Why is Organic Gardening Important?
For many years organic gardening has been considered the gold standard.
The prices of organic fruits and vegetables were too high for the average shopper to afford and still are for many. As demand increases, the prices are coming down but still unattainable for many folks that struggle to put food on the table.
These members of our communities are the most vulnerable to chronic disease and illness, and they are forced to buy the unhealthiest food because healthy organic food is too expensive.
Organic gardening is not a new concept thought up by weirdo tree huggers that thought they would invent some new idea to save the world.
Organic gardening was just how it was done back in the day. Our ancestors knew how to plant certain veggies together to get healthier plants and ward off pests and diseases. They knew how to feed the soil, rotate crops, and they learned and passed down many tips and tricks that did not involve chemicals and poison.
They didn’t have Miracle Grow or Sevin Dust and they did just fine.
The British organization, The Soil Association, reported in August 2001 a comprehensive review of existing research that revealed significant differences between organically and non-organically grown food. These differences relate to food safety, primary nutrients, secondary nutrients, and the health outcomes of the people who eat organically.
Organic gardening is better for our environment, allows us to have a lot more control over what we put in our bodies, and cuts down on the number of groceries we are buying from the market which in turn, saves money.
Several studies show higher nutrients, minerals, and, ”substantially higher concentrations of antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds than crops produced with pesticides”.
Anyone that is still not convinced about the importance of gardening organically, here are some statistics that may help change your mind.
The Center for Food Safety reports that “The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) cancer authorities – the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)– recently determined that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A). Glyphosate is the most heavily used pesticide in the world thanks to the widespread planting of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops, which are genetically engineered to survive spraying with it. Use and exposure will increase still more if glyphosate-resistant turfgrasses currently being developed for lawns, playing fields and golf courses are introduced.”
“There were several studies. There was sufficient evidence in animals, limited evidence in humans and strong supporting evidence showing DNA mutations … and damaged chromosomes,” said Aaron Blair, Ph.D., chair of the IARC Working Group and a
scientist emeritus at the National Cancer Institute, in an interview with Reuters.
John Hopkins University also revealed that home gardeners use almost ten times more pesticide per acre than the average farmer. With the EPA’s recent phasing out of common pesticides such as Dursban and Diazinon, we are now realizing that many of the chemicals that we thought were “safe” were never actually tested to see what their effect on children, women, and the elderly could be.
The time has come to reassess our dependence on pesticides.
THE RISKS OF CONSUMING NON-ORGANIC FOOD
We know chemicals are everywhere. They are in our skincare products, our shampoo, our toothpaste, our drinking water, our clothing, our carpets, and even in the air. Some things we have no control over, but we do have some control over the food we are putting into our bodies. One of the prominent ways chemicals are used in food production is through chemical fertilizers.
Chemical fertilizers are quick-acting, short-term plant boosters and are responsible for:
- Deterioration of soil friability creating hardpans soil.
- Destruction of beneficial soil life, including earthworms.
- Altering vitamin and protein content of certain crops.
- Making certain crops more susceptible to diseases.
- Preventing plants from absorbing some needed minerals.
The soil should be regarded as a living organism. An acid fertilizer, because of its acids, dissolves the cementing material, made up of the dead bodies of soil organisms, which holds the rock particles together in the form of soil crumbs. This compact surface layer of rock particles encourages rainwater to run off rather than enter the soil.
For example, a highly soluble fertilizer, such as 5-10-5, goes into solution in the soil water rapidly so that much of it is leached away into our groundwater without benefiting the plants at all. This chemical causes the soil to become hard like cement. When present in large concentrations, they seep into the subsoil where they interact with the clay to form impervious layers of precipitates called hardpan.
Many artificial chemical fertilizers contain acids, as sulfuric and hydrochloric, which will increase the acidity of the soil. Changes in the soil acidity (pH) are accompanied by changes in the kinds of organisms that can live in the soil.
Earthworms, which break down organic matter and deliver it into the soil, are killed.
Micro-organisms that live in the soil are killed off thereby robbing some plants of natural immunity.
Imbalances in the soil are similar to imbalances in our own bodies. When plants have a high level of nitrogen and only a medium amount of phosphate, plants will easily contract mosaic infections. Host resistance is obtained when there is a small amount of nitrogen and a large amount of phosphate. Fungus and bacterial diseases have been related to high nitrogen fertilization, and lack of trace elements.
