Sunday, May 1, 2011

Organic is More Than Skin Deep: Pesticides and Herbicides May Be Causing Rapid Animal Population Decline

Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution

A great article from Natural News caught my eye this weekend, drawing a possible correlation between rapidly declining animal populations around the world, to the widespread use of pesticides and herbicides.  We've all seen the headlines lately: birds falling dead out of the sky, honeybees threatened with extinction, and countless more.  My immediate thought of this was another popular article that was making its rounds once again: "The Dirty Dozen", and its counterpart, "The Clean Fifteen".  Both of these guides from the EWG try to summarize for consumers a list of produce that should be purchased organic, and those that aren't so risky, based on the EWG's analysis of how much harmful pesticide residue is on, or getting past, the outer layers of commonly-purchased fruits and vegetables.  Not a bad way for those just getting into organics to start, but I firmly believe these guides are misleading: organic is about much more than just not consuming pesticides.

People choose organic for many different reasons.  For us, we made the shift when we found out we were expecting.  What began as a goal to keep harmful chemicals out of my developing daughter's body, quickly blossomed into considering the impact of these chemicals on our entire household, and our environment.  I did a lot of reading into the entire organic life cycle, from "farm to table", as they say.  One of my favorite documentaries, Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution, depicts exactly what happens when chemicals are unleashed on the environment, through conventional farming.  There's a great scene in this film, shown on the border of two farms, where one side was farmed conventionally, and the other the organic way.  The conventionally-farmed soil was like stratified sand, packed hard, and couldn't absorb water or nutrients, if it tried.  Right next to that was the organic farm's soil, dark, rich, and full of life; the way soil should look.  When farmers devastate their land with chemicals, they aren't just contained just to that area; they leach into the ground water, and into the surrounding air.  That's the message Natural News was getting at with their article: choosing organic is about keeping harmful chemicals out of our environment as a whole.

So the next time you're at the market, do consider that you're shopping not just for yourself, but for the planet that we all share.

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