There are a number of reasons why people choose to eat organic. Some eat organically in hopes of providing better nutrition to their families. Others aim to avoid chemicals and pesticides in their foods. And still others choose organic to protect the soil and the freedom of farmers.
But does buying organic really make a difference? The USDA and the chemical giants like Monsanto insist that pesticides and genetically modified crops are safe. Is it really worth spending the extra money?
I recognize that just trying to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and cut out processed foods can be a challenge in and of itself. It can seem hard to know where to start. But all lifestyle changes start with small positive habits that stick. We’re not here to condemn anyone. We just want to share just how good life can be with a little mindfulness.
Here are a few reasons why our family at Healthy Harvest choose to eat organic, preferably from the local farmer’s market.
Even if all the research in the world couldn’t compel you to eat organic, I would encourage you personally experience the overwhelming difference in taste between the produce you buy in grocery stores and the produce sold at your local farmers market.
In the year that I have worked for Healthy Harvest, I have had the best apples, plums, peaches, melons, greens, squash, eggs, mushrooms, and garlic I have ever tasted in my entire life. Eating these foods was an EXPERIENCE. My face literally lit up with joy when those incredibly vibrant flavors hit my taste buds. It made me seriously question what I had been eating for the 26 years before.
Put it to the test. Organic food tastes better. And local organic food is as good as it gets. Produce in the store is usually picked before it’s ripe so that it has time to travel across the country or the globe without going bad before it gets to you. When you buy from local farmers, your fruits and veggies are often only HOURS old, slow ripened by the sun, making it even more nutritious. Which brings me to my next point…
There is much debate as to whether organic foods are more nutritious. However, a 2014 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition analyzed 343 studies of organic and conventional foods over the past several decades and found that “organic fruits and vegetables deliver between 20 and 40 percent higher antioxidant activity.” Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.
Honestly, considering most Americans’ diets, we’d be better off just eating more fruits and vegetables in general, regardless whether they are conventional or organic.
However, even if the nutrition is up for debate, it is clear that organic produce has less residue from harmful pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals.
According to Consumer Reports, “Almost a third of the produce the USDA tested had residues from two or more pesticides. ‘The effects of these mixtures is untested and unknown.'”
Consumer Reports also notes “In a 2010 report on environmental cancer risks, the President’s Cancer Panel (an expert committee that monitors the country’s cancer program) wrote: “The entire U.S. population is exposed on a daily basis to numerous agricultural chemicals. … Many of these chemicals have known or suspected carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting properties.” Endocrine disruptors can block or mimic the action of hormones, even at low doses. “Endocrine effects aren’t sufficiently factored into the EPA pesticide-tolerance levels,” Crupain says. “And there’s concern they could cause reproductive disorders; birth defects; and breast, prostate, and other hormone-related cancers.”
While the residue on conventional produce is usually lower than EPA standards, there are still much bigger risks for farmers. Studies have linked long-term pesticide exposure to increased risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease; prostate, ovarian, and other cancers; depression; and respiratory problems. And why should we want our farmers suffering?
Although the debates around nutrition and safety still lack compelling evidence, it is widely agreed that organic farming is better for the environment. Studies prove that organic farming is better for the soil, leaving it full of nutrients and greater diversity of microbes that keep the soil fertile. Organic soil also helps to sequester carbon into the soil, helping to regulate carbon in the atmosphere.
According to the Washington Post, “The organic systems in the USDA test:
●Have more-fertile soil.
●Use less fertilizer and much less herbicide.
●Use less energy.
●Lock away more carbon in the soil.
●Are more profitable for farmers.
The conventional systems:
●Have higher yields.
●Are best at reducing erosion (when a no-till system is used).
As you can see, there is still much room for debate. Scientific evidence is rarely conclusive, and when it comes to GMOs, the large majority of research is funded by chemical companies who create GMOs.
So rather than using this article to sway you either way, I really hope to encourage you to do your own research. And as you research, follow the money!
And regardless of conventional or organic, I invite you to support your local farmers and hometown economy by purchasing at least some of your groceries from farmers markets.