The teenage daughter of a friend of mine was babysitting for my child for the first time. Before I left the house, I told her to please feel free to help herself to any food she wanted in my refrigerator or pantry. The next day I touched base with her mom, who said all went well, except that her daughter had phoned her from my home and exclaimed: "Mom, everything in their kitchen is organic. It's so weird!" I was stunned that a 16-year-old would find a kitchen filled with healthy, organic food to be weird, until I realized that "weird" to a teenager usually means something they have not seen before or been told about.
I would have liked to say to her, imagine picking a fruit or vegetable from your garden, spraying it with bug spray, and then eating it. Now that seems weird, does not it? Well, that's exactly what we do each day with store-bought non organic produce even if we wash it. The term organic refers to food that is grown without pesticides, synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides. Organic foods are minimally processed, with no artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation. And they taste better! Produce is sent to market as close to harvest as possible and may have suffered less nutritional loss by the time you eat it.
Because the chemicals in pesticides are invisible, odorless, and tasteless, the only way to know for sure that a food was grown without pesticides is to buy organic. Even if something looks OK, it may not be so healthy for you to eat. For example, do not be fooled by those juicy non organic strawberries displayed in the market. They may look luscious, but they have a dark side. Their red color has been enhanced by a fungicide, and they have been infused with methyl bromide, a gas that is injected by tractor into their growing soil. These substances then become part of the fruits' flesh, and can not be washed off. I'm always disturbed when I see a mother feeding a young child a non organic strawberry from the case at a natural foods market. She's assuming, as I used to, that if a fruit or vegetable is sold at a store like that it will be pesticide-free. Do not make that assumption. It's always best to read the signs before popping anything into your child's mouth, or your own.
Keep in mind that most fruits and vegetables that are imported from other countries have been treated with chemicals. Much of the garlic used in the United States, for example, comes from China, where chemicals such as growth inhibitors are used to stop the garlic from sprouting. I was startled to find out that garlic from China is often whitened with chlorine to make it look more attractive to consumers. After all, who does not pick the whitest garlic bulb in the bunch?
Organic is Better Food
Organic foods also have a higher nutritional value, which is important for growing children as well as adults. An organically grown apple can have as much as 300 percent more vitamin C and 61 percent greater calcium content than a conventional or nonorganic apple. The amount of calcium in organic spinach is seven times greater than in nonorganic spinach, and the potassium is an astounding 117 times greater in the organic. In addition, Alyson Mitchell, PhD, food chemist and associate professor who led a 10-year research study at the University of California, Davis, found that organic tomatoes have as much as 97 percent more cancer-fighting antioxidants as conventionally grown tomatoes.
Given all these facts, why do farmers still use pesticides? Well, mostly it's because they believe it will save more crops from insects, weeds, and disease. But that's not true. Before the 1950s, farmers lost about one-third of their crops each year. Today, even with over 21,000 pesticide products to choose from and pesticide costs exceeding $ 4 billion a year, farmers still lose one-third of their crops!