You may have heard in recent years about this new trend of everyone beginning to eat organic. Composing the seemingly more luxurious aisles of the grocery store, many wonder what all the hype is about. Some tend to assume it is the same as conventional products, packaged or showcased in a different way, or another form of “green washing” strategies employed by big corporations that many are becoming more aware of. This, however, is far from the truth.
Organic farmers and food companies have to go through extremely rigorous testing before they can be approved for the certification. Simply not using pesticides is not enough. The land must have not been used for any conventional farming for at least the last three years in order to even be considered. They also are not allowed to contain GMO’s, crops that have had DNA segments of other plants, animals, or microbes inserted into their genetic code. Going organic additionally ensures you will not be exposed to hormones or antibiotics, as well as other toxic chemicals such as harmful drug ractopamine in animal products.(1)
This means you will not be ingesting glyphosate (better known as roundup) in the food, either. A common household herbicide, roundup has been linked to leaky gut, cancer, and even autism (2). If that alone weren’t enough, choosing organic will avoid synthetic dyes which have been linked to attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity in children(3).
My life has personally been improved in many ways for the better since switching to organic. This is likely because of the fact that, with awareness of what is put into our food, my perceptions of the food I would see in the store and feed to my loved ones has inevitably changed. Life is not perfect though, and we’re not living in a perfect world. We have to also be able to go out, be social, and not be afraid to take a bite of dessert with our friends at the table or enjoy a meal on the road or whatever. While a 100% organic world and diet might be nice, it just isn’t the world we live in. I did notice some improvements upon increasing my intake of organic foods (perhaps, honestly, before I became more extremist and of a perfectionist about it).
The reality about our food system is very hidden while simultaneously being highly controlled by those conning farmers out of their seed that actually reproduces future food and giving them sterile genetically modified seed, with GMOs making up about 80 percent of what is on shelves, especially at a supermarket as opposed to a sometimes more “conscious” of this local farmers market or health food store. This number is ever growing, too, since new GMO crops are always being tested and put up for FDA approval. There are even GMO salmon now, which are likely being sold in your local grocery stores! However, a few good supermarkets, due to public outcry are not selling the frankenfish, such as Costco and Trader Joe’s(4). Here is a wonderful app that you can download to your phone and use to scan the bar codes of foods at the store to see whether it has GMO’s, or if the company supports GMO labeling or not. It’s helpful to pay attention and try to support the companies that are actively in support of full food disclosure as opposed to big box companies selling organic because they know they need to to make a buck. However, I’ll make a big disclaimer here that while it’s good to learn and be balanced about it, some of us are neurotic and a little perfectionistic and tend to take things to the extreme, robbing ourselves of our own sanity while trying to spare the world (actually, totally nonsensical, frankly hypocritical (speaking only about myself and from experience) and completely unrealistic/ impossible). Life is truly about balance and contrary what I thought when I initially wrote this article (before adding to it to edit this part), it is not a cop out to say that and live in reality. It is what it is and we can only be strong and make a difference if we accept that and simply feed ourselves. So just remember, take care of yourself, and you’re not going to die from still eating some foods with pesticides, that are processed, and maybe even some GMOs *gasp*.
Things weren’t always this way, though. At one point, all food was organic. This was before and WWII, when all kinds of new chemicals were made available and eventually were used in the big-food industry we know today. This is when companies like General Mills and Kellogg’s and started manufacturing more processed, what some even call “food-like” products with longer shelf lives which compose the majority of the American diet consumed today. This food is lacking in some important aspects of nourishment such as live enzymes that come naturally packaged in whole foods to help us digest them better. So it’s no wonder there are so many digestive complaints and seemingly otherwise unnatural diseases.
As people learn more and are waking up to the fact that we are, essentially, in the big scheme of things, as the human race, being “poisoned” with huge amounts of unnecessarily disruptive petrochemicals, pesticides, genetically modified organisms, and a seemingly unending list of additives in our food supply, increasing alternatives with integrity are popping up. These businesses are booming for the first time since, well, your great grandparents were unknowingly picking an “organic” apple off the tree in their family orchard– as far as I’m concerned, foods laden with pesticides are the ones that should have to have a special name in front of their name. There is hope though; people are catching on and the tide is finally turning back to the way it once was, and for good reason. It is becoming much more convenient, popular, and affordable to buy organic and I only see this trend gaining more momentum in the years to come.
In fact, I’m recent years, an even more monumental movement has taken place. It goes beyond the somewhat diminishing standards of our USDA to protect food safety in the manner of toxic chemicals— this is called biodynamic farming. Biodynamic farming utilized methods meant to replenish the soil, which is more needed than ever while many say we are running out of good soil due to destruction- based chemical agriculture. Instead of the merely wiping out entire species whether it be bugs or weeds, biodynamic farming works to replenish the soil, plants, and in turn you, by using regenerative methods like crop rotation, companion planting and livestock in order to help fertilize the ground naturally and sustainably. This is one of the best long- term solutions for nearly every problem we face, from pollution, to cancers, chemical poisoning’s, starvation, mass deaths of critical creatures for our environment and food supply like bees and butterflies, as well as GMOs. When we simply support the God- given mechanisms instilled in this earth, we all flourish, from the smallest organism to the largest and most complex including us. This allows us as humans to benefit alongside the organisms that keep us humming along “behind the scenes”. If there is any one aspect of labeling on a food you can look for, this is definitely the certification you want to look for and support.
It can be empowering to realize that each and every one of us has authority and power to really influence how our collective food is manufactured, processed and treated. There are, thankfully, tools present if we want to, to seek out companies that meet our higher aspirations for the world, and we can choose not to spend the money we don’t want to on companies that may not be our ideal for the world. While we certainly can’t always be perfect, we can aim towards this with hope (and above all else, coming from a place from love rather than fear– something I’ve more recently realized is important to apply to the field of nutrition as well as the other areas of life). This can for instance begin with, purchasing organic products at the market you frequent. Or, you can even check out your nearest farmer’s market, locally owned businesses, and restaurants near you that try to run their business with the ecosystem and collective human health in mind. For more on accessing considerately sourced, high quality products near you, you can check out this article on the most nourishing foods near you.
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