A Standard We Can Believe In
In the United States, you can't call something "organic" without having it certified according to a strict set of regulations called the "National Organic Program." Whenever you see the "USDA Organic" seal, that means that food has been certified to conform to this set of legal definitions and rules.
Our Health and Our Childrens' Health
As a general rule, all synthetic chemicals are prohibited in organic agriculture. The presence of agricultural chemicals like pesticides in our food system is greater now than it ever has been, and the long term effects of exposure to these chemicals are, at best, not reliably known, and at worst, proven to cause harm to humans. Due to the sheer amount of these chemicals that are used all around us, we just can't escape them. We need to be particularly careful about what we expose our children to: even small concentrations of agricultural chemicals in growing bodies isn't good. The best way to minimize our exposure to them is to stop consuming so darn many of them! The easiest way to do that right now is to eat more organic produce.
The Health of Our Environment
Synthetic pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals used by conventional growers have many unintended side effects. They decrease biodiversity by enabling monocropping, or the growth of only one type of plant. The release of excess agricultural chemicals into the environment via the groundwater, streams and air harm naturally occurring plants, animals and insects. Organic standards not only promote biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem they are required too!
Unknown Risks of GMOs
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) such as genetically modified seeds and foods are prohibited in Organic standards. Organic certification is one of the only safeguards against GMOs. Up to 90% of U.S. soybeans, corn, cotton, canola, and sugar beets are now genetically engineered and routinely found in human and animal foods with no labels. Only having been introduced in the 1990's, the long term health and environmental risks which GMOs pose have not yet been adequately investigated.
What To Especially Eat Organic
Every year the Environmental Working Group releases their list of fruits and vegetables that absorb the highest levels of synthetic pesticides and organically-grown should especially be sought out. Here we've combined their list with some thoughts of our own.
- Bell Peppers
- Kale and Collard Greens
Resources & Bibliography
If you want to learn more about the benefits of organic food and farming, these resources are a great place to start:
- 10 Reasons to Go Organic - Prevention Magazine
- "Local and Organic Food and Farming: The Gold Standard" - The Organic Consumers' Association
- The National Organic Program Official Website - The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Organic Foods Production Act - The federal legislation behind organic regulations
- "Dirty Dozen Report" - Annual report published by The Environmental Working Group
- GMO FAQs - The Non-GMO Project
- "Exposure to Pesticides In Pregnancy Can Lower Children's IQ" - Time Magazine