The Other Big “O”

‘O’ as in Organic, just in case you were wondering.

Before I started studying to become a nutritionist, and became aware of the importance of eating organic I thought of it as a trend. During my weekly grocery shops I considered the organic options, but I wouldn’t buy them because most options are more expensive than the regular produce, meat & dairy. I just shrugged it off and thought how bad can non-organic really be? Although I would always get this nagging feeling that I was ignoring an important issue.

I recently learned just how important choosing organic really is (for certain foods especially) when I read about the chemicals that are used and their scary side affects.

When it comes to produce; fertilizers, herbicides & pesticides are used by non-organic farmers during the different stages of growing & harvesting. Fertilizers help stimulate plant growth, but decrease the quality of the soil by depleting important minerals that your body needs, such as, chromium, selenium and iodine. Herbicides and pesticides are used to control weeds, insects, molds & fungus that interfere with planting and harvesting. Pesticides are also used during shipping to prevent damage & from ripening too quickly.

These chemicals are important to farmers because they allow them to produce large crops of produce with mass distribution. However, these chemicals can be dangerous to our health. They are toxic and contain carcinogens, which are directly linked to causing cancer. They also contain other chemicals that may cause birth defects and neurological disorders. And there is still research being done because scientists are unsure of other side effects that long-term exposure to low doses of these chemicals will have on humans.

I recently had a discussion with friends about choosing organic and for them it’s a trust issue – how do they really know that the produce they’re buying is organic? According to the Organic Council of Ontario, “On June 30, 2009 the new Canada Organic Products Regulations came into effect. The regulation will ensure that products using the word ‘organic’ or displaying the ‘Canada Organic’ logo are certified by a federally accredited certification body to the Canadian Organic Standards. The new system provides the assurance that products labelled as organic comply with clearly defined practices that ensure that the basic principles of organic farming have been observed.”

It’s interesting that this regulation only came into effect a couple years ago. This makes me think that this important issue will only gain popularity. Hopefully more farmers will go organic, which will drive the prices down. I know we have a ways to go, but the more educated people become the more likely it is they will choose organic. Take me for example!

That being said, I don’t always buy organic. I am all about supporting our local farmers, and will buy local, non-organic produce when it’s in season. I am also a supporter of Canadian Beef and the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Also, the EWG (Environmental Working Group) has a list of which produce is the worst for chemical use, and which ones you can get away with buying non-organic. I have more to say about all those topics so stayed tuned for my future posts!

To learn more about organic & local food; here are some good resources to help you get educated:

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