Saturday, March 5, 2011

Food: Why I buy organic

The debate of organic versus conventional is ongoing in our country. As a mom and a generally health conscious person, it is a debate to which I pay attention. I became interested in organic foods when I had my first baby and realized that "healthy"  wasn't necessarily enough. Pesticides and GMO foods were not something I wanted to put into my newly grown work of art.

So I opened Pandora's box. Seriously. Everything I thought was safe, was not. Food became scary and dangerous. Then my hormones quieted down and I was able to be rational. I made the decision through much reading of labels, studies and books that we would eat as organic and hormone free as possible.

Here are the  main three reasons why we started and continue to eat as organically as possible:

#1 Pesticides. My biggest reason was that babies ingest more pesticides than adults because of the nature of their foods (cereal, fruit and veggies). Their bodies are not equipped to handle the stress, hence childhood allergies and illness. Cheerios are the biggest culprit in toddlers. They have TSP in them which is also used as a household cleaner.

#2 Hormones. As the mother of two girls, it scares me how many more hormones are in milk and animal protein than when I was a kid. I drank milk like it was going out of style, yet did not start puberty until later than most of my peers. Eight year olds with breasts (boys and girls), 4th graders starting menstruation, and 14 year old girls with DD's should alarm EVERYONE. Conventionally produced beef cannot be sold in Europe and it has been that way since 1989. Seriously.

#3GMO. Corn is king in the USA. It is in everything from the beef and chicken we eat to the soda we drink. Corn syrup has replaced sugar in almost all of our sweetened foods. Wonder why everyone has a big fat tire around their middles? Corn. We drank soda, we drank milk, we ate burgers from the store. Why weren't we fat as kids? Corn wasn't the biggest crop. And the company that "owns the patent" on the corn grown in America wasn't the biggest lobby. They own the crop and the pesticide that keeps the weeds from taking over. Genetically modified people scare us, but not genetically modified food? What happened to you are what you eat?

We are not perfect. We love Cheezits and Gold Fish. However, I never buy conventional meat. We eat at least one vegetarian meal a week for that reason. I look for local  grown as I have spoken to some of the farmers that sell locally and while many farm organically and responsibly, they are not certified due to the cost of being so.

The baby is now almost 12. Her sister will be 10 in a few weeks. Neither has ever been on an antibiotic. We have had no ear infections,  no sore throats, no asthma. One had seasonal allergies (watery eyes and a runny nose in the spring) which she outgrew by four. The other had intense reactions (crying and huge fits) to red dye and sugar in the drinks served  at school parties. Other than a few stomach viruses, and this year, the flu, they have been freakishly healthy. They drink the occasional soda, love to eat candy and rarely drink water unless coerced by their mother.  I don't keep "crap foods" in our house. No "fruit snacks" or colored applesauce.  But the proof is in my kids.

Eating this way  is expensive. Food costs are rising due to gas prices and reductions of subsidies with the ever growing deficit. However, so are health care costs. At which end would you rather pay? 

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