Why you should eat organic
I often get asked: Why should I eat organic food?
Let's first define what organic means:
Organic food is simply food (from plants and animals) grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, artificial pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified organisms.
Agricultural practices, for most of human history, were mostly organic. It wasn't until the 20th century, with the industrialization of our food systems, that the way we eat changed and introduced synthetic chemicals to our food supply.
Natural does not mean organic.
"Natural" is a marketing term being overused these days by food companies in an effort to appeal to consumers. Really, anything can be called natural if we look back far enough in the food's production process.
My definition of natural is food that has been minimally processed and contains no preservatives. Natural foods may be organic, but that does not mean that all natural foods are organic.
Many common foods we eat every day have been artificially produced with chemicals. These same chemicals deplete the nutrient value of the food and expose our bodies to potentially dangerous toxins.
Do we really want to eat foods that have the shelf life of a Twinkie? Organic foods rot — which is good. I want my food to have natural enzymes that break down while the food is still in my body.
This means that my digestive system can break it down and absorb the vital nutrients rather than just passing it through and leaving my body wanting more.
I had eye-opening discussion with a friend of mine a few months back. The conversation went something like this:
"Kevin, what's up with all this organic food — is it really better for you?"
Just then, the water-delivery truck pulled up outside his office with several 5 gallon bottles of water in tow.
"Why is it that you have bottled water delivered to your office?" I asked.
"Because I don't want to drink the chlorine in the water," he replied.
"Then why would you want to eat food that was produced with chemicals? The same logic applies. Imagine two strawberry fields — you see one sprayed with chemicals, the other without. Which strawberry do you want to eat?"
"The one without the spray on it," he said.
My friend connected the dots.
Since organic plants are grown in soil free of harmful chemicals, the food coming from those fields tastes better and has higher levels of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Organic food is arguably cheaper than conventional food, given the billions of taxpayer dollars spent on federal agriculture subsides, the cost of chemical regulation, the environmental damage and the potential for illness/hospitalization from eating conventionally produced food.
Other reasons to consider eating organically:
• Children are more vulnerable to toxins than adults. By eating organically, this risk is reduced. Eating organically also takes processed junk food off the table.
• Organic farming practices help preserve our air and water quality, clearly our most important natural resources.
• Organic farming protects farm workers' health by reducing their exposure to toxins.
• Organic farms typically use less energy, since natural fertilizers are used and many organic farms are close to the communities they serve, reducing transportation costs.
Take care of yourself by putting pure foods in you and your family's bodies. Support our local independent farmers. Eat organically!
Kevin Cotter is managing general partner at New Earth Market in Yuba City.