Benefits of Organic Produce
Local organic foods offer many advantages compared to self-stable and frozen products and other types of convenience food. The main advantage is that this is a nutritionally-dense food that is locally sourced, tastes better, and is free of dangerous chemicals and pesticides.
In line with the standards outlined by the Canadian Organic Growers, a number of practices should be prohibited, including sewage sludge, genetic engineering and animal cloning, and the frequent use of synthetic hormones, antibiotics, and other medications. Other practices on the list include irradiation and the use of synthetic nutrients and pesticides. Healthy organic practices include rotating crops, using organic matter to fertilize soil, polyculture, and access of livestock to the outdoors. Farmers use natural methods of pest control such as traps, insects, and birds and natural techniques to control weed, including tilling, mulching, hand weeding, and crop rotation. Safe methods for disease prevention are also used, for example, balanced nutrition, rotational grazing, and clean housing. Organic foods benefit Canadians in many ways, one of the most important being that natural insecticides and fertilizers are used in place of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
While organic produce can be expensive, eating healthy helps prevent minor and serious health problems, thus cutting healthcare costs in the long term. Not only this, but there are places to find local food for cheap, one being the farmer’s market. Careful planning and shopping around also help avoid the sticker shock. For those who are bargain hunters, using coupons and looking for sales are good ways to shop on a budget. Some stores also offer discounts on bulk purchases, which is a way to save on products with a long shelf life, including spices, grains, and nuts. When shopping at small retailers, however, remember that some shops do not accept credit cards and stick with cash only.
Good places to buy food on a budget include discount stores and big chains such as Trader’s Joe, Costco, and Target. You will find a selection of products at cheaper prices, including flours, nuts, seeds, teas, and fruits and vegetables. Many Canadian farmers also offer products that are non-GMO and non-sprayed and feature discounts on direct purchases. Another option is to buy store brand products in health food stores which usually cost less than name brand products.
Pesticides in Standard Products
Multiple studies have shown that pesticides are associated with serious health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, endocrine and immune disorders, convulsions, leukemia, and prostate and breast cancer. A non-organic apple, for example, may contain up to 30 different pesticides that are harmful to health. Other vegetables and fruits with high pesticide levels are cucumbers, grapes, spinach, celery, carrots, and strawberry.
Pesticides include rodenticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, antifouling agents, and algicides that contain toxins which can be harmful to human health. Long-term exposure to pesticides puts people at risk of nervous system damage, birth defects, and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. Symptoms of exposure include loss of consciousness, vomiting and nausea, skin and eye irritation, and respiratory problems.
Local organic produce has a higher nutritional quality than standard products. Livestock is fed with alfalfa and grass in organic farms, resulting in higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in eggs, dairy, and meats. A study published in the British Journal of Education reveals that meat contains 47 percent more omega-3 fatty acids, including meat from rabbit, goat, lamb, poultry, pigs, and beef.
Multiple studies have also shown that locally grown organic food contains between 19 and 69 percent more antioxidant phytonutrients. It also contains more beneficial plant compounds such as polyphenols, including products such as tea, vegetables, nuts, beans, cocoa powder, pomegranates, red grapes, and berries. Polyphenols are known to have preventive, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.
In addition to having a higher nutritional value, locally sourced, seasonal food is also fresher compared to over-the-counter products that often contain preservatives to increase their shelf life.
By choosing organic food, Canadians help minimize pollution and contribute to environmental protection. Natural farming techniques consume less energy, improve soil fertility, minimize soil erosion, and conserve water.