Regardless of diet, organic foods are a smart priority. Opting for organic foods is an effectual choice for personal and planetary health. Buying organically grown food—free of harmful chemicals, bursting with more nutrition, taste, and sustainable sustenance—is a direct vote for immediate health and the hopeful future of generations to come.
We have many other good reasons to stick with the organic diet.
Here are five of them.
First, organic agriculture feeds the earth, not just the consumer. While not all organic farms are the same, by and large they replace key elements to the soil naturally. Industrial farming, on the other hand, saps nutrients from the soil, thus requiring increasing amounts of fertilizers or other additives to maintain yield year after year. And year after year, the soil erodes. This “rinse and repeat” cycle leaves us with infertile soil, heaps of chemicals and mounting pollution.
Second, do we really want hormones with our calcium? Or antibiotics in our chicken thighs? As Food Inc. so graphically showed us, 80 percent of antibiotics used in the US today are used by the meat and poultry industries to accelerate animal growth and avoid diseases in crowded environments. Organic agriculture eschews such additives in favor of alternative conditions in raising animals.
Third, since we are not pests (at least genetically), why do we need to ingest pesticides? Pesticides used in industrial agriculture may fall below the EPA standard, but those standards are also set by corporate lobbyists on behalf of big agribusiness. Concerns about pesticides range from increased allergies and illnesses, to the rise of “super bugs.” In fact, the same Stanford study that raised such a ruckus about nutritional values also concluded that, “Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”
Fourth, farmers and their crops are connected to the planet. Runoff from Iowa’s pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides flows down the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico. There, they produce algae blooms, which take oxygen out of the water. Such activity results in aptly named “dead zones” where fish and other aquatic life cannot survive.
Fifth, organic agriculture is healthier for the farmer. Farmworkers engaged in industrial fields, spraying chemicals or harvesting pesticide-laced vegetables suffer certain cancers and other diseases at far higher levels than average. Whether or not consumers ingest these pesticides at levels high enough to cause harm, the fact that workers face serious maladies to produce our food raises alarm.
Many other reasons for organic farming exist, to be sure. Perhaps the best reason of all is summed up in the adage “you are what you eat” — which seems downright scary when considering the bonus ingredients in industrially produced non-organic food. Extend that adage to our planet — that the earth is what we feed it — and we can add a feeling of outrage to our nausea.