Organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. The goal in organic farming is to maintain and replenish the soil fertility without using toxic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. “Certified Organic” means the item has been grown in accordance with strict uniform standards that are verified by an independent state or private organization.
Dr. Alan Greene of Stanford’s Children’s Hospital neatly summarizes the argument for organics: “Eat organic produce. Your immune system won’t waste energy trying to fight off the toxins that are sprayed on conventional fruits and vegetables.” Eating organics frees up your immune system and antioxidants to do their evolutionarily evolved job, which is to fight off pathogens, cancer, and other diseases originating from natural environmental sources. Your body’s natural defense mechanisms are incredible strong, but like anything else, they can only handle so much attack. To keep your defensive line from being spread too thin, you should therefore limit exposure to toxins (and stress) as much as possible. It’s important to realize that consuming pesticides and herbicides — even if they have not been found to be directly cardinogenic — can, in effect, lead to cancer if they use up your supply of antioxidants, which would otherwise have prevented cancer that was generated from another source.
It’s true that organic foods typically cost more than conventional, but this may be true only in the short-term. After you adopt a healthier lifestyle with healthier food choices, including organics, you may find yourself frequenting the doctor’s office much less and spending less on medications — over the counter and prescriptions — and not to mention a lower chance of being prematurely dead. It’s important to know that organically produced foods have to meet rigorous governing regulations in all aspects of production. It’s labor and management-intensive, usually produced on smaller farms, which don’t benefit from economies of scale. These factors combine, causing the cost to be higher. But as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”
Organics typically cost about twice as much as conventionally produced food. To put things in perspective, consider bottled water. I know many people who would just about die of thirst before drinking tap water; for them, it’s bottled or nothing. But when you do the math, bottled water is about 300-600 times more expensive than tap water, and for good reason. But, depending on which municipality you live in, your tap water might actually be safer and healthier than eating conventionally produced foods. It really doesn’t make sense to spend money on bottled water and then eat foods that are not grown organically.
Some of the many benefits of eating organic foods are:
- Superior nutrition: Organics have up to 300% more vitamins and minerals than conventionally grown foods.
- They have greater flavor. Many top chefs use only organic foods.
- Reduced intake of chemicals and heavy metals.
- Decreased exposure to carcinogens.
- Better working conditions for farmers and workers.
- No genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
- Much better for the environment.
For more information on organics, visit www.ota.org
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