10 Reasons why you should choose Organic Food
We couldn’t buy “organic food” in the olden days, simply because all food was organic by nature. Today, we have many different pesticides, growing agents, herbicides, fungicides, and even crop gamma radiation for storage purposes. This industrialised and corporatised approach to food was already in full swing in the 70s and 80s.
So, “organic” is an invention of the twenty-first century and refers to doing things the “old-fashioned” way using natural methods to grow and harvest food. But even though traditional farming methods are dying out within the wider commercial farming world, many of the smaller organic farmers still regard these methods as sacred.
Additionally, new farming methods have emerged, such as permaculture and biodynamic farming. Although they are not suitable for mass-market production, they are useful for putting the food growing back into the community and sharing the surplus on local markets.
Here are 10 reasons why organic food should be in your life right now!
1. You escape the toxins in food, which will cause long-term health problems
A recent Swedish study tested the urine of a family eating commercial toxic fruit and vegetables before they went on an organic diet and again after they had been eating organic for three weeks. The results were staggering. Nearly all the toxins present in the urine when on a “normal diet” were absent on an organic diet. Pesticides entering your bloodstream are a risk to health and signs of toxic accumulation are feeling tired, sluggish and low on energy. From the point of view of a traditional medicine, such as Ayurveda, it affects the body bio-energies (humors is the old term) and a disturbance of this can lead to many lifestyle-related problems, including bad sleep and a low resistance to stress.
Pesticides cause cancer and in 2018 Monsanto was ordered to pay damages of almost $300 million to one groundsman using it at a school. He said: “Had I known what I am dealing with, I would have never used it near children”. The judge allowed other cases of already deceased workers to be heard. Perhaps this is the start of a trend reversal; maybe we have seen the peak of global food production and pesticides. This would certainly be useful to humans, animals and the environment too.
So, where was the food before we had global mass-market production, international transport, supermarkets and pesticides? The answer is: the food was on farms, in larders, in gardens, and the local markets. Everybody was involved in food production and you can be too. All it takes is to plant a few food trees and bushes in your garden for a food harvest with minimum effort.
In London, there is an organisation called Permablitz; they help with a garden makeover so that it becomes a food-producing oasis. This is done by clever design and using the naturally occurring forces of sun, water and wind, taking into account the soil-type and the owners time availability for upkeep. It is designed with the natural environment in mind, which includes you too.
In the meantime, choose organic, because changing your life will make you feel better.
2. You don’t succumb to capitalist forces, which have no provision for your long-term health
In a capitalist society without any other values, we tend to get those products which are the costliest to produce. If the cheaper alternative is better, supply side forces will still try to sell the more expensive “value-added” option because they can make a profit from the “value chain”. The cheaper alternative is rubbished, or bought up, or goes out of fashion.
Take water as an example – something we all need, every single living organism. What could be the value chain of water? We can bottle it for convenience, we can flavour it, we can use a marketing ploy with a health claim, or we can add further ingredients such as calcium to make it more expensive. But all we need is clean water delivered through copper pipes (not plastic, it doesn’t last very long and copper is antibacterial and antiviral).
The irony is that the medical industry has the disease model as its profit model. Overall health is sidelined in favour of specific disease eradication. Medical research also reflects this business model too. Medical research is the only industry which solely relies on a narrow quantitative research approach to disease eradication and is not concerned with overall health promotion of the whole person over time.
So as a result, we can fly to the moon but we don’t understand health terribly well.
In a capitalist society, resources and attention go to where money will be made, so disease prevention and health maintenance is not very high on the list.
The same is true for food companies, which would rather you buy a value-added ingredient to a simple commodity, an apple. Often the agrochemical companies, which make chemicals for food mass production, are also food ingredient producers and pharmaceutical companies. They tend to trade under different company names because this multiplicity doesn’t look so good, but very often they are one and the same company.
That leaves you and me in a predicament and in the hands of a system whose focus is on their money and not on your or my health. You can only change this if you put your money in the hands of local organic farmers and by overcoming food addictions to packaged food, non-organic food and junk food. You need to vote with your wallet, I am afraid, and try and escape the clever psychological advertising messages, which cost a lot of money because they work.
Organic food is the most natural and we assume that this, which has sustained humankind over our entire evolutionary chain, is actually good for us due to its long-standing history of success.
3. You avoid cancer causing genetically modified foods
Now “they” have started to genetically change food. The reasons for doing this are nothing to do with you because they are supply chain and economic reasons. It makes mass production easier and makes the food more compatible with pesticides. They can sell it as being easier for the grower and sell the pesticides plus the matching seeds. This has the “additional benefit” (not!) that the plants don’t reproduce and the farmers can’t collect their own seeds but must buy them from the agrochemical companies every year. Another value chain is created – dependency of the farmer to buy seeds means profit from seeds.
