The first consideration on hand is the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides in non-organic agricultural practices, and the effects that these chemicals have on our health: both directly (from their application onto our food products), and indirectly (from their inevitable infiltration of our land, air, and water supplies). It seems silly to mention, but let us not forget that pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are compounds which are designed to kill, and are therefore extremely dangerous to all of us- not just the bugs and the plants and the 'shrooms. Such dangerous mixes are not allowed if a farm or growing project is to be given an organic distinction, and organic food is therefor absent of them. It has been reported that certain pesticides are related to both a prevalence of cancer in children as well as a deficiency in male sexual organ development, two public health issues that I'm sure we do NOT mean to mess around with. And of course there are the unspoken dangers associated with land erosion and the appearance of pesticides in our drinking water supply.
Then there is the question of genetically modified foods, which are not allowed in organic growing methods. Many reports have claimed that GM products are related to heightened sensitivity to certain allergens. The more serious health effects of the vegetable clone army are not well understood (likely because a great many of the studies are secretive and funded by Monsanto), however there have been many reports of health defects in animals who are fed a diet of genetically modified foods; including stunted growth, increased death rates, reproductive failures, infant mortality, and sterility. Are these really conditions that we are willing to gamble with in the game of mass-production? Personally, the benefit of choosing organic food is obvious in this case.
Organically grown produce IS healthier for you, on a number of levels. Besides the scientific evidence supporting the superior quality of organic food, it is important to consider the larger picture, and the context within which our food is produced. In order to holistically assess the public health consequences of agricultural methods, we must connect the dots between human health and the health of the environments within which we are existing. In non-organic farming practices, nitrogen fertiliser manufacturing alone produces seven tons of greenhouse gases, uses a ton of oil and a hundred gallons of water, all for just ONE ton of fertilizer. That fertilizer is then likely to be transported to water systems via land erosion and poor waste management systems, a movement which often pollutes drinking supplies and eradicates underwater oxygen supplies, resulting in the chilling effect of aquatic dead zones, where no organisms may survive. Also, in terms of animal products, it is important to note that organic farms generally produce meat and dairy products from animals raised in humane conditions, allowing for a more harmonious method of sowing as well as reaping, instead of the latter exclusively. Not only does this pacify the consciences of both farmers and consumers in terms of animal cruelty, it also alleviates the health risks that are associated with the hormones and antibiotics which are force-fed to animals in a factory farm setting, then ingested by human consumers. In non-organic animal products, such unnatural injections are not given to animals. They are happier and healthier, and ultimately so will we be.
In terms of nutritional content, the final verdict has not been made on whether or not organic food is richer than conventional food. There are many factors; including soil quality, rain and sunlight abundance, and packaging/transportation; which may affect the nutrient levels within a given food. However, there is considerable evidence to suggest the opposite of LSHTM's report claims. In fact, out of 1230 published comparisons between organic and conventional food, 56% claimed that organic was more nutritious, whereas only 7% claimed no difference. The LSHTM's study must be among this small 7 percentage, yet the BBC chose to highlight only this one study and exaggerate it completely.
So what does the study itself encompass? It is massive- there is no doubt about that. The 200 page report is a summary of over 50 years worth of data, collected by a team of doctors, thorough researchers and public health experts. The problem is that within the study there is no direct testing of any one piece of food. Every piece of data has been collected from literature compiled on nutrient content as early as the 1950s. While I am not one to undermine the importance of published scientific works, I am also not so easily convinced of the accuracy of information that is so indirect. I am more encouraged by hands-on scientific testing, such as this one, which proves without a doubt the nutritional superiority of organic tomatoes.
I am obviously not swayed by the BBC's bogus assertion that organic food is not healthy. But what worries me is that when I first read this article today, it was the #1 most read article on the global news website. This internationally renowned source of information reaches millions of people daily, and therefor is responsible for reporting the news fairly and accurately. Those at the BBC, as well as at other major news corporations, have an unspoken authority over people's thoughts and opinions, and putting forth a claim such as "organic has 'no health benefits" is completely irresponsible due to its potential public health implications. I hope that this article was read across the world with a grain of salt, and that we can continue to move forward towards becoming a society which values the health and vitality of our communities, and does not compromise either in the name of convenience or profit. I hope we can continue to think and decide for ourselves when it comes to how we feed our minds and our bodies, and not be swayed by the subjective news media when it comes to matters of such acute personal significance.
