I remember taking organic food onto Oprah when my first book, Gorgeously Green, came out in 2008. At the time, only eight years ago, the idea of eating organic was a relatively novel concept – especially as far as mainstream consumers were concerned. But it was the beginning of the first “green” wave to sweep across our country, and I was lucky enough to be on the crest of that wave – encouraging people to buy organic. Since than the term “organic” has become ubiquitous as consumer demand continues to rise for products that we hope will be healthier.
When I pull back and look at the bigger picture of my life, it seems extraordinary that when I was growing up (certainly up to about 8 years-old), eating organic/seasonal/local was the norm. My mother had a huge vegetable garden, which we ate out of year around, and it was no big deal. We looked forward to raspberries in the heat of the summer, and sat around bagging beans and peas to stuff into the freezer for the winter months. And then things began to change. I remember the first McDonalds to hit London. It was an absolute novelty – a treat no less. A special birthday trip might include a McDonald’s meal (one prayed). Just four decades later, it’s now the other way around. Most folks across America can’t afford to eat local/seasonal/organic (unless they grow their own), and so this way of eating is strictly for the elite. A very small percentage of people can afford to eat everything organic, and it’s almost a luxury to be able to cater to dietary restrictions such as gluten/lactose-free. The norm is Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Sizzler – and the biggest issue is that this kind of unhealthy food is CHEAP. The government gives subsidies to fund a massive industrialized food system (mainly corn), which doesn’t take care of our land, our water, or our health. The constant supply of heavily subsidized corn winds up in everything from our burgers (not mine, cos I don’t eat them anymore), to our sliced bread and Halloween candy.
Remember, this industrialized and subsidized corn is not organic. It is fully genetically engineered, which I don’t like. We are being stuffed full of the very crop that is primarily produced to fatten up animals (along with a cocktail of growth hormones). So the whole thing is an unhealthy mess!
My main point is that in choosing to eat organic – or spend your hard earned dollars on voting for organic food, you are doing way more that ducking a smidge of pesticide residue on your carrots. Here are 5 important reasons to go organic.
- You vote with your dollars. Since a lot of you are already voting for cleaner, healthier food, the supply has to increase. The big change that I’ve seen from 2008 to now is that stores like Walmart and Target sell organic produce – that is huge! Keep voting because prices will continue to drop.
- You protect farm workers. When I drive north of Los Angeles up through Ventura County, I am able to see the mega fields where all our berries are grown (and shipped all over). Every time I drive by I see huge pesticide spraying machines dousing the crops. And, who is bent over double, picking, while the spray is misting over them? Migrant workers of course. These poor workers have little choice of where they work, however, they get sick, and we are talking really sick: birth defects, brain damage, and cancer. In supporting organic farming, we keep the workers safe. I can’t enjoy my berries if I know they are making the people who picked them sick!
- You become a steward of the Earth: Choosing to buy organic is huge because you are supporting cleaner air, food, land, and water. Remember, those pesticides run off the fields into our water supply. The wind carries them beyond the farms. That’s the thing about chemical herbicides and pesticides – they stay in our environment and eventually touch everybody.
- You Support diversity. Crop diversity is part of organic farming. The crops have to be rotated to keep the soil healthy, and this diversity means better health for you too. It’s important for our health that we eat a large variety of fruits and veggies, and organic farming encourages this. Most importantly, organic farming doesn’t kill off wildlife habitat and our precious pollinators. Conventional farming does, and this is becoming a huge problem.
- You keep your family healthy. It has now been proven that organic food is better for your health than conventionally grown food, and this is really simple: no toxic pesticide residue. This is especially important for babies and small children, who are still growing and thus more vulnerable to the deleterious effects.
Is it more expensive? For the most part it is, but listen my friends, you pay now or you pay later. I’d rather shave a few cable channels off my line-up/eat in a few more times a month. Health care aint getting any cheaper, right?