Organic Food.. What does it mean? Should we Buy Organic?
Over the last few months, I have become increasingly aware of the term ‘organic’; although it has not been until recently that I have made the effort to take a look into it’s importance as a whole and in particular: the food industry.
I have had many conversations with people who are ‘pro’ organic and they have naturally (and I assume subconsciously) attempted to persuade me to take up the ‘organic lifestyle’. I admit that hearing a small snippet into ‘organic’ products was enlightening and I could definitely see the charm that organic products have, apparently being overwhelmingly concerned with being morally conscious and promoting sustainability. It is apparent that this verbal exposure and constant awareness through seeing ‘organic’ on certain products during my weekly shopping lead my mind to persistent intrigue and a want to find out more. Thus, here are my findings that resulted from my quest to find more information. I think you will find them indeed intriguing.
What does Organic actually mean?
If you do a quick Google search of ‘organic’ you will find that on its own it relates to something to do with living matter. Its synonyms consist of ‘natural’and ‘biological’. In terms of the food or farming industry, we will learn that ‘organic’ in this instance means it (the food/product) has been produced without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals. This is helpful to note, but why are we concerned about whether or not a food has been produced using chemicals? This leads us to our next question…
Why would we prefer chemicals not be used to produce the food we eat?
Today, we live in a society that uses chemicals left, right and center for a multitude of reasons. There is always some kind of benefit to a farmer that uses chemicals, such as being able to grow more crops with the use of pesticides; which can control (kill) insects or other pests that could potentially ruin the farmers crop yield (and thus their profits). It is no surprise that food farmers in this competitive market would opt to use these chemicals to protect their livelihood and keep up with the competition. People that are pro-organic can at the very least sympathise with this, as could any understanding person. The problems that result from using such chemicals are as follows (A general Google search resulted in 5.62 million results; so this is clearly an issue well worth talking about. To save you from this extensive reading I have broken the points down):
Biodiversity (variety of plant/animal life in the world/a particular habitat, high biodiversity is considered important and desirable) is significantly reduced when pesticides are used to kill insects that consume and inhabit the crop, and when herbicides are used to kill so called ‘weeds’ that compete with the crops. It also destroys the wild flowers that grow around the edges of the farmers land that need to be preserved in order to ensure biodiversity of insects and wildlife in a landscape that is dominated by mono-culture farming (farming of one particular crop at any one time). Organic farms are obligued to preserve natural wildlife by not farming on the edges of their farmland, typically 10% is left to its own devices to preserve biodiversity and help the environment overall.
The chemicals sprayed on crops can run off (with rain over time/floods) to nearby streams, rivers, lakes and eventually oceans which contaminate these waters with chemicals that are harmful to the wildlife that inhabit these waters. These creatures are defenseless against the accumulation of these chemicals that their systems cannot sustain. It’s also important to note that we also consume fish and other water animals and plants that are contaminated with these chemicals. We may also drink this contaminated water.
Fertilisers are a finite resource and non-renewable. It is simply an unsustainable venture.
If the effect on wildlife and other creatures doesn’t bother you, this next point might: the chemical residues stay on the food that is produced or is absorbed by the plant (and therefore present in the crop) and when we consume the food, we also ingest the chemicals that can cause us harm. Since these chemicals are not fit for human consumption when being sprayed on crops, they are still not fit for consumption when they enter our food chain via the contaminated crops. Would you be content eating fruit that contained fertiliser and/or herbicide residue; even if in small quantities? This is what we risk when we buy non-organic food.
The European Union has strict laws that determine how much of these chemical residues are permitted in foods. But should any level of chemical residues be allowed on the food we eat? What are your opinions? You can leave your opinions in the comments section below.
Hmmm.. You’ve got me Thinking: Should I Become ‘Organic’?
You should be aware you are talking to someone who is now organic where possible, so of course I would encourage you to do your best to be organic where possible, like myself. However, regardless of what anyone says it is your life to live and with that comes the responsibility to make your own decisions. If you have read this post and have connected to the points raised and want to help contribute to a more ethically, environmentally and healthier lifestyle then perhaps you may like to consider trying out organic food.
I am currently working on a post to share my thoughts on what it is like being organic (when available, you will find a link here). If you are interested in seeing what eating organic is like as a lifestyle choice, I would recommend reading it and conducting your own research too.
Each person that consciously buys slightly more expensive organic products takes a slice of the burden of the food industry and care for the environment and personal health. And in that small purchase, they make the world a better, more sustainable and conscious world. In the words of Michael Jackson, we need to take a look at the man/woman in the mirror and make that change. When each person is able to do this, this is when great changes happen.
If you are interested in seeing what organic foods there are out there to replace your current foods, you can check them out on MySupermarket app (Free) or website and use the keyword ‘organic’. Different Supermarkets will have different organic foods available. If you would like a shortcut to the best priced organic foods, you can check out this long list (link also available below). I have written a list and review of the organic foods I currently buy. You can see this here.
What do you think? Do you want to eat organic more often? Or are you happy to stick to your non-organically sourced diet? Let me know in the comments.