I’m always curious when people say, “Oh, organic food is just too expensive.”
There still largely appears to be a stigma right across the board, right across the variations in family incomes, that organic food is primarily just a luxury. Sometimes when I’ve had this discussion with parents even with relatively high incomes, they respond with something like “this organic trend is just a con!”.
My fantasy is that when most of these parents claim organic food is too expensive they mustn’t have had the chance to look into the dangers of commercial fruit and vegetables, or commercially farmed animal products. When a parent understands the dangers involved with eating commercially grown products, many families make changes to their weekly expenses to prioritise ‘even some’ organic items. I have seen families even on very low incomes re-prioritise their expenses. The decision of whether to buy ‘even some’ organic items or to buy commercial produce, is not so much financial (in the vast majority of cases) but one of convenience and dare I say, ignorance.
Surely if one asked parents to choose between the bottles of coke-cola, expensive snack food items, or the cigarettes and magazines that fill their trolleys versus the health of their children (or even their own health), hands down they would choose for their children to be healthy.
Surely if I asked you to weigh up the cost of your annual footy tickets or your car payments (some of these rank more a luxury than a necessity) your cycling gear or gym memberships we can see where our priorities lie. What about if I asked you to estimate what you would spend on alcohol each month or prescriptions for antibiotics, with figures such as these it doesn’t take long to see how mixed-up some of our values can become.
So what are the benefits of Organic?
Most of us are aware of the three main themes promoted with organic produce;
1.They are produced via natural cycles, without genetically modified seed and employ safe and sustainable agricultural practices without the use of synthetic chemicals (such as fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides), growth regulators, and livestock feed additives or antibiotics.
2.Healthy soil produces healthy nutritious food.
3.Organic practices help to restore and protect the environment of our planet.
YET for many of us, these three commonly discussed reasons are not sufficient to move us toward action.
So why NOT commercially grown produce ?
Commercial crops are covered in chemical residues. Recent Hawaiian research1 revealed through following 8000 people for 34 years that those who had consumed the highest levels of fruit and vegetables had a greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. With these researchers now discussing pesticide links.
Pesticides are tested individually for safety, but when pesticides are consumed simultaneously a ‘cocktail-effect’ results. The US Environmental Agency ranks pesticide residues among the top three environmental cancer risks.2
Many suspect that it is the way in which pesticides mimic the hormone oestrogen (known as EDCs), disrupting the hormonal balance within the body. EDCs are considered one of the prime contributing factors to the escalation of hormone-related cancers such as breast, prostate, ovarian and testicular cancer. Please see Chapter 2, Well adjusted Babies for further information on EDCs.
A recent study found that women diagnosed with breast cancer were six-to-nine times more likely to have the pesticides DDT or hexachlorobenzene in their bloodstreams than women who did not have breast cancer.3
Another study showed men who tested with high levels of pesticides were more likely to have abnormal or diluted sperm.4
A study performed in two identical villages in Mexico revealed how cognitive (brain) function was impaired in the village of children exposed to chemical pesticides.5
Imported foods are irradiated.
There is then the ample amount of literature which discusses the in-humane manner in which commercially raised animals are treated.
Such as the 10’s of billions of chickens bred with large appetites to put on weight fast, slaughtered at 45 days old (their immature bodies collapsing under the weight of their bodies) simply to keep up with demand.
Have you ever considered how young girls today seem to be reaching puberty earlier and earlier? With all of the hormones in our food, especially dairy products, salmon and beef is it any wonder? Simon’s parents owned a sport’s store when he was a teenager and at the time Size 12 footy boots were considered a special order. Let’s compare this with today, where two decades later, a Size 12 is considered run-of-the-mill, normal.
Some say this form of commercial farming is regrettable but necessary. However when costs for raising animals commercially versus traditional methods have been compared and the poor yield levels of commercial animals, sometimes as little as one tenth of the feed value they are given, this argument indeed appears shaky. Studies indicate that long-term, from both an economic and environmental perspective, it would be more advantageous to return to raising animals on pasture. (The Ethics of What We Eat. P Singer & J Mason. Text Publishing.)
Not to mention the health dangers involved with commercial food preparation and packaging.
You may feel alarmed reading these points, however mindful attention to what we eat, may help combat today’s ever-climbing incidence of cancer and other life threatening disorders. If “we are -what we eat”, then consider changing what you eat now.
What are some of the other benefits of Organic Foods ?
Organic food has to be certified. Unlike some health foods that can claim to be natural and yet may really only contain ‘nature identical ingredients’ (I have never quite understood this phrase – surely it is either natural or it is not). Certified growers are thoroughly inspected and monitored for three years.
Regular inspections occur at all levels of production to ensure standards.
No artificial preservatives or ingredients are added to organic food.
Animal, herd, and flock welfare are paramount.
Organic farming decreases the amount of synthetic chemical residues in our food and waterways.
Irradiation is not used with organic food.
Organic farms employ more people per hectare than commercial farms which utilise machines.
Organic farming reduces toxic health risks to farm workers.
Another Major Benefit We Notice Time And Time Again, Is That Organic Produce Tastes Better!!! Our kids literally argue about who has more broccoli – go figure.
Simple ways to start integrating organic food into your week; Calculate your weekly expenses, decide what items are the real luxuries and consider how you may be able to re- prioritise so you can afford quality, organic produce.
Go to the organic section first. Price compare – buying “in-season” organic produce is often evenly priced. You may even be able to buy in bulk and share the cost with family for eg. If pears are in season or apples, buy a box and share them out. Or you may want to stew them, then freeze. Even frozen organic is a great deal healthier than fresh supermarket produce.
Remember that organic food is not a luxury, it is nutritional dynamite!!!! – a parent’s secret health weapon.
Even if you chose one fresh organic purchase a week you can celebrate knowing that you are strengthening your child’s health.
(2)Study Reveals Produce With Most Pesticides https://www.ewg.org/node/22100
(3)The Safety of Inert Components in Pesticides Questioned https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2006/08/ 15/the-safety-of-inert-components-in-pesticides-questioned.aspx
(4) i. Guo YL, Lai TJ, Ju SH, Chen YC, Hsu CC. Sexual developments and biological findings in Yucheng children. Chemosphere 14:235-238 (1993).
ii. Sharpe RM, Skakkebaek NE. Are oestrogens involved in falling sperm counts and disorders of the male reproductive tract? Lancet 341:1392-1395 (1993).
iii. Guo YL, Lai TJ, Ju SH, Chen YC, Hsu CC. Sexual developments and biological findings in Yucheng children. Chemosphere 14:235-238 (1993)
(5) i. An Anthropological Approach to the Evaluation of Preschool Children Exposed to Pesticides in Mexico. Guillette E, Mercedes Meza,2 Maria Guadalupe Aquilar,2 Alma Delia Soto,2 and Idalia Enedina Garcia 21Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721 USA 2Direccion de Investigacion y Estudias de Postgrado, Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora, Obregón, Sonora, México
ii. Chen Y-CJ, Guo Y-L, Hsu C-C, Rogan WJ. Cognitive development of Yu-Chen (“oil disease”) children prenatally exposed to heat-degraded PCBs. JAMA 268:3213-3218 (1992).