Ten Reasons to Choose Organic Food
Organic food was the only option for thousands of years. Now, with pesticides, herbicides, and genetically-modified foods, organic is still by far the BEST option!
Organic means that there are no pesticides, chemicals or sprays on the produce that you are buying and putting into your body.
The most commonly used classes of pesticides (Organophosphate) was initially developed as a toxic nerve agent during World War I. There have also been numerous studies which have demonstrated that acute poisoning from exposure to Organophosphate (OP) pesticides in agricultural workers causes adverse health effects.
Would you want any of this in your body? Eek, I know I wouldn’t!
Choosing to purchase and consume organic foods that are free of harmful chemicals and pesticides, and are bursting full with more nutrition and taste is a great choice for health, the environment, and for the future generations to come.
Here are the top 10 reasons to choose organic foods:
1. Avoid chemicals
One of the main reasons many people choose to buy organic produce is to avoid chemical and pesticide residues.
Let’s think about this for a second: when conventional farmers use pesticides and herbicides, they usually will wear head-to-toe full body suits and gas masks. If they’re avoiding inhaling or making any bodily contact with these substances, do we really want to be consuming them?
2. No GMO's
GMO stands for ‘Genetically Modified Organism’. It refers to animals, plants or other organisms whose genetic material has been changed in ways that do not occur naturally (in a laboratory).
A ‘Non-GMO’ label on food usually means that all of the ingredients contained were derived from plants, animals, or other organisms where their genetic material had not been artificially altered.
In the US, the use of GMOs is banned in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds or feed their organic cows with GMO soy or corn. To meet the organic food regulations, farmers must show proof that they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with GMO’s.
Recent studies and surveys have shown that ‘Non-GMO’ certification is considered to be more important than organic labelling for the consumer.
This is why the Non-GMO certification can only be used in conjunction with organic certification labels, such as the ‘Australia Certified Organic’ logo, and the ‘USDA Organic’ logo. Unfortunately, with labelling laws in Australia, it is not always possible to know which grocery items or produce use GMO ingredients, which is why choosing certified organic foods are the best way to avoid GMO’s.
3. Better for the environment
Organic farming practices reduces pollution, conserves water, reduces soil erosion, increases soil fertility, and uses less energy. Farming without synthetic pesticides is also better for nearby birds and animals as well as people who live close to farms.
4. Organic food tastes better
Some people strongly believe that organic food tastes better than conventionally grown food. This is because it is produced using organic farming practices. Organic food is usually sold locally, which means that the produce has not been frozen, shipped or transported across long distances, resulting in fresh produce available which usually tastes better. Just try it for yourself!
5. Contains more nutrients
There have been numerous studies that have compared the nutritional content of organic vs conventionally grown plants with the use of pesticides and other chemicals. These study results and research findings have shown that organic food has a higher vitamin, mineral and nutrient content.
Organic foods contain more vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, enzymes, and micronutrients than conventionally farmed food.
Organic food also have higher levels (up to six times) of salicylic acid which is naturally produced in plants as a protective compound against stress and disease and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Organic foods has shown to have:
- Lower nitrate levels
- Higher Vitamin C levels
- Higher mineral content (phosphorous, magnesium, and iron)
6. Organic farming prevents soil erosion and improves soil quality
The produce most of us buy mostly comes from conventional and commercial farming methods where their soil is depleted. The soil is not laid to rest to be able to renew itself, nor is it being remineralised by humans. Conventional farming only allows three minerals to
be added to the soil after each harvest: NPK (nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus). The industrial and conventional farming agriculture is focused on quantity to feed millions, not on how many minerals and good bacteria are needed for the human body.
When there is a continued exposure to pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals, this degrades the quality of our soil.
I like to think of the soil like I think of the gut/microbiome. Having a healthy microbiome has a massive impact on our immune system and the quality of our health. One of the best ways we can care for our gut is by making sure there is a good balance of bacteria, having good bacteria is so important. The same goes for the soil. Soil has it’s own microbiome and persistent use of pesticides during conventional farming practice is like a long-term use of antibiotics. It not only destroys the bad bacteria, but it also destroys the good bacteria.
Farmers in the past would properly remineralise their soils. A flood would happen and every time it flooded, there was silt and rock dust. They would put ash from burnt wood, which is a concentration of minerals left over from the burnt tree, into the soil. They would also add salts, sand and rocks, and compost into the soil for remineralisation.
Organic farmers still use similar farming practices which involve the use of crop rotation and planting techniques. These farming techniques help to retain and improve the quality of the soil.
7. Supports local farmers
Some smaller farms use all organic practices but haven’t gone through the full organic certification process yet because sometimes it can be expensive for a small business.
Buying organic from local farmers helps these farmers stay in business, and ensure that the family owned and operated farm that produced the organic tomatoes you purchased to add to your salad can continue to grow and sell organic produce for years to come.
