Is the non-organic food we eat safe for us? What exactly makes it non-organic? The Pesticide Action Network UK, which promotes safe and sustainable alternatives to hazardous pesticides states that as much as ‘46% of the non-organic food we eat has residues of one or more pesticide’ and this figure is predicted to increase at an alarming rate. But, why am I telling you this?
Pesticides are designed to kill the ‘pests’ that ‘plague’ farmers. The formulas are intended to poison the small creatures and larger wildlife that may also find your broccoli, green beans or peas delicious. But, if it is poisoning these creatures, it is surely doing the same to us? Each time we bite down into a ‘fresh’ meal, we are topping up on the concoction of what could be called a ‘life-threatening’ pesticide. Really, the term pesticide is a fancy word used to cover the true meaning:
As we consume these foods, we are assured they aren’t damaging to the human body, but I often find myself questioning how a substance that can effectively wipe out another species, is not causing any harm to us? As a race, we question extensive scientific research, religion, whether there is extra-terrestrial life, but not often enough do we question the effect that these pesticides are having on our food, our bodies, the wildlife and ultimately the planet we rely on for survival.
These types of foods are said to have begun hitting the supermarket shelves across the world in the 50’s, but before this time, we were eating foods that were naturally grown, or as we like to call it now, organic. Yet, if you want to eat these foods and support this method of farming, then you are charged a premium price.
There are over 300 pesticides that are routinely and liberally used by non-organic farmers, some of which contain a chemical which the International Agency for Research on Cancer categorised as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’.
The Soil Association is the UK’s largest organic certifier; they permit the use of eight pesticides, which may only be used when all other pesticides and organic methods of control have been exhausted. Also, the use of these pesticides does not come lightly and involves a detailed plan of how the producer is going to prevent the use of them in the future. Not only does organic mean the food is not coated with harmful concoctions, but it also drastically limits the number of additives that can be added to foods. Out of the hundreds upon hundreds of additional chemicals added to non-organic produce, less than 50 are permitted to be used to produce organic food in Europe.
Some of the fundamental differences between organic and non-organic foods can be seen in the infographic below.
Within most non-organic farms, antibiotics are used as prevention, rather than a cure, a statement that on its own, should be alarming. Intensely farmed animals, the type that fills the shelves of Tesco and Asda amongst other supermarkets, the kind that people complain about paying over five quid for part of a living creatures corps, are pumped full of antibiotics. The animals are prone to disease and malformations primarily because of their restricted living conditions which they are forced into due to our irrepressible demand for them. This liberal and extensive use of antibiotics within livestock is promoting superbugs, which terrifyingly, are antibiotic-resistant. The first antibiotic was discovered in 1928, less than 100 years later, humans use, not on themselves but the foods they eat has caused a compromise in the efficiency of a drug that saves thousands, even millions of lives each year. Still, want a chicken burger?
Organic farms will only give an animal antibiotic if they are unwell and the drug can cure them, only for that reason. As the majority of their life is spent outside, they live in clean housing when inside, and their food is nutritious rather than fat inducing, diseases and illnesses are much less likely.
A public health and environmental disaster is being caused by Westerners unstainable and selfish greed to consume meat and dairy, as though without it their bodies will literally starve, and their taste buds will disintegrate. Most of us are aware of the shameful damage it does to the one and only plant we have, but, it’s not your problem, right? It’s the next generations issue; they’ll fix it before it becomes a REAL threat to the survival of humanity. So many people continue to convince themselves they are doing their bit for the environment, ‘I stopped buying my food in plastic (great), but I still daily consume the food product that is the most damaging to the environment’, said no meat and dairy eater – ever.
I’m frustrated as I write this, pure fury and passion, and I could scream just because people don’t give it a single thought. Our planet is at a tipping point, and we cannot continue to exploit and abuse it in the current way we do. Its resources are not finite, if we continue, they will run out, and at some point, we would have covered so much of the earth in the poisonous pesticides that it will reach the point of no return. Like someone addicted to drugs, our planet will be addicted the oil-derived poison that for so many years we suffocated it with. And what was once a life abundant and diverse ecosystem, will be no more. No pollinating bees, no insects and no space for wildlife due to the mass deforestation caused to plant our poisoned food. What a hellish reality we are all facing, and so many of us are more concerned that the KFC has closed because its run out of the chicken it serves with an antibiotic and diseased filled side dish. Poor us.
I understand that organic food is expensive and it’s not within everyone’s remit to be able to afford it. But, how about not buying your new pair of jeans or eating out at a restaurant three times a month, skip those things and use your buying power to help change the world, one purchase at a time. Treat your body and your consciousness to a larder of organic food.
Please include attribution to http://www.dontspillthebeans.co.uk/ with this graphic.