Three reasons we are eating organic food

Like most people raised in the suburbs of a metropolitan area, nearly all of our food growing up was a product of the industrialized food system. Neither my family’s nor my wife’s meals were dominated by McDonald’s or Burger King. But that really does not matter since most food in grocery stores is processed by the same companies in the same way.

Documentaries like Fresh and books by Joel Salatin convinced me we needed to begin the shift to organic food (although we still currently enjoy lots of processed sweets and desserts).

I’m using the word “organic” not in the same way the USDA uses it, which can be sketchy. In my use consider locally grown, as little chemical fertilizer as possible, as little insecticide as possible, as little transport as possible, as little processing as possible. Give me eggs from chickens walking around the pasture, beef from grass-fed cows rather than corn and carrion fed cows, pork from oinkers in the field rather than from a cage shot-up with anti-biotics from birth.

The first time we had organic chicken from a local butcher, Sonya had prepared a dish we had frequently eaten. After one bite of the chicken we are all looking at each other asking, “If this is chicken, what in the world have we been eating?”

It is the same with farm direct, organic eggs. First you notice how much harder the shell is than a store-bought, industrialized egg. Then a bright orange yolk is staring up at you instead of a pale-yellow something and you wonder, “If this is a real egg, what are those other things and what has been laying them?” You may not want to know.

So we are shifting toward organic. Here are three reasons to consider it.


(Compare the above “free range sow” to the sow in the video below.)

1. Organic food tastes better and is better for you.
Undertand the process of industrializing the food chain requires many rounds of anti-biotics to prevent diseases in the confined spaces. The medicine, stress, and often toxic-environment all contribute to the shrink-wrapped package cooly displayed at the local grocery store.

There are reasons E-coli originates in the industrial food system.

Then there is the taste. Unless your taste buds are on a permanent vacation the taste difference will be immediate. It will also be for the better.

2. Buying local supports local, small farms.
If the food tasted exactly the same–and it does not–buying local is still a better option, when the option exists. CSAs and farmer’s markets remain great locations to get locally grown produce and meat. It also allows you to meet the local farmer and possibly even visit the farm.

The industrialized food system has no interest at all in your health, unless your loss of it can be directly attributable to their product. As with all things capitalist the bottom line is the bottom line. Profit margins will trump health concerns every time. Agribusiness needs my dollars a lot less than Shady Farms.

3. Choosing organic is a means of honoring God’s covenant with the earth.
After the flood of Noah God promised never to destroy the earth and its inhabitants by water. Often overlooked is that God’s covenant is not only with humanity, but with the animals as well.

Then God said to Noah and his sons with him, “Understand that I am confirming My covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you–birds, livestock and all the wildlife of the earth that are with you–all the animals of the earth that came out of the ark. (Genesis 9:8-10, HCSB)

The verses immediately preceding affirm these animals are provided for food.

Proverbs says “The righteous care for the needs of their animals” (12:10, NIV). This does not only refer to dogs and cats (ie, pets) since pets were not the order of the Old Testament day. The reference is to productive animals like animals used in farming. If a mistreated dog is offensive to you, then mistreated pigs, chickens and cows should be offensive as well. Compassion should exist even if the heart strings are not strummed in the same way.

The following video shows the industrial food system as it works in one Asian country eventually reaching the fast food chains. The sublimity of the soundtrack is a vivid contrast to the processing taking place on screen.

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The Backyard Homestead is on my wish list, hint, hint…

4 comments for “Three reasons we are eating organic food

  1. March 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

    There are many studies that say organics aren’t really any healthier, and that they do not really help the environment, either.

    Here’s one:

    http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/09/03/organic-foods-not-healthier-or-more-nutritious-study-says

    They do cost much more, though.

    • martyduren
      March 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      Steve-
      The issue isn’t whether organic gardens and farms “help” the environment. The issue is they don’t damage it. They don’t.

      The idea that a cow, pig, or chicken raised on antibiotics in conditions not designed for optimal health are equal to animals raised nearly drug free, fed according to their natural eating habits, and kept off feed lots seems incredible. Perhaps the organic meat you’ve had wasn’t good. That has not been my experience.

      Yes, some organics are higher, without a doubt. This is a sad consequence of our government’s seeming dislike of the small farmer. If we dropped farm subsidies to the huge corn farming operations and allowed the market to shake out, organic food would not seem that high, IMO.

    • March 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      Steve,

      It seems to me that produce grown without pesticides is certainly healthier than foods grown with them. Studies are conflicted as far as vitamin content of organic vs. conventional produce; some studies say there’s no difference, others (many, many others, really) show greater nutrient content in organics. Some studies have shown that organically grown oranges have up to 30% more vitamin C than conventionally grown ones. Even if there is no difference in nutrient content, why choose something with harmful pesticides?

      Many farms that have organic or sustainable practices are undeniably helpful to the environment. If you went to Joel Salatin’s Polyface farm, you would certainly see that his farming methods greatly enrich the environment, more so than any conventional farm ever can.

  2. Christiane
    March 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    I was brought up on ‘organic’ way before it was trendy . . . my father’s garden soil was enriched from his large compost pile. No chemicals were used at all.
    I suspect that arguments concerning the benefits of non-organic foods are supported by them what makes money from producing those non-organic foods . . . if you follow the money behind those articles, it takes you like bread-crumbs right to the sources. :)

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