I think it’s important to get to know your local farms and stands at the farmers markets and ask about their farming practices.
8. Avoid hormones and antibiotics in animal products
Organic animals such as cows, poultry and pigs are all given food that is free of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers.
They are also not given antibiotics, which can be a common practice in conventional farming. Studies have shown that the regular use of antibiotics in conventional farming can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
In Australia, around 40 percent of cattle and livestock are raised using ‘Hormone Growth Promotants’ (HGPs). These are used in during conventional farming processes to accelerate weight gain in animals like cattle so that they can be sent to market earlier. They have been widely used in the Australian beef industry for over 30 years. Studies have found a link between exposure to these synthetic hormones, and a number of adverse health problems including cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer. One particular synthetic hormone known as Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is a type of artificial growth hormone which has now been banned in Canada and the European union based on potential health side effects on humans as well as the cows.
Organic meat is raised without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics.
9. Preserve ecosystems
Organic farms are a safe, non-toxic home for bees, birds, butterflies, and wildlife. Research shows that on average the insect, plant and bird life is 50% more abundant on organic farms than a conventional farm with the heavy use of chemicals and pesticides.
Pesticides are chemicals designed to kill insects and other pests. Recent studies show that pesticides are one of the main drivers of insect decline. Insects are a part of a balanced ecosystem and our global food system. Food crops depend on pollinators like bees, and without them we wouldn't have foods like potatoes, strawberries or tomatoes.
10. Protects water supply
Pesticides and other chemicals that are used in conventional farming can also contaminate rivers, creeks and dams, and pollute primary sources of drinking water.
This runoff from conventional farming is one of the main causes of the decline in marine life, animals and plants. According to the ‘Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities’, there are over 29,500 tonnes of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and plant growth regulators used each year in Australia.
The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen
Not everyone always has access to organic produce, nor can they afford it (especially if there are more than 1-2 mouths to fill).
A few years ago, I came across the ‘Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen’ list. When shopping at traditional grocery stores, or even farmers markets, I use the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists as a guide to help me choose what produce I’ll buy organic.
The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists were started in 2004 and their data is based upon thousands of pesticide and insecticide related reports. The lists include fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest pesticide residues. The produce is tested after it's brought home from the grocery store and washed. The 'Dirty Dozen' list are the fruits and vegetables that are recommended you buy organic, beginning with the most pesticide contaminated food.
The Dirty Dozen
12. Hot Peppers & Sweet Bell Peppers
The Clean Fifteen
2. Sweet Corn
6. Sweet peas (frozen)
14. Honeydew melon
Read more about EWG's Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list here.
Currently, there are six certification bodies in Australia approved to show organic labelling. These organic labels can be found on produce, dairy, meat, processed foods, condiments and beverages.
Food products and produce that is labeled 'organic' must contain at least 95% organic ingredients with no synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, synthetic ingredients or irradiation used in production or processing.
Products that state 'made with organic ingredients' contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients and are produced without synthetic methods.
And, products that 'have some organic ingredients' may contain less than 70% organic ingredients.
Internationally, organic labels are also issued by organic certification bodies that operate in each country. These labels can be found on certified organic products that are imported into Australia from countries like the USA.
Watch out for these extra nasties on food labels:
- Artificial fragrances and artificial colours such as FDC and FD
- PEG/PPG - polyethylene glycol/propylene glycol
- SLS/SLES - sodium lauryl or sodium laureth sulphate
- ALS - ammonium lauryl or ammonium laureth sulphate
- GMO – Genetically modified organisms
- Petrochemicals – TEA or triethanolamine; DEA or diethanolamine
- Methylchloroisothiazolinone & Methylisothiazolinone
Organic food can be slightly more expensive than conventional produce or foods that do not contain organic ingredients. But fortunately, there are ways to find organic produce with prices that are almost equal to non-organic produce. You can:
- Buy from farmers markets where local growers and farmers sell their produce at a much cheaper price compared to grocery store chains
- You can join a community group that buys in bulk to get the products at a lesser price
- Become a member of a cooperative store that sells the produce at discounted prices to members. This is helpful especially if you plan to buy organic in the long term.
By eating organic, we aren’t consuming toxic chemicals, nor do we contribute to the Earth and ecosystems being subjected to them.
This means supporting sustainable farming, which is better for both the environment and the farmer, plus keeping
chemicals out of the soil, waterways, air and, of course, our food!
It’s safer for organic farmers not having to handle or breathe in the toxic chemicals that can be used in conventional farming. And, it’s absolutely safer for us!
We at Love Your Health support organic companies and products that are produced from organic sources. There is a wide variety of brands that use certified organic ingredients such as skincare, supplements, and food.
Visit our store online to see our organic range.