Plants grown with artificial chemical fertilizers tend to have less nutrient value than organically grown plants. For example, several tests have found that supplying citrus fruits with a large amount of soluble nitrogen will lower the vitamin C content of oranges. It has also been found that these fertilizers that provide soluble nitrogen will lower the capacity of corn to produce high protein content.
Probably the most regularly observed deficiency in plants treated continually with chemical fertilizers is deficiencies in trace minerals. To explain this principle will mean delving into a little physics and chemistry, but you will then easily see the unbalanced nutrition created in chemical fertilized plants.
The colloidal humus particles are the convoys that transfer most of the minerals from the soil solution to the root hairs. Each humus particle is negatively charged and will, attract the positive elements, such as potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, aluminum, boron, iron, copper, and other metals. When sodium nitrate is dumped into the soil year after year, in large doses, a radical change takes place on the humus particles.
The very numerous sodium ions (atomic particles) will eventually crowd out the other ions, making them practically unavailable for plant use. The humus becomes coated with sodium, glutting the root hairs with the excess. Finally, the plant is unable to pick up the minerals that it really needs.
So, with chemical fertilizers, in short, you have short-time results, and long-term damage to the soil, groundwater, and to our health.
Another reason to avoid the use of chemicals and pesticides is that long-term use of such chemicals can deplete the soil and leave it unable to sustain further growth. In many cases, beds of perennials suddenly stop blooming for no apparent reason, and the culprit is often found to be the overuse of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
Chemicals that are applied to plants can often seep into the water supply thus contaminating it. While it’s true, our drinking water does go through a filtration process, it’s been proven that this process doesn’t remove ALL of the harmful contaminants.
It has also been proven that certain chemicals can cause diseases, birth defects, and other hazardous health problems. All one needs to do is watch the movie “Erin Brokovich” to see what chemical contamination of water can do to a body.
We as consumers rightfully worry about filthy slaughterhouses, e-coli, salmonella, and fecal contamination. The CDC estimates that 48 million Americans suffer from food poisoning every year. There are no documented cases of organic meat, poultry, or dairy products setting off a food poisoning outbreak in the United States.
We worry about our food being contaminated by sewage. Sewage sludge is a byproduct of wastewater. Stormwater and wastewater enter the sewage system and flows into the wastewater treatment facilities. The solid wastes are then separated from the liquid wastes through settling. The solid waste breaks down and is decomposed by bacteria.
The resulting product is sewage sludge which contains everything that is flushed into the sewer system like medications, household waste, industrial waste, etc.
This sewage sludge is then dried and applied to agricultural farmland as fertilizer, added to landfills, and marketed as “biosolid compost”. This “compost” is applied to the food we are buying and feeding to our families. Even though the treatment that is utilized does decrease some contaminates, chemicals such as flame retardants, PCBs, heavy metals, and endocrine disrupters (many of which are carcinogens) are not filtered out.
They accumulate in the soil and are taken up the crops that are then harvested for human consumption.
Genetically Engineered Food
There is a growing concern about untested and unlabeled genetically engineered food ingredients in common supermarket items.
According to the Center for Food Safety, upwards of 75% of processed foods contain genetically engineered ingredients. 92% of corn in the U.S. is genetically engineered, 94% of soybeans, and 94% of cotton (cottonseed oil is frequently used in food products).
Irradiated food products are considered safe according to the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization. We know we can trust them, right? ahem…. think again… The Center for Food Safety though, says irradiation practices may be abused as a tactic to cover up poor sanitation practices. They contend that radiation causes substances called “unique radiolytic products”.
“These irradiation byproducts include a variety of mutagens – substances that can cause gene mutations, polyploidy (an abnormal condition in which cells contain more than two sets of chromosomes), chromosome aberrations (often associated with cancerous cells), and dominant lethal mutations (a change in a cell that prevents it from reproducing) in human cells. Making matters worse, many mutagens are also carcinogens.
Research also shows that irradiation forms volatile toxic chemicals such as benzene and toluene, chemicals known, or suspected, to cause cancer and birth defects. Irradiation also causes stunted growth in lab animals fed irradiated foods. An important 2001 study linked colon tumor promotion in lab rats to 2-alkylcyclobutanones (2-ACB’s), a new chemical compound found only in irradiated foods. The FDA has never tested the safety of these byproducts. Irradiation has also been shown to cause the low-level production of furans (similar to cancer-causing dioxins) in fruit juice.”
