Organic food can be summed up easily. It is food grown without the use of pesticides, chemicals, fertilizers and other manufactured products. The quest to increase yield is done naturally. Organically.
Organic farming is the same. Farmers are growing organic foods using naturally occurring products . Simple isn’t it?
Is Organic Good?
Organic foods are better for you, but you need to know who the grower is. If you are buying your organic foods from a large retailer, you may feel safe. If you are buying from a local farmer’s market, maybe you shouldn’t be so sure.
Here’s the deal. Most western governments have set standards for food products marked organic. It includes a detailed certification process that assures, by inspection and declarations, that the grower is not using additives, fertilizers, pesticides and genetically altered or enhanced seed.
Genetically modified organisms, (GMO) are prohibited in products seeking to be declared organic by the USDA.
It’s a big deal. Major grocers monitor where the food comes from. Who is their supplier? In the casual and intimate setting of a local farmer’s market or roadside fruit stand, the monitorings is, in some cases, nonexistent,
As it relates to seeds, the seed maker must also be certified.
It Doesn’t End There.
The irrigation process needs to be approved as well as sewage sludge. I imagine most do not know that sewage can be used in farming. It sounds gross, but with proper treatment it becomes a bio-product.
The standards of organic farming detail what sewage can be used. Some like to label the product as compost. Don’t confuse that with rotting leaves. They are not the same.
Some are familiar with the spreading of cow manure across the fields prior to planting. It is a natural fertilizer. Yes, it has been used for centuries. To qualify as a method of organic farming, the cows and the feed they eat, the hay they’re feed and the seeds for the feed and hay, must meet organic standards.
Cattle are highly regulated to include housing and breeding practices. Calves coming from cows that have had no certified eating practices, are not going to be certified as organic beef. Auditing and paper trails are vital in the raising of organic meats.
Certify The Land
To be certified for organic farming, the land must demonstrate that no prohibited products have been used on the land. There is a specified time period. Often it is two or three years. That means the products raised on the land while in the waiting period, are not organic. Even if all other practices have been followed. Experts believe the land will hold contaminants for up to three years, thus the restriction.
The grower must have an audit trail. They need to prove that all aspects of the farming process meet the organic standards set by the government. Then they will undergo inspections to assure they are compliant.
There may be those scamming the system. While large retailers are diligent in screening organic suppliers, your local farmer’s market may not.
The guy selling tomatoes and strawberries may tell you he is all organic, but there is no way to prove it. He will have the documents if his product is organic.
Organic produce like strawberries, peaches, apples and a few others don’t fare well in tests for pesticides. Not having the certified organic label, doesn’t mean you should avoid your local farmer.
Why Is All This Necessary
Actually, it boils down to market demand. Capitalism at work. Millions of consumers have decided the health risks of conventional farming are to high. They are willing to pay more for the products that meet the requirements of organic.
Organic eaters have determined the benefit is worth the cost.
What is driving it
It might be summed up in one word. (or name) Monsanto. A company described as an agricultural business, is the poster child of all things horrible. Take a look at the products this giant agricultural/chemical company has been a part of.
- Agent Orange – Used to defoliate the jungles in Vietnam during the war.
- Dioxin – The subject of the longest civil jury trial in United States history
- Alachlor – The second most widely used herbicide in the United States but has been banned in Europe.
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – Another huge law suit with a $700 Million verdict.
- Glyphosate – Monsanto filed suit against California when the state declared the product a carcinogen.
HealthyLivingAfter60.com is not an expert on any of the things going on inside orgainc foods and agriculture. What we can say however, is that the track record of the fertilizer and pesticide industry leaves many with health and safety concerns.
Enter Whole Foods.
Whole Foods is a national grocery chain that sells only organic food products. The name has become the kleenex of groceries. Kleenex is a brand but most think of it as meaning tissue. Whole foods is a brand, but many see it as synonymous with organic.
An entire industry has grown up over the past thirty years, solely to eliminate a health risk.
The rise in cancer, children’s diseases, autism and many more, have millions flooding to organic as a defense against the risks associated with pesticides and other agricultural products.
Growth hormones used in animals and poultry are also a factor in moving to organic foods.
What Are The Benefits Of Organic Foods
There is one primary benefit. The reduced levels of pesticides. Studies indicate that in conventional foods, 75% of foods tested, had levels of pesticides.
When organic foods were tested, 25% had levels of pesticides.
Better, or more nutrients in organic foods is not so easy to claim. The quality of soil and the heritage of the plant strain are more likely to be a cause of higher or lower levels of nutrients.
In pursuit of healthy eating, organic foods boil down to reducing:
- Synthetic Pesticides
- Heavy metals – Mercury, lead, cadmium
- Solvents – Benzene, toluene
- Hormones, antibiotics – found in non organic meats, dairy
What About The Planet Earth
A secondary motive for many organic eaters is the need for green. Like recycling, eating organic is a way to help the earth.
Most of us don’t like the idea of pouring tons of trash into landfills. Bottles, cans, newspaper and plastic bags all have a place in recycling.
We have all seen the pictures of animals stuck with something around their neck, or around a foot. Fish and sea creatures are often victims of human trash.
Organic eating has a similar effect. When most only buy organic, then only organic will be produced. The law economics is real. No one makes money selling what no one wants. The benefit is tons of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers won’t be poured into the earth.
When we get to that place, all of it including growth hormones and antibiotics, with disappear from our food chain.
Organic is good. It may be years before the earth is free of all has been put in to it. But yes, organic foods are better for you than conventionally grown foods. It’s also good for the land, and it’s good business.
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