Eating Organic - Is It Healthier?
“有机”是对这个产品是怎样生长和制造而言的。作为“有机”产品的农业工人，他们避免使用化学杀虫药、化学肥料，从而他们的农产品就不需要经过复杂的加工处理，也不需要加添人工的成分、防腐剂或者射线刺激 等等，于是这样的产品就能保持了原有的纯净。“有机”的肉类和奶制品都是只喂养有机谷物、饲料里也没有抗生素、激素或者其他的辅助药物。 要得到正式的“有机产品”的证书，必须经过大量的检查程序、保存各项详细的记录、有关部门对土壤和水质的定期检查，从而确保所有的过程和生长物都符合有关部门的要求。
......“有机产品的价格比较高是由于农业工人也必须 让有机农产品经过与普通农产品一样的过程，诸如收割、运输和储存同样的程序，而且他们还必须严格地按照所规定的标准来运作处理和生产。如果你仔细计算的话，加上那些传统农业中的附带工作费用，比如淤泥的清洁、填补 流失了的土壤、对农业工人因为吸入了有毒的杀虫剂所带来的医疗费用等等，有机农产品的价格一点也不贵。”
Many supermarkets and natural food stores around the country proudly feature slightly higher priced products on their shelves bearing the label "organic". Shoppers often speculate whether or not these products are indeed better for the body and therefore worth the associated extra cost or whether the organic label is just another marketing ploy.
According to Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) based in Greenfield, Mass., organic foods are not only healthier for the body, they are better for society and actually cheaper in the long run.
What is Organic?
The term "organic" refers specifically to how something is grown or produced. Organic farmers refrain from using chemical pesticides or fertilizers, and their crops are minimally processed to maintain product integrity without using artificial ingredients, preservatives or irradiation. Organic meat and dairy products are derived from animals that are fed only organic grain and are not given antibiotics, hormones or supplemental medications. The official certification system involves an extensive inspection process that includes detailed record keeping and periodic testing of soil and water quality to ensure that growers are meeting standards set by a governing body.
…Is Organic Really Better?
… "The shelf price of organic products may be a bit higher because farmers must deal with the same costs of conventional food production such as harvesting, transportation and storage but they also have to adhere to stricter handling and production standards. In the end, if you add up the indirect costs of conventional agribusiness, like cleaning up sludge, replenishing depleted soils and the expense of health care for workers exposed to toxic pesticides, organic foods are considerably cheaper."
While there is some disagreement over whether or not organic foods really taste better (Consumer Reports recently conducted a taste-test between conventionally grown carrots, apples and tomatoes and organic ones purchased directly from a farmers' market; the panel failed to identify any significant differences in flavor), there is little argument that organic farming is friendlier to both livestock and the environment.
"Organic foods are certainly better for you, but organic farming has a lot more to do with sustainable agriculture," says Karen Armstrong-Cummings, managing director of the Commodity Growers Cooperative in Lexington, Ky. "Organic systems don't use toxic pesticides or fertilizers. Rather, they are based on the cultivation of biological diversity and replenishment of soil nutrients. The damage agribusiness inflicts on the environment is abundant and compounds itself every year. Organic techniques are viable over the long term."
Just When You Thought It Was Safe
Of course, when weighing the options between purchasing conventional and organic foods, consumers generally assume that all the food they eat is safe, regardless of price. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), based in Washington, D.C., released a study called Forbidden Fruit in which samples from the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) own records were analyzed. Not only were there major discrepancies in the FDA's reported contamination figures, but nearly half of the registered contaminates were illegal pesticides that have been banned due to their carcinogenic/toxic properties.
According to the report, the 10 most contaminated non-organic foods (in order) were: strawberries, red/green bell peppers, spinach, cherries, peaches, cantaloupe, celery, apples, blackberries and green peas.
According to the EWG, "A person eating the USDA's recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day will consume illegal pesticides at least 75 times per year. By contrast, the average consumer must eat 100 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables in order to eat from a shipment tested for pesticides by the FDA. Which means that the average American is 15 times more likely to eat an illegal pesticide than to eat from a shipment tested by the FDA."
… Shoppers who do not have access to organic foods, or can't afford the slightly higher price, may wonder what alternatives they have. Though washing and peeling are not enough to completely eliminate pesticide residue or compensate for GE altered foods, there are measures that concerned shoppers can take.
"If price is the issue, shoppers should spend the energy to look around," says DiMatteo. "Natural food cooperatives often have very competitive pricing on organic products, especially for members, and careful shoppers can often find stores where organic prices are competitive with non-organics. Families may also choose to buy organic products for the foods they consume most, like milk or bread which, even though it's only one product, contributes considerably to the organic economy or purchase organic foods that are, according to EWG's Forbidden Fruit study, most likely to be contaminated [e.g. spinach, strawberries, apples etc.]. If availability is the issue, speak to the manager where you shop. Often, supermarkets will acquire organic foods at the customer's request." . . .
1. What concerns you about the food that you are able to buy?
2. Do you think organic foods are healthier than conventional foods? Why?
3. Are you concerned about the way food is grown or raised and it's effects on the environment? Why?