Why Buy Organic? 6 Big Reasons You Should
When you hold up an organic cucumber, you may ask, “Why buy organic? The conventional cucumber is cheaper, so why can’t I just buy that?”
A visual inspection doesn’t reveal many differences, but there are huge differences — and they have a direct impact on your health and the planet.
Here are 6 big reasons why you should buy organic whenever you can:
1. ORGANIC HAS MORE NUTRIENTS
Most people don’t know it, but the majority of our farmland soil is depleted of the nutrients necessary to grow healthy, sustainable and bio-diverse crops (4). Many studies have documented this. As a result, today’s foods have less vitamins and minerals than they contained in the past.
A study comparing the nutritional value of organic versus conventional plant-based foods found that organic crops contained significantly more vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous and significantly less nitrates than conventional crops.
The nutrient deficiencies in the soil are also showing up in humans. In previous studies, the United States Department of Agriculture states that:
- 9 out of 10 Americans are deficient in potassium.
- 8 out of 10 are deficient in vitamin E.
- 7 out of 10 are deficient in calcium.
- 50% of Americans are deficient in vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium.
We are ALL micro-nutrient deprived! This matters because all chronic disease is caused by nutrient deprivation over time! When you buy organic, you are giving your body critical nutrients because it is grown differently than conventional farming.
2. ORGANIC IS BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Simply put, organic farming is how farming used to be before the industrial revolution and the creation of synthetic chemicals came about. Organic farming stands for pure food, pure soil, and nutrient rich crops.
Organic certification ensures that farmers are growing food and maintaining their farmland by protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances without the use of synthetic chemicals (2).
A research article published in February 2016, written by John Reganold and Jonathan Wachter, reported that ‘organic farms are more profitable and environmentally friendly, and also deliver equally or more nutritious foods that contain less (or no) pesticide residues, compared with conventional farming.
Moreover, initial evidence indicates that organic agricultural systems deliver greater ecosystem services and social benefits.’ (6) This includes greater soil carbon levels, better soil quality and less soil erosion, plus more plant diversity, a wider diversity of insects, soil fauna and microbes, birds and bees. (6).
Our planet needs a healthy farming ecosystem and buying organic supports this.
3. ORGANIC HAS LESS CHEMICALS
When you don’t buy organic, you’re exposing your body to an incredible amount of pesticide residue — even after the produce has been washed!
Every year the Environmental Working Group tests for the top 12 fruits and vegetables (called the dirty dozen) with the most pesticides on them after they are washed. (It also tests for the 15 foods with the least amount of pesticides called the Clean 15). A whopping 98 percent of strawberries, which were rated the worst this year, had detectable pesticide residues when tested by federal officials. Forty percent had residues of 10 or more pesticides and some had residues of 17 different pesticides. Seventeen pesticides on a little strawberry!
Conventional farming has been using synthetic herbicides, pesticides and insecticides produced by large chemical corporations such as Monsanto since the 1940s, long before they were proven safe. The first synthetic chemical used for conventional farming (DDT) was banned by the EPA after 30 years of research concluded that it was causing reproductive harm, hormonal imbalances, tumor growth, and neurological disorders in humans (5). Though banned in 1972, DDT is still detected in the soil of some conventional crops.
Glyphosate quickly took its place as the next synthetic chemical herbicide, produced by the same company (Monsanto) in the 1970s after the EPA banned DDT. You should know that research by the WHO’s (World Health Organization) Internal Agency for Research on Cancer deemed glyphosate “probably carcinogenic to humans.” They also found that “people who work with the herbicide (glyphosate) seem to be at an increased risk of a cancer type called non-Hodgkin lymphoma (7).” Glyphosate is now one of the most commonly used products for conventional farming.
Buying organic reduces your exposure to cancer-causing pesticides (that are there even though you can’t see them) and won’t wash off.
4. ORGNAIC IS BETTER FOR YOUR HEALTH
We eat at minimum 3 times a day, 365 days a year for every year that we are alive… if you live to be 80 years old, then that’s at least 87,600 opportunities to choose what ingredients to put into your body.
