Thursday, September 25, 2008

Health Benefits of Organic

Do you eat organic foods? Purchase organic products? Much controversy exists over whether organic is really better for health or not. But consider this:
  • Conventional products and foods receive exposure to toxins that organic varieties do not such as pesticides, herbicides, added chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, and other unwanted substances that adversely affect health. Even if the argument stands that organic foods contain no more nutrients than conventional, avoiding these other substances is important for health.
  • Organic farming is a sustainable activity in that it replenishes the soil of lost nutrients and minerals. Feeding the soil with organic matter instead of ammonia and other synthetic fertilizers has proven to increase nutrients in produce, with higher levels of vitamins and minerals found in organic food, according to the 2005 study, “Elevating Antioxidant levels in food through organic farming and food processing,” Organic Center State of Science Review (1.05).
  • Many conventional crops come from seeds that are genetically modified. Just over a decade ago, no genetically modified foods were part of our food supply; today more than 30 percent of our cropland is planted in GMOs.
  • Purchasing organic products helps ensure the success of smaller, more sustainable family farms. Certified-organic family farms provide twice the benefit to the economy: they are profitable and farm in harmony with nature. This is true whether the farm is a 3-acre orchard or a 4,000-acre wheat farm -- organic is a beneficial practice that is genuinely family and earth-friendly.
  • Eating organic promotes the reduction of farmland pollution (i.e., waste produced from factory farms, which makes an incredible impact on the environment)
  • Certified organic and sustainable farming practices favor humane treatment of animals on their premises, whereas factory farm environments sole purpose is to maximize profits.
Using caution when purchasing "organic" is advised however, because many large corporations are now capitalizing on using the term "organic" in their marketing to sell products. Large corporate "organic" outfits can claim to use organic farming practices in their methods, but may or may not be consistent with what is really considered organic. Do research and read labels. Smaller, sustainable operations are more likely to practice in accordance with rigid standards of what it means to farm in harmony with nature and land stewardship than larger companies.

For more information on organic and sustainable farming practices, visit Sustainable Table.

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