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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why Eat Organic?

From Contributing Editor Stephanie Georgieff

In 1992, the OTA implemented Organic Harvest Month for producers, retailers and consumers as a month long educational campaign on the benefits and joys of Organic food and agriculture. It was thought that September is usually associated with harvest, and what better time to think about organic produce than this time of year?

Every September, there are numerous magazine articles and educational campaigns
we can learn from, but my personal favorite is to simply enjoy the organic bounty
of late summer here in California. Our tomatoes, melons, peppers and squash are
filling our grocer’s shelves as well as our farmers markets, inspiring delicious menus
and preserving projects. As I am canning tomatoes, and jamming figs, something I
often get asked is why organic? My first response is, well it just tastes better. I am
not alone in that assessment. In a recent Health Issue of Time Magazine, the focus
was on Organic Food, chefs interviewed from around the country could agree on one
thing; Organic Produce just tastes better.

But there are more reasons than taste and nutrition to support organic products.
(I know, I think taste and nutrition are pretty important, but here are some other
reasons to eat Organic) The health of the atmosphere is improved with organic
farming practices, as is the health and availability of the soil. How? 21% of carbon
emissions in the food system come from ammonia production for chemical
fertilizers. Compost, a natural agent utilized in Organic practices, also improves
soil structure and helps prevent topsoil erosion. Right now, due to heavy reliance
on chemical fertilizers rather than on adding organic material to the soil, topsoil is
disappearing ten times faster than it is being replaced. Organic Farming has better
crop resistance to climate change, and also will reduce energy usage in the US food
system by 50%, thereby not contributing the problem of greenhouse gas emissions
in the first place.

Organic practices also improve water quality. Agricultural water runoff from
conventional farming practices damages lakes, rivers and oceans, often dramatically
reducing fish populations. The San Joaquin valley in central California has some of
the highest aplastic anemia incidence in the nation. Dioxins from pesticides and
other petroleum-based fertilizers enter the aquifers, and create numerous health
hazards for animal and human alike.

So, during September, reach out for the locally grown organic produce. Each bite is
a celebration of taste, nutrition and health. For me, knowing that my purchases are
not harming the land, air, water and farm workers, makes each mouthful even more

Organic Trade Association www.ota.com
www.organicitsworthit.org good information on organics
www.organicconsumers.org Organic Consumers Association

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