As a proponent of organic food, I am constantly explaining and justifying my choices, often to those with misdirected comments that range anywhere from a concern of an assumed restrictiveness to the notion that I act like an “elitist” for spending excess money on a label.
Many believe that eating organic is a commodity that only the upper-middle class and the wealthy can afford; they view it as a stereotypical way to distinguish class among even the most mundane of our food choices. But, in truth, eating organic is about health. At least it is for me.
Organic food is healthier since it is grown/raised without the use of toxic persistent pesticides (that are banned in many other countries), is better for the environment and farming industry, and does not contain GMOs, which have been linked to a slew of health problems including cancer. In 2012, the Food and Chemical Toxicology published the first and only long term study under controlled conditions that looked at the side effects of GMO maize treated with Monsanto roundup herbicide, and ultimately linked the diet to tumors present in the rats.
Collective Evolution published a great roundup of scientific studies that prove GMOs can be harmful to our health.
Unfortunately, many don’t know this, since food labels don’t exactly give you the heads up that your food is contaminated. Other than the “certified organic” label and the voluntary “non-GMO project” label, there is not way to guarantee your food is GMO free. And if it’s not labeled as so, it probably isn’t. Most major food corporations use cheap, highly processed ingredients and disguise what’s really in their food under terms like “natural” and “heart healthy” that really have no labeling guidelines.
If you really knew what you were eating, I’d venture to guess you’d stop eating it…and they’d stop profiting off of our ignorance. That’s why companies like General Mills dump millions into anti-GMO labeling, claiming that GMOs will solve the hunger crisis. (In truth, there’s already enough food to feed the population with what Americans waste alone, the problem is access). These companies want you to think that organic is just another fancy term and they want you to believe it’s an unnecessary expense.
Organic farming and organic food is simply food in its most traditional form. There was a time when all food was organic. It just wasn’t organic. This was the way our ancestors farmed. For years. Until industrial agriculture took over and stocked our shelves with a rampant supply of cheap junk food and pesticide laden produce. Now, you need a label to know what is safe to eat. And that label costs a lot of money. That’s why organic is more expensive. It’s also why a lot of your farmer’s market vendors are “organic” by all intents and purposes, yet lack the label.
I buy organic food whenever I can, which is, fortunately, almost always. It is the only way I can be sure of what goes into my body (or what doesn’t). But I do sacrifice other “commodities” to be able to afford organic eating, like dining out. I’m on a budget, too, but I spend less than you would think on groceries, sometimes around $50 a week (which is equal to welfare). I conserve, I embrace leftovers, I eat less meat but a ton of produce (which is how we should be eating, anyway IMO). I spend my weekends at farmer’s markets, talking to and buying directly from those who grow my food (and not spending the money at expensive supermarkets that need to cover shipping and manufacturing costs).
I’m not an elitist or a restictive eater because I eat organic. I’m just someone who simply cares about her health.
I practice what I preach. I choose to bring awareness to a food system that is toxic, impersonal, and industrialized. Once you know the truth about our food system, you cannot simply un-know it and continue eating as if you aren’t making a choice every single time. My food choices come not from convenience but from a care and concern for my own health and the health of the planet that we are destroying…and from a deep rooted desire to fix it.
Each bite of food we take, each dollar we spend, is a choice. That is why I eat organic.