Go Organic. You'll be Glad You Did
by Claudia Callaghan
Buying organic foods is not just in vogue... it's smart. If you have not joined the growing chorus of people who buy organic foods, hesitate no longer. I like to compare starting to buy organic to leaving a relationship that is bad for you – when he's nice only on the surface – and moving on to a new one that is great! Thankfully, buying organic is a lot easier! Target, Wal-Mart, Trader Joe's, and Costco, along with your neighborhood grocery stores that are often more accessible than whole food stores or co-ops, offer organic foods at affordable prices.
Although buying organic is now easier, why is it better for you? Read on for the list that will have you buying organic foods and singing organic praises in no time.
Organic foods are healthier.
Organic foods are healthier because they are grown on land free of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and other toxins. It is not the occasional conventionally grown apple, green pepper, or glass of milk that is the issue here. It is the accumulation of conventionally grown and produced foods that can be harmful in totality to our bodies. This is important for everyone. However, it's especially important for children and young people who are still growing.
The link between pesticides and diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, and allergies, to name a few, is also growing each day. For more information on the harmful effects of chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, additives, food coloring, preservatives, and other toxins and artificial ingredients used in food production, please go to www.ewg.org, www.ota.com, www.foodnews.org, or www.foodnews.org
I am no scientist. I am a writer, a musician, a cook and mother (and a chief bottle washer!) who has been studying about food and health related issues for over 20 years. What I know, however, is nothing compared to my strong gut feeling that started with ....... a strawberry. Look at a strawberry. Cut into it. See the pores on the outside and the flesh on the inside. It is like a sponge! What is the soil like where this strawberry was grown? Is it not like a sponge too? Where do pesticides go when sprayed on strawberry plants and the ground where their roots are growing?
I do not want my 10-year-old son, who loves strawberries and eats them in early summer like popcorn at the movies, to eat strawberries grown in fields sprayed and soil soaked with pesticides! It turns out strawberries are almost at the top of any list I've seen stating which organic foods to buy first. For such a list, go once again to www.foodnews.org.
Organic Food and Nutrition.
Research also suggests organic foods are more nutritious than non-organic. In tests, organic foods were found to have higher levels of minerals: magnesium, chromium, selenium, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins - especially vitamin C, and, also, antioxidants. This may be because some non-organic produce is grown on unhealthy or depleted soil, resulting from conventional farming methods.
Organic farms must comply with stricter standards and practices. Perhaps equally interesting are the plants themselves. Apparently, left on their own, plants naturally develop protection against the elements, weeds, and insects. Healthy soil and strong plants equal more nutritious fruits and vegetables and more vitamins and minerals for the consumer.
Organic Food Tastes Better.
I remember the first time my husband tried an organic potato. He thought it was the best potato he ever tasted! Fresh organic vegetables and fruit are delicious. This is the reason gourmet chefs often like to use organic and locally grown produce.
The best way to appreciate the taste difference is to try it yourself with a “taste test.” (My family loves taste tests!) For accuracy, a taste test must be done with your eyes closed; so have someone help you. Taste a bite or two of, let's use for example, raw organic broccoli. Take a few sips of water to cleanse the palate before tasting broccoli that is conventionally grown. Which one did you like better? Try this taste test too with apples, spinach, or whatever vegetable or fruit you like. You may want to try the test with cooked vegetables, too. Stir fry or steam organic and conventionally grown broccoli, or any other vegetable of your choosing, in different pans. If you wish, add a little bit of olive oil or butter and salt and then taste-test the difference in flavors. Invite family and friends to join in also for additional opinions! My family notices the difference, and so will yours.
Organic foods are better for the environment.
Franklin Roosevelt said, “A nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.” Organic farming supports clean water and healthier land, maintaining soil fertility and preventing soil erosion. It is more energy efficient and protective of wild life.
I recommend two books that focus on the positive and negative effects of food production on the environment. They are informative, entertaining and inspiring! Michael Pollan gives a brilliant account of following four meals from beginning to end in “The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.” An equally amazing account of a cattle rancher who radically changes the way he both eats and views the world is found in Howard F Lyman and Glen Merzer's book, “Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat.”
Buying organic supports local farmers.
Even though there are now many huge organic corporations, there are still many more small family-owned organic farms. Now that spring is here, farmer's markets are soon to follow bringing a colorful array of organic fruits and vegetables that have not traveled long distances. Whole Food grocery stores and co-ops also carry an abundance of local produce and are far more interesting than conventional grocery stores! Look next to or beside the food product you are interested in. There may be a label indicating exactly which farm it comes from. If you are having difficulty locating local, organic foods in your area, go to the web site www.localharvest.org.
You may decide to move more slowly on your organic journey. If this is the case, I suggest buying organic potatoes, apples, berries, peaches, lettuce, and organic milk (antibiotic & hormone free) first.
Einstein once said, “The most important thing we can do for the earth is eat vegetarian.” I think if he lived today, he would have added. “... and buy organic foods, too.”
© 2008 Claudia Callaghan, Reasons Why to Go Organic