10 Reasons to Eat
Organicand Local By Steve Edwards
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to
"Think globally, act locally" is not just for bumper stickers
anymore. This United States-esque slogan has become even more important when it
comes to thinking about where your next meal should come from. After all,
aren't we supposed to be a bunch of independent counties, making up independent
states, that band together to aid each other as a nation? Anyway, the
implications are far from just political. Buying local, as well as organic,
will allow you to feed and protect your family in the safest way possible. Here
are 10 reasons to add your local farmers market to the top of your to-do list
- Local foods are safer. Or, at
least, you can find out if they are. Organic food standards are high but there
are still companies out there attempting to fudge the rules. When you buy
local, it's easy to check out what you're buying and won't require that you
hire Magnum, P.I. to do it. The great thing about local media is that they love
to cover this stuff. If, for any reason, a local farm is mixed up in nefarious
activities, there's a good chance your paper has a reporter dreaming of life at
The New York Times who'll be on the job for you. In lieu of this, be
inquisitive at the farmers market and you'll be surprised how quickly you're up
to date on the local scoop. Farmers who adhere to a strict code of ethics love
to talk about who else does, and who doesn't.
- Organic foods are safer. Organic
certification standards are the public's assurance that their food and products
have been grown and handled according to sustainable procedures without toxic
inputs. At least that's what the law says. But even though many companies still
cheat the system, most of them play by the rules. These rules are in place to
help both soil longevity and the health and safety of the consumer. Many
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved pesticides were registered long
before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases.
Now, the EPA considers 60 percent of all herbicides, 90 percent of all
fungicides, and 30 percent of all insecticides as potentially cancer causing,
none of which meet organic criteria. You can't always be certain you're getting
safe food, but eating organic stacks the odds in your favor.
- Organic food tastes better. Many people
would be amazed to taste the difference between garden-grown fruits and
vegetables and wild meat compared to what you find down at Food4Less. The main
reason for this has to do with something called trophic levels, which has to do
with the way plants and animals feed up the food chain. When foodeven natural
foodis manufactured, such as plants grown in poor soil with some added
nutrients or animals raised using drugs and a non-native diet, their
physiological chemistry is altered. This not only changes their nutrient
content but the way they taste.
- Organic food is more nutritiouswhich
stands to reason based on the above. When soils are depleted and then
fertilized, only certain nutrients are added with fertilizers. The resulting
losses are many of the plants' original phytonutrients. While not a major
component of any individual plant, they add up in your diet and become a major
component of who you are. Lack of phytonutients in our diet carries the blame
for many modern-day maladies. With regard to meat, it's basically the same
story. Animals raised on a poor diet are, as you might imagine, less healthy to
eat because you, too, are part of the trophic level paradigm.
- You won't have to eat genetically
modified organisms (GMO). A GMO is a plant, animal, or microorganism
whose genetic sequence has been modified to introduce genes from another
species. Because there's no knowledge of the long-term impact of GMOs to our
health, they are forbidden by the Soil Association Standards for Organic Food
and Farming. Furthermore, animals raised organically cannot be fed GMOs, as
well as antibiotics, added hormones, or other drugs.
- Your drinking water will be safer.
The EPA estimates that pesticides contaminate groundwater in 38 states,
polluting the primary source of drinking water for more than half the country's
population. Organic farmers don't use toxic chemicals that leech into your
groundwater. They also practice water conservation, which also leads to less
waste intrusion into our aquifers.
- Your kids will be healthier. The toxicity
of pesticide residue is determined by not only the chemical, but our body
weight in relation to how much we consume. Therefore, your children are at more
risk than you are. It's estimated that the average child receives four times
more exposure than the average adult to at least eight widely used
cancer-causing pesticides in food. To try and minimize this risk, buy organic,
but also make sure that your family eats a wide variety of foods.
- To help farmers and farm communities. It's
estimated that the U.S. has lost more than 650,000 family farms since 1990. The
USDA predicts that half of the U.S. farm production comes from only 1 percent
of farms. Organic farming may be one of the few survival tactics left for the
family farm and rural communities. The majority of organic farms are still
small-scale operations, generally on less than 100 acres, and using an average
of 70 percent less energy. Small farms use far more sustainable and
environmentally friendly practices than large-scale farms do. For example,
small farms utilize manure to fertilize soil, naturally recycling the land.
Industrial farms produce so much manure that it's a human health risk. The
overspill of manure has contaminated water wells with E. coli and
other pathogens. This brings up another subject, that industrial farms
stillthough now illegallyfeed animals the ground-up remnants of other animals
not part of their natural diet. This has led to pathogens, such as E.
coli, getting into our foods in the first place. Furthermore, farm workers
are much safer on small farms. A National Cancer Institute study found that
farmers exposed to herbicides had six times the risk of non-farmers of
contracting cancer. Field workers on conventional farms, due to their direct
exposure, are the most vulnerable to illness as a result of pesticide use.
Organic farms eliminate that risk by eliminating harmful pesticides and other
chemical inputs from their practices.
- For more humane treatment of animals.
Factory farms treat animals like commodities. They are usually kept in tightly
confined pens or cages and often never move more than a few feet for their
entire lives. They are also fed the cheapest foods available, no matter how it
affects theirand then ourhealth. Besides the fact that a host of illnesses have
entered our world as a direct result of this practice, it's also just not nice.
Animals on organic farms are far likelier to be raised without cruelty. They
are also fed a diet more like what they would eat naturally and studies tell
ussurprisethat they tend to be significantly healthier than their
- To promote a vibrant economy. Organic
products only seem more expensive because people base their cost on their
sticker price alone. However, this represents a mere fraction of their true
cost. Market prices for conventionally grown foods do not reflect the costs of
federal subsidies to conventional agriculture, the cost of contaminated
drinking water, loss of wildlife habitat and soil erosion, or the cost of the
disposal and cleanup of hazardous wastes generated by the manufacturing of
pesticides. Compared to local farms, there's also transportation and its
pollutants to consider. This all means that, essentially, you can pay now or
pay laterjust remember that you're going to be charged interest, mainly in the
form of a socially and ecologically diminished world to live in.
What if you can't find organic
food? One of our members, who lives in a rural area, went to her local
market and requested healthier options. Now the store owner can't keep them on
the shelf. You can, with a little initiative, make a difference. After all,
retail stores are in business to serve you. If this doesn't work, hit the
Internet. Since organic food is the current buzzword of the food industry,
there will be options. And, of course, there's always your local farmers
To stay up to date on organic
standards, visit the Organic Trade Association Web site.