There are a lot of buzz words filling grocery store shelves, and “organic” is one of them (also: natural, horomone-free, non-GMO, gluten-free…Ah!).
So just what does it mean when a processed food or produce item is labelled “organic?” Organic refers to foods that are grown through methods of organic farming. That is, produce nurtured without the direct application of pesticides. And why are pesticides a substance to avoid? Chemicals disrupt the body’s natural hormones and pesticides, when consumed, build-up toxins in the body. There may be a deadly link between chemicals consumed from conventionally-grown produce, not to mention inhaled from the air around pesticide-using farms AND consumed in our drinking water, with disease states like cancer. There are a few reasons to consider organic foods:
Methods of conventional farming are detrimental to our environment
Pesticides don’t just land on the food that is sprayed: they run-off into the waters surrounding chemical-using farms. These chemicals then end up in our drinking water, but also affect the species of animals living in those waters. The most profound example of changes to animals as a result of pesticide use: the herbicide atrazine (widely used) has been shown to alter the sex of frogs. Male frogs become emasculated through exposure to the substance, and 1 in 10 turn into female frogs. This is scary stuff. Our eco-system is changing because of the choices we are making today.
Exposure to chemicals can make you fat
Pesticides are hormone disruptors and many scientists believe that exposure to these chemicals is altering our body’s natural weight chemistry. Excess weight is a known risk factor for heart disease and cancer.
Organic farming supports small scale producers
Conventional farming methods have allowed farms to grow in size, and to cut labour. With more product, and fewer producers, our farming economy is affected: small scale producers are edged out and big players, increasingly, control all aspects of the market. By supporting organic farmers, you are most often supporting local growers and helping your local economy to flourish. That’s good news for your community.
The consumption of pesticides increases the toxic load in our bodies, forcing our systems to work more and harder to keep our inner environments functioning optimally. Look for organic produce and foods at your local grocery store, or shop your neighbourhood farmer’s market. You can keep the cost down by shopping in season, buying in bulk when you can and preserving in-season foods for later consumption (freezing or canning). Look for Community Supported Agriculture programs that allow you to buy directly from farmers – no middle man!