Glyphosate is the main ingredient found in the world’s most commonly used weed killer, RoundUp.
Glyphosate is being sprayed onto crops by commercial growers. This process is called desiccation and it involves spraying crops such as edible beans, wheat, oats, and other crops right before harvesting. Desiccation is performed mostly in wet cold regions to help the crops dry quicker and to control grain weeds that would otherwise slow down the threshing practice.
The EPA claims glyphosate is safe but questions around the validity of the studies abound since many were influenced by Monsanto, the makers of RoundUp.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer says that it is a probable carcinogen.
A jury determined in two separate cases that RoundUp contributed to occurrences of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Dewayne Johnson, a groundskeeper who sued Monsanto/Bayer on charges that their Roundup product caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was awarded $39 million in compensatory and $250 million in punitive damages. Source: Getty Images/New York Times.
When you are buying and consuming products like flour, bread, cereal, crackers, etc. you are putting glyphosate in your body.
Our food, water, and air are so saturated with Glyphosate that it is regularly found in human urine.
Spraying this horrendous poison on our food immediately before harvesting it is INSANE!!!!
Residues from potentially carcinogenic pesticides are left behind on some of our favorite fruits and vegetables – in 1998, the FDA found pesticide residues in over 35 percent of the food tested. Many U.S. products have tested as being more toxic than those from other countries. What’s worse is that current standards for pesticides in food do not yet include specific protection for fetuses, infants, or young children despite major changes to federal pesticide laws in 1996 requiring such reforms.
It is certainly in the best interests of the human population to avoid chemicals in our food, but it’s also better for our planet as well. Chemicals can affect the soil making it less fertile.
They destroy important parts of the natural ecosystem. All plants and animals serve some sort of purpose – even if that purpose isn’t especially obvious. By taking these components out of the natural life cycle, we are endangering our environment in ways we can’t necessarily see outright, but that danger is there.
According to the USDA, methods like irradiation, genetic engineering, and application of sewage sludge are prohibited when growing or processing organic foods.
Eating organic eliminates, or at least minimizes, the risk of poisoning from contaminants found in sewage sludge, the unknowns of genetically modified food, the ingestion of hormone residues, mutagens from radiation, and the exposure to mutant and drug resistance bacteria strains. It also reduces exposure to glyphosate, insecticides, and fungicides.
So, it becomes obvious that growing your food naturally is the best way to go.
Let’s take a moment and look at what exactly organic gardening is.
WHAT IS ORGANIC GARDENING?
The simple answer is that organic gardeners don’t use pesticides or synthetic fertilizers on their plants. But gardening organically is much more than what you don’t do.
When you garden organically, you think of your plants as part of a whole system within nature that starts in the soil and includes the water supply, people, wildlife, and even insects.
An organic gardener strives to work in harmony with natural systems and to minimize and continually replenish any resources the garden consumes.
Organic gardening operates on the concept of recycling. Using animal waste, kitchen scraps, and vegetable waste to mulch and compost. You will use common household items like vinegar and soap to prevent pests and weeds. Special techniques are used like companion planting and rotating crops to create strong abundant plants.
Organic growers rely on developing healthy, fertile soil and growing a mixture of crops. Genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are not allowed under organic standards.
Organic gardening is the merging together of plants and soil allowing the Earth to naturally bear what it was made to do.
The plants and the soil are one working together to provide food and nourishment not only to humans but to animals and organisms as well.
The Clean Eating movement relies on the practice of eating only foods that have not been overly processed and consuming food that has not been exposed to pesticides, chemicals, or unnatural treatments. Learn more about clean eating by downloading my free eBook.
When we practice the art of organic gardening we become a part of that process working in harmony with mother nature.
It truly is magical.
This list from the EWG shows which produce items are the most heavily contaminated with chemicals and which are the least contaminated. This list does not target GMO or irradiated produce but it may help you decrease the amount of poison you are ingesting.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Buy organic whenever possible. Use The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen as a guide.
Start a garden. Think about growing just a few things to start. Perhaps some lettuce, a tomato plant, and a few herbs. It will get you started, decrease the number of items you have to buy, and save you some money.
Join the Environmental Working Group(EWG) to learn how you can contact Congress and have your voice heard.
Leave me a comment below if this information has encouraged you to either start buying organic or perhaps to start growing some of your food.
I would love to hear from you.
You don’t need land to start growing your own food. Read, How to Start a Garden and Why You Should.
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