Happier, healthier life: reasons to go organic

By Brittany McLeod
February 28, 2008

Did you know that you ingest almost 20 different pesticides a day? Chlorinated hydrocarbons, organophosphates, carbamates, carbaryl, aldicarb and inorganic pesticides made from basic elements, such as copper, lead, arsenic and mercury are just a few of the 250 different types of pesticides companies use on their agricultural crops.

According to HelpGuide.org, organically- grown produce reduces the potential health and environmental hazards posed by pesticides, genetically modified organisms, irradiation and additives. Pesticides can cause developmental delays, behavioral disorders and motor dysfunction and can even infect children in the womb.

It is estimated that over 70 percent of the food in the grocery store is genetically modified. Still, under current FDA regulations, companies are not even required to label the foods we eat as genetically engineered. There are a number of problems that can arise from genetically modifying food. For instance, altered DNA could decrease levels of important nutrients in a crop.

It is incredibly hard for a college student to maintain an organic eating habit, especially at Cabrini, which tells us to “Look for the No-GMO’s sticker!” in the cafeteria, which I never see. Some may argue that organic food is way too expensive for their budget, but when you think about it, it has got to be worth it in the long run. Plus, the cost for organic food is continually decreasing as its availability is on the rise. Organic foods have more nutrients, taste better and just simply make you feel better. Knowing that the food you are consuming is pure and wholesome is satisfying in a way that no other food can produce.

Organic produce contains more antioxidants. HelpGuide.org says food scientists at the University of California found that organically grown fruits and vegetables show significantly higher levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants than conventionally grown foods. Pesticides and herbicides reduce the production of phenolics-chemicals that act as a plant’s natural defense and are also good for human health. Organic fertilizers, however, appear to boost the levels of these anti-cancer compounds.

Some of the foods we eat every day that are highest in pesticides include apples, grapes, cherries, nectarines, celery and potatoes. Food products with “natural” on the side do not qualify as organic. To be sure, look for the USDA Certified Organic seal that is required. Your local grocery store should have a selection of organic foods but if not, you can always ask them to carry more organic products. There are a number of supermarkets dedicated entirely to natural and organic foods, such as Whole Foods Market. To find one near you, check out WholeFoodsMarket.com.

Though it may be pricey and difficult to manage, having an organic lifestyle is a having a healthy lifestyle. The health impacts of non-organic food are detrimental. By simply being aware of what we put into our bodies we can live a happy, healthier life.

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Brittany McLeod

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