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The Real Value Of Organic Products

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Updated: 9/21/2009 6:55 pm
Everywhere we turn there seems to be an organic option for everything including food, cosmetics, toiletries and clothing.  Whether it's at the local co-op or large grocery chain, many consumers are demanding more organic choices and they are popping up by the day.  

However, if you find yourself reluctant to pay the higher price for that organic apple, then check out this list.  You will find that the cheaper alternatives still have us paying a price.  
         
    1. Taste.  Organic food just tastes better, it has more nutrients which means better flavor.

    2.  Health.  When something is “certified organic,” it means that no insecticides, herbicides, fumigants or fungicides were used to treat the plants.  Many of the chemicals used to kill insects, weeds and fungi have been found to be carcinogens and carcinogens cause cancer.

    3.  Community.  The US Department of Agriculture estimates that 50% of all farm products come from only 1% of the farms.  It's also estimated that the United States has lost more than 650,000 family farms in the past decade.  Buying local, organic products keeps local farmers in business and small communities alive.

    4.  Soil.  Organic farmers protect the soil by rotating crops to ensure that the soil doesn’t leech or erode.  Land that is used by commercial farmers generally experiences a significantly higher rate of erosion than the soil of organic farms.

     5.  Water.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that agriculture is responsible for 70% of the pollution in our country's rivers and streams.  The pollution is caused mainly by chemicals and animal waste runoff.  In fact, the EPA estimates that pesticides—some of them carcinogens— now contaminate the groundwater in 38 states.  This means that pesticides are polluting our primary source of drinking water for more than half the population of the United States.

    6.  Energy.  Traditional farming uses more fuel than any other industry—a whopping 12 percent of the country's total energy supply.  Many organic farmers weed and till by hand and sell products locally, using less gasoline to harvest and transport crops.

    7.  Money.  Although the price tags in the produce section show organic food to be more expensive, in reality, it’s not.  The price tags for conventional produce do not reflect the hidden costs that are paid by the taxpayer.  The costs for pesticide regulation and testing, hazardous waste disposal and clean-up, and handling other environmental damage caused by conventional farming are all passed along to taxpayers. Buy organic and lower our taxes!

If you can't afford to buy 100% organic every time you shop, then focus on those foods that come with the heaviest burden of pesticides, additives and hormones. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating only the cleanest.  If consumers get their USDA-recommended 5 daily servings of fruits and veggies from the 15 most contaminated, they could consume an average of 10 pesticides a day.  Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally grown produce ingest less than 2 pesticides daily.

EWG has been publishing guides to the "dirty dozen" of most pesticide contaminated foods since 1995, based on statistical analysis of testing conducted by the USDA and the FDA.  According to EWG analyst Chris Campbell, the new dirty dozen only reflects measurable pesticide residues on the parts of the foods normally consumed (i.e. washed and peeled).

Foods you should ALWAYS buy organic:

    1.  Peaches
    2.  Apples
    3.  Sweet Bell Peppers
    4.  Celery
    5.  Nectarines
    6.  Strawberries
    7.  Cherries
    8.  Kale
    9.  Leafy Greens
    10. Grapes
    11.  Carrots
    12.  Pears
    13.  Meat
    14.  Milk
    15.  Coffee

Get the Environmental Working Group's full list at www.foodnews.org.  There, you can also sign up to get the guide so when you're shopping you'll know which produce to buy organic, and which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables are okay if organic isn't available.
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Julie Cam
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