Earth Day, which is tomorrow, immediately brings to mind recycling, consuming less gasoline, driving a hybrid car or ways to conserve energy. Rarely, however, do people think about eating organic food as an essential component of saving our environment.
A case in point is a former girlfriend of mine. She literally used to take home empty bottles of beer from bars because she was so worried that they wouldn’t be recycled. Yet when it came time to eating organic food, it wasn’t a concern of hers at all.
The reality is this. Eating organic food is a statement that you care not only about yourself but also about the planet.
Conventionally-grown food uses a tremendous amount of pesticides on the crops. How much exactly?
According to the EPA, the world uses approximately 5.6 billion pounds of pesticides each year. Yes, 5.6 billion pounds!
– Get into the food supply. 93% of Americans tested by the Center for Disease Control had metabolites of chlorpyrifos — a neurotoxic insectide — in their urine.
– Sicken farmers who are exposed to them. According to research recently published in the Environment Health Perspectives, pregnant women who are exposed to organophosphate pesticides have a very, very high probability of having kids who suffer from ADHD.
– Poison the water supply. The USDA Pesticide Data Program found 59 known pesticides in our our water supply. These included 9 known or probable carcinogens, 20 suspected hormone disruptors, 7 neurotoxins and 14 developmental or reproductive toxins.
The New York Times recently did a huge profile of how bad the public’s water supply is.
Additionally, the Concentrated Animal Foodlot Operations (CAFOs), or the massive, inhumane factory farms that were showcased in the movie Food, Inc., cause a tremendous amount of global warming.
– According to Rajendra Pachauri, half of all corn and 90% of all soy is diverted to feed animals on factory farms. What is needed to produce these feed crops? Enormous amounts of fossil fuels to manufacture pesticides, to the power the machinery and for irrigation.
– These animals on CAFOs are a major source of the methane emissions around the world.
Organic Food is the Answer
Several U.N. agencies and the World Bank brought together more than 400 scientists and development experts from 80 countries over four years to produce the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development (IAASTD). This report took a look at the agricultural system dependent on pesticides and GMOs.
What did they conclude?
That our “reliance on resource-extractive industrial agriculture is risky and unsustainable, particularly in the face of worsening climate, energy, and water crises.”
As I wrote about before, organic food is the only way to feed the world while protecting our environment. Organic food does not use toxic pesticides, does not poison the water supply, contributes to biodiversity, and helps to capture carbon.
It is essential that organic food becomes part of the conversation when talking about our environment. Our health depends on it.