With Organic September nearly upon us, I’ll say it again – organic makes so much sense. Organic can sometimes be difficult to explain, because there isn’t just one good reason for buying organic – there are lots.
Many people will have a romantic view of the English countryside, which they have taken from childhood books and memories of warm summer days enjoying walks through fields of crops. But a lot has changed, and today conventional farming is highly industrialised, to maximise yield at least cost.
The bottom line is that buying organic is better for the environment and my view is that if it is better for the health of the environment, then it is better for my health too.
Here are 10 great reasons to eat organic food:
In Tuscany this summer, it was hotter than it has been for the 9 years we have been coming. Trees that we planted years ago are dying and the vegetable garden struggled under the merciless heat. There was a programme on TV recently with apparently the brightest minds discussing what they thought was the greatest single problem facing humankind. Then they all debated and agreed with the guy who said WATER.
Reason one – In organic farming, the soil not only holds water better, but it also reduces the speed and volume of run-off water after heavy rains.
One day last year, my ten-year old daughter came home from school and said that our planet Earth has the same amount of water that it every had because it just goes up and down over and over. I never learned that. So if we have the same amount of water, why is water such a problem? Isn’t it just a distribution problem? Apparently not. I was shocked to learn that we are unable to clean everything out of polluted water.
Certain pharmaceutical drugs and chemicals remain in ‘purified’ water, so the overall amount of usable water in the world is reducing. Intensive agriculture regularly sprays weeds with weed killer, bugs with bug killer and fungi with mould killer. These poisons are in our soil and water and the most far flung parts of the world.
Reason two – Organic farming reduces pesticide use by 98% and artificial fertiliser by 95%.
If you do any farming or gardening, you soon realise that without topsoil, little plant life is possible. We’re all hearing about the problems with crop failures and another hike in food prices that is coming. Intensive conventional farming contributes to the depletion of topsoil with little effort to prevent erosion or protect topsoil.
Reason three – Organic farming conserves and builds fertile soil.
You probably know that conventional agriculture relies on artificial fertilizers. But you may be surprised to learn that to produce just one ton of nitrogen fertiliser takes one ton of oil and one hundred tons of water – and produces seven tons of greenhouse gasses. Over 20% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from industrialised food and farming. This is not sustainable.
Reason four – Organic farming produces higher levels of soil organic matter and soil carbon that non-organic farming. By choosing organic, we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint.
The Advertising Standards Agency won’t let me make a blanket statement that organic food is better for you. But it’s okay for me to say (and proven) that organic farming is better for wildlife and allows bugs, butterflies and birds to thrive on farmland that is not poisoned with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Organic farming relies on wildlife to help control pests, so wide field edges are left uncultivated for bugs, bees and birds to flourish. I think then that it must be better for me.
Reason five – Insect, bird and plant life is up to 50% greater on organic farms.
Because of the living conditions in conventional farming, many animals are stressed and become sick. Because of this – and to speed up their growth – farmers routinely add antibiotics to animal feed. Antibiotic residues in meat and dairy products could result in the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria that make people sick, thereby reducing the effectiveness of our antibiotics.
Reason six – Organically-reared animals are rarely given antibiotics.
The stats about unemployment are worrying – especially for young people starting their way in the world. Not working for anyone is hard, but for kids especially it easily creates low self-esteem, anger and vandalism. in this worrying economic climate, we need worthwhile jobs for people.
Reason seven – Organic farming increases jobs on farms by 73% and contributes to the economic and social well-being of rural areas.
Organic food is free from chemicals used in conventional farming and is grown in rich soil. No food has higher amounts of beneficial minerals, essential amino acids and vitamins than organic food. Organic food contains higher levels of vitamin C and minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and chromium as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants. Organic milk has 68% more Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Nutrients aside, would you rather eat an apple that has been sprayed up to 16 times with as many as 30 different pesticides – or an organic one?
Organic processed foods contain no artificial additives and preservatives. Some chemical additives that preserve food or add colour or flavour affect individual well being, for example, tartrazine food colouring is linked with hyperactivity. All controversial additives are banned in organic food, which means you avoid a wide range and large quantity of potentially allergenic or harmful additives. Organic processed foods also do not contain hydrogenated fats. Trans fats have no known nutritional benefits and because of the effect they have on blood cholesterol, they increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
Reason eight – Organic food is the best QUALITY food you can eat.
Let’s face it. We live in a toxic world. From exhaust fumes in the air to chemicals in carpets to vaporisers in public toilets, there’s a lot we can’t do anything about. But we can manage what we eat – so I eat the cleanest food possible.
Reason nine – The purest food is organic.
When I looked into my first baby’s eyes, I knew I would do all that I could for her. I breastfed her until she was grabbing at my spoon and then I realised I needed to learn how to feed her. Even if you trust the maximum residue levels that the government set – they are for an ‘average’ person. They are not for tiny babies who not only aren’t very big, but are also developing in all kinds of ways.
Reason ten – When it comes to babies, give them the best possible start in life. Create a foundation of wellness that will enable them to be well and follow their dreams.
I like things that make sense. Organic makes sense – for my kids, me and the world.