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article -- Why do Organics Matter?

  • Subject: [cg] article -- Why do Organics Matter?
  • From: "Cyndy Ross" <cynross@tir.com>
  • Date: Wed, 5 Sep 2001 09:28:40 -0400

I recieved the article below in the Diamond Organics newsletter.  I am also forwarding an article featured in Seattletimes.com (A Seattle Times company) on 8/10/01 titled, "Pesticide traces found in kids here" by Brad Wong.

I pray for safe travel for all of you attending the conference this weekend.

Cyndy Ross
SLLC Organic Community Garden
1452 Avondale St
Sylvan Lake, MI 48320
Zone 6A

Why do organics matter?
[excerpted from Delicious Living magazine}

In recognition of National Organics Month (September), we focus on organic foods. Most of the news is exciting. Several studies have verified what organic farmers, retailers and shoppers have always known: Organics contribute to healthier people and to a healthier planet.

Consequently, the new USDA national standard for organic certification couldn't come at a better time. Uniting the industry under a single certified-organic label will provide you, the consumer, with assurance that your choice is a smart one. You will know that when buying organics, you're giving yourself and your family toxin-free, healthy food…

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., researched produce items to determine which are more and less likely to carry high pesticide content.

The following produce items, with strawberries and bell peppers topping the list, are found to retain the most pesticide residue and therefore make the wisest organic-variety choices:

1. Strawberries
2. Bell peppers
3. Spinach
4. Cherries
5. Peaches
6. Mexican cantaloupe
7. Celery
8. Apples
9. Apricots
10. Green beans
11. Imported grapes
12. Cucumbers

…Corn and sweet potatoes are two crops most likely to be genetically modified. And unfortunately, to date there is still no legislation requiring that foods containing GMOs be labeled. Only organic certification ensures your foods are natural and free of genetic modification.

Between pesticide content and GMO risk, there is no question that organic foods are healthier for your body and the environment. When wondering if you should pay the extra for organic foods, consider the alternatives: What is the cost of good health? What is the cost of clean air, soil and water? The organic choice matters.

Organic Farming yields bounty and taste

A six-year apple-farming study provides quantitative data showing organic farming methods to be superior to both conventional and integrated methods (Nature, 2001, vol. 410, pp. 927-930).

"As a scientist, I wanted to find out which of the three systems [organic, conventional or a combination of both, called integrated] is more sustainable," says John Reganold, co-author of the study, "meaning it must produce adequate food of high quality, be environmentally sound, conserve resources, be socially responsible and make a profit."

Form 1994 to 1999, Reganold and his colleagues tracked soil quality, yield and crop quality, environmental impact, energy efficiency, and profitability for three apple production systems, using organic, conventional and integrated methods, in Washington state. Results showed that all three systems produced comparable yields; however, the organic and integrated systems showed higher soil quality and lower environmental impact, and the organic system produced sweeter apples, higher profit and greater energy efficiency.

"We see this as a wake-up call," says Reganold. "When you put all the factors together, organic [farming] is a slam-dunk winner, with integrated next. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that these are two systems that [farmers] might want to consider."

As critics note, the current financial premium afforded organic growers unfairly affects profitability; however, this government-sponsored benefit kicks in only after three years of applying organic techniques, making the transition a financial burden to small and midsize farmers. "The challenge facing policymakers is to incorporate the value of ecosystem processes into the traditional marketplace," the study concludes, "thereby supporting food producers in their attempts to employ both economically and environmentally sustainable policies."

Organics prove more nutritious

Organic farming proponents have long suspected that organically grown foods contain higher levels of important vitamins and minerals as compared to conventionally farmed produce. Now research backs this claim (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2001, vol. 7, no.2).

For her doctoral dissertation at Baltimore's John's Hopkins University, Virginia Worthington, PhD, reviewed 41 studies comparing the levels of 36 vitamins and minerals in organically and conventionally grown produce. Organics rated higher in most nutrients measured and, as a bonus, contained 15 percent less of potentially harmful nitrates from nitrogen fertilizers. The greatest nutritional differences were found in magnesium (organics had 29 percent more), vitamin C (27 percent more), and iron (21 percent more).

Using the USDA recommendation of five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, Worthington calculated that organic-produce eaters would consume an average of 89 mg vitamin C daily compared with 70 mg for conventional-food eaters; 3.7 mg iron compared with 3.0 mg; and 80 mg magnesium compared with 68.6 mg. This suggests that going organic might make the difference between a nutrient-deficient diet and an adequate diet.

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