Did you know fruit, vegetables and many other items in your weekly shopping basket are grown in soil that has been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides? Once the seedlings start sprouting they are then chemically sprayed again to stop insects feasting on the flourishing fruits. Some produce is then waxed to withstand the long journey to the supermarket, protecting it against the many hands that handle it in the process and to stop potential damage to the produce while in transit. Enhancing the colours of fruits and vegetables with dyes is also not an uncommon process before it is placed on the shelves ready for sale. More than 29,500 tonnes of herbicides, insecticides fungicides and plant growth regulators are used in Australia every year. By the time you have stir fried your vegetables or chopped up a colourful fruit salad you could very well be serving yourself, your friends or your family a cocktail of chemicals.
Thinking about this alone is enough to justify the few extra dollars for the peace of mind of knowing you are gaining extra nutrients, not contributing to pollution and avoiding nasty chemicals and poisons when you buy local and organic produce. Purchasing from certified organic growers and producers is a guarantee that the farm has been using organic farming methods for at least 3 years. If you still need a little more convincing or are unaware about how eating organic can dramatically improve your health, here are the top 10 reasons for you to support your local organic grocer and avoid the international super market giants.
1. Avoid Chemicals
Eating organically grown foods is the only way to avoid the synthetic pesticides and fertilisers in commercially grown food. The average chemically grown apple has 20-30 artificial poisons on its skin, even after rinsing. Crops treated with any amount of chemicals will have a negative impact on your body. Organic crops are more nutritious and won’t deplete your health by putting unwanted and unnecessary toxins into your body.
2. More Nutrients
Organically grown foods have more nutrients, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and micronutrients than commercially grown foods because the soil is managed and nourished with sustainable practices. When comparing the nutritional value of organically grown and conventionally grown fruits, vegetables, and grains, studies show there are significantly more of several nutrients in organic food crops.
3. Preserve Our Ecosystems
Organic farming supports farming in harmony with nature and focuses on environmentally sustainable practices. Preservation of soil and crop rotation keep farmlands healthy and chemical-free. Wildlife, insects, frogs, birds, and soil organisms are all vital parts of keeping the earth, crops and farms functioning to their full potential. Reducing nitrogen fertilisers can assist in lowering Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
4. Reduce Pollution
Chemicals, pesticides, and fertilisers contaminate our environment, poison our precious water supplies, and destroy the value of fertile farmland. Certified organic standards do not permit the use of toxic chemicals in farming and require responsible management of healthy soil and biodiversity. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. Farming without pesticides is also better for nearby birds and animals as well as people who live close to farms.
Many people who eat organic products do so because organic food tastes so delicious. Don’t believe it? Take a bite out of a non-organic cucumber, apple, berry or tomato and then try an organically grown one. You simply will not believe how sweet, juicy and full of flavour they are. The reason for such a significant taste difference is because organic fruit and veg isn’t coated with pesticides and is allowed to ripen fully in the field and brought directly to you. Without long-distance shipping, gassing to simulate the ripening process and sitting for weeks in storage the amazing natural flavours shine.
6. Avoid Genetically Modified Food
A GMO is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified using the methods of genetic engineering. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Currently it is not an Australian legislation requirement for foods made with genetically modified material to be labelled as such. The only way to know your product is GM free and made without nanotechnology is to purchase certified organic.
7. Directly Support Australian Farmers
Family farms that are certified organic farm in harmony with their surrounding environment. They need your support as small organic family farms have a hard time competing in the marketplace and buying their produce gives them a fighting chance in today’s globalised economy. Buying non-organic products from large supermarket chains is usually supporting multinational food companies.
8. Certified Organic Products are Truly Free-Range and Pasture-Fed
If you eat meat or dairy products, going organic has never been more essential to safeguard your health. Intensively farmed dairy cows and farm animals are given antibiotics, growth promoting drugs, anti-parasite drugs and many other medicines on a daily basis. These drugs are passed onto the consumers of these meat and dairy items. Certified organic animal produce has to be hormone and antibiotic free and must be both pasture-fed and free-range to be certified. You are also guaranteed that organically raised animals have the highest welfare standards, with plenty of space to graze naturally on organic pasture, and no caged chickens or sow stalls. They are also transported according to strict standards and only go to certified organic abattoirs, with comfortable holding pens and where the animals are rendered unconscious before they are killed and no animal is killed within the sight of others.
9. Hidden Costs of Non-Organic Farming
We pay for conventional, intensively farmed food through our taxes, with billions of dollars spent every year subsidising fossil fuels used by conventional farmers (as nearly all of the chemicals used in conventional farming are reliant on cheap oil) and cleaning up the mess agrochemicals make to our natural water supplies. In personal terms, buying organic results in less health problems from the ingestion of pesticide residues and chemical fertilisers which means less medical costs later in life and reduced incidences of food allergies and sensitivities.
10. Keep Our Children and Future Safe
You can vote for a sustainable future for the many generations to come by purchasing organic food. If you like the idea of your children and grandchildren growing up healthy and happy, being able to visit the countryside and play in the forests and fields like we did when we were young, then go organic for the sake of all our futures.
Food is the source that sustains us. Humans have known this for millennia, yet we seem to have lost touch with this simple truth. Why have we given away the power to sustain our own lives? Why is the majority of our food supply controlled by multinational corporations, most of which are dependent upon industrial fertilisers and pesticides? We can’t expect to fuel our body and achieve optimal health by eating food, laced with toxic chemicals.
So, why settle for getting by when you can thrive? The use of pesticides in conventional agriculture is affecting not only the people who eat the treated crops, but also farm workers, people living near farms, wildlife, pollinators and the environment. We are all in this together and the simple choice of buying organic is the best option for all of us to live longer, healthier, happier lives while having a fatter wallet. Go organic for a more genuine, enjoyable and cost effective future.
Written by Prue Rustean