Eating organic sometimes gets a bad wrap because of how expensive it can be. However, is it just another overpriced health fad or can organic food really prevent harmful illnesses and protect your body from toxicity? What if you can’t afford to buy solely organic, how can we protect our bodies against these toxins in alternative ways? We investigate.
First, let’s cover the basics.
Organic food, by definition, means that the food was produced without man-made fertilizers, pesticides, livestock feed additives, growth regulators or GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
There are different levels of ‘organic’ you can find on packaging and it is important to be aware of this. Companies may falsely use the term to increase sales and/or pricing. Look out for this seal.
100% Organic— If the label says that it is 100% organic, it is made with 100% organic ingredients.
Organic— If a product says ‘organic’ it contains at least 95% to 99% organic ingredients. The other ingredients aren’t available organically, but have been especially approved by the NOP (National Organic Program).
Made With Organic Ingredients— If the packaging says ‘Made with Organic Ingredients’ it must contain 70-94% organic ingredients. They won’t have the seal pictured above, but they may list up to three organic ingredients on the front of the product.
So, what are these so-called harmful pesticides and how can they harm you? Let’s discuss the pesticides they spray your food with and the implications those chemicals may have on your health.
Studies have linked pesticides to everything from Cancer, Alzheimer’s, kidney and liver damage, birth defects and even ADHD. You don’t have to digest these pesticides in order to be exposed to them; they can be transferred through skin contact, inhaling, or through the eyes too. It’s not like eating one un-organic apple can give you a disease, these toxins are stored in your body and build up over time. This is why it’s difficult to find definitive studies proving these chemicals are causing illness. If there are such studies, the food industry doesn’t want you to know about them.
What are the risks of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) found in non-organic food?
GMOs are organisms that have been artificially manipulated in a lab to enhance the natural farming process. Why? So farmers can grow “faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper” (Food, Inc) to increase their bottom line. A farmer in the documentary ‘Food Inc’ sums it up best, “If you can grow a chicken in 49 days why would you want one you have to grow in three months?”
The problem is these GMOs don’t just affect the chicken or vegetable, they make their way into our bodies and even the fetuses of pregnant women to significantly affect our health. They also pollute the soil, ruining the environment and the ability to produce organically again.
There’s a growing body of evidence to suggest GMOs are linked to health and environmental issues. Researches have studied animals and found signs of organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. If GMOs are causing illness, infertility in particular, that will affect our ability to reproduce, it’s a serious concern.
The question then becomes, what can we do to protect our health without the price tag?
If we’re talking about avoiding pesticides, here are the fruits and vegetables that aren’t as important to buy organic. Usually it’s because their peel or skin is dense and protects against harmful chemicals they’re sprayed with.
- Brussel Sprouts
Here are the produce item that are more important to buy organic:
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Grapes (imported)
We suggest keeping this list in your phone notes for reference in the grocery store. There are also special fruit and veg washes formulated to get rid of pesticides. Handle them with care, studies show these chemicals can actually get in through your pores.
As for GMO’s, these are the products that are “high risk” and you’ll want to make sure to look for non GMO labels or opt organic.
- Yellow Squash
- Animal products
And here are the low risk foods:
- Sesame seeds
Hopefully we provided enough information for you to make an informed decision the next time you visit the grocery store. It’s safe to say organic food isn’t just another overpriced health fad, but the jury’s still out on whether they are in fact causing serious illness. We suggest taking precautions just in case.