Organic Foods

History

Because of recent research linking pesticides to many health concerns including cancer, organic farming and the consumption of organic food is on the rise. Organic farming began increasing dramatically in the 1990’s with the number of organic farmers rising approximately 12% each year. This is possibly due to the passing of the Organic Foods Protection Act (OFPA) of 1990. This act required the development of national standards for organically produced agricultural products to assure consumers that products marketed as organic meet consistent, uniform standards.

Definition
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines organic food as those which are grown free of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, growth hormones, and genetically engineered substances. Organic farms also use less fossil fuel, rotate crops to reduce erosion and control pests, and use cover crops to control weeds. To ensure better health, organic livestock are primarily grass-fed. Organic food is labeled with the USDA Organic seal which guarantees the quality of organic products. Organic farms are inspected annually and at random to ensure true organic farming practices are being used.

Why Buy Organic?
For most people, the motivation for buying organic food is better health. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides, and 30% of pesticides used in traditional farming are potentially cancer causing. The average child is exposed to four times more cancer causing pesticides than adults. One reason for this is that children consume more produce per pound of body weight. Environmental toxins including those used in traditional farming have been linked to asthma, childhood cancers including leukemia, and learning/behavioral disorders. Heart disease, osteoporosis, migraines, and hyperactivity have been linked to additives not found in organic food. Organic foods contain 20 times more nutrients than non-organic food including vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and chromium. Organic foods also have higher levels of antioxidants which may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

Another factor in the decision to purchase organic food is the environment. Industrial farming uses more oil than any other industry in the United States. According to the EPA, farm pollution is responsible for 70% of waterway pollution. Organic farming emphasizes the use of renewable resources and conservation of soil and water through crop rotation and other practices. Since organic farmers do not use pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides, air and water pollution is greatly reduced.

Is it for you?
Although the decision to purchase organic foods seems to be an easy one, many people still struggle with it. Research has shown that organic food is healthier for our bodies and our planet while our pocketbooks tell us that it is cheaper to purchase non-organic food. On average, the price of organic food is 20% more than that of its non-organic counterpart. Now that you know the facts, making an informed decision about organic food will be much easier.

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