With my appetite for Organic food growing, I decided I should share my thoughts, findings and opinion on the whole matter in order to create a little bit of discussion and debate! Striving for optimum health for me means choosing to eat quality wholefood. No only my health, but general energy levels and my appearance has changed quite dramatically since following a plant based whole food diet and as I continue to introduce more Organic produce I’m hoping to reap the benefits; even if I don’t feel the immediate benefits I feel quite confident that that I’m doing my body less harm and more good!
Here are the Top Reasons why I Choose Organic Food whenever possible….
Note: I’m coming at this from a Vegan European perspective and hence am considering reasons applicable to plant produce and those based in the EU. Additional reasons such as antibiotics and Genetic modification are likely to come in to play for meat eaters and those living outside of the EU!
Pesticides and Other Toxins
Probably the most potentially obvious and most commonly cited reason for people choose Organic food; the desire to avoid overloading our bodies with harmful pesticides.
Some people might under the illusion that if they wash fruit and vegetables they can remove pesticides from their food…it’s been shown that even after washing between 50-90% of residues remain on produce.
There are certain foods which are more heavily laden with pesticides and toxins, others which can be more readily have the majority removed through peeling away the skin. Below is the most recent list compiled by the Environmental Working Group in America highlighting the cleanest and dirtiest of fresh produce allowing you to easily decipher which is more crucial to buy Organic varieties of!
There is actually a handy app available for Android, the iPhone and Windows Phones which you can download from here. With one in every three of the foods we eat containing at least traces of pesticides, it’s worth making a conscious effort to reduce your intake of non Organic varieties of the dirty dozen. The average person is said to consume an average of 1 gallon of pesticides a year!!!
Buying organic grains is far less urgent; the exception being rice as it has been found to contain more pesticides than others.
When it comes to legumes, beans peas and lentils, it is best to choose Organic whenever possible as toxins tend to concentrate in the seeds of legumes (i.e. the beans, peas and lentils that we eat!)
Although nuts and seeds are protected somewhat by they’re outer shell you should ideally purchase Organic varieties. Unless they are raised organically they are treated with synthetic chemicals just as other non-organic crops. The worst offenders are commonly cited as walnuts, macadamia, peanuts (which are actually a legume), pistachios, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and cashews.
But why are pesticides and fertilisers so bad?
Firstly, the phosphates found in pesticides bind to the minerals in the soil making them less readily available to the fruit and vegetables that are growing within it. From a nutritional standpoint, eating foods which haven’t been grown organically are much more likely to be nutritionally deficient.
Not only are you unlikely to be reaping the benefits commonly associated with these foods which are supposed to be rich in vitamins and minerals, you are likely to be doing your body harm. Researchers have found that even low-level exposure to pesticides can affect the nervous system leading to neurological and behavioural problems.
Some research has found certain agricultural chemicals can alter our DNA, meaning the effects can be passed on through the generations.
The potentially detrimental effects have not been fully explored but one would make the intuitive assumption that a substance that has been designed to kill living organisms is unlikely to cause anything other than damage to the human body! I personally would rather not wait for the concrete evidence!
Organically grown produce is aid to be up to as much as 90% richer in minerals when compared with foods which are commercially produced. With better mineralisation greater quantities of vitamins are likely to also be found so they are more nutritionally rich all round!
Plant compounds are to a large extent damage and potentially eradicated when they are grown using toxic chemicals. Pesticides and herbicides actually block a plants ability to produce these plant compounds which play an important role in not only protecting the plant, but also protect against various different diseases in humans. Salicylic acid for example is an anti-inflammatory agent which protects against the likes of colon cancer, the hardening of the arteries and subsequent heart attacks and heart disease.
There is no conclusive evidence as such with regard to Organic produce being more nutritionally rich but I think it makes scientific and logical sense that it’s likely to be proven.
Choosing Organic, Supporting Sustainability
Organically grown produce is much more environmentally friendly and ultimately more sustainable than the chemically driven mass produced alternative.
Intensive farming is said to destroy the fertility of the land, but with organic farming and sustainable crop rotations, soil health is improved.
Chemical based farming has been show to emit as much as 40% more greenhouse gases than organic farming; whilst Organic farming also uses 45% less energy and is in fact more efficient than conventional farming.
Simultaneously depleting energy and destroying our land and atmosphere is certainly not sustainable. If not for the sake of the planet, consider what you want for your children and future generations. Choosing Organic now could really make a difference to the availability and variety of food available and subsequently their health!
Ok so it’s not exactly crucial but ideally if you can buy Organic you will more than likely notice the different, particularly when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables. Endeavouring to buy Organic produce is a relatively new concept to me but I must say, fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and nut butters…I can certainly taste the difference. The quality is superior which is what you want; if you can afford it, no one mines paying for quality!
Not everyone has the luxury of choosing Organic produce but what I would suggest starting with is the Dirty Dozen above and if you can buy Organic varieties, limit your intake and choose foods which have found to be less chemically laden. Keep in the back of you mind the long term sustainability picture; many people choose to buy in bulk which more often than not leads to a large amount of waste.
Maybe you don’t need three bags of apples or a supersized bag of potatoes…one bag, or a smaller bag, which may cost the equivalent but that is Organic and won’t end up going to waste might just be a better option…
Do you buy Organic produce and if not why?
What do you choose to buy Organic and why?