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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Organic Foods-- What's the Big Deal?
Ten Reasons to Eat Organic Foods by Chrys Ostrander

Links by Order of Appearance
1)Stop Eating Chemicals
Organic foods must, by law (WSDA) (USDA), be free of synthetic chemicals
such as those which are easily detected on conventionally grown fruits,
vegetables and grains. "Conventional produce" is the type available in most supermarket produce sections. While far from over, there are signs that chemical abuse in American farming is declining and some of the most hazardous chemicals are no longer available to American farmers.
Unfortunately, under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the General Agreement on Tarrifs and Trade (GATT) rules and others, there are very few barriers to trade with respect to imported food which has a higher likelihood of contamination. Chemicals which have been banned for use in the United States (but which are still manufactured by U.S. Companies) are still routinely used agriculturally in other parts of the world. Due to a poor testing program for imported foods, these banned chemicals come back to our dinner plates and into our bodies via the deadly "Circle of Poison" unless we shift to an organic diet. USDA estimates some 20% of our fruits and vegetables are imported. Only 1-2% of these are inspected for pesticide residues. FDA's tests of imported produce
can detect only about half of the chemicals available worldwide.

US-EPA gets more than 2,000 notices of the export of unregistered pesticides yearly.
Recipient countries don't have to report whether these pesticides are
applied to produce which is later exported to the U.S., and FDA does not
test for them. Importers are rarely penalized for violations. Critics
contend that inspections do not adequately protect the public. It is ironic, however, that recent testing shows the highest levels of the most toxic residues is on domestic (U.S. Grown) produce. Many of the chemicals now in use were approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. Long before extensive research had been done linking them to cancer. It is now estimated that 60% of all herbicides, 90% of all fungicides and 30% of all pesticides are carcinogenic

Now, for the first time, because of a new federal law, every chemical in
use and proposed will be tested to determine whether organ damage, birth
defects, micarriages, sterility, endocrine system problems and other risks are associated with each chemical. The latest studies show unequivocally that it's safer to eat organic foods than ones produced using chemical pesticides. You can start eating clean, good, organic food right now!

2)Protect Your Children
Children are, as a rule, more vulnerable to toxins than are adults. This is why children especially should be fed an organic diet and taught how to resist junk-food culture. It may take years before many ailments associated with chronic or even episodic contact with toxins become apparent. Children,we hope, do have many healthy years ahead of them. In the aftermath of the Alar scare of the 1980's, a study concluded that the average child is exposed to four times as many cancer causing pesticides in food than are adults, based on the types of foods children are most likely to eat. Food choice can have a substantial effect on a child's future health.

3)Preserve Water Quality and Air Quality
Water and air are our most important resources. Infiltration of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and other soluable chemicals into surface and groundwater is a major source of concern all across North America. These dangerous synthetic chemicals are found in many cases in significant concentrations even in water supplies now being consumed by millions of people. Some herbicides actually evaporate into the air after application and drift for miles (still having bad effects on plant life!) and some agricultural chemicals bind to dust particles which you breath in during dust storms. In the United States, massive testing of municipal water systems has shown that the principal sources of drinking water for more than half the population have been contaminated. Right next door to Spokane in Airway Heights the city water supply has been declared undrinkable due to elevated nitrates, a sign of fertilizer pollution. Organic farmers do not contribute to water pollution. Organic livestock farms are prohibited from being point sources of nitrate.

4)Prevent Soil Erosion
Across North America, soil is eroding seven times faster than it can be
replaced. According to Cornell University, it costs us about $44 billion a year. Conventional farming has been guilty of extracting wealth from the land at the expense of our topsoil. Poor cultivation and cultural practices have created a worldwide topsoil crisis. Organic farmers are bound by law and oath to have a soil building program in place for maintaining and returning the tilth of this precious resource.

5)Protect Farm Worker Health
Farm workers in this country and abroad are exposed to the highest
concentrations of agricultural poisons of any segment of the population and the devastation to them and their families is well documented. These are the people who tend and harvest our food, they deserve better. Help in their struggle for a safe work environment and vote with your pocketbook by buying organic foods.

6)Support Small Scale Local Farmers
Most organic farms are small, independently owned and operated or family
farms of less than 100 acres (some are pretty big). By buying locally
produced foods, you are keeping local farms viable; you are not contributing to the environmental and social costs of the worldwide transport of foods or supporting a system based on the exploitation of third world labor. You are helping your community attain food security. It is a myth that huge, corporate agribusiness is more efficient than the small farmer.

7)Save Energy
Organic farming is accomplished with less energy consumption. Inputs like fertilizer are naturally occurring and require less processing than
substances manufactured by huge chemical companies. Organic food generally travels less miles from farm to market saving energy in transport. Many organic farmers incorporate alternative and renewable energy sources into their farming/homesteading systems.

8)Promote bio-diversity
Many large scale agri-businesses operate by the method of mono-cropping-- the practice of planting large plots of land with the same crop, year after year. This depletes the soil of nutrients causing farmers to become more and more dependent on fertilizers. Also, this upsets natures pest controls by reducing species variety. Different plants attract different bugs and the more bugs around a farm, the higher the percentage of beneficial insects in the population. Solid blocks of one crop actually attracts pests who like to eat that crop. Increased genetic resistance to pesticides has caused crop losses to double in the last 50 years. Organic growers practice methods and techniques like crop rotation , cover cropping and composting which directly address these problems of modern agriculture by re-learning how to work with
nature, not wage combat against her. Clearly more bio-diversity is necessary in farming and buying organic supports this movement.

9)Organics Aren't Really More Expensive
Many hidden costs are involved with the buying of conventionally produced food products. These hidden costs include billions of dollars in federal agriculture and energy subsides favoring big business. Chemical regulation and testing, hazardous waste disposal, environmental damage and cleanup, illnesses and hospitalizations are other hidden costs. Low prices of conventional foods are also a signal that the farm workers did not recieve a fair wage.

10)Organic Foods Taste Better. Taste is hard to quantify, but science does tell us that organic foods do have higher levels of vitamins and minerals than conventional foods. It only makes sense that food grown in soil that has been nourished and cared for is more nutritious and will end up tasting better. Why not find out?

11) Organic Foods are Required to be Free From Genetically Engineered or
Modified Ingredients (GMOs). Science is now suggesting GMOs pose
significant health risks to people and animals that eat them and it is
certain that GMOs pose unacceptable risks to bio-diversity and natural