We live in a time where our foods are covered in pesticides, meat filled with antibiotics and organic is just a label placed in shops to sell more produce in an increasingly concious world. For our health, what is the healthiest option though? Should you cut out dairy or meat? Should you eat organic? I decided to do some digging after eating delicious vegetables from my mothers garden and realizing how much better they taste. Check out the video here.
1. ORGANIC FOODS ARE PESTICIDE FREE
A few years ago, pesticides have jumped into the fore front of public scrutiny and since then the organic industry has boomed. Just last year, the organic food sales has rocketed to $52Billion! Somehow, people missed the biggest detail :
Organic food still uses pesticides!
*GASP* how is that possible? Well, lets have a look at what pesticides are :
Pesticides are substances that are used to control pests of weeds.
While the WHO defines pesticides as chemical substance, that by nature are potentially harmful to other organisms including humans. Organic foods have therefore been marketed as not having any of these possible damaging substances sprayed on the plants.
In the USA for a farm to be classified they are simply restricted to 20 chemicals approved by the US Organic Standards that are used in growing and processing organic crops. They are no records however, as to how much of these pesticides are used on organic farms. I consider this quite surprising considering conventional farms generally use less since the organic alternatives have lower effectiveness levels.
The National Center for Food and Agriculture Policy, has compared that the top two organic fungicides, copper and sulfur, were used at a rate of 2-15kg an acre in comparison to synthetic fungicides which were used at around 1 kg an acre.
The certification for organic produce therefore does not come from not using pesticides, but the origin of the pesticides used.
Organic pesticides : derived from natural sources and lightly processed.
Conventional pesticides : synthetically created
Considering plants create their own pesticides to attempt to ward off animals and bugs you would think that naturally gathered pesticides are better for surroundings and us. However some have been found to be connected to serious health risks. Just have a read about Rotenone, which was deemed safe as its an extract from a subtropical plant route. In reality it attacks the mitochondria, the energy powerhouse of all living cells, and exposure to it can cause Parkinson’s Disease like symptoms. It is still used by fisheries managment officals to remove unwanted fish species.
While that is in america, obviously Europe is better off no?
No. Almost half of the pesticides that are currently approved for organic farming failed the European Union’s safety evaluation. Rototene is also one of the chemicals which is yet to be banned in Europe.
So in conclusion : Organic farms use pesticides and they might even be more ecologically damaging. Since they have a higher mortality in non target species.
2. ORGANIC FOOD IS BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Just as covered in the previous point organic foods still use pesticides, which kill not only target species but a larger proportion of non target animals.
Organic farming also generally requires more land to create the same amount of crop yield. Currently the statistics read that organic yields are 25% lower than conventional.
This is an average and of course it fluctuates greately between different crops. Organic fruits and oilseed show a small statistical difference : -3% and 11% respectively. Organic cereals and vegetables however, have a significantly lower crop yield at -26%.
Many places pride themselves in having grass fed beef, suggesting its more eco friendly, even though in reality we would be able to feed even fewer people since it requires so much more land. 41% of the US currently is used as land for livestock, and as demand increases, even more land is impacted. Cattle grazing impacts the quality of the water, increasing certain bacteria, protozoa and even temperature which in turn changes the plant life and affects the habitats of many fish and amphibians. Native horses are also rounded up according to the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act was passed “to require the protection, management, and control of wild free- roaming horses and burros on public lands.” The horses are rounded up in a manner that forces young and old to stampede for hundreds of km often resulting in several deaths, and the sold to potentially questionable buyers which include slaughter houses in Mexico and Canada.
So what should we be eating?
So if even if we try our best and eat healthily, eat organic, eat plant based we are still putting a lot of rubbish into our systems. The best thing is of course to grow your own food in your garden, feel free to check out the garden tour.
How to Avoid Pesticides
If you cannot grow your own foods, check out these lists of foods which typically have the most and leasts amount of pesticides.
Most Pesticide Filled Foods
- Bell Peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
Least Pesticide Filled Fruits and Veg
- Sweet Pease
- Honeydew Melon