Human beings are the only species that spray poison on their food so that other animals won’t eat it. And then were silly enough to eat it ourselves! Today a large portion of the food grown for consumption is grown conventionally using pesticides and fertilisers. This results in foods that are less tasteful and less nutritious simply because they have been grown in man’s way rather than in nature’s way. If you have heard your parents and other elders say that food just doesn’t taste the way it used to, you’re not alone. This is because nutrition and palatability go hand in hand, and growing in an unnatural way makes food less nutritious.
Most pesticides cannot be washed off. Once pesticides are sprayed, they don’t remain on the surface but actually enter to the core of the plant. When pesticides are sprayed at the bottom of the coconut tree they can even be traced in the fruit above. All kinds of potions to wash pesticides off are available in the market and perhaps they have a slight value, but they cannot wash out the chemicals inside the food, and nor can they raise its nutritive value. Some of these potions may even add to your chemical intake! If you don’t want to be paying for poison, and eating it too, then you should switch to organic.
Today more and more genetically modified (GMO) crops are available in the world. As yet, luckily, India has not allowed genetically modified food crops. But this does not prevent us from importing genetically modified foods. This is one more reason why it’s always better to buy organic. Organic foods are not genetically modified.
Why do farmers use chemicals?
‘Organic’ means food that has been grown the way nature meant it to be grown. Many farmers know the value of organic, because it also protects their soil. There are also farmers who grow organically to protect their land, but are unable to sell their produce separately and it enters the market along with the non-organic products. But we must be aware that 90% – 99% of the produce in the general market is non-organic. In India pesticide companies lure farmers into using pesticides and fertilisers by saying that it’s a ‘medicine’ for their plants. Once used, it’s very difficult to stop using these chemicals. The government offers subsidies to farmers for pesticides and fertilisers. Some farmers may not be aware of the damage these do to their land. Others don’t know how to get out of the cycle.
How do I know that it’s really organic?
1. If you visit a farm, it’s very easy to know whether it’s organic or not. Bend down and pick up some soil in the cup of your palm and look at it, and smell it. If it’s dark, smells like soil, and you can see little organisms moving around, it’s likely to be organic. If the soil looks just like sand devoid of any life it’s likely to be treated with chemicals.
2. Taste – usually food is that is grown organically tastes much better. You may also find tiny insects in them. For example you may find the cauliflower or broccoli with little larvae just as in the past. You might find tiny worms in some of your guava. This does not mean that the fruits or vegetables are bad. On the contrary, it means that even these tiny organisms dared to eat that produce. It’s safe to eat! Today most of us like our fruits and vegetables clean and without any insects or blemishes. But that’s not how nature provides it. Eating these worms by mistake will not cause any harm, but eating foods covered with pesticides is definitely harmful.
What harm do pesticides do?
Our body is not designed to handle pesticides, and other chemicals, but even then it will do it’s best, and so for a long time you may not suffer the effects. These chemicals will be stored in certain tissues, like the liver and may cause harm only when they reach a critical mass. Chemicals are carcinogens – they cause cancer. Chemicals are also home disruptors, and the cause of a whole range of hormonal problems – diabetes, hypothyroid, polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD or PCOS), premature puberty, infertility, breast, prostate and ovarian cancers, and more.
Organic is not available in my area.
Today with the advent of online companies, organic dry products are available anywhere in India. Everything can be bought online. But fresh produce can prove difficult, especially in smaller towns and cities. Luckily many people in these areas have more space and are able to grow their own food, in their balcony or outdoors. Even if it’s not possible to grow all your own produce, you will be able to grow a large portion of it. Green leafy vegetables grow quickly too. You will also recognise how little space we need to grow our own food.
70% of my food is organic but everything is not available organic!
This is nature. In nature everything is not available all year round. And all things are not available everywhere. But in most places many things are available, and in fact there is an abundance of things to eat in any season. Different plants grow in different seasons. In the summer there are plenty of fruits. In the winter it’s the vegetables! That gives us lots of variety all year round. There will always be plenty to eat. Ideally it’s best to avoid buying non-organic items. There will always be times when we are travelling or have to eat out and cannot be choosy. So why not be choosy when we can and choose only organic?
Isn’t it expensive?
We are so accustomed to eating cheap food that we find high quality food expensive. At the same time we often don’t want to take the trouble to grow our own food. Just as high quality clothes or shoes will last longer, and are therefore worth paying more for, high quality foods allow us to live longer and without any disease and therefore they are worth paying the price for. Anyone who haggles about the price of organic may not have factored in the price of cancer! In the long term organic is always cheaper, because you are saving on the medical bills and feeling better. And it’s definitely cheaper than eating out in restaurants or eating packaged foods. It’s largely about having the right values and the understanding of why eating chemicals is harmful.