Why Eat Organic?

Non organic apples cost on average $1.18/pound. Organic apples average $2-$4/pound depending on the variety and where they are purchased. Looking at this comparison one might wonder “are organic apples worth the extra dough?” At first glance the apples appear to be the same in value, but when we dig deeper we can clearly see we are not truly comparing apples to apples.
 
Organic food is defined as being free of harmful chemicals, synthetics, pesticides, GMOs and grown in safe soil. Specific requirements must be met and maintained in order for products to be labeled as “organic.” 
 
The National Academy of Sciences reports that 90% of chemicals applied to foods have not been tested for long-term health effects before being deemed safe. Eating organic protects you from all of those harmful chemicals. Organic foods have more nutrients, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and micronutrients than commercially grown foods because the soil is managed and nourished with sustainable practices by responsible standards. 
 
The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine conducted a review of 41 published studies comparing the nutritional value of organically grown conventionally grown fruits, vegetables and grains and concluded that there are significantly more of several nutrients in organic food crops.
 
GMOs (Genetically Modified Foods) contaminate our food supply at an alarming rate. Foods do not have to be labeled in America. Organic food cannot be genetically modified in any way. GMOs have been linked to a variety of diseases and disorders. 
 
Avoid hormones, antibiotics and drugs in animal products. Conventional meat and dairy are the highest risk foods for contamination by harmful substances. More than 90% of pesticides Americans consume are found in the fat and tissue of meat and dairy products.
 
According to EPA reports, a majority of pesticide intake comes from meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products because they are high on the food chain. All of these chemicals are a major concern as we see an increase in early onset of puberty, growth of tumors, heightened cancer risks and genetic problems. Research has shown different pesticides to be associated with a variety of health problems including cancer, hormone disruption and abnormal brain and nervous system development. 
 
If you are unable to buy organic, buy less contaminated conventional produce. Each year the Environmental Working Group ranks popular fruits and EWG_logo2015vegetables based on the amount of pesticide residues found on them. I recommend printing a list of the “dirty dozen” and a list of the “clean fifteen”. The dirty dozen is the top 12 most contaminated foods that you should purchase only organic and the clean fifteen are the 15 foods with the least contamination. 
 
Under federal law, antibiotics and growth hormones are prohibited in organic meat and dairy products. Conventional meat and dairy does not adhere to this rule. Some meat will be labeled as natural and appear to be safe and free of harmful chemicals. This is not the case. “Natural” is not what it appears to be according to meat. Natural and naturally raised are two different things. Natural is defined by Food Safety and Inspection Service as ‘post-harvest products’ that contain neither artificial ingredients or added color and minimally processed. Natural does not refer to how the animal was raised. USDA Agricultural Marketing Service refers to livestock that was not fed animal by products or given growth promoting hormones and antibiotics. Buying organic meat ensures you are getting meat that is free of harmful products. 
 
Not just any meat can be organic. It must be certified by an independent organization that is accredited by the USDA. If organic it means that both the animal’s feed was organic (produced w/o synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides or GMO seeds) and that the animal was not given growth hormones or antibiotics.
 
Grass Fed applies to cattle, sheep, goats and bison. The animals must be fed “grass”. According to the USDA animals cannot have grain or grain by products and have continuous access to pasture during the growing season. Even grass fed can be misleading as many pasture-raised cows are moved to a separate area for ‘finishing’ prior to slaughter and are then fed grains. Thus the ideal is fully grass-fed and grass-finished. Free range applies to poultry. It implies that the animal was not confined to a feed lot and is free to roam. 
 
Organic foods provide more vitamins, nutrients, minerals and enzymes and spares you from all of the toxic chemicals that wreak havoc to your health. Some people out there still want to purchase the cheaper option. They question why real food is so expensive, but the real question is why is processed food so cheap? Remember that health is your wealth. Choose wisely…

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