The Importance of Organic Food

Since 1990 when I was introduced to organic food while working at health food grocery stores, I have understood the necessity of supporting organic farming and companies that prioritize organic ingredients in their products.

While the years have gone by I have watched as the organic industry has grown substantially and involved larger and larger agri-food companies, many of which now have entire product lines dedicated to organics. And from a profit perspective it makes sense. As consumers have become further aware of the importance of choosing organic food, the demand has increased and thus the industry has grown in response. While there undoubtedly has been some watering down of organic standards due to large agri-food company representatives on the National Organic Standards Board through the years, the critical reasons for supporting organics remain:

1) Avoiding harmful chemicals - By choosing organic food, you are not consuming the thousands of chemicals used in farming that have been linked to cancer, diabetes, autism, ADHD, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, female infertility, miscarriage, asthma, allergies, male sterility, infant deformities and more.

2) The food is better for you - Substantial research has shown that eating organic food is more nutritious than non-organic food. Not only are you avoiding dangerous chemicals in your diet but you are actually obtaining more nutrients from food that has been grown naturally without depleted soil. Crucial elements required for our diet - vitamins, antioxidants, and essential minerals - are found in higher concentrations in organic food.

3) There are no GMOs - While the large agricultural industry representatives, especially Monsanto (acquired by Bayer in 2018), attempted to convince lawmakers and the public that there was absolutely no risk to Genetically Modified Organisms and only benefits, research has shown GMOs to be linked with antibody resistance and food allergies among other heath issues. Certified organic foods are free from GMOs.

4) Protecting farmworkers - By choosing to support organic farming, you are helping to support agricultural practices that lower the risk of exposing farm workers to dangerous and life threatening chemicals.

5) Protecting our ecosystems - Non-organic farming uses significant amounts of poisonous chemicals, dangerous not only for humans, but for all species in ecosystems around the world. Runoff from farms has been documented as causing significant health issues to wildlife and food chains. By choosing organic food, you are supporting farming practices that are helping the environment not hurting it.

While there is some truth to the fact that organic foods typically are at a higher price point for consumers than non-organic foods, this unfortunately continues to stem from significant subsidies provided to non-organic agriculture and a continued lack of prioritization and financial backing of organic farms. Regardless, for low income communities, buying only organic food may not be possible. In these cases, it is hugely important to support policies and measures designed to increase the financial backing of governments to organic farming. In an ideal world, unhealthy food - whether non-organic, processed foods, sugar/corn syrup foods, meat and dairy would all be priced significantly higher than plant based organic food. It would signify that governments cared more about the health of their populations than bowing to the power of corporations and their vested interests.

There are many significant reasons to choose organic food. Each and every time you purchase food from a grocery store or restaurant you are voting with your money as to what you support. Please consider choosing to support organic food and vote to protect you, your family, farmworkers, and the environment.