People are more concerned than ever about what they are eating, and in a world filled with crazy foods, the reasons to buy organic keep piling up! Choosing certified organic foods provides a tangible way for you to benefit the environment, local economies, and public health, both on and off the farm. Organic food supports you, your health, the health of your children, and the planet.
There are many explanations and definitions for organic agriculture but all converge to state that it is a system that relies on ecosystem management rather than external agricultural inputs. It is a system that begins to consider potential environmental and social impacts by eliminating the use of synthetic inputs, such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, veterinary drugs, genetically modified seeds and breeds, preservatives, additives and irradiation. These are replaced with site-specific management practices that maintain and increase long-term soil fertility and prevent pest and diseases.
"Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It emphasises the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using, where possible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfil any specific function within the system." (FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, 1999).
Studies show that organically grown food has higher amounts of Vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron – all nutrients vital for healthy functioning of our bodies. Organic fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and antioxidants, which provide energy and keep you looking young.
Certified organic agricultural operations (certified organic farmers) avoid the use of most synthetic pesticides found in conventional agriculture. Chemical pesticides and herbicides have been linked to birth defects, obesity, diabetes, ADHD, and other health problems. President Obama’s Cancer Panel reported in 2010 that pesticide exposure is linked to various forms of cancer. The panel strongly recommends that people reduce their exposure to carcinogens by removing toxins from our food, water, and air. Each time you choose organic, you are choosing to leave these chemicals off your plate.
Organic food is safe. Certified organic producers go to great lengths to ensure that their products are safe and risk-free.
Organic producers do not use genetic engineering (GE) or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Releasing GMOs into the environment without proper research has unknown consequences on human health, the environment, and biodiversity. Organic farmers must bear the financial and legal burden when their organic crops are contaminated due to drift from conventional fields producing GE crops.
Organic farmers face the same challenges as non-organic farmers: weeds, pests, diseases, drought, floods, and nutrient requirements. They have made the decision to grow food in a way that protects both people and the planet. Organic farmers are focused on preserving the soil for future generations by farming in a way that sustains nutrients and harbors beneficial organisms (like worms!). Organic farming neither causes nor leads to soil erosion, groundwater contamination, ocean dead zones, or loss of biodiversity.
Organic farmers are required to use Integrated Pest Management practices, protect wildlife, promote biodiversity, and work to improve and maintain native ecosystems. These efforts are documented in the farmer's Organic System Plan and evaluated by CCOF. Organic production is free of genetic engineering - increasing organic production will help mitigate the unwanted spread of GMO crops and contamination.
Organic agriculture limits the effects of climate change. Organic farmers are extremely dedicated to the excellent quality of their soil. Research from the Rodale Institute demonstrates that soil under organic production can remove about 7,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year through sequestration. Imagine the impact that more acres of organic production could have on the health of the planet if consumers demanded more organic foods!
Do you think organic is pricey? Organic farming and production practices are costlier and often more time consuming than conventional methods. Plus, government support for organic production is unequal to the support for conventional agriculture. The love and care that goes into growing organic fruits and vegetables is well worth the investment. In fact, many organic foods cost the same or even less than their conventional counterpart! Demanding more organic options and packing your shopping cart with certified organic foods means a lot; it helps grow the marketplace and change our food system.
Organic food has been proven to contain higher levels of nutrients than non-organic food. For example, nitrate levels in organic food are on average 15% lower than non-organic food. Organic vegetables have been shown to have 15-50% more secondary nutrients than their non-organic cousins. This means that they contain anywhere from 15- 50% more antioxidants.
Eating organic produce is just one facet of a healthy diet and lifestyle. In order to stay healthy, you must make sure you are getting enough exercise too. A great way of getting enough exercise on a daily basis is to purchase some home gym equipment.
All parents are concerned about the health and wellbeing of their family. Children are more vulnerable to exposure to pesticides and herbicides, their bodies absorb toxins more readily than adults do, and their organs are less efficient. Choosing to feed your family organic food reduces your risk of exposure to pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, and hormones, and promotes the development of long-lasting, good eating habits. Organic dairy products and other organic fruits and vegetables provide more nutrients and vitamins, helping your bones and body stay strong.
Children need a lot of nutrients and energy to make it through the school day and afterschool sports.
Bring your children into the garden to inspire them and teach them about where their food comes from. Ask your son or daughter to help choose seeds from your organic seed catalog, then help them start and grow the seeds they chose. Together, you can learn about what it means to produce your own food. Plus, many good memories and habits can be formed by learning how food is grown.
The whole family will learn more about how organic food is grown, enjoy the harvest season, and bring the bounty back to your home kitchen. Gardening makes kids more attentive and forces them to be responsible for a living thing, allowing them to actually see and eat the fruits of their labor.