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Health on Many Levels: A look at the Benefits of Organic Foods and Organic Farming

'Many years ago, in our great-grandparents' time, food was just called 'food.' There was no concern about GMOs or those health issues.' (Image: Andrew Stawarz via flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)
'Many years ago, in our great-grandparents' time, food was just called 'food.' There was no concern about GMOs or those health issues.' (Image: Andrew Stawarz via flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)

I’m a mother myself, and as such, I do my very best to give my children the best food we can afford. That being said, organic foods really have made a difference for them, I think.

Studies have shown that organic foods have more antioxidants, higher nutrition, and have a much lower incidence of pesticides that can build up in the human body and cause many, many problems. Even after a week of eating almost pure organic foods, adults have had the amount of pesticides in their bodies drop by 90 percent — that’s a significant amount.

My family and I live on a small island in Washington state, a very quiet rural place with lots of farms and local growers. We help on one of the organic farms, Heritage Farm on San Juan Island, and have participated in the planting, weeding, and tending of fresh organic produce.

It’s the peak of summer harvest now, and our garden is overflowing with foods like kale, chard, tomatoes, green beans, fresh basil, zucchini, potatoes, and many others. Helping on the farm the way we do is healthy for our bodies and the minds; it’s a lot of work to be sure, but it’s very satisfying to see the efforts of your work bear fruits, quite literally. We sell our produce at the weekly farmers market, and that helps the local economy and community.

Many vegetables are beneficial to your health during summer. (Image: Hans Splinter via flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)

‘Helping on the farm the way we do is healthy for our bodies and minds; it’s a lot of work to be sure, but it’s very satisfying to see the efforts of your work bear fruits, quite literally.’ (Image: Hans Splinter via flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)

More and more people are willing to pay the higher prices for better quality food, as numerous studies are showing that GMO crops are causing many problems in the long run. The pesticides sprayed on GMO crops are directly responsible for the plummeting of bee populations, and contribute to many health problems for humans, especially in long-term studies.

Pesticides, heavy metals, and other polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are very well documented in causing huge problems for animals all over the world. Most people in the world have heard of the infamous, DDT, a pesticide that was used largely in the 1960s-1970s, and almost caused the extinction of the California Condor.

With DDT in the system, the large predator birds and the large scavengers were getting a huge concentration of the pesticide, causing thin and easily broken egg shells, and an immediate devastation for the next generation. The California Condor thankfully has recovered over the past decade into more stable numbers, but pesticides have not gone away.

(Image: Chris Christian via flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

‘Pesticides, heavy metals, and other polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are very well documented in causing huge problems for animals all over the world.’ (Image: Chris Christian via flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

A lot of people have been grumbling lately because of labeling issues. “What is ‘organic’? What does ‘natural’ mean?” It is true we need a most stringent labeling system so people can really know what they are eating. The “DARK Act”… also know as “Deny Americans the Right to Know,” has been at the core of the standing argument between GMO foods and organic foods.

Most people would agree that we should have the right to know what we eat and how it’s produced. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has recently angered many supporters because instead of clear labeling, they are using codes and disclaimers… saying that if people really want to know, they can find the information on their own. Between the labeling conflicts and the prices… many of the older generation are skeptical of the “organic food” movement.

Many years ago, in our great-grandparents’ time, food was just called”“food.” There was no concern about GMOs or those health issues. Now, government regulations have made it difficult for everyday people to have a garden, let alone do organic farming.

There are so many codes and rules that having food off of a truly “organic” farm with no pesticides is becoming harder and harder, let alone fresh raw milk. Small farmers are having trouble keeping up with the competition of larger organic brands, let alone the GMO products.

So, the prices are higher because it’s very hard to make a profit when you are a small farmer, trying to keep things running and save something at the end of the year. More and more people are willing to pay the premium prices nowadays though, as the organic industry keeps gaining popularity, and more people are finding the health benefits really do pay off in the long run. After all, it costs less to buy organic food in the long run than pay the doctor bills.

Written by Erin Beardsley.

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