A Skeptics Guide To Organic Food

Over time, in the act of doing what I loved, I became a bit of a, dare I say it “organics advocate” and it has caused me some grief.

The thing is, people don’t like organics… and as it turns out they don’t like the advocates of it either! At first it baffled me as to why – why would people be so offended by the concept of eating clean fresh, sustainably grown food?

But then I realized. People are afraid and confused.

The fear and misunderstanding is real. The mixed messages within the media who confuse rumour with fact, and the branding laws around organics are confusing at best.

The fear runs deep, because part of the issue is quite personal. To admit that there is a legitimate reason to eat organic food is also to admit that the whole industry you have trusted to supply you with quality food, the food that keeps you alive and healthy has been lying to you. It also means feeling a little like a fool in some way. The manipulation of perception about what is happening within the food system by major brands is a big truth to swallow.

I get it, really I do. I too have been there and it is no walk in the park. Accepting that you no longer choose to part of the mainstream changes everything and for many, blissful ignorance is a seemingly easy option.

I can’t really help a lot with the second part, that is a journey people need to walk for themselves. What I can help with is clearing up a little of the common misunderstandings around organics.

 

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In my experience so far the misunderstand comes in these four main areas:

Organics Is Not A Dietary Choice.

When people think of the words “organic food”, they automatically think about
dietary choice like vegetarianism, veganism.

The connection between veganism & organics started because the initial pioneers oforganic farming as the vegan movement in fact started a mainstream food option. As a part of their ethos they felt it was imperative to protect the earth and the wildlife by growing food in a way that did not include harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, with many modern vegans choosing mass-produced chemically grown wheat, corn, soy and legume products, this ethos has slipped away, but nonetheless, we credit them for starting the movement towards sustainable growing practices.

Eating organic is simply about the way the food is produced. This includes all food types, from sugar to beef, leafy greens to tofu. It has no connection at all with any kind of preferred eating style or diet.

Organic Food Costs Too Much

It is an assumption that organic equals expensive

Organic food is 10-15% more expensive than conventional food, mostly because small local producers that have higher overheads grow it.

The costs reflect what food should cost when the farmer is actually making money for producing food. When the costs actually get out of line (meaning they are 50-80% more than conventional foods) is when the farmer is forced to sell via a centralised markets that are then adding substantial margin onto the goods before selling it to stores. It should be noted, it is usually the case the higher the retail price, the less money the end grower usually is making. I point this out, because the issue is not the growing of organic food for a reasonable cost, the issue is the supply chain that gets the food from the farm to the store, it is an important differentiation and one that gives farmers (the real hero in all this) much torment.

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The Science Says…

When people hear the words “organically grown or chemical free”, they often jump
into a scientific argument about the nutritional content of a particular plant grown conventionally v’s organically.

The nutritional benefit of food comes from three areas, the quality and makeup of the seed, how rich in nutrition the soil is which it’s grown and how the body absorbs the nutrition once it’s been consumed. The main purpose relating to nutritional value, of eating organic food is to reduce the amount of chemical exposure to your body, so your body can function at an optimal level and absorb more nutritional value from the food you consume.

A study conducted by The National Institute for Research in 2006 was able to demonstrate that an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to pesticides that are commonly used in agricultural production. More so they concluded that these children were most likely exposed to these pesticides exclusively through their diet.

In 2014 Australian University RIMT conducted a 7 day study that put participants on an exclusively organic diet for 7 days. The organic eating participants were found to have a 89% reduction of chemicals in their system.

It is actually astounding that within just 7 days, there was such a significant reduction in chemicals in the systems of participants.

Is It Really Organic?

When people hear “certified organic” they feel mistrust and don’t understand why
statements like “organic ingredients” and “all natural” can be used on non certified items.

Trusting our food is actually organic.

For me, and many others this is one of the hardest hurdles to cross. The biggest problem in this space is the labelling laws around the use of the word “organic” on products. At present there is no clear law that protects organic producers. What that means is anyone can use say their product is “produced with organic ingredients” or “naturally grown” or “natural” and it is hard for the customer to tell the difference between what really is organically grown and what is branding.

The easiest way to ensure that you are eating something organic is to look for certification. At present there is a global standard that the following certification bodies adhere to:

USDA (USA) NASAA (Aust) ACO (Aust) Bioc (Europe) AB (France) BIO (Europe) COBA
(Canada) JAS (Japan) BIODYNAMIC (Global biodynamic certified)

It’s confusing that there are so many, and it would be a better future for the market if they consolidated down to one or two main peak bodies and rules, however for now this is what we have. The certification process is complex and producers, distributors and manufactures are held very accountable for keeping in line with the standard.

I owned and ran a catering business that was certified organic and from first hand experience know that the audit process is very real, and comprehensive. If you would like to learn more about what it means to be certified organic you can do so here.

People are confused, fearful and annoyed by organics! And with every voicing of the word “organic” it prompts one of these reactions.

So lets drop this word & start thinking & talking about what actually important here.

Let’s start by asking a question. What am I eating?

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The system is complex, not because it necessarily needs to be, more because that is the way it has been created. It has left us, as a society, so disconnected from what is real about food, where our food comes from, how it is grown and produced and more so how it is marketed to us. If we all were to tell ourselves the truth about what we are really eating we would be overwhelmed with the disrespect we have been shown by the companies we have entrusted with the role of nourishing us.

Which is why, now more than ever we must step forward and take direct responsibility over the way we feed ourselves, our children and our families, the earth and nature as a whole.

We live in a time when we can recite the words of the latest hit song, when we know which celebrity is dating who and what the president of America tweeted 10 minutes ago, and yet we don’t know where our breakfast came from. Let’s not give away our ability to live a long and healthy life simply because we don’t put the time in to understand what we are eating and ask ourselves this question.

What am I eating?

Next time you hear the word organic, don’t think about diets, about debates, the
word organic or the science, just focus on the food. Is it in season? Is it fresh? Where was it grown? How was it grown? Who is the farmer? How is it best prepared?

What am I eating?

Be in ore of the simple fact that in doing so you simultaneously nourished your mind, help the earth and supported a local farmer and take care of your heath.

One should never underestimate the power of real food.

Balanced-Meal

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