Organic Food Advantages

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Why Go Organic?

While the personal reasons for using organic foods are too numerous to list here, we’ll mention a few of the organic food advantages. Knowing more about organics will help you make smart decisions about the safety of the food you purchase at your local market or grocery store .

Here are some of the benefits often associated with buying organic foods:

You can protect future generations by serving organic foods to your children.

Children are more susceptible to poisons in their food than adults are, according to studies by the Environmental Working Group and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Organic farming does not use chemical pesticides or fertilizers at all; instead it uses natural defenses against pests and nourished crops with natural fertilizers. Choosing organically grown food will help you keep your children from building up chemicals in their systems.

You can protect soil quality by purchasing organic foods.

Organic farmers treat soil as part of the plant or vegetable, not just as the medium in which chemical fertilizers grow the food. By treating the soil as an active part of the growing process, organic farmers let the soil nourish the crops. The soil in organic farming is “fed” with naturally occurring bacteria and natural fertilizers which, in turn, make the produce much safer than CV produce.

You can protect water quality.

Water covers three quarters of the planet. It makes up two thirds of our body mass. Although the EPA estimates that much of our water is contaminated by pesticides and chemical fertilizers, the contamination is not at toxic levels and won’t make us sick. By growing products organically, however, we can limit the addition of more potentially toxic chemicals to the water supply.

You can reduce CO2 emissions.

CV farmers must employ tractors, airplanes, mechanical sprayers, and other machines which use gasoline-burning engines. According to some people, the CO2 created by these engines can contribute to global warming. By not needing these machines, organic farming does not add to the CO2 emissions in the air.

You can keep chemicals off our plates.

Many studies have been made on the impact of pesticides and fertilizers on the human body. While the USDA, FDA and EPA regulate the use to these chemicals to keep food safe, it would be reasonable to believe our bodies would be better off without them.

You can protect farm workers’ health.

CV farmers are affected to some extent by the chemical pesticides and fertilizers they use in growing their food. While safety precautions (like protective equipment) should be worn, some studies warn about the risk of chemical applications on the health of the applicators.

You can help small farmers.

Although the popularity of organics has increased – up 22%, to $22 billion (US) per year – and bigger farming operations are becoming involved in the production of organics, many smaller farmers produce organic foods. Supporting local farmers helps them continue in business.

You can support a true economy.

CV farmers are often subsidized by the U.S. government, receiving tax dollars to produce certain crops. Since they receive government assistance, they can produce for less than it would cost them otherwise, and the consumer pays less than the true cost of the food. To date, there are no subsidies for organic farming. So the prices may be higher, but they actually reflect the true economic costs of the food production.

You can promote biodiversity.

Organics proponents encourage us to treat farmland as we treat our bodies. Most doctors say that eating a variety of healthy food is best for a healthy individual. Eating the same food every single day would starve your body for nutritional benefits you need from the healthy foods you ignore.

Similarly, CV farmers plant the same crops in the same fields year after year. Eventually, the soil of those fields loses its nutrients and/or becomes chemically saturated. On the other hand, when crops are rotated – with different products being planted in fields - the nutrients from the plants and soil actually reinvigorate each other, helping to rejuvenate the soil and improve the quality of the crops.

You can enjoy more freshness and flavor.

Additives in CV crops help preserve the food, making it easier to transport and giving it a longer shelf life at the market. Sometimes produce is picked when under-ripe and then ripened artificially with gas or lights. In organic farming, these practices are avoided. There's a great difference in flavor, as you'll find when you purchase an organic tomato ripened on the vine or an organic apple ripened on the tree.

You can avoid genetically modified foods by purchasing organics.

Some people worry about eating foods that have been genetically altered (i.e., “genetically modified foods") – products whose basic makeup has been changed in the interests of, say, pest resistance or longer shelf life. Government and independent studies have contradicted each other, so the verdict is not in about any possible dangers. However, be aware that in CV farming, the farmer may have used hybrid seeds or modified foods; in organic farming, unmodified seeds are used.

You may or may not be interested in some of these concerns. But understanding reasons to purchase organics can help you, the consumer, make smart, safe choices.

Want to know more? To get one of the best e-books about organic food advantages, click here!

This information has been adapted from THE ORGANIC FOODS SOURCEBOOK by Elaine Lipson (2001: Contemporary Books).

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