Recently moving out myself, I have become very much aware of the money I spend on groceries. Even though it may seem like health comes at a price, it is a price I am willing to pay. This is a decision that could potentially affect peoples lives, yet is constantly being ignored due to the price of organic foods. The society we live in today has evolved greatly. Today, we are experiencing a green/organic movement. Many people wonder about the origin of this movement. In the early twentieth century, all food was organically grown. However, people didnt know any different. Organic food was simply food.
As genetic engineering replaced organic farming, no one thought of purposely putting chemical spray to enhance crop growth and yield. The only concern of the farmers was how they could be more efficient in a less costly way. As petro-chemical industries began to rise in the early 1900s, agricultural research shifted its focus to which chemicals were needed in order to promote plant and animal growth (Callaghan par. 6). These chemicals were convenient because they came from finite resources. At first, these chemicals sounded like a brilliant idea: they were efficient, cheap, and easily accessible.
Genetic engineers did not know what a horrible effect these chemicals would cause, but soon became a problem they couldnt ignore. There was a reaction against chemical-induced food led by Rudolf Steiner, who reintroduced organic farming in the late twentieth century. It was people like Steiner who reinstated the healthier lifestyle that most people wish to take part in today, such as the green movement (Callaghan par. 7). Some people may find themselves buying organic foods mainly because everyone else is, although most people do not know what organic foods really are.
Like them, I did not have a true understanding of what organic foods were until I researched them. Organic foods and products are produced without the use of most synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, pesticides, antibiotics, added growth hormones, ionizing radiation, or genetic modification (Reinke par. 3). The fields where the food grows must be free of any prohibited material for three years before the soil can be used to grow organic crops. Since 2002, organic food and farming have been regulated by the USDA National Organic Program (Reinke par.3).
Animals are also allowed to grow as naturally as possible without any synthetic growth hormones. Livestock must eat organically grown food, as well as spend their time in pastures instead of constricting buildings (Reinke par. 4). It is important for people to be aware of what is going into their own bodies; in fact, it is their right. People need to realize that what they have been eating for years has been harmful to their bodies. Most consumers are oblivious to what they put into their bodies and the processed junk that surrounds us daily.
Organic production is an inevitable factor that easily accommodates the everyday healthy lifestyles for which our society yearns. Living in a society that thrives in this green movement really makes us consider the pros and cons of organic foods. The benefits of practicing an organic lifestyle largely out weigh the disadvantages of the hormone-induced diet that most consume. The overall gain we cannot ignore is that organic foods are proven to be healthier for you rather than the conventionally grown food, which undergoes many unnatural resources.
According to Andre Leu, in a scientific study, scientists have finally proven that organic food is healthier; they found that organically grown food was on average 63 percent higher in calcium, 73 percent higher in iron, 118 percent higher in magnesium,178 percent higher in molybdenum, 91 percent higher in phosphorus, 125 percent higher in potassium, and 60 percent higher in zinc. In addition, the organic food was on average 29 percent lower in mercury than the conventionally raised food (Leu 1).
Therefore, people dont need to purchase organic food just because they believe it is healthier for them and their families; studies show that organic food is in fact much richer in vitamins and protein than we believe. Along with the overall benefit of healthier options, organic foods have higher levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants. A recent study from an article published in February 2003Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry claimed, organically grown corn, strawberries and marionberries have significantly higher levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants than conventionally grown foods (Leu 1).
Researchers also claim the compounds that make up these antioxidants include flavonoids, which carry potent antioxidant activities. These flavonoids are phenolic compounds which are produced by plants in response to environmental stress, such as insects or competing plants. They are protective compounds that act as a plants natural defense and also have protective properties in human and animal health (Leu 1). Research suggests that these pesticides and herbicides disrupt the developmental process of these protective compounds.
In contrast, proper soil nutrition appears to increase the levels of these natural compounds that have anti-cancer, immune-boosting, and anti aging properties (Leu 1). Those couple extra dollars on groceries could be those extra years on your life. The most dangerous difference between organic and conventional foods is the use of pesticides that conventional foods contain. The pesticides are horrible chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. Consumers do not realize the damage that these pesticides contain and how they have become harmful for everyone.
The reason they are so dangerous is because they affect everyone, especially children and fetuses. Children and fetuses are most vulnerable to pesticide exposure due to their less-developed immune systems and because their bodies are still developing (Paul Et al, par. 10). This exposure is a serious threat because it can cause development delays, behavioral disorders, and motor dysfunction. Not only are children and fetuses at risk, pregnant women are highly vulnerable as well.
