Last week we talked about two common myths about eating organic - those who think it's "too expensive," and the nay-sayers who contend that it's not that much healthier anyway. Be sure to check out that post if you missed it!

This week we're covering 3 more myths you may have heard about eating organic foods. The first of them gets my goat a bit, especially since I first read it in a natural health newsletter!

Myth #3: If You're Already Unhealthy, It's Not Worth It

I was a bit shocked to read this conclusion in an article in one of my favorite health newsletters - from an author I usually otherwise almost always agree with and respect. He stated that if you already live an unhealthy lifestyle, eating organic won't make enough of a difference to be worth the cost and/or effort. This was a rather lengthy article, with a lot of other points in it, and to be fair, I do see where he is coming from, to some extent. His point was, you need to clean up other areas of your life first, and then eating organic will be the icing on the cake, so to speak. For example, if you smoke, eat lots of junk food and unhealthy carbs, and don't get any exercise, eating organic food isn't going to magically turn you into a healthy person. In this context he makes sense. We as a species, as I've mentioned before, tend to look for the "magic pill," the "silver bullet," the one cure in a bottle for every ailment or health issue. But the truth is, there are none. There is no pill, supplement, elixir, machine, etc. that can replace a healthy lifestyle. And the same goes for eating organic foods.
HOWEVER, that is not to say that eating organic isn't a better choice (see last week's Myth #2 about the proven health benefits of eating organic), and if you're living an unhealthy lifestyle, switching to organic is a step in the right direction. Eating organic foods instead of chemically farmed ones will help reduce toxins in your body so that your body can begin to heal some of the other damage you may have done to it through eating crap all those years. It will also provide you with much-needed nutrition in the form of additional vitamins and minerals that may have been lacking from  your diet - especially if you eat fresh, local organic foods that were harvested recently, rather than ones that have been sitting on store shelves for who knows how long. And last but not least, this simple step can be a turning point that leads to other healthy lifestyle changes. Once you've made a change like this, other changes may be easier to make, leading you down the path to a healthier lifestyle overall.

It's true that eating organic foods isn't going to cure your every ill. However, it's a great step towards a healthier you, which makes it well worth it, and if nothing else, it certainly can't hurt!

Myth #4: Large-Scale Organic Farming Is Just As Bad for the Environment As Chemical Farming

I've heard this a few times, and my answer to this is pretty simple. The people who make this assertion really don't understand the impacts of either method of farming. Don't get me wrong, I am ALL for supporting small, local organic farms. As you may know, I get the majority of my food from just these types of farms via CSA subscriptions. I think it's vitally important to support the community you live in, and the farmers who make an effort to provide fresh, organic, local foods on whatever scale they can. Doing so also reduces your carbon footprint by reducing the number of miles your food has to travel to get to you - saving both fuel and money. I buy local wherever possible, and encourage you to do so as well!

That said, if you can't find locally-raised organic foods, the next best choice is organic foods from the supermarket, and here's why I say that. I won't go into the entire chemical farming model in depth, as it would take pages and pages to do so! However, the environmental, economic, and health impacts of large-scale chemical farming are devastating us and our planet. From chemical runoff into our water supply and oceans (killing sea life), to air pollution and climate change, to the mass death of essential species such as bees, to the extinction of hundreds of varieties of plants that add beneficial diversity to our food supply, to health impacts too numerous and yet unknown to even quantify, chemical farming may well be the death of us, if we don't "wake up and smell the Roundup" before it's too late.

As stated in Maria Rodale's book that we mentioned last week, "growing foods organically prevents thousands of highly toxic chemicals from entering our environment and poisoning our soils, our wells, our wildlife, our children, and ourselves."

Organic farming which includes the strategic use of animals and their byproducts, composting, crop rotation, and crop diversity can prove a successful model of food production, and in fact, can even cut costs, as plants raised on nutritious, organic soil are healthier and hardier, and better able to withstand attacks by pests and disease. Organic soils are absorbent, and sequester carbon in the soil, instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. They also hold moisture better, helping crops resist droughts, and require less irrigation. Chemicals are not necessary to grow food. In fact, in Maria's opinion, "synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and GMOs are substitutes for thinking, understanding, and effort." This sounds a bit antagonistic, but if you think about it, and take the time to learn a bit about the two different models of farming, you'll see the truth in it easily enough.

By buying and eating organic, you are supporting a sustainable method of food production which can actually improve the health of the planet, and ourselves, rather than destroying it. You make a choice every time you buy food, as I explain in more detail below. It's time to choose organic.

Myth #5: My Personal Buying/Eating Habits Don't Make a Difference

While this is probably one of the most common myths, it's also the one that most often goes unspoken. We think, I'm just one person/couple/family - how can what I eat make a difference? We might not say it out loud, but we think it, and therefore think it's not worth the effort to make a change - as with many other areas when it comes to creating change in the world. It's time to shake off your apathy, and realize that what you do DOES matter. Not only does it matter in the sense of, you become part of a growing group of people who are taking action to make change, but you are also leading by example. If no one ever took action because no one thought what they did mattered, nothing would ever get done! Even one person becoming a living example can open the minds of potentially hundreds. Remember, we are all connected. I love this excellent quote from Rodale's book:

"A major barrier to change is the hard time we have making connections - understanding, for instance, that soil and how we grow our food matter in ways that personally affect us. Usually the phrase "everything is connected" sounds mystical.... But in nature, everything truly is connected, including us, because we are part of nature too.... There's nothing mystical about it."

It's time to educate ourselves on what we eat, where it comes from, and how it is raised. As Rodale says, "we are all connected, and we have no excuse for remaining ignorant about those connections and what they mean to us and our future." But if you don't want to take the time to do that, then just buy organic, and you will help make an impact anyway!

I will wrap up with one more quote from Organic Manifesto:

"We all need to bite the bullet and do what needs to be done - buy organic whenever we can, insist on organic, fight for organic, and work to make it the norm. We must make organic the conventional choice and not the exception available only to the rich and educated."

When it comes to food, as they say in "Food, Inc.," you vote with your pocketbook. All the government regulations, bureaucracy, red tape, the chemical agricultural lobbyists, the Cargills and Monsantos of the world, mean nothing and have nothing if we tell them they don't - and tell it like we mean it - by putting our money (literally) where our mouth is. Where our money goes, they go. If we stop buying chemically raised foods, farmers WILL stop growing them. It's the nature of economics. You DO have control over what you buy, and what you eat. The power is in your hands. Make a choice. Choose organic.



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