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Benefits of Eating Organic Foods - Part 1

Eliminate the Dangers of Pesticides from our Food System

The benefits of eating organic foods include eliminating dangers of pesticides and additives. Include organic healthy nutritious snack foods in your diet (for example, organic food gift basket items such as organic fruits, chocolates and nuts).

In looking at the benefits of eating organic foods, it is important to know and understand some facts about conventional non-organic produce and pesticides in food. We can start by turning to PAN UK, an influential, highly respected and independent campaigner against the use of pesticides.

The PAN UK fully researched statistics show that:

  • 31,000 tonnes of pesticide are sprayed on UK land every year
  • Exposure on a long-term and regular basis to pesticides often results in chronic illnesses such as cancer, and reproductive and neurological related health problems
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that 772,000 new cases of disease caused by pesticides occur annually
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) identifies 150 pesticides as potentially carcinogenic (cancer causing)

The Dangers of Pesticides in our Food System

Farm workers and others involved in the handling and spraying of pesticides are directly exposed. Pan UK point out that plantation workers in Costa Rica (where a high proportion of UK imported fruit originates) are testament to the risks:

Luckily, despite other concerns about the levels of pesticides found on and in the fruit and vegetables you eat, you are not likely to suffer from any of the side effects.

Unluckily for the millions of farm workers who grow these foods for you - they may.

The bitter aftertaste... much of the fruit we eat in the UK every year comes from Costa Rica. Millions of boxes of it, in fact. So many bananas now leave their shores that Costa Rica is the world’s second largest exporter of bananas. Familiar names like Dole, Chiquita and Delmonte, all own plantations there.

Not quite the green and tropical paradise of the tourist brochures, Costa Rican plantations rely on large amounts of chemical pesticides to keep these high yields going.

Banana bunches dangle from the trees wrapped in plastic bags impregnated with harmful insecticides. Planes swoop over the trees 40-60 times a year spraying them with fungicides, some of which are suspected to cause cancer in both animals and humans. Not much fun if your village is next to the spray path (sometimes as close as 4 metres), if your crops grow there and your animals graze close by, or if you and your children use the water sources at the plantation edges. Local farmers complain of respiratory problems, allergies and serious chronic dermatitis. Local communities have seen their cattle lose their hair and their unborn calves after eating contaminated pasture. They’re concerned that they are drinking and washing in water affected by the same chemicals.

The chemicals used to deal with pests in the soil are extremely toxic. And plastic bags coated in chlorpyrifos that cover the fruit are sometimes just thrown away, to finish up in the rivers and sea, poisoning or choking turtles and other animals. In January 2003 fish, followed by the birds and reptiles feeding on them, were killed along a 12km stretch of river. Pollution incidents caused by pesticides have caused mass wildlife deaths. To read more about growing foods in using unsafe methods, visit Costa Rica

organic food is pesticide free

Chemicals that are left as nature intends them are obviously needed by us all. The problem arises with the synergistic effects.

When we start mixing chemicals together to produce certain actions, such as in Pesticides, the effects are not good at all.

In the pesticides used in intensive farming several thousand chemicals can be hidden. That is to say not declared. These dangers of pesticides are significant to your health, and the health of our environment.

These are called 'inerts' and many of the toxic ones react with each other. Examples are DDT and Dioxin. The result is a magnification in toxicity.

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Known Effects of Chemically Produced Foods:

  • Developmental and behavioural effects in various animal species
  • Associated with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Reproductive and endocrine disruptions
  • Associated with a cancer in dogs (canine malignant lymphoma)
  • Increased number of abnormal sperm in exposed farmers
  • Decreased fertility in male rats

These pesticides, toxic synthetic chemicals that damage peoples' health are absorbed into the soil and find their way into the rivers, polluting both.

This results in:

  • Loss of biodiversity - destroying animal, plant and micro-organic life. This depletes the resources of the local ecosystem resulting in infertility, lack of resistance to pests and disease etc
  • Interference with natural pest control - soil and the environment in general has its own system for dealing with pests
  • Animal deaths and disease

Don't Ignore the Benefits of Eating Organic Foods: Our Tainted Food Supply

The toxic chemicals that drench our crops, fruit and vegetables are then absorbed through the roots and skins contaminating them.

Some of us believe that rinsing fruit or vegetables under the tap will remove pesticide from them. We choose fruits and vegetables as healthy nutritious snack foods thinking we are doing something good for our health. Unfortunately that is neither true, nor possible! Even the corporations and governments admit that there are pesticide residues in our food. Drops of water on the skin of an apple will not detoxify it.

In the UK, the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD), an Executive Agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says:

When we approve pesticides we expect that small amounts (residues) will usually turn up in food supplies. They are also expected to turn up in the environment and drinking water... This is another one of the important benefits of eating organic foods - it is free of these pesticide residues.

If you study the Pan UK website you will find statistics on the contamination of our food; that is, the food that actually comes into our homes to be eaten by us. Examples:

  • 43% of all fruit and vegetables contain measurable pesticide residues
  • 50% of all lettuce has pesticide residues from more than 7 synthetic chemicals
  • 30% of all cereals are contaminated with pesticide residues
  • 93% of Oranges contain pesticide residues

Benefits of Eating Organic Foods

These are the sobering facts. But you can choose fruit and vegetables as healthy nutritious snack foods (and meal dishes), as long as you choose organic food that is not produced with chemicals and pesticides. (Note: Think twice before sending a food gift basket to friends and family: send a healthy alternative - an organic food gift basket!)

Growing, buying, cooking and eating organically has never been easier. You can grow organic fruit and vegetables in your own backyard or on your balcony or patio. You can buy organic foods at the local market, directly from the farm or even in sections of your local grocery store. Healthy organic recipes usually are focused not only on organic ingredients, but also healthier cooking methods. And eating organic foods provide flavor bursts! The benefits of eating organic foods are not only environmental benefits, but also benefits for your health: you will feel better and be healthier with a healthier diet.

For the GOOD NEWS, and a further look at the health benefits of eating organic foods, visit Part 2 - More Benefits of Organic Foods.

Additional Reading About the Benefits of Eating Organic Foods:

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Disclaimer: The content of this page is an opinion and is not meant to be medical advice. We do not make any therapeutic claims for herbal supplements. This site is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in providing medical advice or professional services. Please consult with your doctor, health care practioner or professional service provider for specific problems or advice. Many recipes have been tested however some are submissions: no guarantee is given that the ingredients or directions provided are correct and complete.

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