Just a few generations ago, in the early 40s, we didn’t have the word “organic.” All food in those days was grown and prepared without pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, or irradiation. Foods wire unrefined, whole, or minimally processed. With the advent of chemical farming and food processing after World War II, the soils and foods of much of the world have been depleted of many important minerals and nutrients.
These days our food is not only deficient in nutrients, but also full of pollutants and farming chemicals. The modern process of denaturing foods via heavy refining and chemical treatment deeply affects the life force of our food supply, making it difficult to foster equilibrium and health.
Pesticides have been shown to cause cancer and liver, kidney, and blood diseases. They create extra work for our immune systems. They accumulate in tissues, resulting in a weakened immune system, and allow other carcinogens and pathogens to filter into the body and affect our health. Organic certification is assurance to the public that products have been grown and handled according to strict procedures without persistent chemical inputs.
I bring all this up, because, now that I have been eating a high raw vegan diet for several years, I notice more than ever how much healthier organic produce looks in the stores, how much better it keeps, and what a bargain it really is, in spite of the fact that it costs a little bit more than conventionally grown food. And, yes, the fact that we now have to say “organic,” like it’s a special and unusual request rather than the way the food was created in the first place, leads me to speak out with some reminders about why opting for “organic” is a smart choice for anyone concerned with individual, community, or global health. Following are a few reminders about the benefits of buying and eating organic foods.
1. It keeps chemicals off your plate. Pesticides are poisons are designed to kill living organisms and thus are harmful to humans. Many of them were registered and approved long before much research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Organic agriculture is a way to prevent any more of these chemicals from getting into the air, the water, and the food supply.
2. It protects future generations. Children are four times more sensitive to exposure to cancer-causing pesticides in foods than adults.
3. It protects the water supply. More than half the country’s population is using water which is pesticide polluted.
4. It promotes harmony with nature. Much of the three billion tons of topsoil which is eroded each year from US croplands is due to conventional farming practices, which often ignore the health of the soil. Organic agriculture respects the balance necessary for a healthy ecosystem, and wildlife is encouraged by including forage crops in rotation and by retaining fencerows, wetlands, and other natural areas.
5. It saves energy and supports a true economy. More energy is now used to produce synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate, and harvest all the crops in the US. While organic foods might seem expensive at first, remember that your tax dollars pay for hazardous waste clean-up and environmental damage caused by conventional farming.
6. It helps small farmers. Some large-scale farms are making the conversion to organic practices, for sure. However, most organic farms are small, independently owned and operated family farms. Organic agriculture can be a lifeline for small farms because it offers an alternative market where sellers can demand fair prices for crops.
7. It promotes better nourishment and flavor. Organic farming starts with the nourishment of the soil, which then produces nourishing plants. Well-maintained and respected soil produces strong, healthy plants that have more nutrients than conventionally grown produce. Do the taste test yourself! Organic produce simply tastes better. End of story.
In recent months I have stepped up my insistence on buying as much organic produce as I can, and am less and less willing to compromise my health and the health of those around me with second class, adulterated foods. Please consider joining me in the effort. The consumers demand the food they want to put on their tables and in their lunchboxes, the more we will get it.