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Organic Consumers Association

Why You Should Switch Your Whole Diet Over to Organic

  • Surprising foods we should all Demand Organic
    By Amanda Kimble-Evans
    Rodale Institute, May 18, 2010
    Straight to the Source

The new report from the Presidential Cancer Panel and a study linking pesticide exposures with increased risk of ADHD are sending shoppers rushing to the organic aisles in the grocery stores. And when it comes to demanding organic, buying certified organic fruits and vegetables is a quick and easy way to make a difference.

There are plenty of guides and lists that tell you just which kinds of produce pose the most risk in terms of toxic residues and are best eaten as certified organic (see the sidebars two we recommend). Unfortunately, the reality is that fruits and veggies make up only 10 percent of the average American's caloric intake, meaning the majority of the calories we're consuming are coming from other types of foods. And the vast majority nf agricultural land in our country is growing corn and soybeans for feeding livestock and making processed foods.

Filling your basket with gorgeous, fresh fruits and veggies means less room for the other stuff that we should be eating less of anyway, so by all means, keep (or start) buying more organic produce. But, in the meantime, switch some other items in your basket to organic, too, and you'll be sure to make a positive impact on your health and the environment based on your real-life eating habits.

Here are some of foods that make up a large portion of the average American's diet and how demanding organic can make a difference:

Meat

We've all heard the mantra "eat less meat," but we're still scarffing down nearly three times as many juicy pork chops, burgers and roast chickens as we should be. And raising industrial meat animals makes up an enormous portion of our food system's environmental burden. Demand organic because

 ...organic farmers use holistic husbandry and veterinary practices rather than relying on antibiotics to speed the growth of meat animals or counteract unhealthy living conditions. Over 70 percent of the antibiotics in this country are used on healthy animals. And with antibiotic resistance costing American's an estimated $35 billion dollars a year, it pays to buy organically raised meats.

 ...organic chickens, cows, and pigs eat grass or grain-based feed with no arsenic, pesticides, herbicides, dried blood, plastic or other inappropriate or toxic materials used in production, unlike their conventional counterparts. You may indirectly consume residues of these things when you eat conventionally raised meat.

Coffee

More than half of all American adults grab at least one cup of Joe at some point during their day. And more people are brewing at home than just a few years ago, making it easier to choose what kind of coffee you want to support. Demand organic because

 ...organically grown and processed coffee beans are grown without banned pesticides. Highly toxic and persistent chemical insecticides continue to be doused on industrial coffee plantations despite being banned in the U.S.

 ...farmers who grow coffee organically focus on the biodiversity of their farms, preserve the ecology of the land, and help reduce climate chaos. Industrial coffee plantations often clear cut the forest to grow a crop, relying on chemicals and fertilizers to sustain their coffee trees. The massive deforestation of Latin America threatens water quality, wildlife, and global climate.

Milk

Milk and milk products make up a large part of the American diet and have been both praised as keys to good health and condemned as fattening in equal measure. And our children are the biggest consumers. Demand organic because

 ...organic milk comes from drug-free cows. Non-organic cows may be given both synthetic growth hormones to boost production and reproductive hormones to control how long lactation continues and when it ends. And milk from cows given the growth hormone rBGH contains higher levels of a hormone linked to breast, prostate and colon cancers.

 ...organic milk may have more of the 'good fats' linked to decreased heart disease and diabetes. Cows which graze on pasture have higher levels of CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid) in their milk, and CLAs have been linked to better heart health and a lowered risk of diabetes. New rules require organic cows must graze on pasture for at least 120 days. There are no such rules for non-organic cows.

 ...organic farmers use holistic husbandry and veterinary practices rather than relying on antibiotics to counteract unhealthy living conditions.


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