Does it surprise you to know that our ancestors subsisted on a completely organic diet? The conventional farming methods used today involve the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and herbicides that did not exist back then. Over the past hundred years, our farming practices have significantly changed, however our bodies have not.
The food that Americans consume today are often laced with toxic pesticides that are harmful and disruptive to our bodies. These chemicals can wreak havoc on us, resulting in endocrine disorders, neurological dysfunction, depression, respiratory problems, cancer, and more.
Pesticides are chemical or biological agents that are used to protect crops from insects, weeds, and infections. They are most commonly used on vegetables, fruits, wheat, rice, and canola pressed into-oil, and are often used on crops that are fed to animals.
The best way to avoid consuming pesticides is through eating local, often organic foods. When shopping, try to look for labels that say USDA Certified 100% Organic, as foods that are labeled “organic” or “made with organic ingredients” may in fact still contain non-organic ingredients.
If you’re still not convinced, here are a few more reasons why you should opt to eat organic & local foods…
1. Eating organic reduces your body’s toxic burden
The term “organic” effectively means that the food you are buying has not been treated with:
- fertilizers from synthetic ingredients
- growth hormones
- ionizing radiation
In fact, dietary intake of pesticides accounts for most pesticide exposure. For example, a 2005 study revealed that children who ate an organic diet for only 15 days experienced a dramatic decrease in urine concentrations of organophosphorus pesticides. Furthermore, if you opt solely to buy organic fruits and vegetables without any thought to the meat products you consume, think again. For example, a majority of conventionally raised livestock are fed a combination of soy and corn, of which a significant portion is genetically modified. In addition to the GMO’s, animal feed also contains hormones (such as to increase milk production in cows) and antibiotics. Why should all of this matter to you? Because these toxic residues eventually find their way into your body upon consumption.
2. Organic farming is good for the earth
Organic farming protects the earth and ensures that future soil can thrive in a sustainable manner. In fact, the Organic Trade Association stated that that if every farmer in the U.S. converted to organic farming, ~500 million pounds of harmful pesticides would be eliminated from entering the environment each year. In addition to the detrimental effects pesticides have on your body, they also have many damaging effects on the environment, including:
- Building up pesticide resistance in plants, weeds, plant-eating-insects, fungi, and bacteria, making farmers forced to use stronger (therefore more toxic) pesticides
- Contaminating the soil, water supply, and air
- Discouraging smart farming practices (like crop rotations) which can lead to erosion
- Discouraging the growth of healthy bacteria, as one teaspoon of compost-rich organic soil can host up to 1 billion good bacteria from ~15,000 species
3. Eating local is good for the environment & provides you with more nutrients
Eating local not only benefits your personal health, but benefits the environment as well. It’s in fact the best option for those who are conscious of how their produce is grown, where it comes from, and how the farmer is being treated throughout the process. For example, by eating local, you have the chance to ask farmers directly where the food was grown, in addition to how it was grown (including the different pesticides used). Local foods also promote the environment and tend to be more flavorful as they are picked at peak-ripeness. Even more importantly however, they are often more nutrient-dense as local food has a shorter time between harvest and the time you actually consume it.
Although it may seem daunting to completely change your diet and eat 100% organic, think of small ways to make the change more feasible. Local markets often have less expensive prices than your grocery store, and buying in bulk certainly helps to decrease the bill. Remember too that the cost of illness far outweighs the cost of prevention – so give local and organic produce a try.