Is Organic That Big of a Deal?

by Dr. Christopher on July 14, 2010

Organic, really?  You’re not convinced?  After all, you can’t see the petroleum fertilizer used to spike growth nor the pesticides used to kill live organisms.  You also can’t see the damage done to our environment or the dollars put into the hands of greedy industrialists striving to make another dollar.  I could hand you a head of lettuce and you wouldn’t know whether it is was organic or not.  

Does organic really matter?

According to the World Health Organization, between 1 million and 25 million people suffer with pesticide poisoning each year. It is estimated that as many as 20,000 people in the U.S. will develop cancer each year from the residue of pesticides on their food (Perkins, Cynthia 2009 p 71).

Most of the research today was done with farmworkers that had a large exposure at one time.  More time is needed to study the effects of small dose exposure over long periods that consumers are confronted with.  Still, to put those numbers into context: there are 300 million people in the U.S.  If 25 million people were to suffer from pesticide poisoning, that would be 1 out of every 12 people.  That’s a big deal. 

Human beings evolved as omnivores.  Our bodies recognize specific substances that it can use (oxygen, minerals, vitamins, water, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats).  When we expose our bodies to them, it knows how to utilize these substances.

“We’re still eating the leftovers of World War II.” ~ Vandana Shiva

Our bodies do not recognize chemicals.  To put into perspective how harmful chemicals are …  many of our bodies barely recognize dairy and gluten.  This fact can be observed by the growing number of the population with gluten or lactose intolerances.  Grains and dairy have been around in Homo sapien history for 10,000 years and we still aren’t able to fully tolerate them.  What makes us think that we can tolerate fertilizer in the form of ammonium nitrate, which was used to make explosives in World War II?  As any capitalist economy would do, if a war ends and we have a huge reserve of material to make explosives, why don’t we just put it on our food?!

Many people who think they are allergic to specific fruits or vegetables such as apples, pears, grapes, tomatoes, or potatoes are really allergic to the chemicals used on them.  Even “organic” fruits or vegetables grown near “non-organic” ones will have chemicals on them carried by the wind.

Organic vs. “Organic”

Some argue that “organic” isn’t truly organic.  The food industry defines the label of “organic” loosely.  “Organic” produce, while better than conventional produce, still has a few chemicals on them. 

The way that big industry labels “organic” does not taint the concept of organic foods.  Organic foods are produced in environments without the use of chemicals or any type of input so that future generations can still enjoy the fruits of the Earth.  Organic is the principle.  

Here’s what you can do for a healthier YOU:

  • Support local, small farms – Large, industrial farms cannot be sustainable because they must use chemicals.  In order to properly grow produce, there needs to be variety grown with specific farming practices (not just miles and miles of one staple: ie. corn or soy).  Large farms simply aren’t able to produce naturally because they break natural laws.  You can find small farms near you at localharvest.org.  This is Organic!
  • Choose natural products – This not only applies to food, but to all substances you might buy (ie. deodorant, shampoo, house-cleaning products, lawn fertilizer, etc.)  Google natural alternatives to the things you use in everyday life.  For example, coconut oil mixed with baking soda works wonderfully as both deodorant and toothpaste.  If you are hesitant to use natural products such as these, “organic” in the store is the next best option.
  • Know your produce – Certain fruits have more pesticides than others (ie. strawberries, apples, grapes).  The Environmental Working Group has put together a list of the most heavily contamined fruits and vegetables.  Do your best to choose “organic” when highly contaminated.
  • Wash, cook, and peel produce – Pesticides are systemic (they infilitrate the whole fruit/vegetable) and are often water-proof (cannot be washed off).  Still, some claim it helps.
  • “History will condemn [chemical fertilizers] as one of the greatest misfortunes to have befallen agriculture and mankind” ~ a man by the last name of Howard

    Organic foods benefit everyone and everything: the health of ourselves, our families, future generations, our animals, and our Earth.  Vote for organic foods with your dollar; as more demand is created for them, the movement will continue to go back to growing foods the way nature intended.

    Source: The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

    Share:
    • del.icio.us
    • StumbleUpon
    • Google Bookmarks
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • email
    • Digg

    { 7 comments… read them below or add one }

    Nick Angelo July 15, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Nice job on this one buddy. Most people are so unaware of all the things you wrote and some people are so stupid that they really don’t think there is any difference between organic and non-organic. Recently I’ve been noticing that whole foods will often have organic items on sale for the same price regular supermarkets charge for non-organic items. Anyway, good work on the blog and keep it up gorgeous.

    -Nick

    Chris July 19, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Thanks Nick. Whole Foods is nice to shop in; I’ve found that Trader Joe’s offers even more competitive prices. I’m not sure how they are able to get away with it. Still CSA Farms and Co-ops offer the best prices for the best quality around.

    Chris July 20, 2010 at 8:28 am

    This same article…written by T-nation. Apparently, COFFEE is the most contaminated product around. http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article_issue/issue_636?s=indexTitle#to-eat-organic-or-not

    Lalitha Kadambi August 6, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Hi Chris! Thanks for giving a good perspective – “Organic is principle”. That was the catch phrase. All along I / we were under impression to by organic produce from the shops, but never thought of changing ourself in simple ways.
    Thanks for creating the awareness.
    Lalitha

    Chris August 6, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Lalitha – Happy that you appreciated the perspective! Most of us have the best intention in mind, to be as healthy as possible and to support the environment by buying “organic” no matter what. Again, while it is a step in the right direction. It isn’t the best we all can do. Thanks for the comment!

    Ashley September 4, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Chris,

    This blog is so cool. You should be so proud of yourself. Your writings are like little rays of sunshine 🙂 Alex and I go to a farmers market down the road as often as we can–is there anything better than fresh flowers, fruits and veggies?! Being outside and enjoying nature is the best. xo

    Christopher September 5, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Ashley – Thanks for great comment! To inspire people with “little rays of sunshine” is exactly what I want to be doing! You go to the farmer’s market with “Somerville Alex, Nick’s girlfriend”? Two of my favorite people ever! Glad to hear you enjoy the things that actually matter.

    Leave a Comment

    CommentLuv badge

    { 3 trackbacks }

    Previous post:

    Next post: