From weekly organic farmers markets in every neighborhood, to the organic section of every supermarket, the growing organic food trend is clearly not going away. If, despite it being everywhere, you’re still not 100% sure wether buying organic is that important and worth the higher price, I will try to explain what this is all about in very broad terms, and help you get to a conclusion.
So what IS organic food?
Organic products are grown with organic agriculture techniques. This means that they are not covered in synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The soil where these products grows is usually treated with more respect and promotes a healthy and balanced environment and sustainability. And yes, some pesticides are sometimes used in organic produce too, but these are less strong and harmful than conventional ones, and used more sparingly.
On top of all this, something a lot of people don’t know is that organic usually means that the product is also not a GMO (genetically modified organism). This means that it’s a product created by nature, and not an alien created in a lab to increase production and profits. I will let the topic of GMO’s go for now, however, as it’s too long and deserves a blog post of its own.
Supposedly, there’s not enough scientific proof showing that organic products are more nutritious and taste better than their conventional counterparts. But at least in my case, I don’t need scientific proof as much as I need my own intuition and common sense to find answers about my food. Nobody can tell me that an organic, local, seasonal tomato, blueberry, or strawberry from my neighborhood’s farmers market is not a billion times tastier, juicier, and brighter than the conventional alternative bought at a supermarket. I would need to be completely devoid of a sense of taste (and smell, and touch, and sight) for me to believe that one is not superior to the other. What I feel with my senses is enough proof.
And when I find some kind of insect clinging to a chard or lettuce leaf I’m about to eat in a salad, I don’t cringe. I smile instead. Why? Because I know that if that insect is there, it means that my food is not covered in poisons that would have scared it away, or even worse, killed it. I learned this from my friend Amelia, who told me that in the Andes of Peru, where she grew up, people fight over eating the potatoes that have a worm in them. They know that these tiny animals know best, and pick the tastiest, most nourishing products.
At the end of the day, the only difference between those insects and us is our size. But if the pesticides used in conventional fruits and veggies kill them, they can also kill (or at least strongly damage) my tiny cells, microflora, and other parts of my body that I can’t see from the outside or without a microscope. I may not die immediately the way insects do, but I’m sure that the damage slowly accumulates and wreaks havoc in one way or another.
Is there anything else I can tell you?
Oh, yes! Let’s not forget about all those images you can get online of farmers spraying their crops with masks and outfits that look fit for a space mission, all to avoid touching or breathing the toxic chemicals they shower the food with. That same food they then expect us to eat! How crazy is that? I don’t know about you, but I would rather stay away from food that grows in such a creepy environment.
If all this is not enough to make you realize that organic probably the best way to go for your health, you may want to bring the environment into the equation. Yes, if you buy an organic apple from the other side of the planet, it’s insane carbon footprint may make it worse for the environment than buying a conventional, local apple. But if all those variables are taken out of the equation, all things being equal, organic is by far a gentler practice for mama Earth. Water is not polluted with all those horrible, toxic chemicals, the quality of the soil is taken into consideration, and biodiversity is protected.
I’m not saying that if the only choice you have is to eat conventional veggies, you’re better off without them. The amazing benefits of eating these nutrient-rich foods will always outweigh the problems that may come with them. But when given the option, organic is always the wiser choice.
Wishing you health & happiness,