Why Go Organic

What is organic food: How can it benefit me?

When a fruit or vegetable is described as organic, that means that it’s been grown and processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation (sounds scary, but it’s actually a safety precaution and just means your food has been treated with ionizing radiation to help kill germs). With organic foods, everything from additives like hormones, pesticides and antibiotics to the type of soil in which the product is grown is regulated. Growers and producers of organic foods are inspected and certified to ensure that the product that reaches you is truly organic. So keep an eye out for the USDA Organic sticker on your produce.

Eat your fruits and vegetables! The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables out weighs the risk of pesticide exposure. Use Go Organics guide to reduce your exposures as much as possible, by eating organically grown produce.

You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating organically grown produce.

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The Dirty Dozen- highest in pesticides

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines – Imported
  7. Grapes – imported
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries – domestic
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens

Consumers are paying too much for organic food?

This debate has grown since the days of comparing the price of an organic apple for a conventional apple. It seems that the 'value' of organic produce goes beyond its price tag. 

Nutritionally and in relation to organic vegetables safety: In terms of dry weight and nutrients, organic food tends to have more in it. Why? Produce grown organically through modern methods of small organic farming must be done in enriched soil. The growth of a plant can be sped up by agrochemicals changing its structure to have more water in it. As a result, non-organic produce can sometimes shrink more on cooking as the water content dissipates.

Price: Average price difference can range from 10-20 per cent between organic and non-organic. However given that it can contain up to 26 percent more dry matter (less water) could it actually be cheaper to buy organic?

Conclusion: It may still look like an apple but you are actually buying less food if you don't buy organic.

Organic Beliefs and Ideas

  • The average non organic fruit contains more than 20 pesticides
  • Organic food producers must meet stringent standards
  • Organic food is much more rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre and retains the levels of nutrients for much longer
  • Your body will be more resistant to disease as it will have higher levels of the essential nutrients it needs to fight off infection
  • You will have more energy through consuming lower levels of toxins and chemicals that slow your body down
  • Organic farms respect our water resources and do not leach nitrogens and other pollutants from their soil
  • Organic food just tastes so much better!

Top Ten Reasons to Buy Organic

1. Protect Future Generations

"We have not inherited the Earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children"  —Lester Brown

The average child receives four times more exposure than an adult to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. The food choices you make now will impact your child's health in the future. Protect future generations—buy organic food.

2. Prevent Soil Erosion

The Soil Conservation service estimated that more than 3 billion tons of topsoil are eroded from United States croplands each year. This means that it is being built up naturally. Soil is the foundation of the food chain in organic farming. But in some conventional farming the soil is used more as a medium for holding plants in a vertical position so they can be chemically fertilized. As a result, American farms are suffering from the worst soil erosion in history. Prevent soil erosion—buy organic food.

3. Protect Water Quality

Water makes up two-thirds of our body mass and covers three-fourths of the planet. Despite its importance, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated pesticides and some cancer causing agents contaminate the ground water in 38 states. This pollutes the primary source of drinking water for more than half the country's population. Protect water quality—buy organic food.

4. Save Energy

American farms have changed drastically in the last three generations, from family-based small businesses dependent on human energy to large-scale factory farms highly dependent on fossil fuels. Modern farming uses more petroleum than any other single industry, consuming12 percent of the county's total energy supply. More energy is now used to produce fertilizers than to till, cultivate and harvest all the crops in the Unites States. Organic farming is still mainly based on labor intensive practices such as weeding by hand and using green manures and crop covers rather than synthetic fertilizers to build up soil. Organic produce also tends to travel fewer miles from field to table. Save energy—buy organic food.

5. Keep Chemicals Off Your Plate

Many pesticides approved for use by the EPA were registered long before extensive research linking these chemicals to cancer and other diseases had been established. Now the EPA considers that 60 percent of all herbicides. 90 percent of all fungicides and 30 percent of all insecticides are carcinogenic. A 1987 National Academy of Sciences report estimated that pesticides might cause an extra 1.4 million cancer cases among Americans over their lifetimes. The bottom line is that pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms and can also be harmful to humans. In addition to cancer, pesticides are implicated in birth defects, nerve damage and genetic mutations. Keep chemicals off your plate—buy organic food.

6. Protect Farm Worker Health

A National Cancer Institute Study found that farmers exposed to herbicides had a six times greater risk than non-farmers of contracting cancer. In California, reported pesticide poisonings among farm workers have risen an average of 14 percent a year since 1973 and doubled between 1975 and 1985. Field workers suffer the highest risk of occupational illnesses in the state. Farm worker health is also a serious problem in developing nations, where pesticide use can be poorly regulated. An estimated 1 million people are poisoned annually by pesticides. Protect farm workers—buy organic food.

7. Help Small Farmers

Although more and more large farms are making the conversion to organic practices, most organic farms are small independently owned and operated family farms of less than 100 acres. It is estimated that the Unites States has lost more 650,000 family farms in the past decade. And with the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicting that half the country's farm protection will come from 1 percent of farms by the year 2000, organic farming could be one of the few survival tactics left for many family farms. Help small farmers—buy organic food.

8. Support a True Economy

Although organic foods might seem more expensive than conventional foods; conventional food prices do not reflect hidden costs borne by tax payers, including nearly $74 billion on federal subsidies in 1988. Other hidden costs include pesticide regulation and testing, hazardous waste disposal and clean-up and environmental damage. Author Gary Null says " If you add in the real environment and social costs of irrigation to a head of lettuce, its price can range between $2 and $3". Support a true economy—buy organic food.

9. Promote Biodiversity

Mono-cropping is the practice of planting large plots of land with the same crop year after year. While this approach tripled farm production between 1950 and 1970, the lack of natural diversity of plant life has left the soil lacking in natural minerals and nutrients. To replace the nutrients, chemical fertilizers are used, often in increasing amounts. Single crops are also much more susceptible to pests, making farmers more reliant on pesticides. Despite a ten-fold increase in the use of pesticides between 1947 and 1974, crop losses due to insects have doubled spartly because some insects have become genetically resistant to certain pesticides—Promote biodiversity: buy organic food.

10. Better Flavor

There's a good reason why many chefs use organic foods in their recipes they taster better! Organic farming starts with the nourishment of the soil, which eventually leads to the nourishment of the plant and, ultimately, our palates. Taste better flavor: buy organic food.

Source: Organic Trade Association