasonably priced than the grocery store.
Danger of Pesticides
But, you may ask, what is so bad about pesticides? Can’t we just wash them off our vegetables? Unfortunately, some of the pesticides get into the soil and enter the plant through the roots, or the plant is porous. So we can’t avoid them in some cases. And pesticides have been designed to kill living organisms. This can’t be good for us! And in fact, it isn’t. Some chronic effects linked to ingesting pesticides include liver damage, endocrine disruption, and immune system depression. I’m no expert, but in my opinion, we shouldn’t eat anything that isn’t naturally meant to be eaten.
Of course, in today’s world it’s nearly impossible to avoid pesticides, but there are ways to minimize our exposure. The Environmental Working Group is a not for profit organization who puts out a yearly list of the “dirty dozen,” the fruits and vegetables with the highest exposure to pesticides. They also include a list of the “clean fifteen,” the produce with the least exposure. For those of us with a limited grocery budget, these lists are essential! Simply choose organic produce from the dirty dozen. You can find the list at their website.
Genetically Modified Organisms
GMO is a term getting a lot of attention these days, so what exactly does it mean? GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. It’s an organism created in a lab and means that genetic material from another organism is implanted into it. This produces a super organism, usually to resist pests, produce more food, or have a longer growing season. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? GMOs can be found in plant-based food; common ones include soy, corn, and canola. Some fruits and vegetables have GMO material as well.
Originally GMOs were created to help prevent hunger around the world, create new varieties, and improve rural livelihoods. Instead, GMO crops have proven unsustainable, causing farmers to replant every year, destroying the health of the soil, and creating numerous allergies to food and other health issues. A lot of European countries have already banned GMO crops, but they’re still grown in North America. Buying organic usually means you won’t be exposed to any GMO in your food. However, still be sure to check for the non-GMO badge on your label as organic and non-GMO are not entirely synonymous and not all organic products are GMO free. If you’re interested in more information, the Non-GMO Project organization is a good place to start.
Learn how to go organic on a budget!