Why Organic Food?
Why Should I Eat Organic Food?
15 Reasons to Buy & Eat Organically
Organic Food Reduces Health Risks
Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides (found in conventionally raised fruits and vegetables) and hormones, steroids & antibiotics (found in conventionally raised meat and dairy products) have been linked to increased cancer rates, including prostate cancer in men, menopause complications in women, and earlier onset of menstruation in young girls. The added chemicals mimic estrogen in the male and female body. They lower the male sperm count, and they elevate the female estrogen levels. This is why there are so many estrogen-related cancers and infertility problems. The long-term consequences of pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones in the food supply are extremely serious.
Many pesticides approved for use by the EPA were registered before extensive research linking these chemicals to cancer and other diseases had been established. According to the EPA, 60 percent of all herbicides, 90 percent of all fungicides, and 30 percent of all insecticides are carcinogenic!
A 1987 National Academy of Sciences report estimated that pesticides might cause an extra 1.4 million cancer cases among Americans over their lifetimes. The bottom line is that pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms, and humans *ARE* living organisms, just like insects. In addition to cancer, pesticides are implicated in birth defects, nerve damage and genetic mutation.
Organic Food Protects Your Children & Future Generations
Children receive four times more exposure than adults to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. The food choice you make now will affect your child's health in the future.
Organic Food Contains More Vitamins & Minerals Than Non-Organic Food
On average, organic food contains higher levels of vitamin C and essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and chromium, as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants. This is due to the health of the soil in which the food is grown, and the lack of toxic chemicals.
Organic Farming Protects Farm Workers
A Natural Cancer Institute study found that farmers exposed to herbicides had a greater risk, by a factor of six, than non-farmers of contracting cancer. In California, reported pesticide poisonings among farm workers have risen an average of 14 percent a year since 1973, and doubled between 1975 and 1985. Field workers suffer the highest rates of occupational illness in the state. Farm worker health also is a serious problem in developing nations, where pesticide use can be poorly regulated. An estimated 1 million people are poisoned annually by pesticides. Several of the pesticides banned from use in the United States are still manufactured here for export to other countries.
Organic Farming Helps Protect Water Quality
Did you know that U.S. taxpayers pay over $140 million dollars annually for removing chemicals from drinking water, mainly as a result of the pesticides (and runoff) used in conventional farming? Chemical fertilizers used in conventional farming pollute lakes, ponds, rivers, and groundwater, leading to further illnesses. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pesticides (some cancer causing) contaminate the ground water in 38 states, polluting the primary source of drinking water for more than half of the United States’ population.
Higher Quality Soil & Better For the Environment
In addition to leaving toxic residues on food, synthetic pesticides and herbicides also kill soil microbes. According to The Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, “Organic farmers recognize that healthy, vibrant, and live soils and ecosystems significantly benefit crops. Natural, undisturbed soil is alive with microbiotic organisms that exist in harmony with the native plant life and the inorganic minerals that provide the soil's substrate. Synthetic chemicals (such as herbicides, pesticides, and/or fast-acting inorganic fertilizers) applied in or around crops interrupt or destroy the microbiotic activity in the soil.
“Once the microbiotic activity in the soil has stopped, the soil becomes merely an anchor for plant material. In this conventional method of agriculture (in use for only the past 75 of 10,000 years of recorded agriculture) plants can receive only air, water, and sunlight from their environment—everything else must be distributed to plants by farmers, often from inputs transported thousands of miles to reach the farm. By growing in a living soil where microbiotic activity constantly breaks organic matter and solid minerals into nutrients a plant can use, organically cultivated [produce] always has exactly what it needs to grow, from germination to fruit set, and the plant will be healthier throughout its lifespan than a conventionally grown plant.
“As a result, the organically grown plant will be able to add more and complex components to all of its parts, including its fruit, resulting in a plant chock-full of micro-nutrients and trace minerals that are important for human nutrition.”
