Carmel Murugen dishes the dirt on why farming and eating organic style is beneficial to your health and the environment.
According to Healthline 2016, organic food is produced from natural substances and excludes chemical fertilisers, pesticides and other artificial chemicals. Organic food products are free from artificial sweeteners, preservatives and MSG. Starting to get the picture?
Research shows that organic food is more nutrient dense than non-organic food – it contains higher levels of antioxidants, flavonoids and micronutrients like Vitamin C, Zinc and Iron. People with allergies to preservatives and food chemicals often find that their symptoms ease when they switch to organic food. A 2016 study by Newcastle University found that “organic milk and meat contain around 50% more omega 3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products.”
On the flipside, conventional farming uses herbicides and insecticides which leave residue that doesn’t easily wash off and could end up on your plate. Prolonged exposure to this residue can lead to increased risk of cardio vascular and respiratory diseases, reproductive damage and cancer. GMOs, present in some non-organic foods, are plants whose DNA has been engineered to make them resistant to herbicides. GMOs have been linked to damage to good gut bacteria, neurotoxicity and certain cancers.
By now you’ve probably gathered that “going organic” isn’t just a buzzword, but does it make a difference to the planet?
Sustainable farming practices protect our ecosystems by reducing pollution, conserving water and preserving soil. Non-organic farms use toxic insecticides to destroy pests (bad bugs) and increase crop yield. Unfortunately these harsh chemicals also destroy living organisms (good bugs) that the plant needs to enrich soil nutrients. To compensate, the farmer uses synthetic fertilisers made from fossil fuels to enhance soil quality.
Organic farmers cultivate nutrient rich soil through crop rotation, intercropping and mulching. Improved soil health encourages biodiversity, the range of organisms present in an ecological community. Crawling, creeping or flying creatures especially bees and butterflies, aka pollinators, are key to promoting ecological balance and preserving biodiversity. Organic farmers use natural pesticides, think birds, insects, frogs and barriers which protect the air, water and soil from toxic runoff. Harmful chemicals used in conventional farming run into nearby lakes and rivers, ending up in our oceans. In addition, pesticide drift, spray from pesticide applications, affect the people, animal and bird life in surrounding communities.
Doing our Bit
Donna Barnard, passionate advocate for waste -free living and owner of Greenheart Organics, an online organic food store, advises that decreasing our personal waste production through reducing, re-using and recycling can have a significant environmental impact. “One of the best investments I made was my simple but effective bokashi bin system. All my wet kitchen food waste is thrown into the bin which turns the waste into nutrient rich compost for my garden,” explains Barnard. “This diminishes the impact on landfills which reduces greenhouse gas emissions.”
Resolute in their quest to reduce waste, Greenheart Organics implements 2 innovative initiatives. Their rebate system enables customers to receive a rebate on refillable or returnable plastic containers and glass bottles in which their farm fresh milk is supplied. Instead of single use plastic, their fresh produce is packed in stay fresh certified compostable bags which decompose into CO2 and water in a landfill with no toxic pollution.
Learn more about the benefits of organic food and green living at www.greenheartorganics.co.za