**Note: I use the term organic because that’s what most people are familiar with. When I say organic, I mean foods that are grown naturally without chemical pesticides and harsh treatment. This includes naturally grown foods and other food designations that encompass this method of food cultivation.**
A lot of people like to write off organic food as overpriced nonsense that the bourgeoisie like to use as a status symbol. While the use of organic food as a status symbol may be true, organic food is not BS, as one of the physicians I worked with declared one morning. The reasoning was that if food was all grown organically, the world’s population would starve and that we wouldn’t have gotten to this place in the first place. That sort of unthinking declaration made me really mad. I considered responding with a persuasive argument, but as the absolute lowest person on the totem pole, I had nothing to really gain from trying to educate someone who was going to insist that organic food is nothing but a scam.
Organic food is hardly a scam. Sure, considering the types of things that tend to harm people first, the distinction between organic and conventional food is low priority. Most of the people I see in the hospital have other more pressing issues to resolve – substance abuse, poverty, gun shot wounds, infection, heart disease.
Organic food does make a difference though. Organic food means food grown without heavy chemicals. I have a farmer friend who told me that pesticides were really not too big of a concern for the consumer because most of it is broken down by the time the food reaches the consumer. The bigger problem was the farm workers who applied pesticides. Those were the people who got all the ill effects of pesticides. While on a macro level, this might be true, I imagine that on a microscopic level, that whatever is left of pesticides on foods is not good. Not to mention that foods grown in an unnatural state tend not to be very nutritious. (If you want better researched and thought out information on this, click on the links at the bottom of this post.)
If you’ve ever grown your own garden or had organic food from your local farmer’s market, I’m telling you organic makes a difference. Same goes for “organic” meat. This past Thanksgiving, I debated the merits of hauling a free-range, organically fed turkey home to my family or just going the easy route and letting them buy a turkey locally. (I’m sure there are free range, organically-fed turkeys where my family is, but I don’t know where to get one.) After a lot of back and forth, I bought a turkey and packed it in the trunk of my car with 18 pounds of ice and drove home to my family hoping that the turkey wouldn’t go bad. The effort paid off. Everyone raved about how the turkey was the best they had ever had. Of course, while we can’t discount the role that my sister’s amazing culinary chops had in making a tasty turkey, I have to say, the turkey was exceptionally good.
I know my Thanksgiving tale is just one example, but I can tell the difference between organic foods and conventional foods. The taste is different and all of a sudden those vegetables and meats that I choked down before are actually appealing to me. Organic foods also means humane treatment of animals, healthier farm workers, and happier people overall. I think that’s a pretty picture that I want to be a part of.
Yes, organic food is more expensive, but if you can afford it, why not treat your body to the best that nature has to offer? Why not support the farmers who are out there trying to make a difference? Sure, there are big commercial organic farms. I try to buy local and organic before resorting to commercially grown organic food, but even that is better than the alternative – a world filled with toxins where there are people getting sick and exposed to pesticides just so you can eat.
I might be cynical about a lot of things, but you can taste the difference in your food and that alone is worth eating organic. Local and organic is even better, but the local foods discussion is another discussion for another time.
Finally, for some intelligent and coherent discussions on organic foods, read the recent bunch of articles posted by Mark Sisson over at Mark’s Daily Apple:
What do you think about organic food?