Dr. Linus Pauling, winner of two Nobel prizes, said, "You can trace every sickness, every disease, and every ailment to a mineral deficiency." There are 92 minerals that play a positive role in nutrition. At least 10 of these are major minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, etc.) and the rest are trace minerals (zinc, selenium, manganese, etc.). Organic produce has more minerals than conventional produce, due to the health of the soil and the environment in which it is grown.
Prevents Soil Erosion
The Soil Conservation Service estimates that more than three billion tons of topsoil are eroded from the United States’ croplands each year. That means soil is eroding seven times faster than it is built up naturally. Soil health is the foundation of the food chain in organic farming.
Produces Topsoil More Rapidly Than Conventional Farming
It takes approximately 3,000 years for nature to produce 6 inches of topsoil. Every 28 years, 1 inch of topsoil is lost as a result of current farming practices. Organic biointensive farming can produce 6 inches of topsoil in as little as 50 years. This is 60 times faster than the rate in nature.
(Source: Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, 1999, in "Our food, Our Future," by Donella H. Meadows, in Organic Gardening, September/October 2000.)
Organic Food is Cheaper Over the Long-Term
Have you heard the saying, “Pay me now or pay me later?” Well, when it comes to your health, this aphorism is especially applicable. You have the choice of paying a little more money upfront for healthy, pesticide-free (poison-free) produce…or you have the option of “paying” several years down the road, in the form of increased illnesses, disease, doctor bills, and hospital bills.
Avoids Hidden Costs
Although organic food might seem more expensive than conventional food, conventional food prices do not reflect hidden costs borne by taxpayers. The annual governmental subsidy to conventional farmers in the Western hemisphere is $360 billion (courtesy of taxpayers’ money). Other hidden costs include pesticide regulation and testing, hazardous waste disposal and clean up, and environmental damage.
American farms have changed drastically in the last three generations, from the family based small businesses dependent on human energy to large scale factory farms highly dependent on fossil fuels. Modern farming uses more petroleum than any other single industry, consuming 14 percent of the country's total energy supply. More energy is now used to produce synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate, and harvest all the crops in the United States. Organic farming is still mainly based on labor-intensive practices such as weeding by hand and using green manures and crop covers rather than synthetic inputs. Organic produce also tends to travel a shorter distance from the farm to your plate, thus eliminating the energy costs associated with long-haul transportation.
Mono-cropping is the practice of planting large plots of land with the same crop, year after year. While this approach tripled farm production between 1950 and 1970, the lack of natural diversity of plant life has left the soil lacking in natural minerals and nutrients. To replace the nutrients, chemical fertilizers are used, often in increasing amounts. This leads to further illness and harmful effects for humans, wildlife, and the environment.
In contrast, organic farming supports biodiversity by using intensive crop rotation, soil-building rotation, and conservation tillage (i.e. “no-till” practices). Organic farms often plant heirloom crop varieties, leading to even greater biodiversity.
Organic Food Tastes Better
Many people prefer organic food because they say it tastes better. A number of top chefs choose organic for the outstanding flavor and quality. The “better taste” phenomenon can be explained by the lack of toxic pesticides, and because of the increased mineral and vitamin content.
Organic Food Supports Family Farming
Most organic farms are small, independently owned and operated family farms of less than 100 acres (although many large scale farms are making the conversion to organic practices). It's estimated that the United States has lost more than 650,000 family farms in the past decade.
Organic food generally comes from trusted sources. In the U.S., organic farms and food companies are certified, and must be inspected at least once a year.
Unless otherwise noted, the facts above were compiled from:
Organic Times, Spring 1992 edition.
The Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association
An article by Sylvia Tawse of Alfalfa's Markets, in Boulder, Colorado.
David Wolfe interview with The Townsend Newsletter
Do you have a reason that I’ve overlooked? Post a comment below, and I’ll add your reason to this page.