Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why Organic?

Since my daughter was diagnosed with multiple food allergies 10 years ago, I have become amazingly aware of the foods that go into our bodies and their ingredients.  It is a requirement to keep her reaction free.  The unforeseen benefit is that I have learned much more about our food supply and the components that go into it than I ever would have had I not had a child with food allergies.

As my knowledge grows, so do my hippie tendencies.  Or so my husband likes to tease me.  It's true.  I am much more granola than I ever was, buying organic at every opportunity and local when possible.  Yes, organic trumps local.

Let's consider organic foods for just a minute.  I started where most Americans start: eat inexpensively.  I have a budget, so cheap is better.  When I began to realize the importance of organic foods, I also was VERY aware of their impact on my budget.  Organic is not cheap.

I followed conventional wisdom and began my organic buying with the "dirty dozen".  These are the dozen fruits and vegetables shown to harbor the greatest amount of chemical residue from the fertilizer and pesticides that were applied to aid in their growth.  As I could, I s l o w l y transitioned the rest of my grocery buying to organic as well.

This may not be a bad way to ease into organic life, but it is certainly not as straighforward as proponents would have you believe.  Think about it: if you eat chemicals every day, can you remove them simply by showering?  Yet we are encouraged to believe that we can remove chemicals from our conventional produce by washing it before consumption?  These foods were grown on a diet of chemicals!  Those chemicals are absorbed into the very fiber of the plant, and no amount of washing will remove that.  Certainly we can remove the outside residue.  That is a respectable start, it does reduce your chemical consumption, but it hardly captures the truth of the situation.

The most compelling argument for switching to organic was a study showing that 94% of children have pesticide residue in their urine. Ouch.  That's a huge segment of our population, and I can only imagine how much extra burden their developing systems are facing under a daily barrage of chemical infiltration.  The study further showed that switching to organic reduced the amounts of pesticide to almost zero.  I'm sold.

I am passionately supportive of organic, for many reasons.  Rather than list them all let me leave you with one last thought:

When planning your budget, leave extra room for organic.  Eating is the number one life sustaining activity we take part in, and directly impacts our daily health.  Yet it tends to be the item lowest on our budget allotment.  Invest in yourself by allowing extra room to buy high quality fuel, because it pays off in the long haul.

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