Why I eat organic

a/Opinion by

I prefer to buy organic products as opposed to non-organic products.

“Why?” you might ask. Although the concept of “organic” is an attractive one, it is an expensive diet and lifestyle to uphold. Some people wonder if it really makes that much of a difference.

However, the “expensive” argument is a fair one. It’s true that many organic products are outrageously over-priced and are therefore inaccessible to those working with limited budgets. With only these short-term costs in mind, then sure, how does one justify buying organic? Why spend $5.79 (plus tax) on two litres of organic Lactantia milk when you can spend $2.85 on two litres of Québon?

The thing is, I have learned to think in the long-term. I choose to go organic—not for the sake of making a statement, but because of my own beliefs regarding quality, the environment, and my personal health. In my opinion, these concerns demonstrate how buying organic foods can make a significant difference in one’s diet.

I believe the quality of organic foods is higher than that of non-organic foods. To this day, I still remember when my dad presented me with what I like to call “the strawberry test.” He first asked me to taste a non-organic strawberry. It was a little dry, but a decent strawberry nonetheless. He then asked me to try to the organic strawberry. I was delighted by its intense sweetness and juiciness; it was certainly more satisfying for my palate than the first.

These differences in taste are largely a result of different agricultural practices. For instance, organic fruits and vegetables are often grown in soil containing better micronutrients and genetic diversity. As a result, they are much richer in flavour. I derive a lot more joy from cooking and eating if my food is of a higher quality.

Similar to local farming, organic farming methods have also been proven to be significantly more environmentally sustainable than conventional farming. This is because they use less fossil energy, conserve more water in the soil, and increase the efficiency of energy use per unit of production.

Take the case of livestock. For example, organic, seasonal grazing systems have proven to be more efficient because the animals eat more grass and less grain, leaving more grain available for humans to consume. Organic meat production has also been shown to emit fewer greenhouse gases. Taking into account the numerous environmental challenges our planet is facing today, I feel that I am doing my bit for the earth by eating in a manner than is more eco-conscious and sustainable.

The most notable reason why I eat organic foods is for my own personal health. I feel infinitely more comfortable purchasing products that have not been subject to pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones or bioengineering­—the effects of which are transferred to our bodies when we consume those foods.

While organic farming is not completely pesticide or fertilizer-free, the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers is strictly limited or forbidden altogether. These limitations on pesticides have positive implications for the nutritional value of the foods in question. Produce grown organically or without pesticides has been proven to contain higher levels of anti-oxidants, vitamins A, C and E, phosphorus, and potassium.

Although a recently published  Stanford study contested these findings and other health benefits of eating organic, I think you’ll always find studies that suit your own preferences. That being said, I like buying organic produce because I think it gives me a better chance of receiving the important nutrients my body requires.  Furthermore, I believe it decreases the amount of harmful chemicals entering my system.

I am most religious about buying organic dairy products, because I know that they were taken from cows that have not been treated with antibiotics or growth hormones to increase milk production. When so many cancers and other illnesses are hormone-dependent. I simply want to avoid having any more hormones in my body than what is natural. The case is similar with meat and eggs.

With these three main concerns in mind, it wasn’t hard for me to cement my commitment to the organic movement. Maybe it’s because I hail from British Columbia, where the prevailing culture is, supposedly, “eat green and love nature.” Geography aside, I do think we have a lot to gain from eating organic, and it is my hope that governments and companies will do more to encourage organic practices.