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10 Reasons to Eat Organic—and Local

By Steve Edwards
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to Win!

Tomatoes"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 each week.

  1. Local foods are saferLocal 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.

  2. Organic foods are saferOrganic 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.

  3. Tastes betterOrganic 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.

  4. More nutritiousOrganic 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.

  5. Genetically modified organismsYou 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.

  6. Safer drinking waterYour 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.

  7. Healthier kidsYour 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.

  8. Help farmersTo 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.

  9. Factory farmsFor 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 factory-raised counterparts.

  10. Organic productsTo 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 market.

To stay up to date on organic standards, visit the Organic Trade Association Web site.

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MEET COACH
RICHARD DAFTER

I am a full time Beachbody Coach. I motivate and guide close to 2,500 Club members and head a team of 11 Beachbody Coaches who are all committed to helping you reach your goals. Before joining BeachBody, I was a certified personal trainer for more than a dozen years and have been a running coach for over 20 years. Continued...

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