The Importance of Organic Foods (Revisited) 

Some years ago I wrote a piece about why it’s important to eat more organic foods. With so much craziness and upset in our country at this moment, I thought it might be good to revisit their importance.

When we put the best fuel possible into our bodies, we keep them in peak condition, as well as support good mental and spiritual health.

What we eat affects everything about us.  To start, check this short list of the benefits of organic foods right here.

What Does “Organic” Mean?

The need for a word like “organic” with regard to food is a relatively new concept. For thousands of years all foods were grown and prepared without pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, or irradiation. Foods were unrefined, whole, and minimally processed. Since World War II and the advent of chemical farming and food processing, the soils and foods of much of the world have been depleted of many important minerals and nutrients.

The modern process of denaturing foods via heavy refining and chemical treatment deeply affects the life force of our food supply, and not in a good way. Rather, it makes it difficult to foster equilibrium with the planet and health for its inhabitants.

The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed.  Regulations vary from country to country, and in the U.S. organic crops must be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.

How is Organic Food Better?

Fewer Pesticides. Chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat. They do nothing to support good health, and, in fact can be very harmful.

Freshness. Making food last a longer, which is what preservatives do to accommodate travel distance and time, doesn’t make it healthier. Organic foods are much more likely to have been grown locally, so still retain much of their original goodness and nutrition benefits. Unless you grow all your own food, the next best place to get it is at a local farmers’ market where you can easily find the organic growers. That way you keep more money in the local economy, which is a good thing, especially now.

In this country, the average distance a meal travels from the farm to the dinner plate is over 1500 miles. Produce is picked before it is ripe and then gassed to “ripen” it after transport. There is also further processing in factories with preservatives, irradiation, and other means to keep it stable for travel.

Environment Friendliness. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy.  Withholding the use of pesticides is also better for nearby birds and animals, and for people who live close to farms.

GMO Free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding. The alteration is done in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce and insecticide. Fake food, in my opinion.

About Those Pesticides – and Their Risks

Despite popular belief, organic farms do use pesticides. The difference is tht they only use naturally-derived pesticides, rather than the synthetic pesticides used on conventional commercial farms.  Natural pesticides are believed to be less toxic, though some have been found to have health risks. Still, the exposure to harmful pesticides is much less when eating organic food.

After years of exposure to them most of us have an accumulated build-up in our bodies. This chemical “body burden” can lead to health issues such as headaches, birth defects, and added strain on our immune systems.

Some studies have indicated that the use of pesticides even at low doses can increase the risk of certain cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Children, Fetuses, and Pregnant Women – Beware

Children and fetuses are the most vulnerable to pesticide exposure because their immune systems, bodies, and brains are still developing. Exposure at an early age may cause developmental delays, behavioral disorders, autism, immune system harm, and motor dysfunction.

Pregnant women are more  vulnerable due to the added stress pesticides put on their already taxed organs. Also, pesticides can be passed from mother to child in the womb, as well as through breast milk.

Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate pesticides. Peeling sometimes helps, (though valuable vitamins and minerals are sacrificed in the process. Wash and scrub, yes, and buy organic whenever you can.

In my next newsletter I’ll address issues of cost, preparation, etc.

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