We’ve been told organic is good for us, but do we know why it’s better for us exactly? I had some general, but rather vague, ideas, but once I read the twelve reasons Myra Goodman points out in Earthbound Cook, I realized how far-reaching the use of pesticides can be. And I now feel much more informed about why exactly I’m reaching for the organic spinach at the supermarket…
Reasons to choose organic:
1. Keeps chemicals out of your body—and the environment.
Organic food is grown without toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Pesticides not only enter our food supply, they drift from their target and contaminate the air, oceans, rivers, groundwater and soil.
2. Eliminates the main source of dietary pesticide exposure for kids.
The average child in the U.S. is exposed to five pesticides a day in his or her drinking water. A 2008 study in Environmental Health Perspectives showed that switching to organic produce and juices for only five days virtually eliminates any sign of organophosphate insecticides.
3. Protects farmworkers, wildlife, and nearby homes, schools and businesses.
The people who apply conventional agricultural chemicals are affected along with the environment. Studies have shown that those who handle pesticides have a significantly higher rate of Parkinson’s disease.
4. Provides your family with highly nutritious produce.
Overall, organic produce is approximately 30 percent higher in antioxidants than conventional produce.
5. Protects our precious oceans.
Conventional fertilizers are a big contributor to the “dead-zones” in our oceans, caused in large part from synthetic farm fertilizers that run off farmland and into rivers and oceans. This results in large areas in the ocean that can no longer support marine life.
6. Reduces contaminants in our drinking water.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s 2008 “Pesticide National Synthesis Project” found at least one pesticide in every stream tested. Pesticides found most often, and in the highest concentrations were those used in conventional agriculture.
7. Mitigates global warming.
Research has shown that while conventional farming breaks down soil carbon, releasing it into the atmosphere in the form of CO2 , organic farming builds soil carbon levels by absorbing it from the atmosphere. If all the 160 million acres of conventional corn and soybeans in the U.S. were converted to organic production, it would be the equivalent of taking 80 million cars off the road.
8. Assures you that you’re not eating genetically modified or irradiated foods.
The USDA’s National Organic Program standards prohibit the use of genetically modified ingredients and irradiation. There are no requirements for other types of food to be labeled as containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
9. Avoids antibiotics and artificial growth hormones in meat and dairy.
Organically raised animals have been fed organic feed and grazed on organic pasture. They are raised in conditions that limit stress and promote health, and are never given antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones.
10. Supports the farmers and other food producers who invest the extra care to produce food organically.
When you buy organic, you are supporting the farmers that are taking steps to avoid the serious and long-term issues like groundwater pollution, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and human health problems caused by exposure to agricultural chemical residues.
11. Promotes healthy soils.
Organic farmers know that agrichemicals kill more than pests—they wipe out beneficial microorganisms and earthworms that help create rich soil that holds nutrients and protects plants from disease.
12. Preserves biodiversity.
Organic farming encourages an abundance of species living in balanced, harmonious ecosystems because it works with natural processes, not against them.