So, here's to a healthful life!
We had more than seven inches of rain in June alone, which was more than three inches over the historic record! While the lack of sun was slightly depressing, this bountiful rain also meant a lot of good things for the earth. For one, I didn't have to water my garden at all for nearly two months! Plus, the levels of our reservoirs are healthy, our drinking water supplies are strengthened, and thanks to NYC's giveaway of complimentary rain barrels, we can optimize usage of the earth's great gift for watering our gardens and our -coughcough- lawns during the remaining summer months.
This news of plentiful rain in New York is somewhat unique, considering that in many parts of the world a lack of access to clean water is causing countless troubles for human beings. In our own California, farmers are struggling under restricted allotments of water after a three year drought has caused the governor of the state to announce a water emergency. In Iraq, the Euphrates river is drying up, an event that had once been prophesied by religious groups as a sign of the end of times. All over the world in third-world countries, clean drinking water is scarce, and it is a cause of major conflict, disease and strife for millions of people. I won't go any further here, at least not now, but for a simple breakdown of the situation facing humans in global water issues, check out the World Health Organization's 10 FACTS about water scarcity.
Now the sun is shining on NYC again, and all of its gardens are growing healthy with the help of that glorious, life-giving rain water. And in light of these global realities, it is tremendously good fortune that we have such an easily accessible clean water system, and such a rich supply of rain! It is imperative that we don't take this luck for granted, and that we are responsible in the way that we use our water. This means taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet while soaping dishes, recycling the rainwater that comes with so much reward, and mayyybeee, just maybe not leaving that lawn sprinkler on all day long- or at all ;-). This way we can be sure that our water use is sustainable, and not at the detriment of others!
This is what is happening with food and nutrition trends in the
So why is it so expensive to obtain this certification of false glorification? Many small organic farmers have been suffering in recent years because they cannot compete with the large agro-businesses that are now operating in the wholesome food industry. And believe me, it is LARGE. Check out this flow chart which outlines who owns what in organics:
Kraft? Coca-Cola? These are the same people who make corn-syrup drinks and 3 minute Mac N’ Cheese. And they are processing your “organic” and “natural foods.” Think about this situation for a minute.
Buying Organic has become a trend. And the most powerful corporations are cashing in on it, big time, at the expense of organic family farmers across the country. But the solution is simple! BUY LOCAL! GROW YOUR OWN! GROW FOOD, NOT LAWNS!
We are truly on our own, with the self-interested corporate world disregarding our health in the face of endless profits. It is time we reclaim power over our bodies and minds, and showed the corporate world that we don’t need their mass-produced crap (as Michael Pollan calls it: edible, food-like substances). So beware the labels, support your local farmers by going to a farmer’s market or joining a CSA (community-supported agriculture), and grow your own food… it’s as simple as seeds, water and sun.
Fracturing is often carried out in very close proximity to sources of public drinking water, and is harmful because of the harmful toxins that it inserts forcibly into the ground. There is currently no policy which requires fracturing companies to reveal the chemicals used during their processes, and thanks to the policies put in place during the Bush-Cheney administration, federal oversight of these companies was removed, allowing them to operate freely, despite their environmental and public health implications. Not surprisingly, Halliburton was the company responsible for the development of hydraulic fracturing in the 1940s, and is one of the most prominent users of the process today.
Currently, an amendment to the Safe Water Drinking Act is being considered by the United States House of Representatives, put forth by several legislators from both the House and the Senate. The Fracking Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, known commonly as the FRAC Act, seeks to close loopholes created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, requiring hydraulic fracturing to once again be monitored by the federal government. It also calls upon energy companies to publicly release information about the chemicals used.
Energy company executives are, true to form, organizing and audibly complaining about the proposed amendment to the legislation. They claim that the change would result in higher costs for natural gas extraction, leading to higher gas prices and job loss in an already unstable economy. In addition to this unwarranted fear-mongering, they are lobbying to law makers, threatening to sue if the regulations are imposed. But the information they provide is outdated and incorrect in many cases.
Our drinking water is not something to be messed around with- we should demand that the EPA and our local and state governments do all that they can to ensure our safety and our health. Please, write to your local representatives and ask them to support this amendment to the Safe Water Drinking Act- don’t let Halliburton contaminate your water just to turn a buck!