Does Buying Organic Matter?

 

We’ve all been there. You’re picking up apples for the week and you come across the organic ones…then gaze over to the conventional…and wonder if the price tag justifies the health benefits.

I know how you feel. Our budgets don’t allow extra for food, not with the thousands of other bills we have to pay that month. But, consider this: Americans pay less for food than any other country. Americans spend a lot less of their income on food today than 50 years ago (17.5 percent of our income in 1960, and 9.6 percent today).

While there are ways to save with organic buying, it’s simply more expensive. It just is. Why? Organic farmers must obtain rigorous  documenting and approvals before labeling their products organic (I know, I’ve looked into certifying). Everything from the seeds, to the equipment, to the compost, to any pesticides must be totally natural. Have you ever weeded your small garden by hand? Imagine how much work these farmers have to do to keep their farms weed-less. Even the handlers and packers have to be certified. Organic farms are, therefore, inherently smaller organizations.

 

Although it comes with an added price, organic is absolutely crucial to your health and the environment. Organic products cannot be genetically modified nor contain pesticides.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are seeds which are manufactured to survive harsh pesticides which they normally would die of. They also contain a bacteria called bT toxin, which blows up the stomachs of bugs which eat it. Finally, these crops are doused with pesticides, man made chemicals used to kill a certain species. GMOs are most found in corn, soy, beet sugar (which is what’s used in all your processed foods) and wheat products. Before you go claiming GMOs can feed the world and have been proven safe, let me remind you of the thousands of Indian farmers which have developed cancer from working in these fields and the 60 countries which have banned or labeled these products. It’s not hard to find videos of countries and small African farmers burning these seeds. Because, you see, there’s an ethical issue with these seeds too. They self-destruct after one year. Farmers cannot reuse seeds since they have from the beginning of time. And if your nonGMO seed mixes with a GMO seed, the companies have been known to sue the farmers for using their product without purchase. But this is a normal event where different seed species migrate and mingle with others. This is forcing farmers to be dependent on companies (who will make seeds and price them as they wish) for their very livelihood every year. Can you imagine being a poor, African farmer and finally saving enough money to buy your first seeds to start your business. This business may get your children into school and keep food in their bellies. But, you can only buy Monsanto seeds and you can’t afford them next year when your first crop wasn’t as good as expected. What happens when the few companies which control all our seeds, and thus all our food, decide that we aren’t allowed to have their seeds without paying an exorbitant amount? What happens when we can’t afford it? And all those studies were funded by the same companies which sell the seeds, so you can be sure they are ethical, as well (not!). Many, many studies have found that the GMO seeds and their pesticides are carcinogenic. Just this spring (2015), the World Health Organization deemed the most used pesticide in the United States, glyphosate, as “probably carcinogenic.” It’s what your children’s cereal is made of, in their chicken nuggets and french fries, and is loaded in their Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese. No biggie.
So, why are you told these are safe? All studies that are noting these products as “safe” in the media are created and paid for by the very companies which sell these products, allowing a clear bias into the studies. There have been numerous studies noting cancerous tumors in rats in unbiased, independent studies, but the media does not share there. The media is also owned mostly by these powerful, rich companies. The studies which show that GMOs are “substantially equivalent” to God-created plants are focusing on their macronutrients; they’re saying the protein, carbohydrates, and fats have the same percentages in GMO and nonGMO products. I’m glad to know I’m still getting my fats from corn, but they are totally ignoring two things: micronutrients (vitamins and minerals, of which we get what our cells need to survive) and what altered DNA from these plants (altered in a laboratory) does to our DNA. Because, as they transform nonGMO seeds when they are in close proximity, they transform our DNA, too. What message does that send to God, sorry, you didn’t quite make us or our food good enough, and we know better (any thoughts of the Garden of Eden, Babylon, here)? Do you think He made your body to accept man-made DNA?

