You know when you see a word so often that you sort of forget what it means? Well, the word organic does mean quite a few things.
When you see organic on food packages, here’s what it generally means. Official inspectors confirm natural substances are used to protect these crops or creatures. Chemical fertilisers are not brought in. Fewer substances relied on. You can make head and tail of the things that have been used on your food. Words feel more human. Colour, shape, and lifespan of produce are left beautifully imperfect. No artificial stimulants used to produce polished, but fake-looking, specimens. Finally, the word organic says your food is not genetically modified or treated with antibiotics.
The word tells you a few other things beyond what ends up on your plate, too. Land use managed with more consideration for environmental viability. Wildlife encouraged at all levels – from in the soil (more on that soon!) to insects. Warm-blooded animals remain on organically farmed land. Conventionally farmed land contains many fewer species of creatures.
How we farm impacts climate change in a major way. Organic produce is good for you and your family personally, and good for our great, beleaguered environment.
Food is the world
Did you know that about a third of the greenhouse gas emissions in our world comes from agriculture and related processes? How we farm majorly impacts climate change. Choose organic and support the healthy absorbing of carbon into the soil. Toxic carbon is not released into our atmosphere.
It’s still difficult to say which type of food is better. Should each and every one of us make our diets completely organic?
Consequently, we share our favourite hard truths with you.
Organic for the world
Good food comes from good soil, and what is our world if not soil? Run a handful of dirt through your fingers and you know the vast difference between rich, mulchy, black soil and dry dust. Science backs that up by measuring the good bacteria in healthy soil. It is about the same as good bacteria in the intestines. Most of us understand that gut bacteria are necessary for healthy digestion and overall wellbeing.
The phenomenon goes deeper when considering that good bacteria in the human intestines are products of whatever good bacteria are present in the soil our food comes from. The chain keeps working (or not working) as you trace cause and effect. Allowing the soil to flourish is perhaps the most important thing we can do for ourselves and for the environment.
1 billion good bacteria…. to only 100
The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) ran a nine-year study looking at how organic and conventional no-till farming affect what is in the soil. The study found richer, healthier, more alive soil on organically farmed plots than on conventionally farmed plots. What does this mean? The world-renowned, visionary US-based soil microbiologist Dr. Elaine Ingham looks at a teaspoon of organically farmed soil, infused with healthful compost. It contains 600 million to 1 billion good bacteria, representing 15,000 different species. The same amount of conventionally farmed soil only has 100 good bacteria in it!
Our gut bacteria help our bodies take care of themselves. We are less dependent on medicine treating the symptoms rather than the root causes of bad health. This encourages a cycle of negative dependence. In the same way, good bacteria in the soil help it remain self-perpetuating. This removes the need for chemicals, tests, and other artificial tools central to Western farming. Processes like this disrupt essential natural environmental balances and Mother Nature. It encourages the same cycle of negative dependence in the world.
That’s the source, the root of it for us.
Organic for you
Let’s carry on from the above comparison and bring it back to you. Plant-based foods can be preventive medicine. Much of this is down to antioxidants. These plant-based compounds prevent oxidative stress suffered by our cells due to harmful free radicals circulating in our environment. This type of stress links to several of the effects of aging, as well as to killers such as heart disease and many types of cancers.
Studies show the key nutritional difference between organically farmed and conventionally farmed produce is the concentration of antioxidants. There are more antioxidants like polyphenolics, flavonols, and anthocynanins in organically farmed crops or crop-based foods.
Another big difference in food that comes from conventional farms is the presence of pesticide residue and heavy metals. Eating conventionally farmed produce means you take in traces of chemicals used to raise crops on these farms. This includes cadmium, a heavy metal and one of the most poisonous elements that humans can be exposed to in the course of day-to-day living. Scientists say that cadmium is carcinogenic. Organic farming, in contrast, does not use artificial pesticides.
You can say that food that comes from organic farms has more healing potential. Food that comes from conventional farms has unhealthy properties. It satisfies your immediate hunger in the same way as fast food, but will not truly nourish you on deeper levels.
The way we like to see it is that organic food fights harder for you – and for the world – and thus, again, for you.
Whether to eat organic, and how much organic to eat, is a decision to be made based on a set of variables. Organic produce normally costs more than conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. It also depends on where you live and what the quality of the soil is. It is a decision that should be carefully considered and researched.
Organic alternatives are becoming more widespread. It is possible to benefit more from organic produce in terms of your specific lifestyle. A healthy balance is slowly created. It is good for you and your family personally, and good for our great, beleaguered environment.
That is what organic means.
Do you make an effort to buy and eat organic food?
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