Organic Produce. It’s Worth it!
Author: Jan Roberts
Continuing on with my theme of simple self-help steps you can take towards health and happiness, I want to tackle an issue that raises a lot of questions. Is organic produce really better for you? Can the extra cost really be justified? But before I get to grips with that, I hope you’ve read my previous posts and are taking steps towards your own wellness: restoring gut health, improving your hydration and detoxification pathways, balancing hormones, and getting your daily dose of that all-important Vitamin D. All of those are important first steps, so I I hope you’ve taken them to heart. Now, lets’ take a look at how you can get an adequate intake of all the other vitamins and minerals you need for a healthy body and mind.
Let’s face it, vitamins and minerals work as a team. But with modern industrial agricultural methods, their teamwork is seriously compromised. While the fruit and vegetable section of your supermarket might be overflowing with beautiful produce, unfortunately a large proportion of what looks ripe and healthy is actually quite nutrient-poor. Not only nutrient-poor, but chemically contaminated. Multiple studies demonstrate the poor mineral status of produce grown by non-sustainable farming methods and confirm why organic should be your choice whenever possible—not only for a greater complement of essential trace elements, but for freedom from chemical contamination.
Consider chemical contamination. Today, most non-organic produce is laced with Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. For this blog post, it’s enough to say that Roundup destroys the bacterial ecosystem in the earth as well as in your gut, and to add insult to injury it blocks your body’s detoxification pathways. Although governments are notoriously slow to respond, Roundup has now been banned in several European countries. Meanwhile non-sustainable produce in Australia is still dosed liberally and that’s only one chemical. A cocktail of toxins is used to repel pests, prolong shelf life, delay or speed up ripening and much, much more.
I won’t belabor the point here, but if you want the ghastly details of the mechanisms of one of the greatest environmental and health scandals in modern history, Marie-Monique Robin has directed a 96-minute documentary titled “Roundup facing its Judges”. It evaluates the damages caused by glyphosate (the plant-killing ingredient in Roundup) on our health and environment worldwide, by following the witnesses who testified before the International Tribunal held at The Hague in 2016-2017. This film is available as a DVD in English, French, and German here.
The gory details of Roundup aside, there are studies, now spanning decades, comparing non-organic vs. organic produce. Studies in the 1990s from Rutgers University compared the levels of manganese, an interesting comparison because optimal levels of manganese are important for the hormones underlying maternal instinct. Non-organic produce contains very little of it, because manganese uptake from the soil is blocked by organophosphate pesticides. Rutgers scientists also discovered almost negligible levels of iron in non-organic spinach, a vegetable that is traditionally considered to be a good source of that mineral. Not surprising then that iron deficiency, and specifically iron deficiency anaemia, remains one of the most severe and important nutritional deficiencies in the world today. https://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/en/ida_assessment_prevention_control.pdf
A 2003 study evaluated the nutritional content of broccoli kept in conditions that simulated commercial transport and distribution: film-wrapped and stored for seven days at 1°C, followed by three days at 15°C to replicate a retail environment. By the end, the broccoli had lost between 71 and 80 per cent of its glucosinolates— sulphur-containing compounds shown to have cancer-fighting properties—and around 60 per cent of its flavonoid antioxidants.
In 2011, Donald Davis, a now-retired biochemist at the University of Texas compared the nutrients in US crops from 1950 and 2009, and found notable declines in five nutrients in tomatoes, eggplants and squash. For example, there was a 43 per cent drop in iron and a 12 per cent decline in calcium. This was in line with his 1999 study — mainly of vegetables — which found a 15 per cent drop in vitamin C and a 38 per cent fall in vitamin B2.
The studies continue to demonstrate the decline in the nutritional value of our food, and this depletion only gets worse with every crop that is fertilized using only NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) without regard for traditional soil remediation methods such as crop rotation, fields lying fallow, and restoration of the soil’s bacterial ecosystem or its trace element status.
In summary, if you query the extra cost of organic produce, I can only say it’s cheaper than doctor’s bills. Organic produce is a simple step you can take towards a healthier, happier you (and a more grateful planet). But buying organic is just the start – stay tuned for more on ‘eating a rainbow’ and balancing protein, carbohydrates and fat..