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Is Organic Really Better for You?
I had finally come to a place in my life where I was concerned about my health and that of my family. After all, it's not the quantity, but the quality of life right? And if you can increase both, all the better! We started exercising, eating healthier and taking vitamins. Then one day while I was getting my daily dosage of web surfing in, I came across an article about the hidden dangers of chemicals and how using organic products and food reduces those risks. Now, I'm not one to blindly believe everything I read, so I started searching for some answers on my own. If I was putting myself or my family at risk for serious health problems, I wanted to know!
It was quite a daunting task to get through all the articles, scientific studies and pages upon pages of information! What I have learned has really helped me to make some decisions about my life though, and I hope you find it helpful as well.
First, what does Organic mean?
Simply, that the ingredients used are free from any harmful pesticides, insecticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and a whole host of other artificial additives, flavorings, colorings and preservatives. The harvest and milling of organics is also considerate towards the land and environment.
Why is Organic so expensive?
Prices for organic foods and products include costs of growing, harvesting, transportation and storage. In the case of processed foods, processing and packaging costs are also included. Organically produced foods and products must meet stricter regulations governing all these steps than conventional foods and products. The intensive management and labor used in organic production are frequently (though not always) more expensive than the chemicals routinely used on conventional farms.
The law of supply and demand also plays a part. There are more buyers than crops yields. Why is this? Production yields are often, but not always, lower on organic farms because organic food production does not involve the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides and other technological aids. Also, growers who go through the 3-year transition period from conventional to organic management usually experience an initial decrease in yields, until soil microbes are re-established and nutrient cycling is in place.
And the most important question of them all?
Is Organic really better for you?
I have searched long and hard to find the answer to this question! I couldn't find any scientific studies to prove or disprove that organic is better. Why? Mainly because of the multitude of variables involved in making a fair comparison between organically grown and conventionally grown food. These include crop variety, time after harvest, post-harvest handling, and even soil type and climate, which can have significant effects on nutritional quality. After hitting that road-block, I decided to review the facts. Organic products are organic because they are free from the chemicals used on conventionally grown products. So, I turned my attention to these chemicals and whether they are really harmful to humans? Most reports claim that these chemicals if handled properly and used in small amounts, are not dangerous to humans. Although, the Environmental Protection Agency had this to say - "Although pesticides can be beneficial to society, they can also pose risks to human health and the environment if improperly handled. The risk to human health can come from a number of sources: direct exposure through improper use, residual pesticides on food and release into the environment from improper storage or disposal. Children are particularly susceptible to pesticide exposure. The effects of exposure to pesticides include poisoning, eye damage, disruption of the endocrine system, and respiratory ailments."
So, what I found is that there is no proof these chemicals when handled properly are causing serious health problems. There is also no proof that they are not. Even the EPA says there is some risk. So what now? Now it comes down to a personal decision. Is the risk we are taking worth it? Can we be comfortable bringing these chemicals into our home when they might cause serious health problems to us and our children? When the alternative is paying a bit more for organic foods and products, I'm just not willing to take the risk. You have to make that decision for yourself and your own family.
Author: Shelly Platt
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