Top Ten Reasons to Buy Organic
Protect Future Generations
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Children receive four times the exposure than an adult to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. The food choice you make now will impact your child's health in the future.
Prevents Soil Erosion
The Soil Conservation Service estimates that more than three billion tons of topsoil are eroded from the United States croplands each year. That means soil is eroding seven times faster than it is built up naturally. Soil is the foundation of the food chain in organic farming. But in conventional farming the soil is used more as a medium for holding plants in a verticle position so they can be chemically fertilized. As a result, American farms are suffering from the worst soil erosion in history.
Protect Water Quality
Water makes up two-third of our body mass and covers three-fourths of the planet. Despite its importance, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), estimates pesticides (some cancer causing) contaminate the ground water in 38 states, polluting the primary source of drinking water for more than half the country's population.
American farms have changed drastically in the last three generations, from the family based small businesses dependent on human energy to large scale factory farms highly dependent on fossil fuels. Modern farming uses more petroleum than any other single industry, consuming 12 percent of the country's total energy supply. More energy is now used to produce synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate, and harvest all the crops in the United States. Organic farming still mainly based on labor-intensive practices such as weeding by hand and using green manures and crop covers rather than synthetic. Organic produce also tends to travel a shorter distance from the farm to your plate.
Keep Chemicals Off Your Plate
Many pesticides approved for use by the EPA were registered before extensive research linking these chemicals to cancer and other diseases has been established. Now the EPA considers that 60 percent of all herbicides, 90 percent of all fungicides and 30 percent of all inscecticides are carcinogenic. A 1987 National Academy of Sciences report estimated that pesticides might cause an extras 1.4 million cancer cases among Americans over their lifetimes. The bottom line is that pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms, and can also be harmful to humans. In addition to cancer, pesticides are implicated in birth defects, nerve damage and genetic mutation.
Protect Farm Workers Health
A natural Cancer Institute study found that farmers exposed to herbicides had a six time greater risk than non-farmers of contracting cancer. In california, reported pesticide poisinings among farm workers have risen an average of 14 percent a year since 1973, and doubled between 1975 and 1985. Field workers suffer the highest rates of occupational illness in the state. Farm worker health also is a serious problem in developing nations, where pesticide use can be poorly regulated. An estimated 1 million people are poisoned annually by pesticides.
Help Small Farmers
Although more and more large scale farms are making the conversion to organic practices, most organic farms are small independently owned and operated family farms of less than 100 acres. It's estimated that the United States has lost more than 650,000 family farms in the past decade. And with the US Department of Agriculture predicting that half of this country's farm production will come from 1 percent of farms by the year 2000, organic farming could become one of the few survival tactics left for family farms.
Support a True Economy
Although organic foods might seem more expensive than conventional foods, conventional food prices do not reflect hidden cost borne by taxpayers, including nearly $74 billion in federal subsidies in 1988. Other hidden costs include pesticide regulation and testing, hazordous waste disposal and clean up, and environmental damage.
Mono cropping is the practice of place large plots of land with the same crop year after year. While this approach tripled farm production between 1950 and 1970, the lack of natural diversity of plant life has left the soil lacking in natural minerals and nutrients. To replace the nutrients, chemical fertilizers are used, often in increasing amounts.
To Taste Better Flavor
There's a good reason many chef's use organic foods in their recipes. They taste better. Organic farming starts with the nutrients of the soil which eventually leads to the nurishment of the plant and ultimately our palates.
Organic Times, Spring 1992
Excerpted from an article by Sylvia Tawse Alfalfa's Markets, Boulder, CO.