Why The Organic Argument Makes Me Angry
To be honest, "angry" is an understatement. It downright ticks me off. Not because of some people's lack of awareness around this issue. More from the large corporate or influential entities that fuel the ignorance. In my field I hear an initial resistance to organics often. I have heard many people say, “Oh, it’s just a marketing ploy to charge more, there really isn’t any difference - it’s just wasted dollars - it’s too expensive and GMO is just the next fad – it’s not going to hurt me”.
These are real conversation that I am involved in frequently in my attempts to educate and inform on the importance of organics. Then, to top it off, a study comes out such as the recent Stanford study (which was skewed) that said organics are no more healthy than conventional crops (pesticide sprayed crops). A study such as this then becomes the point of fueling the debate over whether organic foods are a smart choice for healthier living or a marketing tool that fools people into overpaying. Unfortunately, this leaves many consumers that are on the fence about this issue downright confused - and rightfully so!
So why does this tick me off? Because it is based on a lack of information and is painfully wrong. Fatally wrong with horrible consequences. However, a few days ago a powerful study was released that pulled back the curtain on the truth of this argument of just HOW toxic pesticides are. I'll share more about this in a moment. In case you too are on the fence about this issue let’s look at just a few of the basics here:
Organic crops are grown without the use of toxic pesticides. This demands the fruit or vegetable to have to “fight harder” in nature to repel pests. It does this through it’s own production of Polyphenol compounds and Antioxidants. These are the very compounds that fight free radicals in your body to prevent cancer and premature aging.
Conventional crops are grown with a variety of pesticides - a chemical cocktail. The synergistic effect of these pesticides is even more caustic than ONE pesticide acting alone. Conventional produce packs a double whammy: They have decreased levels of Polyphenols and Antioxidants PLUS a toxic residue of pesticides that are proven to be toxic disruptors of the endocrine system, immune system, central nervous system and are carcinogenic. For a “few” examples here are the 3 most popular types of pesticides:
2-Round Up Ready GMO Herbicide
1) Organophosphates are one of the most widely used pesticides across the world. Among other things, they are used as insecticides on grains, fruit and vegetables. These pesticides were originally developed in World War II for chemical warfare as nerve gases. They are proven to impact the immune system, central nervous system, endocrine system and are carcinogenic.
2) Round Up Ready GMO Herbicide. Top of the news yesterday was the first in-depth objective analysis of the impact of this herbicide and the results were telling and not pretty. The paper, published in the scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology on September 19th, found that rats fed on a diet containing Roundup resistant GM maize, or given water containing Roundup at levels permitted in drinking water, over a two-year period, died significantly earlier than rats fed on a standard diet. You can learn more about the compelling data it revealed here.
When considering children, there is especially no room for the organic debate. Children are undergoing such rapid development and cell division that the impact of pesticides on their developing bodies and brains has long term affects. Pesticides directly fiddle with healthy cell division in utero and post natal leading to conditions such as low birth weight, learning and developmental disabilities, ADHD, Autism, cancer, hormone disruption, etc. Frankly, many of the fruits fed to children that aren’t organic could be viewed as child abuse. Sound extreme? Ever seen a child eat a Non-Organic strawberry? With every bite they are getting a chemical cocktail of pesticides that haven’t even been tested for synergistic effects yet are each known to be endocrine disruptors and carcinogenic. Is giving a child a teaspoon of potent toxins legal in this day and age? Under the guise of a produce or a food product it appears to be.
I understand organics are not offered everywhere and having it all the time everywhere is a tall order. I have been in an array of areas and explored resources for organics: From Farmers Markets to stores such as Trader’s Joe's, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Costco to WalMart! There are many resources out there these days for organics and it is growing. Sometimes it is simply NOT available or may be cost prohibitive. Knowing which foods have higher or lower density of pesticides is helpful when organics aren’t available. The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides is a great resource for helping you with those facts. You can download it here.
If you were on the fence about the valid importance of organics, I hope this has given you some tangible specifics as to why Organics ARE superior. It’s time we stop arguing. The facts are stacked in favor of organics.
May you be well and thrive,
Sarah Reilly, CNE, CNC