Should You Buy Organic or Not?
by Cheryl Grace, copyright © 2005-2012
If you are eating food purchased from conventional sources, the reality is that you are eating a toxic cocktail of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, synthetic hormones, antibiotics, chemicals and synthetic fertilizer residue. Back in the day farmers controlled weeds, diseases, and pests by rotating crops, farming in harmony with the weather, controlling mice with predatory cats, and picked bugs of their crops with their hands. While some chemicals were available to restrain weeds, few farmers could afford them.
After World War II, farmers began to use tractors and heavy machinery to manage their crops and the approach to how food was grown began to change. Now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that twenty pounds of pesticides are used per person per year, with at least fifty of these pesticides classified as carcinogenic. This is linked to cancer, heart disease, birth defects and Parkinson’s disease, just to name a few.
The organic market has caught the attention of big food corporations and foreign countries due to U.S. consumers willing to pay more for organic food. China has become a major producer of organic food, yet the paper trail to verify the authenticity and quality of imported organic products is slim. Walmart has gotten into the game of supplying organic products and produce to their consumers and China is their go to source. Plain and simple, it’s just cheaper to buy from China than purchasing produce from domestic organic farms. With China’s track record of polluted water, soil and air, how does the American public really know if the organic certification is valid?
Infants and toddlers eat more food per pound of body weight than adults; therefore parents need to provide food options without pesticides during critical periods of fetal development and childhood growth. A child’s physiology is more susceptible to damage from pesticide exposure that can have long-lasting adverse affects.
The term beyond organic is a new catch phrase that means some foods are more organic that others. Consumers who are confused by which organic products to buy should consider beyond organic alternatives such as sustainable farming, locally grown organic farmer’s markets and transitional organic farms. A farmland must be chemical-free for 3 years before it can obtain certified organic status, however many farmers have elected to skip the costly organic certification yet continue to maintain organic farming practices. Foods labeled as locally grown are defined as within a one-hundred mile radius of your home.
Cindy Burke, author of a must-read book called To Buy or Not to Buy Organic. Burke created a list of foods called the “Twelve Foods to Eat Only if they’re Organic” which are those foods least likely to contain pesticide residue after harvest. They are:
Strawberries —the most chemically intensive crop in California
Red and green bell peppers—heavily treated with chemicals
Spinach— more than 60% tested by the FDA contains pesticide residue
Cherries—pests love them!
Peaches—attract insects, fungi and diseases
Nectarines—a magnet for insects
Celery—absorbs toxins from soil and ground water
Apples—sprayed twenty-seven times before it hits the grocery store
Pears—sprayed 9 times to kill mites, moths, scale and fruit flies
Grapes—including from Chile are sprayed for fruit flies and aphids
Raspberries—bugs love them
Potatoes—synthetic fertilizers are dribbled into potato rows weekly
There are foods insects have no appetites for, such as onions and garlic. Generally citrus and tropical fruits are least likely to contain pesticide residue due to their skins. The following non-organic varieties are acceptable to eat:
Watermelon (domestically grown)
A good rule of thumb is to avoid non-organic vegetables or fruits that are grown low or under the ground. These include potatoes, carrots, radishes, all leafy greens, dried beans, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Conventionally raised meat, chicken, pork and farm-raised fish are fed or given a multitude of horrors, including synthetic growth hormones to fatten them quickly and GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organism) grain plus animal waste products (ground up bones, blood and waste products from sheep/chicken/cows) to eat. Animals and fish are dosed with antibiotics to fight off parasites while simultaneously being raised in inhumane conditions. Go organic instead to insure healthier and safer food choices and improve the quality of your life.