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Organic Food: Is it Worth the Cost and Committment?

The answer is an astounding YES! Yes, I know it’s more expensive, but what is the alternative? Americans spend about 1/10 of their disposable income on food compared to 1/5 in the 1950s. Local is always best because our reliance on industrial agriculture is minimized and the local economy gets a boost. We also want to support our locals farms so the Big Organic doesn’t drive our smaller farms out of business. Organic is the next best as it provides a greater level of safety for our families and the environment.

All industrial food has a heavy carbon footprint, whether flown or trucked, it’s harvested mechanically, packed into warehouses, cooled with fossil fuel, refrigerated, processed and shipped again until the day you drive to the supermarket to buy it. Industrial livestock farming is one of the largest contributors to global warming as well as to soil and water pollution. A 1000-head feedlot produces 280 tons of manure a week, and it takes 15 pounds of grain to produce 2 pounds of industrial beef. Chemical fertilizer run-off from farms of the Midwest creates what are known as, “dead zones,” in the Gulf of Mexico- an approximately 6,000 sq. mile area that has no oxygen or sea life. I won’t even get into the inhumane treatment of animals in these facilities…

Organic Foods Acts of 1990 regulations summed up:
1- Organic producers must maintain records and traceability of the identity of all animals and their products. Records must be kept for 5 years.
2-Land for organic production must have been free of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for at least 3 years prior to harvesting. There are also provisions for buffer zones to prevent prohibited sustances from contaminating soils from adjoining farms. Techniques must be sustainable: organic inputs, crop rotation, integrated pest management all increase crop yields, cut pesticide and chemical use, create healthier soils and increase soil’s ability to hold water.
3-Organic producers are prohibited from feeding their animals remains of other mammals or poultry (which is a common practice for convential). All feed must be organic, free of antibiotics. All animals are slaughtered in organic slaughterhouses and all equipment must be free of chemicals.
4-Organic producers cannot use any prohibited susbtances in production facilities, cleaning supplies or packaging. They cannot use insect sprays or synthetics fungicides, preservatives or fumigants in packaging. 95-100% ingredients in food must be certified organic to have organic seal.
5-Residue Tolerances- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accepts levels of prohibited substances only 5% or less or will not be allowed to be sold as organic.
6-Organic diary cows must be pastured. The stomachs of cows are designed to eat grass. Feed them higher protein foods-corn & soy- and this can cause intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which can cause illness in the humans that consume them.

Organic certification means the product is free from pesticides, herbicides, toxic chemicals, deadly pathogens, hormones, antibiotics, GMOs, irradiation, synthetic inputs, low nutrient content. Organic does not carry the same meaning as “natural, free-range, hormone-free” or any other term that implies healthful but does not say organic. Organic foods also supply higher nutrient content! Produce grown far from home (even organic if it’s from Mexico, China, etc. know where you food comes from!) must be picked before it ripens to ensure ripeness when it gets to market. This means less flavor and less nutrients as nutrients start declining as soon as the produce is picked. This is another reason why local is ALWAYS best 🙂

Ways to eat organic/local on a budget:
1-Purchase produce in season
2-Take advantage of sales and specials and freeze for later use
3-Grow some of your own food-herbs & lettuce are a great start
4-Eat a bit less animal food and more plant food (1 serving animal protein is 2-4 oz while plant protein is 4-6 oz)
5-Keep health at the forefront of your conciousness.

I know this topic was borderline depressing, but people need to be educated on what’s going on with the food supply! I hope this shed some light…

Some resources for you:
http://organicconsumers.org/
http://www.ewg.org
http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org
http://www.publichealthaction.org/

Cheers to good health!!
Krystal

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