This is because pregnant women do not need the added stress pesticides put on their already taxed organs (Paul Et al, par. 11). Another reason pregnant women are susceptible is because pesticides can be passed on from mother to womb, even potentially through breast feeding (Paul Et al, par. 11) This exposure can cause delayed effects on the nervous system, even years after the initial exposure(Paul Et al, par. 11) The one danger that we have already encountered is the accumulation after years and years of being exposed to pesticides.
This horrible chemical is the source of birth defects, headaches, and even added strain on our weakened immune systems. Most conventional foods do not state the harmful pesticides on the label; it is up to the consumers to be aware of the fact that these companies have been using pesticides. With so many of us affected by these repulsive chemicals, you would think that everyone would be willing to spend those few extra dollars. Another negative aspect of conventional foods that requires consideration is the amount of nitrates the food contains.
According to Leu, the use of soluble chemical fertilizers has resulted in high nitrate concentrations in many conventionally farmed foods, especially fruit and vegetables(2). The extraction of these fertilizers also contains high nitrate levels in our drinking water systems. Nitrates can impair the ability of the blood to carry oxygen and may pose a risk of methmoglobinemia, a condition that can occur in infants and adults with a diminished capability to secrete gastric acid(Leu 2). Conventional farms basically produce poison that we ingest because they are cheaper than organic foods.
These farmers are not only poisoning food, but drinking water as well. Not only is organic food considerably healthier for everyone, but organic food just tastes better. Organic foods are much tastier than your average conventional foods due to the fact that organic foods are fresher. Conventional foods contain preservatives that ultimately make the food last longer, but organic foods do not, creating a rich, fresh taste in every bite. In order for organic foods not to have nasty preservatives in them, they usually come from small farms.
Since most of these farms are local, they only need to be transferred a short distance, not cross-country like conventional foods. Another benefit of organically grown foods is that they are better for the environment. For example, Organic farming practices reduce pollution (air, water, soil), conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy(Paul par. 14). Not only do humans benefit, but also birds and small animals, due to the fact that organic farms do not use pesticides, making it easier for birds and small animals to reproduce.
People should want to help the environment as well their health. Unlike the conventional farms, organically raised animals are not given antibiotics, growth hormones, and are not fed animal byproducts. The use of antibiotics in conventional meat production helps create antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria (Paul par. 15). This means that when someone gets sick from these strains they will not be as responsive to the antibiotic treatment. Also, when animals are fed other animal byproducts they are more susceptible to mad cow disease.
Not only do organic farms not practice any of these methods, but their animals are not caged in small pins. Instead, they are allowed to roam freely and as naturally as they can. When animals are stuck in small cages with lots of other fellow animals, they are more likely to become sick, and have a greater chance of catching diseases. Organic farms do not believe in treating their animals poorly, but rather they wish to treat their animals as naturally as possible, unlike the inhumane conventional farms.
Organic farms do their best in order to value mother natures course; they want their crops, meats, fruit, and vegetables to be extremely natural. There are a few ways these farmers precede to do so. For example, instead of using pesticides to keep the insects away, organic farmers use nets and fly traps. Organic farms also use natural fertilizers, such as manure and compost, as opposed to conventional farms that use synthetic or chemical fertilizers. One method conventional farmers use is genetic engineering and modification to make their crops grow faster and larger.
Conventional farms use chemical herbicides in order to control weeds, while on the other hand, organic farms take a more naturalapproach, such as crop rotation, hand weeding, mulching, and tilling. Organic farms try to do their best in order to keep our food that we ingest as natural as possible. When this is done, we are proven to live not only healthier but longer lives as well. Why would people want to even consume these poisonous foods that cause cancer and ultimately harm us? Their ignorance is a threat to themselves.
The benefits of organic farming and its products overwhelmingly exceed those of conventional food. Buying organic products not only helps our health but is beneficial to our environment as well. Organic is an easy, healthy, and green way to live. It is important for people to be more aware of what they put into their bodies. People have become so oblivious to the poison they are consuming, and unfortunately still very few people consider the benefits of organic products. Too many people neglect organic products due to the fact that they are more expensive than the average conventional foods, these extra few dollars could potentially be saving your life and your environment.
Buying organic foods not only makes you feel better knowing about what is going into your body, but also makes you feel better because you know your contributing to the community with each product you buy. So next time you are at the market and you contemplate whether or not the organic strawberries are worth five dollars, think about what good your doing to your body and environment. After writing this paper myself, I now know for sure that the expense is well worth it.