To be or not to be… organic

Our fresh foods may contain more than just vitamins, and it is these hidden extras that may have detrimental effects on our optimum health

By Professor David Russell, Founder and Chairman of the Russell Partnership

In modern society, we have come to expect a particular presentation of fruits, vegetables and grains – washed, prepared and ready to eat. Fresh and ‘off the shelf’ products are readily available, useable and safe; they will contain a proportion of antioxidant rich properties… but now, more than ever, our fresh foods may contain more than just vitamins and it is these hidden extras that may have detrimental effects on our optimum health.

‘Organic’ refers to crops and animals that are grown or reared in a way that complies with organic standards set by national government – in the UK, this means strict regulations on soil composition, crop rotation and use of chemicals. Remember organic does not denote toxin-free – a list of products approved by the Soil Association are legally allowed in Organic Farming. Nonetheless, these chemicals are typically less toxic in composition and pesticide residue is significantly reduced.

Pesticides manage and destroy various infestations among agricultural crops; many of these crops are then found in our supermarkets. While pesticides may ensure the longevity of food supply, protect against agronomic turmoil and allow aesthetic consistency, the adverse side effects that can arise from overconsumption of toxic pesticide residue is often overlooked.

Children are particularly sensitive to pesticides and over exposure to these toxins can range from mild skin irritation to birth defects, cancer, genetic changes and endocrine disruption. Modern day pesticides contain a concoction of active and inert ingredients, and have the potential to react with the environment to create an even more challenging mix than the parent pesticide. Critics claim that low exposure of pesticides is perfectly safe and there is no evidence to suggest the aforementioned symptoms are associated with exposure or that consumption of organic produce is healthier.

My take though is choosing organic over non-organic can benefit an individual’s nutrition by allowing precious vitamins to thrive in a toxin-free ecosystem, and contributes to protecting a toxin-free environment for future generations.

Perhaps worthy of note… choosing organic is one step closer to having complete control over a basic human right: to know exactly what we are eating.

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