More and more people are now making the switch to organic foods and beverages because they’re concerned about the health effects of chemical pesticides, GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), additives and antibiotic residues found in conventionally grown foods. Not only is eating organic much better for your health, it also helps protect our farmers, environment and our wildlife.
Here are 10 great reasons why you should make the switch to organic today.
ONE: PESTICIDE FREE + BETTER FOR YOUR HEALTH
Certified organic foods are grown without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides) such as organophosphates (glyphosate), carbamate, triazine and neonicotinoids, which are damaging to our health. Chemical pesticide residues found on non-organic conventionally grown crops can accumulate in the body and are associated with a number of health risks. Many of the toxic pesticides found in or on non-organic foods have been found to be neurotoxic, carcinogenic, or endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can negatively affect our health, even when they’re at low concentrations. Exposure to these types of chemical pesticides have also been associated with gastrointestinal, respiratory, reproductive, and dermatological health issues.
Commonly used pesticides such as glyphosate, which is one of the most widely used herbicides in current agriculture, carbamate, and triazines, are known for their endocrine-disrupting potential and reproductive toxicity. Exposure to these toxic chemicals have also been associated with cardiovascular diseases, negative effects on the male reproductive system, dementia, and also a possible increased risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and breast cancer.
Choosing to eat organically grown produce will reduce your exposure to these harmful pesticides.
TWO: BETTER FOR CHILDREN’S HEALTH
Children are particularly vulnerable to the damaging health effects of pesticides, due to their smaller size and increased intake of liquids and food per kilo of body weight, compared to adults. This makes children more susceptible to environmental toxins like pesticides which could potentially cause long-lasting damage.
Eating organic is also very important prenatally and during pregnancy. Prenatal exposure to organophosphates has been associated with a decreased gestational period and neurological problems occurring in childhood. Pesticide exposure during pregnancy is linked to pre-term birth, neurodevelopmental delays, male reproductive developmental and genital problems, developmental neurotoxicity and ASD (autism spectrum disorder). Eating organic when breastfeeding is also extremely important as toxic pesticide residues have been found in human breast milk samples.
The use of GMO is prohibited in organic products. Organic farmers can’t plant GM seeds and they can’t give GM feed to their animals. Genetically modified crops grown in Australia include cotton, canola and safflower. These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content. GM crops are resistant to glyphosate. Canola and safflower are used in margarines, refined vegetable oil blends, and salad dressings, and can be found in processed foods using these oils. GM canola and safflower meal is also used as stockfeed for non-organically raised animals. There is a growing concern that introducing foreign genes into food plants may have an unexpected and negative impact on human health. Due to GM foods being a relatively new invention there hasn’t been a lot of long-term studies done on the health effects of GM foods on humans. There are concerns that consumption of GM foods could cause the development of antibiotic resistant diseases, and that introducing a gene into a plant may create a new allergen or cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals.
Synthetic chemicals like food additives, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours are also prohibited in organic foods. Some synthetic chemicals and food additives are linked to hyperactivity and neurodevelopmental issues in children and allergic reactions like headaches, rashes and asthma.
FOUR: FREE FROM ANTIBIOTICS + HORMONE GROWTH PROMOTERS
The use of antibiotics and Hormone growth promoters (HGPs) is prohibited in organic dairy and livestock farming. Over 75% of the world’s antibiotics are used for non-organic livestock production. Antibiotics are commonly added to animal feed and water supply to help prevent the spread of disease, due to their crammed living conditions in unhygienic factory farms, which are breading grounds for bacteria. Over 700,000 people worldwide die annually from antibiotic resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance is largely attributed to antibiotic residues found in non-organic milk and meat.
HGPs are given to animals so that they grow faster and mature quicker. HGPs within livestock have been linked to increased rates of cancer.
FIVE: BETTER FOR ANIMAL WELFARE
Organic livestock must be pasture-fed and allowed to roam freely. Animals must be treated humanely and given a quality of life that allows them to perform all of their natural functions. This means no caged chickens or pigs kept in sow stalls. Organic livestock must not be kept in confined spaces and must always have free range access. Organic cattle are to be bread using natural methods, and weaned in a natural stress free way that allows for the needs of mother and their young. Organic cattle have access to healthy pasture their whole lives and feed lots are not allowed. Live export is also prohibited. Tail docking of pigs and beak trimming of chickens is prohibited within organic standards.
The land and pasture that organic livestock are raised on must be organic – synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilisers or GMOs are not allowed on the land, in the animals feed or within any part of production. Organic livestock are to only be fed 100% organic feed, and cannot contain any antibiotics, HGPs, synthetic pesticides or preservatives.
