Something that we hear a lot about, especially in the holistic world, is the importance of buying organic food. We all know that it’s ideal, but for many the price difference and availability sometimes leaves us with little option.
So what’s the big deal about buying organic food; why should we even bother?
- Conventional foods (i.e. non-organic foods) are something we’re accustomed to as they are the most readily available in the marketplace.
- Not only are they initially less expensive, but they’re usually more aesthetically pleasing as items like oranges are sprayed to give them that full eye appealing orange glow that says “Buy me, I'm a sexy orange orange.”
- With the numerous types of sprays used, bugs/insects will not be an issue and the items will appear to last longer and survive the greater shipping distances. What many people don’t realize is that the toxicity of the sprays used on these foods are measured in PPB (parts per billion)
Hold Up - what's that?
- - This means that the producers can use a certain type of spray up to the level it is considered toxic.
- - The scary thing is we don’t know for certain what level is toxic when taking into consideration age, and the amount of food consumed per day or even per week is. The fact that we have to even decide a level of toxicity on something that’s being sprayed directly onto our food is frightening enough.
- - Worse yet, the insects are becoming more resistant to the toxins so higher amounts of the sprays are required in order to be effective. The professional pesticide applicators have higher rates of developing cancer and yet these pesticides are in the food of what many people are eating because it’s deemed “safe.”To make things even more ridiculous, we’re now dealing with GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, and because we’re still battling to have GMO foods labeled, we simply don’t know what we’re consuming.
What's the Deal with GMO's (say this in a Jerry Seinfeld voice in your head... got it? - good!)
- - GMOs, as many environmentalists agree, are a disaster waiting to happen.
- - The idea behind GMO food is that you take the DNA of one organism and splice it into the DNA of another organism so that it will be resistant to certain conditions such as fungus and disease or always look/taste a certain way – it’s basically playing around with nature.
- - A major concerning factor is that it’s not real food. Our bodies do not recognize it and do not know how to properly digest it. This can lead to inflammation, allergies, chronic illnesses, and well, who really knows what else – GMOs haven’t been around for a lifetime so we simply don’t know. With the exception of a clear label or certification guidelines, it’s impossible to tell if the product is GMO free.
We Have the Power to Change Things
This isn’t about scaring people it’s about educating and spreading the word. We have the power to change things; we drive the food businesses. Whenever we go to the grocery store we are voting with our dollar, we are creating demand for a product to exist. This is why I truly believe, that within our budgets and access, that it’s important to opt for organic whenever we can.
By eating organic, fewer resources are used, thus reducing environmental pollutants. There are more nutrients available as it is in its natural form and our body will recognize it as food thus leading to better digestion and health. We would also not be ingesting carcinogenic chemicals and we would be more likely to avoid GMOs as it is part of the certification guidelines that organic food is GMO free.
I totally understand though, upfront organic can be pricey. I’m a student living in Vancouver – things here are not cheap by any means, so make sure to stay tuned for part 2 in which I’ll share some affordable ways and tips for shopping organic on a budget. In the mean time, be conscientious, and take the time to inform yourself. Only you can create change in your life, but together we can make a global difference.
Cancer health effects of pesticides: http://www.cfp.ca/content/53/10/1704.full
Dangers of GMO food: http://www.naturalhealthstrategies.com/dangerous-genetically-modified-foods.html
Reasons to buy Organic: http://www.thedailygreen.com/going-green/latest/4070
Alison Klektau is currently a student at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Vancouver where she is studying to earn her certification as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. It is her passion to educate others on the power of eating a plant-based whole foods diet while incorporating regular exercise, as she believes in a mind-body approach. Previous to that, Alison earned her BFA in Theatre and Film Studies from the University of Victoria.