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Going Organic…What You Need To Know

One of the latest trends in the health market today is going organic.

Though it seems the term has gained popularity by piggybacking onto the Green Movement…there are many benefits to incorporating organic foods and nutrients into your diet.

While researching the subject…one of the most frequently asked questions is simply:

What is Organic?

The bottom line on Organic

The word “organic” for healthy diets pertains to the way food is grown and prepared…but there are many more definitions that may add confusion to its actual meaning.

The dictionary has many different entries for “Organic”, including:

· Of, relating to, or derived from living organisms: organic matter.

· Of, relating to, or affecting a bodily organ: an organic disease.

· Of, marked by, or involving the use of fertilizers or pesticides that are strictly of animal or vegetable origin: organic vegetables; an organic farm.

· Raised or conducted without the use of drugs, hormones, or synthetic chemicals: organic chicken; organic cattle farming.

· Simple, healthful, and close to nature: an organic lifestyle.

The United States government has a different view on the subject…according to them, “organic” is defined as:

“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”

Obviously…there is much more to being labeled organic than meets the eye…especially where Uncle Sam is concerned.

So now that we have a working definition of what’s considered organic…what ARE the benefits of eating foods that are labeled as such?

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Why YOU should be eating organic!

Just on the surface…it’s EASY to see why eating organic foods can enhance a healthy lifestyle…but let’s delve a little deeper…let’s go RIGHT to the source!

According to www.organic.org , their top ten reasons to eat organic are as follows…

1. Reduce The Toxic Load: Keep Chemicals Out of the Air, Water, Soil and our Bodies

· Buying organic food promotes a less toxic environment for all living things. With only 0.5 percent of crop and pasture land in organic, according to USDA that leaves 99.5 percent of farm acres in the U.S. at risk of exposure to noxious agricultural chemicals.

· Our bodies are the environment so supporting organic agriculture doesn’t just benefit your family, it helps all families live less toxically.

2. Reduce if Not Eliminate Off Farm Pollution

· Industrial agriculture doesn’t singularly pollute farmland and farm workers; it also wreaks havoc on the environment downstream. Pesticide drift affects non-farm communities with odorless and invisible poisons. Synthetic fertilizer drifting downstream is the main culprit for dead zones in delicate ocean environments, such as the Gulf of Mexico, where its dead zone is now larger than 22,000 square kilometers, an area larger than New Jersey, according to Science magazine, August, 2002.

3. Protect Future Generations

· Before a mother first nurses her newborn, the toxic risk from pesticides has already begun. Studies show that infants are exposed to hundreds of harmful chemicals in utero. In fact, our nation is now reaping the results of four generations of exposure to agricultural and industrial chemicals, whose safety was deemed on adult tolerance levels, not on children’s. According to the National Academy of Science, “neurologic and behavioral effects may result from low-level exposure to pesticides.”

4. Build Healthy Soil

· Mono-cropping and chemical fertilizer dependency has taken a toll with a loss of topsoil estimated at a cost of $40 billion per year in the U.S., according to David Pimental of Cornell University. Add to this an equally disturbing loss of micronutrients and minerals in fruits and vegetables. Feeding the soil with organic matter instead of ammonia and other synthetic fertilizers has proven to increase nutrients in produce, with higher levels of vitamins and minerals found in organic food, according to the 2005 study, “Elevating Antioxidant levels in food through organic farming and food processing,” Organic Center State of Science Review (1.05)

5. Taste Better and Truer Flavor

· Scientists now know what we eaters have known all along: organic food often tastes better. It makes sense that strawberries taste yummier when raised in harmony with nature, but researchers at Washington State University just proved this as fact in lab taste trials where the organic berries were consistently judged as sweeter. Plus, new research verifies that some organic produce is often lower in nitrates and higher in antioxidants than conventional food. Let the organic feasting begin!

6. Assist Family Farmers of all Sizes

· According to Organic Farming Research Foundation, as of 2006 there are approximately 10,000 certified organic producers in the U.S. compared to 2500 to 3,000 tracked in 1994. Measured against the two million farms estimated in the U.S. today, organic is still tiny. Family farms that are certified organic farms have a double economic benefit: they are profitable and they farm in harmony with their surrounding environment. Whether the farm is a 4-acre orchard or a 4,000-acre wheat farm, organic is a beneficial practice that is genuinely family-friendly.

7. Avoid Hasty and Poor Science in Your Food

· Cloned food. GMOs and rBGH. Oh my! Interesting how swiftly these food technologies were rushed to market, when organic fought for 13 years to become federal law. Eleven years ago, genetically modified food was not part of our food supply; today an astounding 30 percent of our cropland is planted in GMOs. Organic is the only de facto seal of reassurance against these and other modern, lab-produced additions to our food supply, and the only food term with built in inspections and federal regulatory teeth.

8. Eating with a Sense of Place

· Whether it is local fruit, imported coffee or artisan cheese, organic can demonstrate a reverence for the land and its people. No matter the zip code, organic has proven to use less energy (on average, about 30 percent less), is beneficial to soil, water and local habitat, and is safer for the people who harvest our food. Eat more seasonably by supporting your local farmers market while also supporting a global organic economy year round. It will make your taste buds happy.

9. Promote Biodiversity

· Visit an organic farm and you’ll notice something: a buzz of animal, bird and insect activity. These organic oases are thriving, diverse habitats. Native plants, birds and hawks return usually after the first season of organic practices; beneficial insects allow for a greater balance, and indigenous animals find these farms a safe haven. As best said by Aldo Leopold, “A good farm must be one where the native flora and fauna have lost acreage without losing their existence.” An organic farm is the equivalent of reforestation. Industrial farms are the equivalent of clear cutting of native habitat with a focus on high farm yields.

10. Celebrate the Culture of Agriculture

· Food is a ‘language’ spoken in every culture. Making this language organic allows for an important cultural revolution whereby diversity and biodiversity are embraced and chemical toxins and environmental harm are radically reduced, if not eliminated. The simple act of saving one heirloom seed from extinction, for example, is an act of biological and cultural conservation. Organic is not necessarily the most efficient farming system in the short run. It is slower, harder, more complex and more labor-intensive. But for the sake of culture everywhere, from permaculture to human culture, organic should be celebrated at every table.

Wow!

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And we’ve only scratched the surface of this movement towards a healthier and more natural way to eat…

We haven’t even talked about the difference that FRESHNESS makes in taste or the HIGHER nutritional value that organic food holds over most of its unnaturally engineered counterparts.

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Over the past eight months…I have slowly introduced organics into my OWN diet and as a result…I have:

· Actually felt BETTER…and am having LESS occurrences of allergy attacks.

· I have lost a CONSIDERABLE amount of weight as organic foods have a higher nutritional value…also…most desserts are HIGHLY processed so I’ve been skipping them in exchange for a delicious piece of fruit.

· And even though organic foods COST more…I’ve actually SAVED money because the missus and I don’t eat out as much for lack of restaurants that offer organics.

For these reasons…and MORE…I’m glad that I decided to jump on the organic bandwagon…

And I enjoy knowing that the harmful chemicals and pesticides are staying exactly where there should be…

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