SIX: BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Excessive pesticide use greatly damages the environment with a large percentage of these toxic pesticides ending-up polluting the air, soil and water. Instead of using harmful chemicals, organic farmers use natural and traditional methods of weed and pest control, which help preserve the quality of the soil, nearby waterways, and surrounding ecosystem. Organic farming is an ecological management system that maintains and enhances soil fertility, reduces water pollution, and promotes plant diversity and ecological balance.
When animals are allowed to graze, and they’re moved to new pastures regularly, this contributes to a healthy grassland ecosystem. This prevents extensive dead zones of bare ground, and in turn reduces soil temperature, prevents soil erosion, improves water retention and contributes to carbon sequestration, which is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Synthetic fertilisers, commonly known as NPK (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) fertilisers leach into the environment and can destroy the soil microbiome. Plants grown in overly synthetic fertilised soil have been shown to have reduced levels or zinc, iron, carotene, copper, protein and vitamin C. Non-organically grown crops grown with NPK fertilisers have also been found to have increased cadmium levels. Cadmium is a heavy metal found in NPK fertilisers which can affect soil and gut microbiota. Organic systems have high nutrient use and crop rotations which increases soil fertility through natural means. Organic cereals and vegetables have been found to have higher levels of antioxidants and lower cadmium concentrations compared to non-organic crops.
SEVEN: HELP PROTECT OUR WILDLIFE + BEES
The widespread use of pesticides know as neonicotinoids are having a detrimental effect on native and honey bees, and wildlife. When bees come in contact with these pesticides they poison their nervous systems which results in either death, or behavioural disruptions and disorientation which is fatal to beehives. Colony Collapse Disorder is a phenomenon where most of the worker bees leave the hive and can’t find their way back home, which leaves the queen bee and immature bees behind. The use of neonicotinoids has been banned in Europe as a way to help protect bee populations. These pesticides however are still being used in Australia.
Glyphosate is a herbicide used to kill weeds. Glyphosate, which is one of the main ingredients found in the popular weed killer Roundup, is commonly used by farmers, gardeners, and councils to spray public areas to control weeds. Sadly 70% of bee hives globally contain traces of this chemical that affects bees gut microbiome and the health of their larvae, which makes them more susceptible to pathogens.
Certified organic honey is produced from a bee farm that follows strict standards of organic beekeeping. Certified organic bee farmers use sustainable bee farming practices, free from antibiotic use and toxic pesticides that devastate bee populations and pollute our honey and environment. The bees get nectar from flowers that haven’t been sprayed with chemical pesticides. Apiary locations need to be located within a 5 km radius of any pollution sources that could contaminate the bees. Here at Bodhi Organic Tea we support our local organic bee farmers. We only use the highest quality, certified organic, locally sourced raw honey in our Bodhi Organic Sticky Chai.
A majority of the HGPs and antibiotics given to cattle via their food are excreted in unchanged form and can enter water sources and slowly build up within the environment. Even in minimal concentrations, traces of HGPs and antibiotics have been shown to cause reproductive problems in wildlife.
EIGHT: HELP PROTECT FARMERS + FARMWORKERS
Choosing organic produce is also much better for the health of farmers and farmworkers. A USA based 2019 survey found that 86% of 1,800 organic farmers questioned switched to organic because of their concern for their health and their families. The health of farmers and farmworkers is put at risk when they come into contact with these dangerous chemicals on a regular basis. Organic farmers work in harmony with nature, using environmentally friendly, chemical-free techniques to grow and process their produce, which helps protect their health and the health of their workers.
NINE: CROPS MORE NUTRIENT-RICH
Nutrient-rich fertile soil together with the absence of toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers appear to provide the perfect environment to grow healthy, nutrient-rich, flavoursome produce. Reviews of a number of studies have shown that organic produce provide greater levels of vitamin C, magnesium, iron and phosphorus, and protective antioxidant phytochemicals (anthocyanins, flavonoids and carotenoids) compared to non-organic varieties. A recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that antioxidant compounds such as flavonoids and carotenoids in organic fruits and vegetables deliver 20-40% higher antioxidant activity compared to non-organic fruits and vegetables.
Organically grown meat also has nutritional benefits over conventionally grown meat. Animals that are allowed to graze on pasture have higher heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 essential fatty acids in their meat compared to feed-lotted animals.
TEN: HEALTHIER CUP OF TEA
The tea plant, camellia sinensis, and herbs absorb pesticides readily, so choosing to drink a certified organic tea will ensure that your healthy cuppa is free from any traces of toxic pesticides. It’s particularly important for those who like to drink a few cups, or more, of tea daily, where a build-up of these damaging chemicals can occur. Here at Bodhi we only use the highest quality, 100% certified organic teas, herbs and spices in our wellness tea blends. We carefully source our ingredients from certified organic tea farms here in Australia and around the globe. Bodhi teas are certified organic with Australian Certified Organic (ACO), which is the most respected, strictest + most thorough organic food regulatory program in Australian and internationally.
Written by Lisa Guy, naturopath + founder of Bodhi Organic Tea.