I choose local, organically grown foods. Mostly because I’m a control freak. I like to know exactly how my food was raised. And I also want to know the foods I’m eating are nourishing me. Conventional produce and meats are not able to offer the same standards.
Before I get into the other reasons why I buy organic, I have to explain one misconception. Foods labeled organic are not the only organically produced foods. Many small farms practice sustainable farming but do not carry the USDA Organic seal. The Organic certification process is cost prohibitive and too time consuming for most farmers. It requires a daily record-keeping of all tasks, which is unmanageable when you have weeds to pull and crops to harvest.
The best way to learn how something is grown is by getting to know the farm, searching their website or asking the farmer directly at the market.
Better for our Health
When you eat organic, you are much more likely to consume a larger variety of plant species. The majority of conventionally grown food is locked into one variety of the plant. All across the globe, we’re eating the exact same broccoli, making a homogenous diet and assuming that everyone on earth needs the same foods for optimal health. We know this isn’t so. Every body is different and requires different nutrition. Small farmers typically grow varieties not commonly found in the grocery store so you’re getting a more varied nutritional profile when you consume them. Try replacing those canned green beans for heirloom ones this year in your green bean casserole.
No Pesky Pesticides
Pesticides. Just the word makes my skin crawl. The US still allows the use of these harmful chemicals that have been shown to disrupt brain development. According to Environmental Working Group, a single grape sample can contain up to 15 pesticides.
Organic produce is imperfect and it’s these imperfections that garner my attraction. The European Commission is out ahead of the US in fighting against the dangers of pesticides, banning several types and imposes tight restrictions on imported food.
Environmentally, pesticides are killing off honeybees and other beneficial insects. Organic growing practices contribute to a robust biodiversity. The variety of plants allows pollinators to thrive and keeps predators at bay, which in turn cuts down on the need for pesticides. Organic fields have been shown to have over 100 times more pollinators than conventional fields. This means more honeybees and more of my favorite sweetener.
Produced without GMOs
The first genetically engineered product was approved by the FDA in 1993 and now up 70% of processed foods contain GMO ingredients. And 95% of the animals raised in the US are fed GMO feed. This is new science and has not been properly tested for implications. We are all currently part of the experiment and may not know the side effects for decades.
It is important to point out that the original motivation behind GMOs was to create more nutrient dense foods. That is not the case today though. Corn and soy are the most abundant GMO products. These are largely used to make vegetable oils and preservatives placed in empty calorie foods, which are contributing to the obesity epidemic. Not the best use of technology if you ask me.
GMOs are also limiting the number of foods we eat and cutting those foods down to one variety.
The average person eats 15 different foods. Only 15. There are thousands and thousands available across the globe and the use of GMOs is limiting this availability. Rice alone has 40,000 varieties. With a GMO food model, a family in Ohio eats the exact same dinner as a family in India. Nutritionally, this isn’t healthy and culturally, it’s devastating. In order to live a healthy life, we should consume a wide variety of foods. And GMO foods are making this impossible.
Fewer Cases of Food poisoning
Up to 76 million Americans suffer from food poisoning each year according to the Centers for Disease Control caused by the unsafe production of conventional foods.
Salmonella, e-coli and fecal contamination are found in animal products coming from factory slaughterhouses across the country. The disease-infested growing conditions for most animals force farmers to use antibiotics to keep their animals healthy. These antibiotics are then passed on to us, leading to a growing concern of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The more antibiotics we consume through meat, the less able are bodies are to fighting off disease. Animals raised with organic practices live in sanitary environments, minimizing their exposure to harmful bacteria and need for antibiotics.
Most commercial turkey producers add antibiotics to the animal’s diets. So this year, buy your bird from a reliable source. Look for heritage, organic and sustainable in your local market.
Supports the local Economy
Invest in your local economy this Thanksgiving and keep your food local. Small farmers are changing the food system one growing season at a time, saying no to conventional production methods so families can have healthy, safe food.
Local food from small farmers is less likely to contain harmful pesticides and is produced with ethical standards. The farmers are often more transparent and willing to share their growing practices so you know exactly what you’re putting on the table. At farmer’s markets, the farmer is right there to ask questions and will even allow you to come tour the farm.
Where to Shop
►Local Grocery Store
►Farmer’s Market Guide – Local Harvest, http://www.localharvest.org/
►Local Farms – Eatwild’s Directory of U.S., Canadian and International Farms & Ranches, http://eatwild.com/products/index.html
►Food Cooperative – Food Co-op Directory, http://www.cooperativegrocer.coop/coops
Ten Reasons to Buy Organic, http://tennessee.sierraclub.org/pdfs/Why-go-organic.pdf
Ten Reasons Why Organic Food is Better, http://www.earthfuture.com/earth/Organic%20-%2010%20Reasons.pdf
Decreased functional diversity and biological pest control in conventional compared to organic crop fields, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21611171
Did Your Thanksgiving Turkey Take Any Antibiotics?, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/11/26/247377377/did-your-thanksgiving-turkey-take-any-antibiotics
Environmental Working Group, http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
GM crops currently on the Market in the United States, http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/GMonMarketUS.pdf
Food Co-op Directory, http://www.cooperativegrocer.coop/coops