In Europe, genetically modified food needs to be labelled (EU Regulation 1829/2003). I have seen genetically modified oils being sold by food distributors such as JJ foods (correctly labelled, not breaking any law). But I have never seen a restaurant or a food manufacturer EVER state their use of these GM oils. So who buys this genetically modified oil?
I can only assume, that since it is the cheapest oil available, it would most likely be going into cheap fast food outlets and food manufacturers, but actually any restaurant could be cutting costs by using this “hidden” GM option, despite there being a £20,000 fine if caught.
Beyond restaurants’ hidden GM ingredients, it has now been deemed legal to feed animals (both your pets and the animal meat we ingest) with GM feed. So no labelling is required on your pet’s tin of food.
A study found that a diet including GM foods has caused cancer in laboratory rats. For this same reason, cancer is also on the rise in our beloved family animals too. Most food companies also own pet food companies, which means that all their waste products are sold on, not dumped. It’s the value chain folks! They add a lot of artificial flavours to the dog and cat food, so your pet eats it with vigour.
This could go on to affect your health too. If the farmed animals are eating GM feed then the milk you drink, the eggs you eat and the meat you consume could all be contaminated with GM ingredients – in other words, they contain cells that are in the process of developing cancer. Shockingly, this means that we are effectively ingesting cells which are in the cancer process on a regular basis and simply hoping that it won’t cause cancer in our bodies. The only supermarket in England avoiding GM feed for animals is Waitrose, but by their own admission this gets more and more difficult each year. I hope they can keep it up though!
And in the US this situation is even worse, as GM ingredients are fed to people and there is no way of knowing what is GM and what isn’t, as there is no labelling law. But, luckily organic food is delivered to the White House kitchen. Organic food production does not allow any GM ingredients.
4. You help fight global warming and preserve your own countryside
How do we ensure a toxin-free environment where everybody can be healthy without us all having a degree in nutrition, toxicity and immunity?
“Organic” also refers to the integrity of the soil.
The soil is really important in the fight against global warming. Years of intensive, chemical-filled farming have spoiled the eco-balance of the soil for generations to come. The result is dry degenerated soil without any ecosystem in it. This causes the water to run off and not stay on the land. The top layer with the insects and the eco-system would keep it there, but that is gone due to pesticide use. Most farm lands are infertile deserts. The water now runs off with the pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, growing agents and fertilisers and the land will become drier and more lifeless. This causes dryness in one area, floods and water pollution in other areas.
Trees create a microclimate and regulate temperature; they store water. They communicate with one another via underground fungi. They also help each other by sharing resources, such as water, with plants nearby which need support. Killing all living organisms in the soil will also kill the underground communication network of trees, plus the pollinators, such as bees, above ground. I heard that chemical agricultural companies are developing more and more sophisticated chemicals which are harder to detect and can slip into our so-called organic food chain!
Permaculture farming uses a variety of species on the land and natural pesticide control, so that a biologically intact culture can sustain itself permanently. I think the only solution for the future is that we all help with food production, the permaculture way, and don’t leave it up to the corporations and chemical companies to supply our food.
But back to organic farming. And there are problems!
The problem with this is that it too is regulated by capitalist forces and disadvantaged by them too. Every organic farmer needs to pay for the label “organic” and this costs quite a lot, whereas many food giants get subsidies. How unfair! Can you see why organic food is so expensive versus cheap mass-produced food? But it is also more expensive because it takes longer to grow, and it is more labour intensive.
There are even more problems too! I recently saw a documentary by the German TV channel ARD, where the reporters travelled to Chile to visit a cheating organic apple supplier and also where they were prevented from investigating organic sesame production in Afghanistan because it would be too dangerous to expose what was happening. Yet, these growers were given the organic certificate!!
How can they cheat so easily? Growers have to pay a fee to a regulating agent who then certifies these farms as organic. If the cheating grower is not happy with the certifying agent, the grower can simply change agent and the certification agent looses a customer. So, I ask: is it in the certifier’s interest to be particularly strict on the grower? No, not really!
Organic regulation varies by country. But there are levels of organic authenticity, depending how long the soil has been organic. In England, one can start an organic production on a field that was exploited by pesticide use for years after only ONE fallow season. The organic label for such food is the same as for a farmer whose family has been organic for generations.
Of course, the more land returns to organic farming the better, for both our short-term health and our long-term survival, but it’s wise to be aware that large-scale organic products may not be quite what you would be led to believe and if you have a choice between buying from a small organic provider or a large-scale producer, use the smaller one.
5. You avoid food wastage and the redistribution of food away from poorer countries
Foreign growers are keen to enter western markets because they get paid more. And although there are vigorous border checks for imported goods, some can slip through the net. These foods enter the market and may be produced with illegal chemicals.
Some of the food is tested and found unsuitable. So, trillions of units of foreign food are wasted at the border checks for reasons such as detectable, illegal substances being used in its production.
Buying local, organic food is best both for the integrity and quality of the product. When you buy organic local foods, it reduces the demand for non-organic “foreign” foods. A lower demand for these foods will help to reduce wastage at the borders, and feed the world more fairly; as it is often the countries whose populations are in dire need of food which export into the richer foreign markets, such as the UK.
