The organic food craze, at least in North America, continues unabated, and chances are that it will continue for a long time to come.
Although organic produce costs anywhere from 30 to 95 cents per kilogram more than ordinary vegetables and fruits approximately four to five per cent of shoppers prefer to pay the extra 10 – 40 per cent premium to buy them. Framers claim organic produce yields to be 20 per cent lower than those raised by conventional methods.
Organic milk costs considerably more then the regular version.
So far researchers have failed to determine conclusively any significant difference between organic and non-organic produce or milk.
The problem with organic food is that each government defines organic differently and as of yet there is no definite or widely accepted North American standard definition, let alone world wide uniform acceptance of organic farming.
There are several definitions of organic produce farming.
One is as follows:
Maintaining and increasing the fertility of the soil and promoting biodiversity for the welfare of rural communities must produce organic food.
Organic farming must yield healthy food, replete with natural aromas, flavours and textures.
Organic farmers must be inspected regularly either by government agencies of non-profit or for-profit recognized and approved companies.
In some countries government approved organizations are allowed to establish standards and if a company decides to adopt them accepting regular, unannounced inspections for a fee the product may be labelled as organic.
In most cases synthetic fertilizers pesticides, fungicides or any other synthetic chemical substance to harm the soil, water quality, flora and fauna are illegal.
Producers may use green manure compost and biological pest control means.
My blind taste tests revealed no taste difference between organic and non-organic apples, but definite flavour and textures between specifically bred, re-bred huge strawberries, apples, pears, and tomatoes.
There are now scientists specializing in breeding large fruits that grow faster and which are more economical to pick. Small strawberries and apples take longer to harvest. More importantly, many consumers think “big” fruits and vegetables taste better. All they have is more water. Of course the taste of such fruits and vegetables are dilute.
Consider this fact that 10 million tons of synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals are mixed into the soil for corn alone. Corn is used for fattening cattle, in animal feed and to distil alcohol.
Americans eat approximately 100 kilograms of meat per capita, much of which is chicken raised in “factory farms” under extremely inhumane conditions. In Europe this type of farming is unlawful.
“Factory cattle” means raising these poor animals under lamentable conditions and deserves to be outlawed but cattle ranchers employ many lobbyists to prevent any laws from even being suggested never mind presenting to the senate.
American cattle are pumped with antibiotics and injected with growth hormones in an attempt to grow them to optimal weight for slaughter faster (several months) than grass-fed cattle.
But grass-fed cattle contain higher ratios of omega 3-6 fatty acids. Grass-fed cattle mature in 30 months, whereas “manufactured” species take only 14 months. Only three per cent of the US cattle is raised organically .02 per cent of hogs, and one-and-a-half of poultry.
If and when you buy meat, choose organic over “conventionally” raised. The price differential is worth trhe additional expense, and above all, reduces your meat consumption. A ratio of one gram of protein per one kilogram of body weight twice a week is a good guideline.
Up to the 19th century, people ate meat as a “condiment” in very small quantities; more vegetables and starches were consumed.
Scientists working for manufacturers of chemicals claim that only five per cent of arable land remains unused worldwide, and yet the world population will double by 2050 or 2060. That, being implied, new synthetic chemicals capable of doubling or tripling food production will be an absolute necessity.
Few argues that eating less, improving distribution, and eliminating waste, are more important and than contaminating soil.
Using seaweed and its derivatives, saltpetre, a natural fertilizer, and compost are benign, and serve the same purpose as synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and fungicides, but unfortunately few farmers seem to be inclined to use them out of convenience, to reduce cost.
Natural fertilizers cost more and require more labour to apply.
Here are a few suggestions that may benefit your well-being:
Think of food as medicine for your body
Buy seasonal and local food whenever possible, even if they look less appealing, less uniform in size and blemished.
Buy natural food to the extent possible.
Avoid pre-washed and cut salads, ready-to-use dressings, canned vegetables, produce, ready-to-eat foods, sausages, cured meats, and convenience foods.
Buy organic meat if available and affordable.
Wash produce thoroughly.
Wash hands before to touching food to prevent e-coli bacteria when switching from cutting meat to cutting vegetables
Wash all equipment thoroughly after use
Avoid foodstuffs coloured with synthetic colouring.