At some point in the past few years I’ve become very aware of what we eat and what we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Maybe it’s the talk about pollution, or the constant recalls of commercially produced foods and prescriptions, or the possible long term health effects of eating antibiotic laced and hormone injected meat…the list goes on. Whatever the reason, I’m aware and trying to reduce my and my family's exposure.
So, where to start? How about FOOD! There are so many different aspects of food toxicity. I will break it down including the points I find most important for me in a few different posts so check back for the rest.
So, what is Organic?
To produce something organically it must be grown/ produced without antibiotics, hormones, synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, irradiation or genetic engineering. Organic farmers have strict guidelines they must adhere to regarding water conservation, soil management, and the humane treatment of animals.
The are a wide array of benefits from eating organic. There are added nutritional benefits:
Organic produce can have up to 40% higher levels of some nutrients according to a 2007 study done in the United Kingdom. A review of nearly 100 studies in 2008 by the Organic Center concluded that organic plant-based foods are generally more nutritious than their non-organic counterparts. You’re also supporting air quality and reducing your negative imprint on the environment. In all likelihood you’re also supporting a small, independently owned or, better yet, a local family owned farm. (Hey there Heritage Harvest Farm!)
The Toxic Stuff:
Pesticides: According to the EPA pesticides may be carcinogens, pose a threat to the nervous system, and/or affect the hormone or endocrine system. On top of the pesticides that are used in our country, some pesticides which have been banned in the USA are still used regularly in other parts of the world. We then import this produce and are still consuming those nasty pesticides. This is yet another reason to buy local.
Antibiotics: We all know the detrimental effects of overusing antibiotics in humans; we hear it all the time- superbugs. Health officials are concerned about a trickle-down effect of handling and eating antibiotic laced animal products as well. A large portion of commercial farmers regularly give livestock doses of antibiotics, whether the animals are sick or not, to prevent diseases from spreading.
Hormones: Animals are regularly pumped full of hormones to speed up growth making the animal grow faster and larger than it would naturally. We then eat their meat, drink their milk, or consume some other form of animal based product. The effects of these growth hormones on humans may cause early onset of puberty, increase cancer risks, and cause hormonal imbalances.
It’s my understanding that the potential risks have not been conclusively linked to the use of pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones in our food supply but there is substantial evidence pointing in that direction, just do some research if you’re skeptical. And what’s even more alarming is that the effects of these substances are magnified in children.
The downside to eating organic is felt in the pocketbook. It’s pricier, especially when it comes to animal products. We’ve greatly reduced the amount of store bought meat we consume. I have a local farm who I do buy most of my meats from now. We have an ever expanding garden and dreams to one day provide a home for some chickens or, goats. Oh and also this year I plan on starting to fish again.
My thought is this- Why expose myself and my family to these potential risks when they can be easily avoided? In time, I’m sure the true, long lasting effect of what we’re doing to our food sources will be fully known. In the mean time, it’s your responsibility to know where your food is coming from, how it’s grown, and what is in it because you are what you eat!