Eating well is something that is on the minds of many, as is reducing their personal negative impact on the environment. There are many different approaches that can be taken with both of these issues, but only one that can make a difference to both. An organic diet has many health benefits and can help to reduce your personal impact on the environment.
What are organic foods?
Organic foods are those that are produced and processed in only the most natural ways. The growing process is free of chemical pesticides, certain fertilisers, and other dangerous processes. Processed organic foods only use ingredients that are produced organically. The standards for labelling foods as organic are controlled by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs in the UK and the Department of Agriculture in the US. Foods carrying organic labelling must meet the qualifications set out by these agencies in order to carry their seal of approval. There are several levels of organic certification, so read labels carefully to ensure that you know exactly what you are purchasing.
The health benefits of eating organic foods
There are many health benefits associated with eating an organic diet, most due to the lack of chemical agents and hormones that are often found in a traditional diet. Some health experts believe that many physical ailments are caused or exacerbated by the chemicals and hormones that we ingest in our daily food intake. Some of these chemicals and additives have been proven to be carcinogenic, while others are synthetic hormones and antibiotics given to animals that can cause severe imbalances and health issues in humans.
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A fully organic diet removes all of these dangerous components from your daily food regimen, allowing your body to receive the nutrients that naturally occur in the foods that you eat and preventing your body from being exposed to dangerous chemicals and excessive hormones and medications. Organic foods also have naturally higher levels of antioxidants and other essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to prevent illness and disease. Studies have shown that those eating an organic or mostly organic diet have stronger immune systems, fewer instances of serious illness and disease, and generally recover faster when they have a physical illness or ailment.
In general, those who eat organically have a more balanced diet, with healthier foods included. As the foods that are often associated with obesity, heart disease, and other health problems simply do not come in an organic form, those choosing an organic diet have a reduced likelihood of developing these problems.
Environmental impact of buying or growing organic food
Beyond the health impact that organic foods have on humans, there are many environmental benefits that organic food growing and animal raising practices offer. Pesticides have a far-reaching impact on the earth, contaminating groundwater and soil and polluting the air and food sources for wild animals. Even feeding hormones and antibiotics to livestock can send these substances into ground water, as they will be absorbed by the soil from the animal’s waste.
Even beyond the contamination that is a product of non-organic farming, those choosing to grow and raise food sources through natural, organic methods are also providing help to the environment. The variety of plants grown can work to improve the overall air and water quality of the earth.
One of the best things about raising animals organically is the quality of life and health of livestock. Though they are being raised to be food sources, organic livestock are not fed hormones and antibiotics simply to give the farmer or company the biggest ‘bang for their buck’. The animals are healthier and more nutritious for consumers, though they may not produce as much income per animal for the grower.
How you choose to do your grocery shopping or grow your gardens is strictly a personal decision; however, with all of the wonderful benefits that are offered by an organic lifestyle, many are turning in this direction. Granted the expense may be a bit higher when buying organics in stores and your veggie gardens may not product prize-winning sized harvests, but the physical and environmental benefits are well worth the small price paid. Take a long look at the foods that you are eating and feeding to your family and see if you are offering them food choices that will promote both a healthy lifestyle and a healthy planet.