Whether or not to purchase organic food is an on-going debate with my extended family.
That’s what happens when your family is made up of multiple generational farmers, from apple farmers to produce and sugarbush farmers.
These standards include soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices and rules for food additives.
I’ve been on the organic “train” for a few years now.
After reading a lot about it and doing my own research, I went through my cabinets and refrigerator and cleaned the house.
I started buying organic produce, dairy and meats.
My grocery bill doubled, but I honestly noticed a huge difference in how I felt.
I think most people don’t have any idea about what actually goes into the production of the food we consume.
The more I educated myself, the more I realized how unaware I was of the things I was putting into my own body because of the food I was eating.
Here are six things we consume regularly when we eat foods that aren’t organic (and some of them may scare you):
1. Artificial Preservatives, Colors And Flavors
USDA organic regulations prohibit any genetically modified (GMO) ingredients in a certified organic product, which means that they don’t contain preservatives, chemicals, fillers, artificial flavors and colors.
Foods that contain refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup, manufactured packaged foods, diet and low-fat items and fast food all contain high amounts of chemically processed additives and preservatives.
Additives and preservatives are designed to do a number of things to our food, including adding flavor and coloring, preventing bacteria growth and extending shelf life.
But, they also can do harm to our bodies.
Sodium nitrates are food preservatives used in meat products, and they may be linked to an increased risk of cancers, diabetes, diarrhea and respiratory tract infections in children.
High doses of sodium benzoate, a preservative used to prevent bacterial growth in foods, can cause reactions such as hives, asthma and allergic reactions after consumtion.
2. Growth-Promoting Antibiotics And Hormones
Drugs like ractopamine and other growth-promoting antibiotics have been used for many years to bulk up animals and fight diseases.
They are used to increase profits, but have many negative side effects, both on us and on the environment.
The Center For Food Safety says that ractopamine has been shown to cause elevated heart rates and heart-pounding sensations.
Additionally, The World Health Organization, The American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association have stated that growth-promoting antibiotics can lead to increased antibiotic-resistant infections in humans.
This poses a health concern because we can ingest resistant bacteria from meat we consume and get sick.
In addition, our bodies may not respond to the antibiotic used to treat the illness because of the growth promotion processes used in the meat.
3. Synthetic Pesticides
Organic crops cannot be grown with synthetic pesticides.
Some organic farmers use natural pesticides that come from certain types of plants, but synthetic pesticides were developed from chemicals like mustard gas and nerve poison.
Because pesticides are designed to kill living organisms, they also pose health risks to us.
When we consume produce grown using synthetic pesticides, we are at increased risk of birth defects, damage to the nervous system, disruption of hormones and endocrine systems, respiratory disorders, skin and eye irritations and even various types of cancers.
4. Roundup Herbicides
The most widely-used herbicide on the planet is glyphosate, otherwise known as Roundup, which is prohibited on organic crops.
Herbicides are used to kill unwanted weeds that could potentially affect the crop harvest.
The use of Roundup surged in the late 1990s, and the extended exposure over the last 15 to 20 years has been linked to a number of health issues.
These include Alzheimer’s disease, birth defects, autism, various forms of cancer, celiac disease and gluten intolerance, kidney disease, colitis, depression, diabetes, heart disease, hypothyroidism, liver disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, issues with pregnancy an reproduction, obesity and respiratory illnesses
Most conventional oils — including canola, soybean and corn — are extracted with the neurotoxin hexane, which is also used in the processing of soy ingredients.
Hexane residue can be found in some of these products after the extraction process takes place, but the FDA does not require food manufacturers to test for hexane residues.
These residues can be found in various soy based products, energy bars and certain protein shakes and can lead to symptoms of abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting in individuals who consume many of them.
6. Sewage Sludge
Non-organic crops can be treated with “biosolids,” which is the name for treated waste that is applied to farmland as fertilizer.
This waste can be contaminated with things like heavy metals, endocrine disruptors, pathogens, pharmaceuticals and pesticides.
These toxic chemicals can be absorbed into the produce that we eat in the growing process, and in turn, it can then be stored in our bodies.
I think educating yourself is important when it comes to what we eat.
Knowing the standards set for organic foods and the types of chemicals and additives that are allowed in the production of non-organic foods may open your eyes to the things you are putting into your body unknowingly.
You may be suffering from health ailments possibly caused by some of the things above that you consume on a regular basis.
Awareness and knowledge is the key. Know what you are ingesting.
You can learn more by reading food labels and ingredients when grocery shopping.
But, it’s also important to understand that many of the things above aren’t regulated and don’t have to be reported, so consumers remain unaware.
Be proactive about your health and take the time to educate yourself.
It’ll pay off in the long run.