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Organic Food: Not Just for Hippies and Yuppies Anymore

Buzzle Staff Mar 10, 2020
Organic food is not only good for you; it's also good to you. And it keeps the soil healthy, too.
By Lana Christian

What's the big deal with organic food? You may have seen labels for it in the grocery store. Then you checked the prices and headed for your tried-and-true brands instead. Organic food is worth a second look-for many reasons.
Do chemicals like pesticides make a difference in the way food tastes? Absolutely! If you compare them side by side, you'll be amazed. In general, pesticides dull the flavor of all fruits and vegetables. Once you taste an organic apple or organic broccoli, you'll know what I mean. (Your kids may even learn to like some vegetables!)
When I was thirsty, I never reached for a glass of milk. Milk was something that kept your mouth wet while you ate toast or cake. I never dreamed of drinking it "standalone"-until I tasted organic milk. It tastes so fresh and-pure. My skeptical husband was convinced after one taste test.
Organic bananas are much sweeter than those grown with pesticides. And you don't have to wait until organic bananas ripen to get that sweet taste.
Does chicken have a flavor all its own, or does it exist solely to soak up whatever it's cooked with? Organic chicken has a delicious flavor that's not gamey.
If you don't fully wash your organic produce, you won't worry about what's still clinging to the outside of it. If it's organic dirt, that's actually good for you.
One of the staff members where I shop for organic food gave me this general rule of thumb for magnitudes of contamination. If the amount of residual pesticides in meat = 1, then the amount in dairy products = 5; and the amount in fresh produce = 14.
I haven't crunched the math to translate that to U.S. government statistics on "relative toxicity loading" of each food group. But, speaking from experience as one who switched to organic food to help recover from a serious illness.
I can tell you that eating organic food made a huge difference in the way I felt and helped me along the road to recovery. Our family has stuck with organics ever since.
Eating organic food is not only good for you; it's also good to you. It decreases the toxic load that your body has to break down every day. Your body rids itself of car exhaust, synthetic perfumes, toxins from mold and bacteria in poorly filtered air, and a host of other "yuck", 24/7. If you eat "conventional" food, your body also has to break down all the hormones, antibiotics and pesticides that are in the food you eat.
This is critical in children, who eat more food relative to their body mass. A recent University of Washington study compared children who did and didn't eat organic fruits and vegetables. The ones who didn't, had six times higher concentrations of pesticide metabolites than the children who ate organic food. Organophosphates from pesticides are known to disrupt the nervous system.
Getting back to the cost: yes, you will pay more for organic food. In some cases, it may not be much more. In other cases, as in dairy products, it could be 50% more. The cost has made us more aware of how important it is not to waste food. We pack leftovers in lunches every day. We literally don't throw any food away (unless it spoils unexpectedly).
It also helps us appreciate the availability of seasonal food. We enjoy food more than we did before. And it tastes so much better, that we rarely eat out now-which helps balance our food budget.
The importance of organic food extends beyond personal eating choices. There's a "big picture" aspect to this as well. Organic farming is a sustainable process that improves soil health, fertility, and the ecosystem in which crops and livestock are raised.
When plants live in a soil where they can extract exactly what they need to grow, you get plant health, soil health, and a better-tasting, healthy crop yield.
Better flavor actually comes from "living soil" that can give the plants the complex mixture of nutrients they need-as they need it. No synthetic nutrient can duplicate this process on a day-to-day basis. Organic farming is good stewardship of the earth.
Why should you care about soil? Here's why.

Pesticides and herbicides deplete the soil of micoorganisms that can supply the soil with nitrogen and other nutrients. That produces "dead soil"-soil that simply becomes a place for plants to take root.
Rather than be nourished by the soil itself, the plants become totally dependent on the farmer for adding nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients. The soil also becomes incapable of fighting nature's challenges: pests, disease, and drought. Instead, it needs more synthetic chemicals to do that job.
Synthetic pesticides don't provide protection by simply sitting on the plant's surface. They're designed to be taken up by the plant in a process called translocation. In addition, a substantial amount of corn, soybeans, canola, and other major crops are either genetically engineered or have chemicals (including pesticides) injected into them.
So don't think you can simply wash off all the pesticides that conventional food contains. Animals get a one-two punch from being injected with hormones and antibiotics, as well as grazing on grass that's been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. All those synthetics are passed on to you when you eat their meat.
Organic farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, sewage, or anything else that would negatively impact the crops or animals being raised. Pest control and weed control are done by natural methods. This requires extra labor-think of mulching an entire field instead of spraying it for weed control-but it produces superior results.

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Better land. Better crops. Better tasting food. Better health for you. Now that's worth a lot.