Why Does Organic Matter?
This is a biggie.
I promised that my next newsletter would address one of the most important topics I've ever written about. Well here we are, and again I realize I've bitten off more than I can chew...
Addressing the topic of organic vs. conventional is like opening up a can of worms. There are many differences between organic and conventional growing and processing procedures for both plant and animal foods, and I only have a short amount of time with you today. So for now I'll just give you a taste of the topic, with insight into some of the health effects of conventional foods and how you can help make organic food more accessible and affordable in your area.
Conventionally grown foods contain high levels of toxic chemical pesticides (i.e. fungicides, insecticides, herbicides, etc.), whereas organically grown foods are virtually free of these toxins.
Dr. Mercola, a source of objective health-related information I trust, states in an Organic Consumers article: “Research has demonstrated that pesticides and other agricultural chemicals are neurotoxic, capable of damaging your nervous system. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides, and 30 percent of insecticides are also carcinogenic. … Yet despite all the known risks, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) insists pesticide residues on food are no cause for concern. … The USDA also does not test for one of the most pervasive and one of the most harmful agricultural chemicals of all, namely glyphosate: 'As has been the case with past analyses, the USDA said it did not test this past year for residues of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide and the world's most widely used herbicide.'”
And Chuck Norris (yes, the Chuck Norris) recently brought to our attention the fact that in “May 2013, federal regulators agreed to raise the permitted tolerance levels for glyphosate residue in food, citing an increased human resistance to the compound. No independent tests were conducted in reaching the conclusion that higher residue levels of this stuff pose no danger to humans or the environment. Levels were raised in oilseed crops – which include sesames, flaxes and soybeans – to 15 times the previous levels. Regulators also raised the allowable levels for sweet potatoes and carrots to 25 times the previous levels. In making their determination, the government officials relied on tests and data provided by the manufacturer, which deems the risks as insignificant.”
The health benefits of organic over conventional produce and livestock are undeniable, yet our government chooses to favor conventional farming over organic farming. As a result, unsubsidized organically-grown foods are more expensive than subsidized conventionally-grown foods, and they're hard or impossible for many to afford. We can slightly decrease the cost of organics by demanding more of them (because of economies of scale), but that still won’t make prices comparable to conventionally grown foods. In order for that to happen, laws have to be changed in favor of organic farming.
If you’d like organic foods to become more widely available and at lower costs, you can support organizations that fight for our right to healthier food by signing up for their email updates, signing and sharing their petitions with your friends, and/or making donations. And by all means, feel free to contact your local lawmakers on your own and say why you want them to honor your right to healthy food!
I’ve found this list from LoveToKnow of organic advocates to support:
Organic Trade Association (US & Canada)
The Cornucopia Institute (US)
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (US)
International Federation of the Organic Agriculture Movement (International)
Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (Canada)
The Soil Association (UK)
Others I recommend include:
Food Democracy Now!
Organic Consumers Association
Environmental Working Group (a favorite of mine)
Please TELL YOUR FRIENDS and let’s be a force of change!
(And if you know of any other great non-profits that we should know about please leave a comment here on the blog or on my Facebook page!)