One of the biggest barriers to organic eating that I hear over and over is cost. But you must ask yourself – if the mainstream food supply is POISONING you – can you really afford to NOT eat organic?! I heard a statistic somewhere that Americans spend the least amount of their paycheck on food (compared to other developed countries) and the most on healthcare compared to any other country. That pretty much sums it up – eat unhealthy cheap food now and you will pay for it later in health care bills! Think of it as in investment in your health, almost as health insurance. Eating healthy organic food will not guarantee that you will never get sick or hurt, however eating unhealthy toxins is a sure guarantee that you will become unhealthy.
Conventional farmers use chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides while organic farmers use natural methods such as insect predators, barriers, crop rotation, hand weeding, mulching, and natural fertilizer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides, and 30% of insecticides are carcinogenic; they are also not good for the environment. Pesticides are linked to health consequences such as miscarriages and reproductive issues, neurotoxicity, endocrine system disorders, and immunosuppression.
Certified organic food must be free of genetically modified ingredients as well, which I covered in my last post. Organic animal based products must be void of antibiotics, growth promoters, or other medications.
Because of the farming practices used, organic crops contain more vitamins and nutrients than conventionally grown crops. Conventional farming depletes the soil of nutrients while crop rotation and biodiversity on organic farms helps keep the soil healthy allowing plants to absorb more nutrients. One 4 year European Union study found that organic fruits and vegetables contained up to 40% more antioxidants. One study even found that organic foods are better for fighting cancer.
Buying local is also important. The further a food has to travel, the longer amount of time it has to lose nutrients. There are also costs associated with travel distance as well as environmental effects of transporting foods. Even if a local farmer is not certified organic, you know who is growing your food and can talk to him or her about the practices they use! It’s important to know where your food is really coming from, and why not support local business in the meantime?
Hopefully, the prices of organic produce will gradually decline as the demand increases and organic products become more readily available.
Once you establish that eating organic is important for your health and is an investment, spending a greater portion of your paycheck on food becomes worth it. Are there other things in your life you can cut down on or do without in order to have extra to spend on healthy eating? In my next blog I will discuss some specific tips on making organic food friendlier on the wallet.