 

Conventional lettuce contains over 50 different pesticides. That’s outrageous. Do you know what’s in those 50 chemicals? They are produced by the same company which brought you DDT and Agent Orange. Real trustworthy. Unfortunately, in the United States we do not even mandate labeling of GMOs, but buying organic ensures you avoid both GMOs and pesticides. There is also a voluntary “NonGMO Project Verified” nonGMO label, which signifies that the product is not GMO, but is not organic. The health impact of pesticides includes an array of ills: headaches, eczema, allergies, endocrine issues, thyroid problems, infertility, and even cancer. A 2009 study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry found that children who live in homes which use pesticides are twice as likely to be diagnosed with brain cancer. Children’s nervous and immune systems and brains are not fully formed until after their teen years, making them much more susceptible to issues from pesticide exposure. Another study by the Public Health Institute, UC Berkeley School of Public Health, and California Department of Health Services found in 2007 that children who were subject to organochlorine (chlorinated hydrocarbons, which is what DDT is, though others are still permitted today) pesticides had a six times greater change of developing autism spectrum disorders. Children can simply not detox the amount of pesticides they are bombarded with in their food, water, backyard grass, and homes. The pesticides stay in the body’s organs, including the brain, and cause irreparable damage, from allergies to eczema to cancer.

So, how can you eat organic without breaking the bank?

  1. Shop Organic the “Dirty Dozen.” These are the produce which have the most pesticides. You can actually lower your pesticide exposure by 90% by avoiding  these conventionally-grown.
    • Peaches
    • Apples
    • Sweet bell peppers
    • Celery
    • Nectarines
    • Strawberries
    • Cherries
    • Pears
    • Imported grapes
    • Spinach
    • Lettuce
    • Potatoes
  2. Shop the Clean 12 Non-Organic*

     

    • Onions
    • Avocados
    • Frozen sweet corn
    • Pineapples
    • Mangos
    • Asparagus
    • Frozen sweet peas
    • Kiwi
    • Bananas
    • Cabbage
    • Broccoli
    • Papaya
      *They change these lists each year. It used to the be the Clean 15. Clean 12, not so catchy. These items have the least amount of pesticides.
  3. Stock up on sales. Like anything, organic stuff goes on sale. Actually, with a shorter shelf life it goes on sale more.
  4. Shop local. Find a local organic farmer or CSA share. Barter if you can.
  5. Don’t stop at food. You actually can save a load of money by turning the rest of your house organic: your laundry detergent, every cleaner, soaps and shampoos, lotions and other household products can be made for a fraction of the price (and without the harmful side effects. Parabens are found in over 98% of breast cancer tissue. Look for the word on your face creams, shampoos, and deodorants {guess what that is by?}).
  6. Try different foods. Are organic mangoes on sale? Google a recipe and give them a try instead of another fruit on your list that week.
  7. Less is more. When you start buying organic, items will add up quickly. Realize that you actually do not need as much food as you think (you actually will feel fuller with less once your body adjusts, because you will be taking in more nutrition). Try to create simple recipes. We even have a “plate” dinner at least once a week, where we have a couple plates: fruits, veggies, cheese and meat, etc. We also eat meat only twice a week or so (for dinner).
  8. Cook at home more, and skip eating out. Sorry.
  9. You will save on health care costs. You will find you and your family get sick a lot less when your bodies have the nutrients to fend off illnesses.
  10. Cut back elsewhere. We mostly buy used things and splurge on our food. You’ll find the majority of my clothes, furniture, and even my son’s toys are used. We buy one loaf of bread a month (because it’s really not that great for you anyways!). I am happy living with less in those areas to make ample room in my budget to buy high quality foods that keep us healthy and happy.

Over time, you will feel better and possibly even lose weight. You will be spending more on your groceries (or maybe not when you cut down on your items), but you will have a lot to show for it. Since going mostly organic, I haven’t been to a doctor in almost four years. My son rarely needs to see one (okay, he’s never needed to see one, I just am paranoid). He’s eaten mostly organic his whole life, and has never been diagnosed with any bacterial infection, though he’s been in daycare since three months of age. Eating organic makes a huge difference in your energy level, too. I know it’s an extra expense and can be a big life change, but it’s worth it.

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