Organic foods near me : Organic foods have become easier and easier to obtain in recent years. Still, many consumers wonder if this type of food is healthy enough to be worth the often extra cost. Many of the benefits of organic foods have come to consumers through word of mouth and the promotions put on by advocates of organic eating. Fortunately, there has been research and several solid arguments supporting the use of organic foods in everyday eating.
Several recent studies on farms which produce organic foods determined that organic farms don’t release synthetic pesticides into the ground, the air and, most importantly, the water table. Some of the inorganic, chemical pesticides are known to be harmful to wildlife and other animals. Organic farms also are superior to conventional farms when it comes to maintaining surrounding natural ecosystems. This includes, maintaining healthy populations of natural plants, insects and indigenous animals. They also rotate crops more often to maintain a healthy soil.
When researchers calculated the energy use per unit area or per unit of yield of organic food-producing farms, it was found that organic farms used less energy and generated less packaging and chemical waste than conventional produce farms.
The yield in organic produce farms is about 20 percent less when those farms used half the fertilizer and 97 percent less pesticide than conventional farming. Others feel that organically-used soil is of a higher quality and maintains higher water retention than farms that raise produce conventionally. This factor may improve the yield of organic farms during years when rainfall is less than average.
In one study on organic farming techniques, a comparison of an organic farm and a conventional farm during a drought season, the yields of soybeans were between 50 and 90 percent better than the regular farms. Organic corn yields were mixed but, on average, the farms were on par with conventional farms.
Consider the risk of pesticide exposure on farm workers. Farm workers on organic farms are spared the health risks of being exposed to pesticides, which are great, even when used correctly. Pesticides made from organophosphates, in particular, can cause serious acute health problems with over-exposure. Long term exposure, unfortunately, is associated with breathing problems, memory problems, skin conditions, cancer, miscarriages and birth defects.
To make matters worse, those who eat food not grown in an organic fashion can be exposed to both pesticides and herbicides that remain on the food. This is why all produce from conventional farms should be washed carefully. Exposure to certain herbicides is known to cause birth defects, even in small doses. Sadly, one recent study showed that the greatest source of pesticides in babies is through the dietary consumption of food not grown in an organic fashion.
There has been much talk in recent years about the global environment and what issues have developed since the bulk of farming is conventional farming instead of the more traditional organic farming. Conventional farming allows for the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides—some of which has been found to harm the environment, even when used correctly.
Countries throughout the world are, to varying degrees, exploring organic farming techniques as environmentally-friendly ways to grow produce for the world’s population while keeping the environment as healthy as possible. Organic farming, as we know it today, began in Central Europe and in India. Today, there are many countries dedicated to growing produce using organic techniques without reducing the world’s food supply.
In the US, organic food can be formally certified “organic” by passing strict guidelines assuring the food is truly organic. The certifying organization is known as the “National Organic Program”.
There are other organic food movements in the US, however, that are trying to bypass the formality of certification by proposing other, less expensive standards, like the “Authentic Food Standard”. This standard allows for the passage of various criteria, including that all foods be sold by the organic producer, that fresh produce, milk, eggs and meat be sold within 50 miles of their production and that cheese, wine, bread and other fermented products be produced using traditional methods.
Another US-based organic food approach is based on producing and selling organic food products locally. Consumers partner with local farmers and pre-purchase a certain percentage of the year’s harvest. Supporters believe that locally-produced and sold organic foods taste better than those foods transported over long distances in refrigerated trucks. Throughout the world, food that is grown using strictly organic techniques accounts for approximately 1-2 percent of gross food sales. Organic food sales, however, are growing dramatically worldwide. In fact, the world organic food market has been growing consistently since 1990 at a rate of 20 percent per year.
In the European Union, the EU-Eco-regulation organization regulates all of the organic food in Europe. In Austria, organic farmers have been given incentives and experts expect that up to 10% of all foods grown locally. In Germany, almost all baby food is completely organic and, in some places, up to a third of all bread is baked using organic ingredients. Italy has gone even further to assure that its children eat organic food. Its government has legislated that, as of 2005, all food prepared in school lunch programs must be organic food.