Monday, August 22, 2011

Why Organic?

A friend of mine suggested I write this Blog post (thank you LE).  She has a HUGE point.  The majority of people do not even know what Organic is, let alone what "Natural", "All Natural" "Non-GMO" "USDA Certified" "Fair Trade" or  "DfE certified" mean and what "Conventional" means.  So, I am going to attempt to explain each of these terms.  So, here we go.

1.  Organic-  Organic foods are produced without the use of the following...
-Genetically Modified Organisms in seeds or any ingredient (GMO's)
-Synthetic pesticides
-Synthetic herbicides
-Artificial preservatives or additives
-Growth hormones
-Irradiation (a process where our food is actually exposed to radiation to sterilize our food.  Which actually depletes the food of vitamins and nutrients.  There is a movement occurring right now where we are asking for foods to be labeled if they have been irradiated, that way we know not to buy this food.  Seriously, you are just wasting your money when you buy irradiated food, the nutritional value has been altered so much, you may as well save your money for something else. And right now unless you buy Organic you do not know if your food has been irradiated or not.)

Consumer Reports has found that 77% of non-organic produce items in the average supermarket contain pesticide residues. The beef industry has acknowledged that 94% of all U.S. beef cattle have hormone implants, which are banned in Europe as a cancer hazard. Approximately 10% of all U.S. dairy cows are injected with Monsanto and Elanco's controversial genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone, banned in most industrialized nations. Recent studies indicate that an alarming percentage of non-organic U.S. meat contains dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Organic farms and ranches use far less fossil fuel than conventional farms.  Twenty-four billion pounds of chemical fertilizers are applied on non-organic farms in the U.S. every year not only pollute our drinking water and create enormous dead zones in the oceans.

Organic farming categorically prohibits the use of sewage sludge (sewage sludge is just that, sewage used as fertilizer which animals in turn eat and live in, which are then butchered for our consumption).

On an Organic farm slaughterhouse waste is not allowed.  This is also just like it sounds, waste...intestines, flesh, hair, blood, bones, veins, etc from a slaughterhouse is fed back to animals.  Are you freaking kidding me here?????  This practice has given rise to a form of human mad-cow disease called CJD, often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's disease. Animals on organic farms cannot be fed slaughterhouse waste, manure, or blood.

Organic farming prohibits intensive confinement and mutilation (debeaking, cutting off tails, etc.) of farm animals. In addition to the cruel and unhealthy confinement of animals on factory farms, scientists warn that these CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) produce enormous volumes of manure and urine, which not only pollute surface and ground water, but also emit large quantities of methane, a powerful climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas.

Consumers are concerned about purchasing foods with high nutritional value. Organic foods are nutritionally dense compared to foods produced with toxic chemicals, chemical fertilizers, and GMO seeds. Studies show that organic foods contain more vitamins, cancer-fighting anti-oxidants, and important trace minerals.

So, do you see why Organic food costs more than conventional food?  Because Organic food is actually food.  Conventional food, is beginning to look more like McDonald's food to me.  It is something that you can eat, it will fill your belly....but what is it doing to you and your family?  And are you really getting any vitamins or nutrition from it?  Yes, some. 

Cost-many people have explained to me that they cannot buy Organic because of the price.  From what I have seen in grocery stores there are times where Organic food costs the same as the conventional product setting right beside it.  And I know people who have a very tight budget who live on Organic food only.  I will blog more on this later...ideas and tips on living Organic on a tight budget.  Also, a different way of thinking is this...if the foods we are eating today are giving us high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, cancer, etc...isn't that going to cause us to pay more later in life when we are going to the doctor getting help for these problems.

So, do we spend more money now and eat Organic or spend less right now, eat conventional and have poor health and high doctor bills later that we can't afford?

Only food that is labeled USDA Certified Organic is really 100% Certified Organic.  See below under Miscellaneous for a definition of USDA Certified Organic.
Tell me if I am wrong....but isn't this how ALL food should be made???????????

2.  GMO/Non-GMO- You are hearing these 2 terms used more and more each day.  GMO is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques, also called DNA splicing.  In a nutshell, this is where humans try to play God and alter the way food is supposed to be.  Which is not good.  I am not a fan of cloning and I am DEFINITELY not a fan of GMO.

For example....corn....Monsanto's triple-stack corn—which combines Roundup Ready 2 weed control technology with YieldGard Corn Borer and YieldGard Rootworm insect control—is the market leader in the United States.   So, now farms do not simply spray their crops with poisioness weed control chemicals, they are now created inside the seed that then grows into a corn stalk, that then produces corn that we eat or the animals we serve at dinner eat.  So.....we are eating the Roundup Ready 2 weed control chemicals, the Corn Borer and Rootworm insect control chemicals.  READY to go cook some corn??  And it does not have to happen like this!  Look at Organic farms...they are producing corn in great volume that is safe and delicious.  (Side note....Meijer has their own line of Organic frozen sweet corn that is delish!!)

