Organic fruits, vegetables, organic meat, organic eggs… Does the label `organic` really tell us that`s the healthy choice? Or is it just another marketing tool? How to choose when doing grocery-shopping? What to do if we want to eat healthy, organically grown food?
“Our hens are fed on a natural organic diet and free to roam on the organic pastures of Irish farms”
This is a sentence taken from a supermarket chain`s organic eggs` case. Our grandparents would look at this quite surprised, asking “What`s the big deal? Why would you write something like that? Isn’t it normal, that the hens roam on the fields?” Well, nowadays roaming hens ARE a big deal. Although there are countries even these days with farmers and private gardeners who would still ask the same question, as using natural things and feeding animals with natural food are considered normal for them.
The organic farming as we use the term now started around 70 years ago, and was a response to the industrialization. There was nothing wrong with the idea, namely to provide fruits, vegetables free from pesticides and meat free from hormones and antibiotics. Unfortunately things are not that easy though, I mean it is not totally safe when choosing the organic products in stores, however, they are quite costly. The problem is that the “heavy” regulations are quite permissive and more than that, they do not have the same guidelines in every country. This means, we cannot be sure when buying organic products, and paying a fortune, that we eat something totally free from artificial additives, pesticides, growth hormones, genetic manipulation.
At the beginning there were small farms (and there still are), who even without any certification provided organic fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products. As the demand on these products grown, the big supermarket chains responded with establishing organic division within their large corporate farms.
Two main things happened after that step:
1. Genuine farmers, providing real organic crops, found themselves in an unpleasant and unfair situation, namely that their fruits, vegetables and meat became too expensive, as the large corporations were able to beat their prices.
2. The same large corporations became the ones who wrote the “tough” regulations in terms as what it is considered as being organic. Of course in their favour. And of course not necessarily excluding everything artificial.
Sometimes people think that we do need all that artificial food production as there are too many people on the Earth and not enough fields and farmers. That is not true. Do you know how many unemployed farmers are in the world, in your country? Those people, those farmers, who would produce genuine organic food without any regulations, are the ones who are left out and forced in an unfair situation. And what is this all for? Only one thing: profit! If you think about your country, about its climate and the fruits and vegetables which can be easily grown, then going to the store and finding those vegetables and fruits brought from the other side of the world, then you understand what I`m talking about. And at the same time big supermarket chains throw in the bin tons of fruits and vegetables every day, which are “expired” by their label, though they are totally nice and good to eat. They don`t give them to homeless people, the staff is not allowed to take them home… So let`s just not talk about need and about not enough food in the world…
Going back to organic. What can you do if you are concerned about your health and environmental effects of the industry? Let`s see:
1. If you are that lucky that you have small farmers around you, in the city you live in, then buy fruits, vegetables, meat from them.
2. If you do your grocery-shopping at supermarkets, make the decision by your pocket. If you feel like buying organic fruits and vegetables, do that. But if you want to save money, buy the regular ones, as the big store`s organic products are not really what you expect them to be. The most important thing is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, mainly in their raw form, so bare this in mind, and disregard the `organic` label in the big supermarkets.
3. As for meat, eggs, dairy products in supermarkets: Here I would still go for the organic ones, as the tones of antibiotics and growth hormones they use in animal farming are a huge danger to our health. So even if the regulations for organic production are permissive, you will still get much less `poison` choosing the organic options. Of course if you can afford to buy them, as they are really expensive.
4. If you really want to take care of your health in the long run, and of the next generations` health, you should become a conscious consumer and think a bit outside the box. If you do your shopping at small farmers (if there are any where you live), if you choose the fruits and vegetables grown in your own country, if possible, then you help the real organic farming survive, and we may get to the point where without the regulations we still eat only natural, healthy, organically grown food.
I found this site recently: www.wwoof.org The abbreviation stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (living, learning, sharing organic lifestyles). If you like travelling, and are curious about healthy, organic farming, and also if you are not afraid to work 4-5 hours per day in exchange for food and accommodation, then have a look at this site. You can easily learn a bit about the organic lifestyles and maybe become a more conscious consumer in the future.
There are enough resources in the World. If we want to care about our, and about next generations` health, we have to become conscious consumers, even without visiting a farm. We have to make genuine organic farming survive. It is all up to us!