It is easy to get tangled up in the organic vs. conventional food debate. I find myself asking the question: would the switch really change my body, my family’s wellness, and the environment? In the past, food was just a means to an end- connecting the dots between food and health did not happen. But now, My food world is being turned upside down. As I am searching for truth, a video of a little girl name Elise reminds me of how simply I need to approach this debate in my mind. As a visual learner, this is the kind of proof that satisfies some basic questions.
Elise purchased sweet potatoes three ways: conventional potato from grocery store, labeled “organic” from the same store, and then from “Roots” a certified organic food market. The test was to see how long each would take to cultivate new vines. The conventional potato never grew vines. The “organic” potato took over a month to grow vines, but the local farm organic potato only took a week. Elise asked the produce man why the potatoes were not cultivating and he told her because of herbicides like Bud Nip, also known as Chlorpropham, which is designed to prevent sprouting….doesn’t that sound strange? Why would you want to inhibit grow? And doesn’t it change the inner workings of the plant, how does the chemical impact my body? According to the Pesticide Action Network, the dangers of bud nip include toxicity to amphibians and honeybees, important pollinators of crops we eat every day. Bud nip is also found on common produce like potatoes, kale, peaches, broccoli, blueberries. The chemical is known to cause cancer.
Exposure Ingestion of pesticides on a regular basis does not sound like a great idea to me. What does that do to the soil? To the water surrounding the sprayed fruits and vegetables? To the workers that tend the harvest?
In the past, I honestly didn’t care about conventional vs. organic farming. I went to the grocery store, never once questioning the farming/manufacturing practices of what I bought. If my cart had some vegetables and fruit in it, I was making very conscious decisions. Organic was just another name for prestigious living, a social standing to eat the best quality. Or for those people who were obsessed with staying fit. I wasn’t concerned with health. The only reason why I would watch what I ate was because of the never ending battle of maintaining the “perfect weight.” Starving myself, exercise and staying away from junk food was my idea of health. I didn’t know that a healthy diet is a lifestyle choice, not a fade.
This changed when my family became members of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from a local farm http://redwagonorganicfarm.com/. The produce was unrecognizable. It didn’t even fit in my fridge. To eat “seasonally” frankly frustrated me, I was used to buying whatever I wanted. Everything was different, the touch, smell, taste, the recipes. I felt myself shy away from the unknown for about a week challenged by the adjustments that I needed to learn.
Until something changed. I began to have a respect for the food. I thought of the beautiful process of life that surrounded the produce, all of the elements that created this beautiful plant. I thought of the community that worked at the farm- the weeding, the tending, the hard work and care that went behind keeping the farm efficient and thriving. I cherish the harvest that I pick up each week. Walking up to the food stand, a waft of fresh produce fills my nose and I feel at home. It feels normal. I feel a sense of responsibility in the preparation of the food. To waste food convicts me, and forces me to take responsibility.
Elise asks a question that stimulates some thought:
- Which potato would you want to eat?
Here are some photographs of conventional vs. organic farms..can you guess which is which? Which farm would you like to eat from?
Believe me, I understand the struggle with going 100% organic:
- I have no idea what I am doing, the whole food world is very new: it takes time, effort, and education
- we are a struggling family of five, if we can’t afford food how can we upgrade to the best?
- I really love my chips and ice cream: I must get rid of a lifetime full of bad habits. To redefine food.
- sometimes a quick fix is needed (I have three boys under the age of 4)
- Socially alienating (think of all the holidays, parties, restaurants that I couldn’t enjoy)
Sources: http://www.motherearthnews.com/relish/dangers-bud-nip-zb0z11zwar.aspx#ixzz1YjeAPWOs, http://redwagonorganicfarm.com/
- Healthy Eating Tip: Join a CSA (fitsugar.com)
- Viral Video… Another Killer Chemical We Haven’t Been Told About (fineartfood.wordpress.com)
- The Farm Aid Organization (farmaidcampaign.wordpress.com)
- Cream of the Crop Community-Supported Agriculture vs. Whole Foods (theinsider.retailmenot.com)
- How is organic farming different from conventional farming (wiki.answers.com)