Eat more organic? Yes!November 08, 2019 8:51 am
Not just because you look around and see more people eating organic. Not just because you float on a vague idea of organic food being better or more fashionable. Do your reading. No time? Don’t worry, we’ll do it for you! Here are seven (our lucky number!) reasons taken from research into why organic is better. To sum it up: You are what you eat.
Reason 1: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
You are probably familiar with the harmful carbon being released into our atmosphere as a result of various human activities. However, you may not know that 30% of harmful greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. In other words, the ways we eat are harming the atmosphere. Moreover, other things connected to agriculture also contribute. Organic farming helps this carbon absorb back into the soil. This cuts down the figure significantly.
Reason 2: Soil is life
The American writer and farmer Wendell Berry says, “The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
In the same vein, the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) studied the soil for nine years.(1) In short, they saw that conventional farming led to dead soil. This soil could not connect to anything. In other words, the soil scientist Dr. Elaine Ingham found that organic farming yields soil where you can find 600 million to 1 billion good bacteria in one teaspoon of soil. 15,000 different species of bacteria were represented. One teaspoon of conventionally farmed soil had just 100 good bacteria in it.(2)
That is to say, to return to Wendell Berry, organically farmed soil is soil that can be the great connector of lives. Above all, it can be the source of true and beautiful things.
Reason 3: Organic has healing antioxidants
Free radicals cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress loves heart disease, aging, and many types of cancer. Chemicals accelerate the human body’s production of free radicals. Plant-based eating can help combat oxidative stress because it contains antioxidants that can fight free radicals. Organic food has more antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavonols, and anthocynanins. To clarify, that means organic food has more potential to help your body combat the toxins that the modern world contains.(3)
Reason 4: Fake in, fake out
When you see the word organic on something, it means you’re eating food that’s more real. Natural substances defend these crops and animals from illness and the like. Fewer things are used, too. Things are simpler and cleaner all around. Nobody fiddles with the cosmetic appearance of your food. It’s beautifully imperfect, closer to the way Mother Earth intended it to be. No GM (genetically modified) or antibiotics are used to artificially stimulate the growth or health of your food. In short, if you like natural beauty, eat natural! Start at the very root of things.
Reason 5: Organic allows more to flourish on farmland
In addition, organic farming manages land with sustainability in mind. There are more wild animals on organic farmland. There is less interference with the natural food chain and local ecosystem. In other words, organic farming allows more to live. This nourishes every being more in the end. If you are only visualizing warm-blooded mammals, start imagining insects and soil dwellers. Certainly, remember the wise words of Wendell Berry!
"When you see the word organic on something, it means you're eating food that's more real."
Reason 6: Pesticides are the true pests
In trying to eradicate pesky things from our food, we have created something far more harmful. Many chemicals protect crops and animals on conventional farms. Meanwhile, residue remains in and on food you eat. For instance, the heavy metal cadmium is one of the most poisonous things that any person can be around. Yet, it is widely used in conventional farming. In addition, scientists have found that cadmium can cause cancer.(4) On the other hand, there are no artificial pesticides in organic farming.
Reason 7: A symptom of true health
You may be familiar with the idea of Western medicine as treating the symptoms of bad health and not the root causes. Now, just take that often toxic relationship up larger and you can use it to understand how farming affects the world. Conventional farming is like Western medicine. It keeps things going, but that doesn’t mean it keeps them truly healthy. It depends on chemicals, tests, and other things that try and fail to replicate what Mother Nature can do so well all on her own.
Much is depleted while conventional farming maintains productivity. But there’s so much more to aim towards than productivity. There is richness, there is complexity. Left on their own, natural environmental balances can get us closer to true health. Organic farming allows that to happen more.(5) Again we cite Wendell Berry: soil is the healer, the restorer, and the resurrector. It is the only true symptom of true health.
So, there you have it. The lucky seven!
Many factors play a part in whether to buy everything organic. Certainly, every family and every individual has a different situation. No matter what yours is, you can probably find a way to bring some organic into your life. The decision is yours.
(1) Mirsky et al, “Conservation tillage issues: Cover crop-based organic rotational no-till grain production in the mid-Atlantic region, USA”, Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 2011, https://bit.ly/2B6kyzN.
(2) Ingham, E.R., “Review of the effects of twelve selected biocides on target and non-target soil organisms.” Crop Protection, 1985, https://www.soilfoodweb.com/.
(3) Baranski M et al, “Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses.”, British Journal of Nutrition, 2014, https://bit.ly/2ILnOD9.
(4) EU Food Safety, https://bit.ly/2B9YrbT.
(5) Ingham, E.R., “Understanding the Soil Food Web with Dr. Elaine Ingham”, Oxford Real Farming 2015 conference keynote presentation, https://bit.ly/2IIJ2U0.
4 Nov 2019
Plant-based diet: Let food be thy medicine
Plant-based diet is increasingly seen as a way to truly combat chronic diseases and improving overall health.