Organic foods. Are they really healthier? Are they easier on the environment? Doesn’t “organic” imply a more natural and cruelty-free environment for the animals? What about organic seafood?
There are absolutely NO laws or guidelines that say that organic foods must come from humane operations. For example, there is nothing that states that organic eggs must come from hens who are happily roaming about a large, idyllic farm, getting plenty of sunshine and fresh air. In most cases, organic eggs come from hens in factory farming situations, who may be denied antibiotics when they are ill, because the antibiotics will render their eggs unsellable. Ditto for organic meat and dairy. In addition, many organic farmers use “natural” fertilizers such as animal blood and bone to enrich the soil for their organic fruits and veg. Organic does not mean cruelty free.
Myth #2: Organic foods are healthy.
Unfortunately, I can make you a fully organic cheeseburger with fries that will clog your arteries and set you up for heart attack just like any McDonald’s burger could. Unhealthy foods are bad for you, no matter whether they come from an organic source or not.
Again, unhealthy food raised without chemicals is still unhealthy food no matter how you cut it. A study from the University of Michigan found that people ate more organic cookies than non-organic cookies, thinking they had fewer calories. This is not the case, so don’t make the same mistake!
There are currently no rules governing organic fish and seafood, so using the organic label on them is not endorsed by the USDA at this time. Ironically, when and if it is endorsed, wild fish will not be allowed to be called organic because their environment cannot be controlled! Knowing that farmed fish live in a veritable cesspool of excrement and disease, it is hard to imagine that “organic” fish from farmed fishing conditions will be a better choice than line-caught fish from northern Alaska, for example … or, of course, no fish at all.
Organic foods can still have these same bugs, and Consumer Reports said that 57% of organic store-bought chicken tested positive for Campylobacter. Much food poisoning happens through food handling, so it is important that your organic supplier will handle organic food just as carefully as they would conventional food by keeping a clean kitchen, washing their hands and produce carefully, and keeping meat and its juices away from other foods.
Nutrient levels in our produce depend on many things, such as soil content, how the food is stored, cooked, etc. But whether we put pesticides on it or not does not affect its nutrient content. Having said that, many organic farmers are careful to use high-quality soil and aim to use other practices that might affect nutrient quality, but studies results disagree on whether organic foods have a higher nutrient content than non-organic foods.
Here are the four reasons why I buy organic when I can get it, and believe it’s worth the extra price:
Studies differ about whether these chemicals really are harmful in small quantities. However, I am a big proponent of relying on common sense, and common sense tells me that shortly after we started using loads of chemicals in and on our food, rates of Alzheimer’s, asthma, autoimmune disorders and autism, among other diseases, started soaring. This could be due to pollution, vaccinations, mercury in our fillings or god knows what else, but chemicals seem the most obvious culprit to me.
Many or most organic farmers emphasize sustainable agriculture methods, such as rotating their crops, changing their plantings each season, and bringing in beneficial bugs and insects to help with the natural ecosystem. This is all good for our environment.
Buying local and organic helps to reduce your carbon footprint, as you will be getting your fruit and veggies locally rather than someplace miles away. So when you buy organic, try to make a point to get it from your local farmer’s market. An added bonus is that you’ll probably pay far less than you would have at the grocery store!
Most local, organic farmers are really trying hard to compete against corporate giants for our benefit, and I really want to see them succeed. If you do too, you must support them as much as you can by buying their products. Even if you buy organic food from corporate giants, you’re sending a signal with every dollar you spend that you want them to start caring more about your health.