Essentially, everything you eat is “organic,” because it is related to or derived from living matter. It is commonly accepted that “organic farming,” as we define it today, is a cleaner, more wholesome and sustainable process that was started by J.J. Rodale in the 1940s.
As people continue to become more physically, psychologically, emotionally, and environmentally aware, it has become even more important to truly understand what constitutes “organic” food and whether it is better to buy organic.
What Is Organic?
The guidelines to be considered organic vary greatly by country. In the 1990s, the U.S. started the process to regulate and define what can be considered organic. A collaboration between the National Organics Standards Board and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) resulted in the final regulations being released and implemented in 2002.
For crops in the U.S. to be considered organic, they must be grown using no:
- Synthetic pesticides
- Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
- Petroleum-based fertilizers
- Sewage sludge-based fertilizers
Organic livestock requirements include:
- Access to the outdoors
- No antibiotics used
- No growth hormones
- Organic natural foods only, no animal by-products
Why Should I Buy Organic?
There are over 600 chemicals approved for use in the agricultural industry of the U.S. and billions of pounds are used every year. If you do the math, this comes out to, on average, about 16 pounds of pesticides per person per year if you are consuming non-organic and processed foods.
Why Is Organic so Popular?
At the very least, pesticides can make you feel ill. Worst case scenario, pesticides can kill you. Pesticides can accumulate in the body over time, creating a number of different problems. Research being conducted is indicating that while the cases of food allergies are on the rise, they may be linked to the pesticides used and not the foods themselves.
Some consumers will be more sensitive to chemicals and other synthetics and only need to come close to them to react. Some symptoms that can be brought about by pesticides include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Digestive disorders
- Immune system depression
- Birth defects
- Neurological issues
- Increased risk of cancer
Why Do Consumers Buy Organic?
There are many reasons to choose organic products for yourself and your family. Just some of the benefits include:
- Natural practices only (no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides)
- No antibiotics
- No growth hormones
- Picked ripe and fresh, not green and “ripened” in a warehouse
- Soil preservation practices result in more nutritious plant-based foods
On an environmental level, organic farming:
- Reduces use of chemicals/synthetics
- Promotes biodiversity
- Conserves natural habitats
- Responds to site-specific characteristics
- Fosters cycling of resources
State and Local Standards
Local requirements can sometimes make it more difficult, even impossible, for a producer to be certified organic. Proximity to farms with excrement run-off or to fields that are crop-dusted can eliminate a farmer from the certification, even though their practices meet the requirements.
Just because they are not “certified organic,” does not mean that they are not using best practices and growing incredible produce or meats and eggs and dairy. Do not count them out just because they don’t have the “Certified Organic” sign. Smaller growers (usually under $5,000 annual sales) do not need to be certified, but they do still need to follow the federal guidelines.
The key is getting to know your producers. Talk to them at farmers markets or ask for a tour of their facilities and fields. They will be glad to let you know how they stay organic and natural.
How to Go Organic
If you want to really have some fun and learn a lot as you do it, grow your own organic products. You can get exercise, grow exactly what you want, experiment with new foods, get fresh air and sunshine, and even make it a family event.
Of course, that is a big commitment and takes a lot of time (but not necessarily space!), so you can also find organic items by patronizing:
- Farmers markets
- CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture)
Your local supermarket is convenient, but it may be healthier to shop locally at your smaller businesses. Look for local bakeries that use organic ingredients. Find a butcher that chooses only animals raised following organic practices and who processes by the guidelines. Raise chickens or buy eggs from a local farmer or chicken rancher.
Once you start to look, you will find that there are many sources of organic products all around you.
Sustainable Farming for a Sustainable Future
Going with organic products is just one way we can work together to improve our world. Help create a sustainable energy future by contacting Kiwi Energy.