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7.21.2009

Green Head to Toe Series: Green your belly (finally, I know)

Alright, I'll admit it. I was putting off this post because I was dreading the amount of research and work it was going to take. I'm not lazy, just very busy. But this morning I was thinking about it and I decided it's really not that complicated. I can sum up the whole organic/non-organic debate in roughly two bulleted lists. So here goes.

Reasons organic is good:
  • Better for the environment (no excess chemicals leeched into the ground, more focus on working with the land and not "over farming")
  • Better for you (... I'm not going to say there is more nutrition in an organic piece of produce, because I personally find that difficult to believe. However, less chemicals=better for you.)
  • and what else is there? I mean, that pretty much covers everything on the planet in two bullets.
Common arguements against organic:
  • Due to the amount of food in demand worldwide, converting all food production to organic would make it impossible to produce enough ****
  • We're all a bunch of tree hugging hippies and don't know what the h*** we're talking about. (seriously, you live where I come from and this is probably the most common arguement against.)
So that's it. Pretty simple, eh? I am not going to go into the risks posed by the chemicals used to raise various crops (although I do have to mention that almost all groundwater in this country is contaminated with various levels of nitrates. Wonder where it came from? I know, some are naturally occuring, but not all).

****I actually get the logic behind this idea, but I don't think it would be impossible. It would simply take a very deep seeded overhaul of the way we eat. You see, something like 95% of the corn grown in this country (for example... and it might actually be higher than that, so don't quote me on that figure) is NOT grown for human consumption. The rest is grown for a variety of reasons, but according to THIS site 80% of it is used to feed domestic and overseas livestock. See where I'm going with this? WE EAT TOO MUCH MEAT. I'm no vegetarian, but I am very aware that Americans (and in increasing numbers people in the rest of the world) eat far more meat than is necessary or beneficial for our health. If we were to eat less meat, fewer cows, fewer cows= lower demand for feed corn... see what I get at? Of course, using corn for feed is a good thing because you can use types of corn that aren't palatable to people (take my word for it, field corn is gross) and the parts of corn that we can't eat. But if we needed to produce less corn for cows, we could devote more of that land to growing organic corn and other organic crops for human consumption. And that is only one example. I have no idea how this would affect other crops- while I know soybeans are also used mostly for feed, wheat is used in a much larger part for human consumption. And I know absolutely NOTHING about vegetable farming on a large scale (and I don't feel comfortable translating research about something I don't have a basic working knowledge of).

LASTLY, organic isn't the only consideration when it comes to environmentally friendly food. Lots and lots of gas is used to TRANSPORT food, organic and otherwise. Because of this, one of the best things you can do is to buy your food locally (even if, gasp! it's not organic). And we want to support the smaller local farms that can bring us this fresher and more eco friendly produce A) so they are able to continue to bring us fresher and more eco friendly produce (or any other local food, for that matter- meat, honey, bread, whatev), and B) because it's the right thing to do and helps to support them.

As a sort of afternote, I have to admit I don't buy 100% organic all the time. I try to hit the big offenders (I found a list somewhere, there are certain things you should focus more on buying organic- meat (not practical for us, we don't eat that much of it anyway), dairy, grains, and thin skinned fruits and veggies. Not as important (health wise) for bananas, oranges, and I can't remember what else. But I do get a majority of my organic produce from an organic produce buying group (or co-op). We give them money, they buy it wholesale and distribute it. We get absolutely no say in what we get (one of the reasons I love it, actually, it gives us variety). If you live in the Inland Empire area of SoCal, here's the link to my group.

3 comments:

Kerrie said...

I totally agree that less chemicals are better all around. How many farmers do you know that have breathing problems/lung cancer from pesticides used on their crops. I know quite a few and most of them never smoked. That one reason is enough for me to buy organic when I can.

How are things going? Haven't talked to you in ages.

cait said...

Two things- First, in your arguments against you neglected to mention cost- organic can be pricey. And second- you didn't mention localharvest.org, which has a database of local farms, co ops, and other related things throughout the US, making it much easier to find some organics for slightly cheaper (buying direct is usually that way) close to home.

Brianna said...

I was wondering when you were going to get to transportation of the produce. I thought you forgot! I will admit I spent about an hour driving around north Lincoln today trying to find a darn produce stand to buy cucumbers and tomatoes and didn't find any. I resorted to driving south where I used to live. There is one on every corner down there! But anyway, just proves Nebraska isn't exactly the best place to do this all, which is no excuse, and makes it even better that you (coming form here and all) are being proactive!

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