Eating healthily is more than just a fad; it`s a lifestyle choice designed to ensure that you and your family get the most out of life. But, given the incredible array of food choices available to you, how can you know which ones are best? A lot of confusion surrounds organic foods and those treated with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, but it`s actually fairly simple once you understand what those two terms mean.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has strict standards defining what organic food is. Organic farmers must not use pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics or other chemical additives. They keep their livestock healthy by feeding them a natural diet and allowing them to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Crops are rotated and pests are handled through natural means such as plant-based insecticides and the interruption of their mating and breeding rituals. The advantages of these methods are plentiful.
Firstly, organic farming has much less of a deleterious effect on the environment. Chemical pesticides can contaminate runoff, affecting the drinking water and the other crops grown nearby. Supporting your local organic farmers supports the environment.
Secondly, organic foods are produced as nature intended them and as our bodies are prepared to utilize them. Foods that contain pesticides can cause allergic reactions and force your immune system to process and eliminate them in addition to the natural toxins your body produces, putting a strain on your overall health.
Single ingredient foods such as produce and meat grown according to USDA guidelines are allowed to display a circular green and white logo containing the words, "USDA Organic". More complex foods like cereals and prepared foods must be at least 95 percent organic in order to display that label. Choosing organic not only supports your own health and that of your family; it supports small, local farmers and the environment.
The dangers of consuming GMO-laden foods are still under study, but to anyone with an ounce of common sense, the concerns are serious and real. Human beings have been genetically modifying foods for millennia through selective breeding, which allows mutations to occur and procreate naturally.
Scientists can now genetically modify food by actually introducing DNA from one species into another. One famous example is that of DNA from cold water being introduced into strawberries to make them frost resistant.
The long-term effects of GMOs on food and on human beings consuming that food are unknown. But, there are several reasons for concern that are known.
GMO-treated crops produce their own pesticides to keep them safe from insects. This was supposed to create higher yield and also help to protect the environment, but an unintended and unforeseen consequence is that insects became resistant to the GMO-created pesticides in the plants, meaning that more pesticides are needed to protect the crops.
There is growing evidence that GMO-treated foods may be responsible for newly emerging allergies among the people consuming them.
Finally, the ability to mass-produce GMO-treated crops is also a threat to small family farms and the consumer`s ability to choose only local produce and meat.
The benefits of organic and GMO-free foods go beyond that of your individual health, to encompass your local economy and the ecosphere at large.