People like organic restaurant owner Joshua Manocherian already understand the benefits of eating organic foods whenever possible. It is still the case that organic products tend to cost more due to the labor-intensive nature of organic farming. However, this is beginning to change, and as more people use their pocketbooks to demand sustainable, wholesome foods, organic products will continue to become more affordable.
What does “organic” mean?
Generally-speaking, organic foods are those that are produced without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Instead, traditional farming methods are used to manage insects and weeds, including tight planting patterns to prevent weeds, non-chemical deterrents for insects (including the introduction of predatory insects that feed on pests), and crop rotation to maintain soil quality and fertility.
Animals that are raised according to organic principles will not be fed conventionally – which means that they will not be ingesting chemicals through their food supply – and will not be given antibiotics or hormones. Many, but not all, organically raised animals will be free-ranging and allowed to eat naturally growing grasses and insects. These animals will generally not be caged, nor subjected to the cruelties of conventional practices.
Most obviously, choosing organic products is an important way to reduce your exposure to the many chemicals, antibiotics and hormones that enter our bodies every time we eat conventionally-produced food. Studies confirm that even after washing produce, traces of pesticides remain on much of the food we eat, and many of these chemicals have not been tested for long-term effects on health. A large percentage of the chemicals we ingest comes from fatty animal products like dairy and large fish due to the fact that conventionally raised animals are fed plants that have been treated with chemicals.
Also a matter of concern is the impact of the common use of hormones and antibiotics. Increased rates of certain cancers, especially in women, have been linked to the ingestion of hormones through animal products. Sex and growth hormones are two of the most common hormones given to animals, and these can interfere with natural processes in people. The rise in the early onset of puberty, especially among young girls, is just one of the ways that people are being affected by this practice.
Even more serious is the common practice of administering antibiotics to animals as a way to prevent infections that are made prevalent through conventional farming practices which force animals to live in filthy conditions or be subjected to practices such as almost constant milking. Experts have pointed to the fact that this prophylactic use of antibiotics runs the significant risk of creating “superbugs” that are immune to the antibiotics that have been recklessly introduced into the food supply.
As you can see, there are important reasons why we should be choosing organic. Remember that eating organic doesn’t need to be “all or nothing.” You can make choices depending on what is available in your area, and on what suits your budget. You should also remember that choosing certain organic products – especially those that are hard to clean thoroughly or fatty animal products – will give you a bigger health bang for your buck than others. The key is to be aware of the options that are available to you, and to make better and healthier choices when you can.