If you are a health or culinary enthusiast, you may be following the controversy involving the Stanford University study that found organic food is not healthier than non-organic food. Before you cancel your membership at your local co-op supermarket or boycott your local organic farmer, please consider the following facts.
Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals not given antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic foods (unless otherwise noted on the label) are produced without pesticides, fertilizers, and synthetic ingredients and without genetic modification. (AKA Non-GMO). If you can’t wrap your brain around the importance of organic food think of is as I do. Organic food is the kind of food that I eat when I visit my tia in the countryside of the Dominican Republic. She grows her own platanos, and raises her own chickens and other livestock, in the same way that generations before her did. I am afraid that’s not how most of the chicken and platanos at our local supermarkets are produced.
What are the benefits of organic food?
The organic food industry is not less profit-driven than the rest of our food suppliers. Also, you may not really be too convinced about paying double the price for a tomato simply because it’s organic. But if you are on the fence, unsure but open to suggestions, about whether or not organic food is worth its price here are some reasons to consider investing in organic food:
Personal and Family Health: Organic means reduced exposure to toxins that may cause cancer, trigger allergies, produce neurological malfunction, inflammation, and compromise your immune system. This is most important for expecting mothers and developing children, as well as the elderly.
Environmental Health: The toxins used in conventional farming remain in the soil and leak into our water supply. These chemicals change the soil’s naturally occurring biodiversity. In other words, if you don’t want to do it for your abuelita, do it for your future children, grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
The problem with organic food is not that it’s a “scam” because it’s equally healthy and more expensive. It is that it’s overpriced and thus rarely available in lower income neighborhoods. In reality immigrants who grew up in their motherlands eating traditional foods most likely grew up eating organic foods, we just didn’t call it that. First generation Latinos in the US are growing up (starting in the womb!) consuming a lot more pesticides, food additives, preservatives and genetically modified foods. This is undoubtedly affecting our current health and the health of our future generations.
How to move forward?
If you can afford organic foods think of it as a higher-priced substitute for your traditional foods. It’s what our ancestors in (fill in your home country here) ate. If you cannot afford organic foods yet (or simply refuse to pay more money for it), find and friend your local farmers and develop a relationship with them so you can get to know your foods’ family history. As a last resort, invest in produce was, or pure castile soap, and wash off the pesticides and moisture-protecting layer of wax, before eating your fruits and vegetables. You can always just eat whatever you want and take your chances, but then again, scam or not, who wants to play Russian roulette with her longevity and life expectancy.