As you are strolling through the supermarket, you are constantly faced with the decision of whether to buy organic or not. The food looks the exact same, smells the same, but definitely does not cost the same! What’s the deal with this organic stuff, is it worth the extra money?
First of all, let’s understand what the organic guidelines are;
- Your land must have been free of ‘prohibited substances’ for at least 3 years, prior to being considered organic.
- Soil nutrient levels are monitored and replenished accordingly.
- In order to limit crop pests, farmers can rotate crops from place to place and cover them.
- To avoid the spreading of weeds, bark mulch is used instead of weed killer.
- Seeds must be organic and free of GMO’s
A conventional (not organic) farm is allowed to use 900 different synthetic chemicals on the fruits and vegetables that they are growing, examples are; ammonia, chlorine, dioxins and formaldehyde. However, on an organic farm the farmers are limited to 25 different synthetic chemicals, such as alcohols and hydrogen peroxide, which are only used as a last resort. Before farmers decide they need to include synthetics, they use natural based substances such as, neem oil, pepper and pyrethrin (found in the chrysanthemum flower).
There are certain fruits and vegetables that have been tested by The Environmental Working Group multiple times and are proven best if eaten organic. One sample of conventional strawberries showed 20 different pesticides, and conventional spinach had twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
Not only do pesticides have the ability to harm the ecosystem, due to run off, studies show they can have detrimental effects on our health as well. University of California- Berkley, did a study on Atrazine, which is one of the world’s most widely used pesticides. “What people have to realize is that, just as with taking pharmaceuticals, they have to decide whether the benefits outweigh the costs,” Reports UC Berkeley’s Tyrone B. Hayes, professor of integrative biology.
Atrazine was proven by Professor Hayes and other sources as well, to manipulate sex hormones, and has also been known to elevate a person’s risk of breast and prostate cancer. Horrifyingly, Atrazine is found in nearly 90% of drinking water in the United States. Research has also suggested that the conventional use of pesticides may affect how much acetylcholine is released, which is a chemical that’s key for our memory. Sadly, more and more pesticides have been used over the past few decades, and more and more cases of Alzheimer’s disease continue to be diagnosed.
“When you compare organic versus conventional food, it is absolutely inarguable that organic food reduces dietary exposure to pesticides by 98 percent.” -Charles Benbrook of Benbrook Consulting Services, an organic consulting firm.
I would say that organic certainly is better, although more expensive, you vote with your dollar. Purchase organic in bulk as much as possible, and you can stick to the ‘Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen’ list, if you are on a budget. What we are put into our bodies and onto our planet will eventually come back to either benefit us, or harm us.