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Supplement Perspectives

Why the Organic Lifestyle Matters

Organic is currently a hot button for many health-centric consumers. Recently, the organic farming world was rocked when researchers from Stanford University and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System found that organic produce and meat typically isn't any better for you than conventional varieties when it comes to vitamin and nutrient content. That said, after delving further into the research, skeptics found that the Stanford study was a flawed meta-analysis that was more fodder for the media but had little or no scientific impact.

In fact, there has been criticism that the Stanford report looked at the health effects of organic versus conventional too narrowly. However, that’s not the point of the organic lifestyle. Organic is not about better nutrition, it's about a healthier planet and a sustainable food system. It’s about working with nature. Conventional farming is working against nature.

Thankfully, for the organic consumer, this was great news as these consumers spend up to twice as much on organic foods. In fact, the Stanford study reported that the organic food industry was at $26.7 billion in 2010, up from $3.6 billion in 1997.

And one of the key considerations the health-conscious consumer must make is absorbing the higher costs associated with the organic lifestyle. A little about organic farming: This type of farming is more labor intensive and includes developing crops and livestock using the most environmental, humane, and economic systems available. In order for this to work effectively, two things are needed: (1) A fertile land which can be used to plant a diversity of crops and (2) people who are willing to work on the land and learn the organic way of farming.

According to Dr. Mark Stengler’s Natural Healing Library, 2009, “Organic Foods… Worth the Cost?”, organic dairy products typically cost 15 to 20 percent more and organic meats and poultry cost two to three times more than conventional products. The health benefits of fewer toxins and increased nutrients are undeniable, which, in my opinion, makes cost a non-issue. However, many still struggle over whether organic is worth the money. Well, to put it bluntly, if you are considering your pregnant wife or children, then I’d say this is non-negotiable and eating organic is especially important. But, in all fairness, it’s just as important for you as well.

Organic farming is very involved and relies on the following principles:

·       Ensuring that the soil can be used for many succeeding generations of crops without using the fertilizers that were used in conventional farming.

·       Properly caring for the crops by using soil organisms and not pesticides. 

·       Recycling livestock manure and organic materials, including crop residue.

·       Controlling weed growth and insect infestation with crop rotation. Also, not using anything that science has used in conventional, non-organic farming.

·       Respecting animals. Unlike conventional food preparation and farming, organic farms encourage biodiversity. They don’t kill or remove any animals or insects from farms unless they are specifically harmful to the crop. In addition, organic dairy cows are not injected with hormones or treated inhumanely. Finally, organic farmers do not tamper with the genes of animals (no genetic engineering). They allow animal life to progress naturally.

·       Protecting the world from pollution. Conventional farms allow chemicals and pesticides to run off into area waterways and pollute the air and soil. Organic farms don’t do this.

Moreover, the organic movement is about local food production, economic fairness, health for farm workers and creating a system that avoids nitrogen runoff, a major global threat to waterways.

Is there a downside to buying organic? Well, if cost ultimately discourages you from buying organic, I guess that's a downside. You can circumvent costs to a certain extent by buying only basic organic fruits and vegetables, such as bananas or beans. Another consideration is that organic fruits and vegetables may spoil faster because they aren’t treated with waxes or preservatives similar to conventional fruits and vegetables.

However, at the end of the day, these negative details don’t come close to the benefits the organic lifestyle offers. And the expense of incorporating organic into your health regimen can easily be offset by cutting back in other areas of your life. All I had to do was cut out that expensive bottle of wine, eat out a few less times a month, or attend one less sporting event. Its easy and worth the payback many times over. So, I encourage you to GO ORGANIC! You won’t regret it! And neither will your loved ones.

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