Each decision you make can ultimately aide or disrupt your health and the accumulation over time of one decision in particular (such as eating non-organic produce) may ultimately be toxic to your health.
Conventional produce has absorbed the pesticides and chemicals that were used to grow it and while eating it one time doesn’t hurt your body as much, the accumulation over time will.
“We can wash off some pesticides with water, vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. But that doesn’t take care of the threat entirely. The problem isn’t only the pesticides. It’s that the pesticides will join all the other industrial toxins – the harmful food additives, environmental pollution, and everyday chemical irritants we come into contact with now, in the past, and in the future. At some point our immune systems just become overwhelmed. When that happens, something may slip through our defenses. A disease causing bacterium or virus will find a hospitable place to grow. A carcinogen will take root and begin to spread. All these chemicals keep adding up, meal-by-meal, day-by-day, year-by-year. That’s the real danger – ACCUMULATION.” (SuperLife, p.25-26)
Buying organic food is one simple way you can reduce the work load your body has to do to keep you healthy and clear of toxins.
5. ORGANIC DOESN’T HAVE GMOs
Only organic foods are guaranteed to not have GMOs in them. GMOs, short for genetically modified organisms, are seeds and grains that have been altered at the DNA level. This is NOT the traditional cross breeding that most people commonly envision. GMOs cannot occur naturally. Their genes have been manipulated, usually to make them pest-resistant or for greater resistance to pathogens and herbicides. It is done to increase profit and food production.
Scientific studies have not definitively shown GMOs are safe. “What exactly is the harm of humans eating foods containing GMO’s? That’s the point — WE DON’T KNOW YET. They haven’t been around long enough to determine their long-term effects on our bodies.” (SuperLife, p.28)
Some studies prove they are safe, but not all studies do. “Consider this, in 2012 researchers from the University of Caen, France, published the results of a two-year study of rats fed a diet consisting of a Monsanto genetically modified corn compared to rats fed non-GMO corn. The ones exposed to GMOs they reported, died sooner than the control group and had higher rates of tumors and organ damage.” (SuperLife, p.28)
GMOs are foreign to your body. I don’t want to be a part of a science experiment, and non-organic produce, especially corn, sugar, canola, cotton, soybeans, sugar beets, zucchini, papaya, plums, potatoes, apples, and more (did you know the list was that long?), all can have unlisted GMOs in them.
The safest way to know you aren’t eating any GMO ingredients or whole foods is to buy organic.
6. ORGANIC SUPPORTS SMALL FARMERS
Every time you make the choice to buy organic (especially at local farmers markets whenever possible), you are most likely supporting a smaller farm or company, allowing them to profit and grow larger, while maintaining their organic principles and sustainable farming practices.
It goes back to the simple concept of supply and demand. When you make a conscious decision about the product that you’re buying, you’re ‘voting’ with the money you spend and ultimately shifting the demand on the farmers and corporations responsible for producing our food to ensure that those items you are choosing to buy remain on the shelves and in the produce bins. This in turn creates a healthier economy.
One note: I recommend visit your local farmers market and getting to know your farmers and asking them how they grow their food. Some farmers grow their produce organically but can’t afford the high sticker price and paperwork that comes along with the “organic”certification. This is still not conventional produce. It is food that has been grown consciously with organic principles.
HOW DO I KNOW IT’S ORGANIC?
- If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “8” then the item is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable.
- If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “9”, the produce has been grown organically and is not genetically modified.
The Non-GMO Project maintains a good list of “high risk” foods, foods that are derived from, contain derivatives of, or are produced through a process involving organisms that are known to be genetically modified and commercially produced. Check it out here.
ORGANIC IS THE BEST CHOICE
Why buy organic? Your decision matters not only for your health but also for the future of the food that will be available to you and your family and friends. Buying organic is more than just a price tag or one less chemical. It’s an entire movement towards a healthier you, a healthier environment, and a healthier future.
Want to learn more? Check out these awesome resources:
For links to articles and information used in this post please refer to the links below: