Organic vs Non-Organic
Once upon a time, there was no such thing as organic or non-organic food. It was all organic! So what exactly is the difference and what does this mean for us and our overall health and impact our Heart? Understanding these differences is one of the fundamental principles when educating ourselves in optimal nutrition health.
So, what exactly are organic foods? Quite simply put, organic foods do not use chemical poisons, called pesticides, to keep insects away from crops. Non-organic, aka Conventional Foods, do use these harmful chemicals. There are many serious health and environmental complications that arise from pesticide use. We will discuss these hazards, nutrient density of organic foods and how to identify organic products in your grocery store.
Conventional farming uses chemicals on crops in effort to kill insects. These chemicals disrupt the process of coordinated breathing and heart function in the insects; essentially, insects suffocate while having a heart attack. This is the mechanism by which pesticides kill them. The chemicals sprayed on our food have serious detrimental health effects on the human body as well. How could they not? They are designed to kill! Primarily, pesticide chemicals affect the neurotransmitters in the brain from properly functioning. Studies have clearly indicated these chemicals can result in:
- Brain Development Disorders
- Learning Disabilities
- lower IQ’s
- Behavioral Disorders such as ADHD
- Neurodegenerative Diseases such as Parkinson’s
Monsanto is the company that developed Roundup® which is a glyphosate-based herbicide. They are also the producers of Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs). They have been involved in many high-profile court cases involving the detrimental effects of their products to humans and the environment. On August 10, 2018 the Superior Court Of California in San Francisco awarded a settlement of $289 million to Dewayne Johnson after determining his terminal cancer was caused by Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicide Roundup®. Monsanto was bought by Bayer in 2018 for $66 billion. The company now operates under the Bayer name.
Systems are in place to classify products for the potential to cause cancer in humans (carcinogens). These classifications are based on solid research findings. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) defines carcinogens into the following categories:
IARC National Toxicology Program
Group 1: Carcinogenic to Humans
Group 2A: Probably Carcinogenic to Humans
Group 2B: Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans
Group 3: Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans
Group 4: Probably not carcinogenic to humans
In March 2015, 17 Experts from 11 countries met at the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The objective was to assess whether or not pesticides cause cancer. These members were both part of the IARC and the World Health Organization. The conclusion prompted a re-classification of the herbicide Glyphosate as 2A Probably Carcinogenic to Humans.
“Can’t I just wash the poisonous pesticides off my food”? This is a common question for many who do not truly understand how plants receive vital nutrients. The answer is absolutely not. Plant foods absorb their nutrients from the soil. They do this through their root systems. When pesticides are sprayed on to the crops, the dangerous chemicals are absorbed into the soil. The plants then absorb those poisons through their roots thereby incorporating the chemicals to the internal structures of the foods. These dangerous chemicals literally become part of the plant. They cannot be washed off. In addition, most conventional crops are GMO (genetically modified organisms). These foods contain the highest levels of pesticide residues.
In addition, Neonicotinoids, a specific type of pesticide, are causing the bee colonies to collapse (or die). Bees are an essential part of human life. Many plants depend on them. If the bees die, the plants will die. That would lead to thousands of people dying from starvation.
Fact: Bee Farmers report a loss in bee colony between 30-90% of bee colonies each year.
“If honey bees dye out, humans will follow a few years later”
Moreover, in studies, organic foods were shown to have higher nutrient content, more vitamins and minerals per calorie, more essential fatty acids (crucial for brain health), more amino acids and antioxidants per calorie.
Antioxidants are substances that protect our cells from free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable atoms that damage cells. The damage can create poor health conditions such as:
- Alzheimer’s and other Dementia
- Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disorders such as Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Graying Hair, Hair Loss etc.
- Heart Disease
“I can’t afford organic. It’s too expensive”. Before adopting that mindset, consider these few things!
- Nutrient Dense Foods = Hunger Satisfaction
Hunger is a sign of nutrient deficiency. There is a reduced need for calories when foods are nutrient dense!
- Organic Consumers Typically Need One Major Meal per day
We feel fuller longer with nutrient rich snacks, meals and desserts! We eat less and save more money!
- No More Wasting Money of Empty Calorie Fast Food!
Empty Calories = Excess Hunger & Excess Weight
Bio-availability is the rate and extent to which a nutrient is absorbed and then used by the body. Pesticides reduce the amount of bio-availability in nutrients. This directly affects nutrient density of foods because it is dependent on the availability of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and chlorophyll (the stuff that makes plants green). Organic foods, free of pesticides, can contain up to 70% more nutrient density than their counterparts. More nutrients means less hunger!
The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) has established a program that certifies all organic produce. These food items must meet strict government standards to be issued a USDA organic seal. But don’t be fooled! Look for the seal to be sure all of the ingredients in your food items are chemical free!
Ever noticed the stickers on your fresh produce and wonder what all those numbers mean? Those digits are key indicators as to what type of produce it is. The number will tell you if the food is organic (free of chemical pesticides), conventional (ridden with chemical pesticides) or GMO- the worst of the worst! To ensure you have the best quality produce, make sure the FIRST number on the stick is number 9!
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) creates a list of the foods that contain the highest levels of chemical pesticides each year. The EWG states that eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables off the Dirty Dozen’s list will expose a person to roughly 15 pesticides per day. It is best to eat 100% organic but if you are unable to do so, avoid the foods on the Dirty Dozen’s list. Don’t be fooled by flyers that list Clean 15. They still contain dangerously high levels of chemical pesticides. The Dirty Dozen is simply the most toxic of them all. Organic is best.