Organic produce really does aid long term well being.
There’s a lot of skepticism about organic foods, and for good reason. Why should you shell out extra cash for foods that are supposed to be healthy in the first place, especially when you’re not sure what organic means? Let’s clear that up today.
For today’s discussion I’ll put aside relevant issues like global warming (organic farming is much more efficient), pollution (chemicals and waste runoff from industrial farming often pollute water supplies), genetic modification (and how we are using fewer and fewer crop varieties), as well as the question of whether organic farming can feed us all (it certainly can).
What is the meaning of organic? In general, “organic” means that there are no pesticides or artificial fertilizers, no industrial waste contamination, no genetic modification, and no processing with ionizing radiation or food additives. In other words, organic means all natural. Organic food has been found to contain more nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and anti oxidants than conventionally farmed produce.
On the other hand, industrially farmed produce is bad for you primarily for two reasons: pesticides and poor nutritional content. These two reasons are connected; allow me to explain.
Pesticides were born in the post-WWII era, wherein all sorts of new chemicals were heralded as saviors that would bring cheap food to a growing population. These were the days when children were sprayed with DDT to kill head lice. The use of pesticides has increased rapidly over the last fifty years.
Why is this bad? It’s true that pesticide content is regulated so that any one product won’t have too much pesticide in it. However, if you eat numerous servings of different products, adding up the pesticide content of each one, you’ll find that that most people are consuming far more pesticides than the FDA considers to be safe.
Do we really have pesticides residues in our bodies? A survey of school children in New Zealand (a country with far better regulations than the US) found that 100% of school children had unsafe levels of every single one of the eleven pesticides they tested for. A different study looking at 400 American school children found that 100% of these children had unsafe levels of all thirteen of the pesticides they tested for. This is very, very disturbing.
These chemicals are carcinogenic toxins that are not easily removed from your system. Pesticide residues have been linked to leukemia and numerous cancers, but certainly contribute to myriad health problems. Think about DDT; after decades of use we finally stopped using it because of its tragic impacts on health. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to learn the same lessons about the other pesticides we’re using.
I’m worried about the pesticides. But let’s take this a step further. Pesticides impact nutrition. How? When you spray all these pesticides all over the soil, it kills not only the bad parasites and bacteria but the good as well.
Ideally, soil should contain wild amounts of earthworms, microorganisms, and other creatures, which help out by eating the decomposing plants and leaving behind nutrients in the soil. Pesticides kill all this, ruining the soil. Yet good soil is necessary for the production of health-providing produce.
The result is that you get vegetables that look healthy, but the nutritional content just isn’t there. So they’re not all that good for you, and because of the pesticides, they may be extremely harmful.
You gotta start eating organic. It’s worth it. You’ll feel healthier now and stay healthier longer. I’ll get more into this later; but food is medicine. If you’re not getting enough nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes from your food, you will inevitably end up with some health problem you could have prevented. Check out one of my all time favorite videos from Underground Wellness called how to stay out of the doctor’s office.
One caveat: not all vegetables are made equal. The Modern Forager posted a great article on the most and least contaminated produce. The less contaminated produce might not provide optimum nutrition, but there will be less pesticides. Steer clear of non-organic strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, peaches, apples, cucumbers, cantalope, celery, apples, apricots, green beans, cherries, and grapes. You should be okay if you stick with onions, avocados, frozen sweet corn, pineapple, mango, asparagus, frozen sweet peas, kiwis, bananas, cabbage, broccoli, and papaya.
All right, I’ll stop there. I’ve got big plans for the next couple months. Stick around, spread the word, give me some feedback, make comments, eat some salads, and take care. I’m out.