In the past few years I’ve become increasingly aware of exactly what I’m putting into my body. I’m not just talking about fruit and vegetables but how they are grown and what is on them.
So what exactly constitutes “Organic”?
The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:
Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.
Why is organic important for our health?
One reason is that it’s better for your health. Per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, laboratory studies show that pesticides can cause health problems such as birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and other effects that might occur over a long period of time. However, these effects depend on how toxic the pesticide is and how much of it is consumed.
Some pesticides may also pose more health risks to children. Pesticides may harm a developing child by blocking the absorption of important food nutrients necessary for normal healthy growth and development. Another way pesticides may cause harm is if a child’s excretory system is not fully developed, the body may not fully remove pesticides. There are “critical periods” in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual’s biological system operates.
If a food is not labeled organic, you can bet there was any number of pesticides used during its creation. Luckily the USDA does regulate organic labeling so you know what you and your family are consuming.
Another reason is the environmental footprint. Not only is consuming organic foods and products better for our bodies but there are environmental benefits as well. For every acre of organic farming, roughly 7000 pounds annually of carbon dioxide is removed from the environment. Which, according to the Organic Trade Association equates to a 1/3 of the cars used worldwide.
Another reason is that about 30 – 50% less energy is expelled in organic farming. This includes the gasoline to power the trucks that carry the pesticides, the machinery used to distribute it and the amount of water used in the process. The USDA states, “Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and water”.
ORGANIC FOODS STILL USE PETICIDES?
That’s not to say that organic farmers don’t use pesticides. It means that these pesticides, if used, must be derived from natural sources, not synthetically manufactured. Also, these pesticides must be applied using equipment that has not been used to apply any synthetic materials for the past three years, and the land being planted cannot have been treated with synthetic materials for that period either.
In conclusion, eating organic foods will allow you avoid ingesting synthetic chemicals, heavy metals and solvents. But food is not the only product affected. This applies to the products we use ON our bodies as well such as beauty products.
Our skin is the largest organ we have and tiny amounts of harmful chemicals can leach into the bloodstream, albeit a very small amount at a time and over time and used daily, it may make a difference. For this reason, more and more parents are choosing to use products that use organic ingredients. Better late then never to start embracing organics right? Just one small step towards a healthier you.