Myra Goodman, co-founder of Earthbound Farm—the largest grower of organic produce in North America—and her daughter Marea know a thing or two about what makes eating organic worth your while. To be more specific, they can offer 12 solid facts. In the following excerpt from their first cookbook as a mother-daughter team, Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone, the pair explain why choosing organic and being mindful of where food comes from are essential to health and well being.
On Eating Organic…
Growing food without any synthetic chemicals is a passion our family shares. In our home, we enjoy our meals even more knowing our food was produced with respect for nature, in ways that are sustainable for the long-term health of our bodies and this planet.
Intuitively, it makes perfect sense that it can’t be healthy for humans to be exposed to the chemicals used to kill weeds, insects, and diseases, and now more and more studies support this position. Most of these agricultural chemicals are deemed “safe” without long-term testing on humans and not in combination with one another. We prefer not to worry about dangerous chemicals when we prepare our food.
12 Reasons We Choose Organic
1. Organic food has been regulated by the USDA since 2002. Strict guidelines are enforced to assure that organic food was grown without any toxic and persistent insecticides, herbicides, fungicides or synthetic fertilizers.
2. Choosing organic produce greatly reduces our exposure to pesticide residues, which is especially important for children, whose developing bodies are the most sensitive to chemicals. (To learn which produce items have the biggest pesticide loads, go to the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce at ewg.org.)
3. Organic food is produced without genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) and is never irradiated. Organic regulations prohibit the use of hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, artificial flavorings, artificial sweeteners and artificial preservatives.
4. We see many products today labeled “all natural,” but the term “natural” is open to individual interpretation and is regulated by the USDA only with regard to meats. Even products labeled “all natural” can use ingredients that were conventionally grown or genetically modified.
5. Many organic produce items have been shown to have more antioxidants and minerals than their conventional counterparts, and organic food often surpasses conventional in the taste test, too.
6. Organic farms protect farm workers from exposure to chemicals when they work in the field and also protect surrounding wildlife and neighboring homes and schools.
7. Organic animals are fed all-organic feed and are never given growth hormones or antibiotics, which helps protect us all from the increasing presence of antibiotic-resistant germs in our environment. Organic regulations also help ensure that animals raised for food are treated more humanely and are given access to the outdoors or pasture.
8. Unlike conventional farmland, organic fields help reduce global warming by sequestering carbon in the soil (visit the Rodale Institute at Rodaleinstitute.org to learn more).
9. Organic farming conserves resources by using recycled waste products to fertilize fields, while synthetic fertilizers are petroleum-based.
10. Organic farming protects our oceans from excessive synthetic nitrogen fertilizer runoff that is a big contributor to “dead zones” in our oceans. It also helps protect our drinking water from pesticides that leach through the ground and into our waterways.
11. While it costs more to produce organic food, which makes it more expensive, we believe that in the long run it’s a better value. The hidden costs of conventional farming include environmental degradation and increased chemical burdens on our bodies.
12. Organic farming builds healthy soil with more organic matter and less erosion. Because organic farming methods improve the health of the soil rather than continuously depleting it, organic farming is often called “sustainable” farming—it’s part of the solution to ensuring the availability of healthy food for generations to come.