Top Ten Reasons Why I Buy Organic (and you should too) – Part 1
I used to wonder what all the fuss over organic was about. My parents bought and ate organic for a year or two before I did. I’d marvel at their food choices and wonder how anyone could afford it! I didn’t see the point. Then I started to read and learn. I started to get to know some organic farmers and found out what it was REALLY all about. Looking back, as a cancer survivor it should have made sense to me sooner. I just didn’t know enough. Now as a mom and an organic farmer it’s a no brainer. Here’s my Top Ten:
1. Healthier, Cleaner foods = Healthier You (and CHILDREN)
Food grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers are healthier for you if for no other reason than those chemicals are not getting into your body and over-taxing your liver. Pesticides actually accumulate in fat deposits in your body where they remain and cause damage. This damage can surface as cancer, nervous system disorders, behavior and developmental abnormalities, reproductive system problems, and damage to other organs. This is especially critical in children who are exposed to four times higher levels of pesticides than adults and pregnant and nursing mothers. The good news is that switching to organic foods makes a dramatic change in your body’s pesticide levels fairly quickly!
The primary focus of organic farming is taking care of the soil. In conventional agriculture, the soil is just a medium to hold a seed and then a plant. The growing conditions are then controlled by chemicals. The soil is dead. In organic agriculture soil is king. We strive to build healthy soils by monitoring nutrient levels with soil tests, through crop rotations (at my farm I have a 4-5 year rotation plan for each crop family), through applications of compost and other sources of beneficial micro organisms, through use of cover crops (we don’t want the soil to wash away). The soil is our livelihood. Healthy soil, grows healthy foods which results in healthy human bodies. Conventional wisdom states that 1 inch of soil is formed over 500 years. Through our methods of building soil, we have had as much as 8 inches of soil form in a year. Why is soil so important? It is a natural filter for water and air. It is a living system that makes nutrients available to plants. Without healthy, living soil people and animals cannot survive and thrive.
Most small organic farmers, run sustainable diverse operations. This means that instead of just growing corn and soybeans, year after year after year, they are growing a wide variety of crops and raise a variety of animals in one place. This benefits the consumers by offering more choice for local products. It benefits the soils through more efficient nutrient cycling. Organic farmers often use heirloom seeds and raise heritage breeds of animals. They are a force working to keep biodiversity intact. On our farm, since we converted to all grass (no more corn) we have seen more than one rare bird show up and keep showing up in our grasslands. It’s exciting to see nature start working the way it’s supposed to again!
4. No Genetically Modified Organisms
The effects of GM products on our health are an unknown. Research is being conducted and so far the findings are frightening. One of the findings when feeding hamsters GM soy was that the mortality rate of newborns was five times higher in the offspring of the first generation of hamsters fed GM as compared to those fed non-GM soy. The most startling finding however, was that nearly all of the third generation hamsters eating GM were sterile. Also a new pathogen has been discovered that is linked to Roundup Ready crops. More research is being done. This alone is enough to get me to eat organic foods! Organic farmers are forbidden to use any GM seeds or products. As an organic farmer, I know what it takes to become certified and I trust the system, especially for small farmers.
5. Water Quality
Water quality is not only the result of organic farming, but of grass farming in particular. Healthy grass keeps our soils in place. If you look at the run off from our farm after a rain storm, you see NO sediment in the water. We are in the unique position to be able to see the dirty, sediment filled run off from two neighboring conventional farms as well. Through proper soil management, manure management and the elimination of chemical pesticides and fertilizer, even just one farm can do a lot to improve the water quality of its watershed.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 of “Top Ten Reasons Why I Buy Organic (and You Should Too) coming soon! Please share your ideas and experiences below. I’d love to hear from you.