If you do buy foods from abroad, make sure that you also buy organic. You will not shift the pesticide problem to another country by buying organic. And this will mean that, hopefully, the farmer and importers have done everything they can to make sure that the product has safe passage at the border checks. In other words it will pass the import control checks and this will also help stop this huge amount of damaging food wastage at the borders. Yes, provided, of course, they don’t cheat the system in search of higher profits and more money.
6. You will increase the demand for locally produced organic food and encourage suppliers
The official definition for “local food” is a food grown in a radius of 50 miles. The reason for this is that cities do not produce food (as yet) and rely on the surrounding countryside to grow and transport food into them. So as a point of interest, technically, if you live on the south coast of England this radius will still include the north of France!?! But there are plenty of allotments in the city – in gardens, parks, school and hospital grounds – which could grow food trees and bushes to provide excellent foraging opportunities. I think we need to bring food production back into communities and grow food naturally, wherever we can.
An “ecological footprint” is an expression for how much environmental damage something causes. Everything can be measured to have a footprint. Even a person has a certain footprint according to how much waste they generate, how often they use the car or the aeroplane, and how much water they consume, etc. Looking at the environmental cost of organic versus non-organic food production, non-organic food production has a greater environmental damage impact and hence a higher footprint.
Some people argue it is better to buy local even if it is not organic. But I advocate to always buy organic because the footprint of transporting organic food is smaller than the ecological damage caused to the land by producing non-organic food. Remember: non-organic food production with pesticides ruins YOUR country-side and wildlife.
7. You will contribute to higher standards of animal welfare; organically farmed animals won’t have suffered as much
Animal welfare is a very big topic for so many people. Even those who eat meat prefer to eat an animal which had a happy life rather than one which was abused and tortured. Yet, for food-production companies profit is high on their priority list and animal welfare, which will cost more money, is low or non-existent. So, the animals are put into large concentration camps and suffer a life of misery just to be violently killed.
If you can’t wean yourself off meat and dairy (it is vey addictive), choose organic meat and dairy if you are an animal lover and meat eater. This is obviously a predicament that quite a number of people face and if you want to learn more about what you can do, please read my previous article “Ethical Meat Consumption”.
But try as ethical as you can be, still, no animals get killed on the farm with soothing music, they all have to be transported off to a slaughter house in cramped animal transport. Even the cutest lambs! Sometimes they are being transported to slaughter houses a very long distance away, even in the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter. I have recently heard that there are government discussions for sending animals to China alive to be killed there.
8. You will prevent human slavery and the exploitation of migrant workers
It’s been a long battle, but sadly what happens on the vegetable-growing fields of mass production is an exploitation of labour. It is often immigrant labourers – those who are desperate to make a better economic life – who work on these fields. Whether it is on the fields of England or in the green houses of Spain, the conditions are harsh, the pay is low and there is a risk to health. Most workers are transported in and out, they sleep in barracks and work in a chemical-laden environment. I have heard that downtimes between spraying cycles are not adhered to, increasing the risk of exposure to chemicals. Will the recent judgement against Monsanto bring about change on the supply side? We don’t know that. The only change you can control is to vote with your money and choose organic food, or indeed grow your own food and swap any surplus with neighbours.
9. You will reduce food wastage caused by the supply side
Food is produced and put on the supermarket shelf, or delivered to the hospital regardless of how many people buy it and as a result the food is often in excess and wasted. Northwick Park Hospital in London buys ready meals for their patients. This ensures patients have a choice and get tasty food. As a holistic nutritionist, I find this an appalling solution as the food lacks the nutrients we need for health generation. But putting this vital argument aside for now – as I am about to make a point about food waste – this often means that pallets of ready meals go out of date and are thrown in the rubbish bin, including the packaging they have come in. So, it is a waste of packaging, a waste of animal suffering, a waste of pesticides, a waste of human slavery, and a waste of imported food. The same happens in supermarkets, which have an additional trick of discounting the food on expiration date, but what is left over ends up going in the same bin.
10. You will avoid radiation and process restrictions
The FDA (The Food and Drug Administration, US) leads the way in terms of commercial food standards, but if you really want to eat well and healthily, look a little deeper to ensure what you are eating is really and truly organic.
The FDA has approved food irradiation as safe but what they have not taken into consideration is that many foods lose their healing ability and fundamental health-giving properties when irradiated.
Conversely, the Soil Association, which is the regulatory body that all organic producers have to be certified by, has prohibited the use of irradiation for human food and animal feed stating that “[farmers] must not use ionising radiation for the treatment of organic food or feed, or of raw materials used in organic food or feed.”
A switch to organic should be considered a must if you wish to preserve your health, make an important contribution to the world by helping fight climate change, combat world hunger, reduce food wastage, limit animal suffering and eradicate human slavery.
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