Genetically engineered ingredients are now found in 75% of all non-organic U.S. processed foods, even in many products labeled or advertised as "natural." In addition, the overwhelming majority of non-organic meat, dairy, and eggs are derived from animals reared on a steady diet of GM animal feed. Although polls indicate that 90% of Americans want labels on gene-altered foods, government and industry adamantly refuse to respect consumers' right to know, understanding quite well that health and environmental-minded shoppers will avoid foods with a GMO label.   Sick...sick....sick!!!  Don't you want to know what you are spending your money on and eating?  I do!

Non-GMO is a label you are starting to see on foods.  This means simply the ingredients in that food have not been genetically modified.  All Organic foods are non-GMO.   But not all non-GMO foods are Organic.3.  Conventional Farming-
Look at the definition of Organic...all the things that are not allowed in Organic farming are allowed in Conventional Farming.   The agriculture industry is estimated to use over 800 million pounds of conventional pesticides each year.

The example I was given when I started my Green quest was this...."Would you spray an apple with Raid, rinse it, wipe it off and give it to your kid or eat it yourself?"  I would hope that your answer would be a big NO!  This is what we are doing when we buy conventional fruits and vegetable, just to start with.  Let alone all the other food we eat that are drowned in pesticides before we serve them at our tables.

The major challenges and issues faced by society concerning conventional farming include:
Environmental and social costs

Damage to fisheries
Increased health risks from pesticides****
Increased ozone pollution and global warming from heavy use of fossil fuels

4.  Natural or All natural- Does not mean Organic.  Food labeled "natural" does not contain any artificial ingredients, coloring ingredients, or chemical preservatives, and in the case of meat and poultry, is minimally processed. 

Meat from animals treated with artificial hormones can (and is) labeled "natural," as is meat injected with saline solution (claimed to add flavor, which it does, but it also adds considerable weight to a product sold by the pound). Food containing "natural flavors" such as processed proteins that you may or may not consider desirable can legally sport the label "natural."5.  Fair Trade- Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as higher social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers and gold.  Simple terms, you know you bought something that a 5 year old child did not make or prepare for you. 

6. Design for the Environment (DfE) Certified- The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows safer products to carry the Design for the Environment (DfE) label. This mark enables consumers to quickly identify and choose products that can help protect the environment and are safer for families. When you see the DfE logo on a product it means that the DfE scientific review team has screened each ingredient for potential human health and environmental effects and that-based on currently available information, EPA predictive models, and expert judgment. To learn more about the Design for the Environment EPA partnership program please visit:

Wowgreen products are DfE certified.  And I can say that I love using and selling all of the cleaning products wowgreen offers. 

Misc info
1.  Irradiation-cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde (found in finger nail polish).  Many non-organic spices contain irradiated ingredients.  The USDA and large meat companies have promoted the use of irradiated meat in school lunches and senior citizen facilities.

2. Consumers worry about rampant e-coli, salmonella, campylobacter, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and fecal contamination in animal products coming out of the nation's inhumane and filthy slaughterhouses. The Centers for Disease Control have admitted that up to 76 million Americans suffer from food poisoning every year. Very few cases of food poisoning have ever been linked to organic farms or food processors.

3.  For all these reasons, millions of American consumers are turning to organic foods and other organic items, including clothing and body care products - part of an overall movement toward healthy living, preserving the environment, and reversing global warming.

4.  USDA Certified Organic-   This is a 21 page document that shows what is required for a food or product to have the USDA Certified Organic logo placed on it (if simply clicking does not open this link use CTRL click to open it).  It is a very rigorous process to go through.  So, if you have thought to yourself, "well, how do we know it is truly organic?" this document will show you the steps that a farmer or producer have to go through to use the green and white logo USDA Organic.

So, if you believe in voting...keep in mind you are voting every time you go to the grocery store, with your money.  Start small.  Change your milk, yogurt and cheese then move to your veggies and fruits.  Click here to see my posts on what fruits and vegetables are highest in pesticides.

If you feel the desire to start eating Organically just take it one step at a time.  And I am currently working with Meijer to get even more organic food in their grocery store.  They have a great start right now on the choices of organic foods to choose from, but they still have a long way to go.  I will be posting in the future what organic products Meijer carries. 

Also, The Downtown Farm Stand has nothing but organic in their grocery store and restaurant.  And of course, don't forget my favorite place when you are in Indy, Whole Foods.  If you stick with the 365 organic brand at Whole Foods, you definitely DO NOT spend your whole paycheck.  Whole Foods is not perfect yet, they still sell conventional foods...but one day I hope this will become 100% organic.  At least, for now I can buy my organic foods there at a good price.

I have to really share my heart as I am writing this, as I am adding the finishing touches to this post, my brain keeps telling me..."No one's going to read this, no one's going to change the way they eat."  I hope and pray that thought is very wrong.  And I pray that there is a movement in our hearts, that we demand better quality of food on our tables and even in our restaurants.

I would love to hear any feedback or requests for future posts from you.