~Maria Rodale, author of Organic Manifesto: How Organic Food Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe
I’ve been buying organic products for about 20 years now. As a nature girl turned holistic mom, the thought of keeping my family away from chemicals, while at the same time keeping toxins from polluting our land, felt like the right thing to do. I hopped on the bandwagon, and never looked back.
I realize that decision put me in what’s thought of as an elitist minority, even though the movement has grown significantly over the past two decades. My goal here is not to criticize anyone for not choosing the same path, but to share my reasons for doing so.
There’s so much conflicting information out there that I don’t blame anyone who is confused about the issue. I hope this post cuts through some of it for you.
Why I Choose Organic
Having grown up along the beaches, woods, and hills of northern Long Island, I developed a deep respect for nature from a very young age. My days were spent outside for the most part, whether it was alone or with the neighborhood kids.
I wasn’t really an athlete. Organized sports weren’t my thing. A perfect day for me was to swim or stroll on the beach, or play a game of tag with my friends. Back then, we created our own fun. We didn’t need someone else to package a game for us.
Things were so different back then for you too, I’m sure.
In my eyes, nature had a solution for everything, whether it was boredom or illness. It still does, only now that I’ve read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, I realize that even back then, it was all under attack by people who had no respect for it at all.
As our land, water, and air are exposed to more chemicals and environmental toxins than ever before, so are we. As the weather patterns have become more erratic, and we are affected by more intense storms than ever, our bodies are also in turmoil.
I don’t have to throw statistics at you. We can all see the high rates of obesity and chronic disease all around us.
Rachel Carson wrote about the toxic effects of chemicals about 50 years ago now. The devastation didn’t happen overnight. It’s been happening a little bit at a time, over many years.
While it’s been happening to nature, it’s been building up in our bodies too. Our children are the most vulnerable.
So, when I hear that people think buying organic products is elitist, it upsets me because that way of thinking shows a complete misunderstanding of the reasoning behind such a decision.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but here are my reasons for choosing organic:
1. Organic foods do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which have been banned in Europe and several other countries, but not yet in the USA, despite much consumer protest.
According to JustLabelIt.org:
“This relatively new science allows DNA (genetic material) from one species to be transferred into another species, creating transgenic organisms with combinations of genes from plants, animals, bacteria, and even viral gene pools.”
In other words, the seeds have been tweaked in a way that is not aligned with nature.
In doing so, massive amounts of toxic pesticides are used, the negative implications of which are far reaching, but are not yet fully understood.
The main crops that are being produced using genetically modified seeds are currently corn, soy, and canola, which are common ingredients in processed foods. The cotton you’re wearing probably is too.
It is speculated that the dramatic rise in food allergies since the mid 1990’s might have something to do with this genetic tinkering as well.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer not to be used as a guinea pig.
2. Pesticides kill bugs. Can they kill people too? Why take the chance?
According to Beth Lambert, author of A Compromised Generation:
“A vast body of literature supports the connection between environmental toxins and chronic illness in children.”
She also states:
” There are literally thousands of products that we consume every day in our food, cosmetics, and in the air and water, for which there is very little research regarding safety or level of toxicity.”
By choosing organic, I’m not eliminating toxins. No one can do that. We can only minimize them.
3. Over 70% of your immune system is in your digestive system. Every bite you take can make it stronger or weaker. When toxins accumulate, your gut cannot filter them out and dispose of them properly. Being that most of us eat at least three times a day, the best way to reduce our toxic load is by eating really pure food.
There is also growing evidence that the more beneficial bacteria (yes, there are good guys and bad guys) you have in your digestive tract, the healthier you will be. Given that there are more “good” bacteria in healthy, organically grown soil, the quality of soil your food is grown in could have a significant impact upon your digestive health and overall wellness.
4. Organic farming methods work in harmony with nature, and can reduce our climate crisis.
When crops are properly rotated, and chemicals are minimized, farmers protect the living, breathing soil that future generations will need to depend upon.
Organic farming methods offset the carbon footprint too.
As per Maria Rodale, “organically farmed soil stores carbon. If all the cultivated land in the world were farmed organically it would immediately reduce our climate crisis significantly.”
It’s a win-win situation all around, because organic farming methods give back just as much, if not more, than they take from our land.
5. I refuse to support reckless environmental behavior on the part of farmers, manufacturers, and corporations. There are plenty of individuals and companies out there who go to great lengths not to harm our people and our planet. All consumers have to do is seek them out.
There you go, my 5 main reasons for choosing organic.
Did I mention that my daughter and I volunteer at a local, organic farm? The experience has changed how we think about food, and transformed our lives in so many ways.
Seeing where your food comes from, and how it grows, is an experience we all should have. If you have picky eaters in your house, I highly recommend it!
Or, maybe you’re lucky enough to have your own garden?
All I know is, food is supposed to bring people together, not split them apart. We all want to make healthy choices, but it’s not always so easy. Real life, and misinformation overload, often gets in the way.
As parents, we do the best we can, with the information we have. We all have to pick our battles, right? Just because mine have more to do with food than anything else, doesn’t mean it has to be that way for you too.
The bottom line is that the more we all read, the more informed decisions we can all make. So, thanks for taking time out of your busy day to read this post!
If you’re just getting started with phasing in more organic foods, I suggest you head on over to Environmental Working Group’s site for list of high and low pesticide containing foods. Here you can find the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen.
Have a happy, gut healthy day.