I was asked today if organic is over rated. I gave a quick reply of “no” and pointed out the reasons why. Many people think it is over rated, a “fad”, or that its too expensive. I’m going to explain to you why you should choose organic, and why it is not actually that much more expensive. Not all foods need to be bought organic.
First lets start with a common question…. “what is organic?”
The agencies that certify a product as organic use the Canadian Organic Standards to assess ingredients and production methods.
The standards lay out the specifics of organic production, including how livestock must be housed, fed, transported and slaughtered; how specific crops and produce are to be grown, extracted, processed and stored; how pests and diseases are to be treated; which substances, methods and ingredients may not be used; and what environmental factors must be taken into consideration.
Only products with at least 95 per cent organic content may be labeled as “organic” or bear the “organic” logo. This means that no synthetic pesticides, wood preservatives or other pesticides not on the “approved” list can be used.
Although it is true that each country has slightly different standards for what they consider organic, if they are wanting to sell their produce to another country, it must meet that countries organic guidelines.
What do pesticides do to the human body?
Pesticides are designed to kill and because their mode of action is not specific to one species, they often kill or harm organisms other than pests, including humans. The World Health Organization estimates that there are 3 million cases of pesticide poisoning each year and up to 220,000 deaths, primarily in developing countries. The application of pesticides is often not very precise, and unintended exposures occur to other organisms in the general area where pesticides are applied. Children, and indeed any young and developing organisms, are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides. Even very low levels of exposure during development may have adverse health effects.
Pesticide exposure can cause a range of neurological health effects such as memory loss, loss of coordination, reduced speed of response to stimuli, reduced visual ability, altered or uncontrollable mood and general behavior, and reduced motor skills. These symptoms are often very subtle and may not be recognized by the medical community as a clinical effect. Other possible health effects include asthma, allergies, ADHD and hypersensitivity, and pesticide exposure is also linked with cancer, hormone disruption, and problems with reproduction and fetal development. Children are at greater risk from exposure to pesticides because of their small size: relative to their size, children eat, drink, and breathe more than adults. Their bodies and organs are growing rapidly, which also makes them more susceptible; in fact, children are exposed to pesticides even while in the womb.
The good news!!
Organic produce actually has MORE nutrients, its tastier, you’re not damaging the environment or the animals living in it, and you’re obviously protecting your body from the damaging effects that pesticides have on the body. A lot of people seem to think its WAY more expensive…but if you actually look, its not. The two common ones I always notice is bananas and avocados (even though avocados is on the “clean fifteen” list and doesn’t need to be bought organic). Bananas are 10-40 cents more expensive for organic and avocados are usually very close in price and I have seen them a couple times actually cheaper than conventional ones! In my opinion, paying cents more for something that should be organic to save your health is totally worth it. Last time I checked, the cost of dealing with a condition resulting from the ingestion of pesticides far outweighs paying slightly more in present time.
I get it, its hard to figure out what’s organic, conventional and genetically modified these days. So here’s an easy way to remember when checking out PLU codes!
Conventional – 4 digits, usually starting with 3 or 4
Organic – 5 digits, starts with 9 (A good way to remember is 9 is fine)
Genetically Modified – 5 digits, starts with 8 (8 we hate… 🙂
Keep in mind, it costs a lot to be able to call your food “organic”. So a lot of times local farmers will grow their food without using pesticides and will rotate their crops, so they ARE actually organic, just not labeled as such. This is why its so important to ask where your food comes from and how its grown/prepared!
As mentioned above, not all food needs to be bought organic. A copy of the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen list is posted at the top for you to have a look at. This list has been developed to let you know which foods have the most pesticides and which have the least to help guide you as to which you should be spending the few extra cents on. You can also add mushrooms to the clean fifteen list 🙂
Until next time