Why do you buy organic food? Where ever you live, you have to deal with pollution, in the air you breathe, the water you drink, and in the foods you eat. You can do little about air pollution, but you can filter the water you drink and you can choose to consume organic food. The pollution in food comes in several different forms:
- Pesticides – insecticides, herbicides, and fungi – the most ingestible being the insecticides.
- Food additives – preservatives, flavor enhancers, etc., chemicals no one can pronounce.
- Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – a gene from one organism is spliced into another organism to develop a certain trait.
- Artificial hormones and antibiotics to speed growth of livestock or the production of milk.
Many pesticide residues can remain on conventionally raised vegetables and fruits even after washing, although in greatly reduced amounts. Some studies have discovered residues of as many as 37 different pesticides on the skins of conventionally grown apples. Peeling fruits and vegetables removes the residues, but also many of the nutrients that are found in or just under the skins. Young children are especially susceptible to pesticide residues as their bodies are still developing and they consume proportionally more fruit per pound than adults. Organic fruits and vegetables are produced without synthetic chemicals, although organic pesticides are sometimes used. A non-profit group monitoring pesticide use in the US has listed the 12 conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that have the highest pesticide levels on average: apples, peaches, pears, strawberries, nectarines, lettuce, kale, cherries, celery, imported grapes, Bell peppers, carrots, and celery.
Organically raised cattle are allowed access to fields to graze on grass, are fed organically grown feed, are not subjected to artificial hormones to speed growth or production of milk, or wholesale antibiotic use to prevent disease. Chickens and pigs are given an organic grown feed, allowed access to the outside, and are allowed to do what chickens and pigs are born to do, without the use of hormones or antibiotics. Some scientists have expressed concern that the widespread use of antibiotics in animals may be contributing to the emergence of antibiotic resistant microbes. Many are concerned with the effects that artificial hormones given to livestock may have on people.
GMOs have come on the scene over the past decade or so and are beginning to appear in our food supply. There is no way of knowing which foods are GMOs or contain GMOs since there is no requirement in the US for producers to label foods as such. Some of the GMOs that have introduced the food supply are soybeans, corn, strawberries, and canola oil. Up for review by the FDA are: wheat, alfalfa for livestock, and genetically modified salmon. No one knows how the inserted genes will express themselves over time after they are ingested by people or animals. Some think the increased use of GMOs may be a contributing factor in food allergies that many people have.
If you want to limit your family's exposure to synthetic chemicals like pesticides, preservatives and GMOs, especially for young children, you should definitely buy organic fruits and vegetables as often as possible. If you're concerned with possible links of GMOs and pesticides to food allergies and developmental problems in children, you should try switching to fresh organic foods.