Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What is Organic?

No matter where you shop, you have no doubt noticed more and more organic food showing up in the produce, dairy, meat and even the canned food sections of the store. Many people are confused about what organic actually means and whether or not it is worth the extra cost.

By definition organic foods are produced without the use of conventional pesticides and artificial fertilizers, free from contamination by human or industrial waste and processed without ionizing radiation or food additives. If livestock are involved, they must be reared without the routine use of antibiotics and without the use of growth hormones and generally fed a healthy diet. In most countries, organic produce may not be genetically modified.

Up until WWII, organic was the "conventional" practice as it was the most common way to farm. Since WWII, the uses of synthetic chemicals and toxins have become commonplace which means that much of what we eat has been treated with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other chemicals. This 'cocktail' of chemicals affects our fertility, development, health and longevity.

The good news is that organic farming is on the rise. Organic farmers work with the natural ecosystem to improve the soil and deter pests. They rotate crops between fields and have diversity in their farms. Organic farmers plant certain flowers and bushes to attract helpful insects that will eat or deter pests that might otherwise eat crops; conventional farmers use chemicals to do this. Organic farmers work with nature to replenish the soil.

Healthy soil is key to healthier food. Organic farmers work to create healthful soil. Worms and microorganisms work to keep the soil strong. The soil then feeds the plants and actually creates food with more nutrients.

So, yes, organic is important for our health and the health of the earth.

Over the next few weeks I will discuss organic eating a bit more specifically including which veggies and fruit absorb more chemicals and in turn are more important to buy organic, as well as the importance of organic meat and dairy products and how to decipher organic labeling!

For more information check out http://www.organic.org/.

- Shannan

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This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog is intended to replace the advice of a physician. We recommend consulting a physician before embarking on diet changes or a fitness routine. In addition, we recommend that you thoroughly research alternate points of view and make your own decisions as an informed consumer. You are ultimately responsible for your health.