Monday, April 19, 2010

Where to start, why organic?

By Angela Gioffre

Our health is our vitality, our energy, our lives. Without our health, we have nothing. So, it makes sense that in order to encourage our own health we must encourage the life that sustains us.

The plants and animals, the foods that we consume give us vitamins, minerals, nutrients, energy, protein and fats, which are the basic building blocks for sustainable and healthy living.

It's no secret that fresh food is the most nourishing for our bodies, but what some people don't realise is that conventional produce (grown with the use of pesticides) can have adverse effects on our health.

Specifically, it's the highly toxic pesticides that leave residue in and on conventional produce. Once consumed these pesticides can wreak havoc on healthy vital organs and lead to long term damage.

In an alarming study conducted by the British Medical Society in 1995, they linked pesticide residues with possible neurobehavioural and neurotoxic effects, possible birth defects, carcinogenic (cancer causing) cells, and allergic and other immuno-regulatory disorders.

In 2005, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranked pesticide residues among the top three environmental cancer risks!

Most recently, a study published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences on children's health and pesticide residues, revealed more unsettling facts about the effects of conventional produce. The study of 195 children aged between 6-7 years old found that 95% of those who ate conventional produce had alarmingly high levels of pesticide residue in their urine, some of which exceeded 'safe' levels as set by the government.

So it makes perfect sense to limit our exposure to foods that can have this impact on our bodies.

Enter organic foods…

Organic foods are untainted by artificial chemicals, herbicides, chemical pesticides, waxes, free from genetically modified organisms, they are real foods, and in turn they offer our bodies more nutrition and no toxic pesticides or chemical residues.

Organic foods offer increased vitamin and mineral content, study after study has concluded that fresh organic foods contain more vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and phytonutrients than conventionally grown crops. A report released this year by The Organic Centre, has confirmed across the board significant increases in the nutritional content of organic produce, some up to 88% higher.

What about the environment?

The current agricultural practices of conventional farming, the use of pesticides and artificial chemicals are contributing greatly to the erosion of our topsoil and pollution of our waterways. Going organic means that soil structure is enhanced, wildlife is encouraged, and less carbon is produced. Organic farming is sustainable farming. It supports the environment, instead of depleting it. Organic farming gives back what it takes. It protects our environment, our farmers, and us.

How do you 'go organic'?

Organic farming is labour intensive, the growing is slower and generally there are smaller yields per hectare, hence the higher prices. It's quite easy to make a positive impact both in terms of your diet and the world without radically increasing your cost of living.

Like anything in life if you make changes in small increments, you are most likely to sustain them. Try changing one product that you normally buy each week to an organic product. Then before you know it, your cupboard and fridge will be stocked organically! Start with a product that you use moderately, that your children enjoy.

Make a positive change; it only takes a decision to be more conscious of the foods we eat, take responsibility for what we support in terms of farming methods. Here's to your continued good health.

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