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You are what you eat.
Food is our fuel. We need it not only to move and have energy but to create new cells and tissues, pump the heart and other vital processes. Food can keep us healthy when we eat the nutrients our body needs.
The body, being the amazing organism that it is, has an incredible capacity for adaptability to any conditions and treatments you subject it to, but eventually it will catch up with you and your body will start telling you that.
If you are sick something that you are doing is not good for your body.
How often do you get sick in any given year? How often do your children get sick? What are the common ailments?
We think that it is normal to get sick. We accept it as the order of things, as part of life.
"Organic food is expensive" I hear people say.
How much do you pay in doctors, treatments and medicines yearly? How many sick days you take from work? How much time do you spend feeling unwell?
Can you imagine a scenario in which you rarely get sick? What are your thoughts and feelings as you read this? Do you think it's possible or are you incredulous about it?
Eating organic food is a must if you want to improve your health or have optimum health. Since I started eating organic vegetables and some other organic products my health has undoubtedly improved. I rarely get sick and when I do is like something that I am going through, rather than full-on, laying in bed for three days kind of thing.
I started buying organic vegetables in 2003 in a farmer's market in Ireland. Around the same time, I started shopping in health food stores other organic foods such as pasta, beans, etc.
In all these years, some conventional supermarkets have slowly moved forward and introduced some organic produce, mainly root vegetables, eggs and organic chicken.
What does organic mean?
There was a time where the word organic didn't exist to label food. People ate natural foods that contain no chemicals, hormones or antibiotics.
When did it all change?
It is at the beginning of the 20th century when synthetic fertilisers and pesticides are introduced and start to be widely used in farming.
The term organic was first used in the 1940s to refer to organic farming as opposed to farming using inorganic, synthetic methods.
After the Second World War chemicals produced for war were repurposed for farming.
How is organic farming different to mass produced, intensive farming?
In organic farming synthetic pesticides or fertilisers are not used to grow food or antibiotics in animals.
The main emphasis is on the soil; enriching the soil instead of depleting if from nutrients. Organic farming views agriculture as an ecosystem, which needs to be in balance. Pest and disease control is done through methods such as rotating crops, crop diversity and encouraging wildlife diversity.
Soil = life.
Life means fertility.
Life is necessary for healthy soil.
In order to have fertile topsoil it needs to be teeming with life.
One square metre of fertile soil can contain more than a billion bacteria. Clue: our bodies are the same.
It's about working with Nature, rather than try to dominate and conquer.
Is organic food better for you?
According to Wikipedia, "Throughout this history, the focus of agricultural research and the majority of publicized scientific findings has been on chemical, not organic, farming. This emphasis has continued to biotechnologies like genetic engineering."
This suggests to me that not enough research is being done on organic farming to know how beneficial organic food really is. The same article points out to how big commercial agriculture and interests have introduced themselves in the organic market with the variety and volume of "organic" products increasing. This suggests that supposedly organic products are being created. For example, I would never buy organic sugar. Sugar is bad for you, whether it's organic or otherwise.
Food manipulation: GMO
In my opinion, GMO should not even exist. The fact that it is even allowed to happen is a sign that the system does not promote healthy practices. It is a very serious threat to humans and the planet. The fact that most people are unaware and oblivious to this threat makes it all the more amazing.
What are GMOs?
GMOs stands for genetically modified organisms. What this means is plants that have been altered genetically, at gene level and are being changed with genes from other species like animals, viruses and bacteria.
This is not the same as plant hybridisation, in which they are crossing two genetically different plants.
The reasons argued for genetically modifying crops are to increase yields of crops that are resistant to disease, chemicals, pests or environmental conditions. There are other ways of achieving these objectives without unleashing GMOs into the world.
The first large scale harvest of GM crops started in 1996 in the USA. Since then, the tendency to plant GM crops is on the increase worldwide, with developing countries surpassing industrial countries. The biggest increase in hectares planted is in the USA.
Soy, corn, cotton and canola are the four major crops. Other crops approved for production are sugar beet (is used to make sugar), papaya, squash or yellow zucchini and alfalfa with plans of expansion into rice, apples and salmon. (source http://gmoinside.org/gmos-in-animal-feed/)
An article in The World's Healthiest Foods points out that "It has been estimated that as many as two-thirds of all food products in grocery stores contain genetically engineered ingredients. In fact, unless you buy exclusively organic, you will likely bring home foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, especially if you purchase foods that contain soybeans, corn, or their derivatives (soy oil, soy flour, soy protein isolates, corn oil, corn starch, corn flour, and high fructose corn syrup)" (this refers to stores in the USA)
The law in the United States does not mandate that GMO are labelled so you could be eating GMO products or ingredients and not know about it. In Europe laws are more stringent.
Effects of GMOs
Since GMOs are relatively new the effects of GMOs in humans have not been studied. The impact is simply not known. Studies done on animals point towards severe diseases. Collective Evolution has an article which summarizes 10 scientific studies. Institute for Responsible Technology has this article on 10 reasons to avoid GMOs.
From consumers to producers
I'm going towards growing our own food. Although I seem to have great resistance to the idea of a farming life in the last couple of years I have started to grow small quantities of food. Last year, I grew a few things and I was pleasantly surprised as to how relatively easy it was.
Why is it so important to grow your own food?
Growing your own good gives you control of what you put in your body; you know exactly what has gone into producing the food.
The flavour is amazing. Everything you have eaten before pales in comparison. Flavour means nutrients. I remember a time when chicken had flavour. Nowadays, it is pretty much tasteless.
I have noticed a difference in flavour even compared to the farmers market.
Why is that?
The nutrients get lost with every hour that passes by since they are picked. Picking and eating a salad straightaway you are getting amazing flavours. I have also noticed a really intense flavour in the herbs.
There is a great sense of pride and accomplishment in eating a meal you have grown yourself.
When was the last time you remember eating something bursting with flavour that came from the taste of the vegetables rather than the sauce you put in the food?
You are limited in the number of organic vegetables available in the market while if you buy organic seeds there are different varieties of plants.
Another reason is I haven't found organic grass-fed meat readily available.
Grass-fed animals used to be the norm. Now, cows are being fed in America with genetically modified corn. I saw this in a documentary in Channel 4.
I also read somewhere about mastitis in cows in the UK. Due to constant milk production, cows are getting sick and are being treated with antibiotics. Cow's milk is intended for calves only, not for human consumption. We are the only mammal that consumes milk past the nursing stage.
I saw a documentary a while ago in which it was explained how the chicken we currently eat had been crossed in the 1960s in Britain into an entirely different bird, with a much bigger breast to meet consumer demands.
Mass production of crops and animals has changed the procedures and the way of doing things in ways that consumers are not aware of. Decisions are made based on profit, driven by the cheapest way of producing food instead of the healthiest way, without any consideration as to what the impact is on you or the planet.