Twelve years of research has convinced me that a consistent diet of chemically “enhanced,” highly processed and nutritionally deficient food is the number one cause of chronic health problems in this country. Of course, there can be reasons other than diet to account for poor health. However, good nutrition is one of the keys to good health, and I believe it is the continuous ingestion of micro amounts of toxins, combined with inadequate nutrition, that has created such an epidemic of obesity and degenerative disease among Americans. Most doctors treat disease without even discussing nutrition with their patients. Therefore, I want to help you eat in a way that encourages good health. The best and most effective way to avoid problem-causing devitalized and chemically “enhanced” food is to eat organically grown food.
You’ll want to stock only organically grown food in your home because it is the least toxic, best tasting, most nutrient-dense food available. Organically grown food is not genetically modified or irradiated and is free of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, preservatives and additives. When used in packaged products, organic food is usually minimally processed to maintain its integrity. Organic food is grown using farming techniques that maintain and replenish the fertility of the soil by working in harmony with nature instead of against it. Organic food is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides or herbicides, and without sewage sludge fertilizers, which often contain highly toxic “recycled” heavy metals and other pollutants.
Organic farmers understand that soil is the very body of the Earth, and therefore they create an ecosystem of living organisms in the soil. On the other hand, farmers who use synthetic chemicals to control weeds and pests create soil devoid of the worms and microorganisms needed to keep it naturally aerated and fertile. It’s a dead ecosystem because these chemicals and management techniques work to control and conquer life, rather than replenish it. Dead soil means minimal nutrition for plants and, therefore, minimal nutrition for us.
As we learned earlier, conventionally grown plants can absorb toxic pesticides and herbicides, which can be passed on to us when we eat them. Organic farms, on the other hand, use live soilteeming with worms and microorganismswhich help plants absorb nutrients and therefore naturally ward off insects and disease. When pesticides or herbicides are required, organic farmers use compounds that are minimally toxic to humans and non-persistent (they dissipate quickly).
Live Naturally: Improve Your Health Today
When you purchase organic foods, you’re supporting a complete environment and people-friendly agricultural system that:
• Reduces the amount of toxic chemicals in our food supply,
• Protects the health of future generations by creating long-term solutions to agricultural problems,
• Uses practices that eliminate polluting chemicals, thus protecting and conserving our water resources,
• Supports farmers who replenish and maintain soil fertility, and which
• Builds biologically diverse agriculture.
Eating only organically grown foods at home guarantees that you are eating pure food as often as possible. Since most restaurants don’t use organic food, what you stock at home is all important. Organic food is more costly than conventionally grown food because it is more labor intensive to produce. But paying extra money now for top-of-the-line food could easily translate into money saved from potential medical bills later. For more specific information on the nutritional and environmental benefits of eating organically grown food, visit the Organic Consumer’s Association Web site at www.organicconsumers.org.
Where to Find It
Organic food can be purchased from a variety of sources. Prices for organic food can be high or low, depending on where you buy it. Some outlets are more expensive than others, and if you have a family to feed, you may want to check into the lower priced options first.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a system which allows you to have a direct relationship with a farmer during the growing season. Generally, you pay the farmer at the beginning of the growing season (or sometimes throughout the growing season) and in return the farmer supplies you with food every week or every other week. Most farms participating in this program supply only organically grown food.
This arrangement provides benefits to both you and the farmer. You get a variety of organic food at a reduced price and the farmer has a steady income for producing food throughout the growing season. CSAs make eating organic food an affordable arrangement for large families on a budget. In fact, some farms even let their members help on the farm, which reduces the cost of organic food even more. It’s a win/win situation for all involved.
To find a CSA near you, visit www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/csa/csastate.htm or talk with management at your local natural food store.
With over 3,100 farmers markets in the United States, it should be fairly easy to find one close by if you live in a major city. Similar to a CSA, you get to deal directly with the farmer or the farmer’s representative, which benefits the farmer and you. The farmer makes a little more money selling directly to the end customer, and you often pay less for the food than you would at a retail store.
Not all farmers markets include produce from organic farms, but many do. If you like to get out and meet people, shopping for organic food at a farmers market is a great way to save money, get farm fresh produce and enjoy the sense of community and aliveness of an open market. Find one near you by visiting http://www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets or talking with management at your local natural food store.
Organic Food Delivery
Most large cities now sport businesses that deliver organic food directly to your home or office once or twice a week. Sometimes you get to choose the type of produce to be delivered, but usually the assortment of produce is determined by the delivery service and the farms with which they are associated. Home delivery of organic produce is obviously more expensive than leaving home to get it, but if you lead a busy lifestyle, home delivery may be the answer for you. It’s a convenient way to buy organic that more and more people are embracing. In fact, it has become so popular that many cities have more than one organic food delivery service. To find one near you, do a Google search on the Web (“organic delivery” and “your city”), look for advertisements in local alternative publications and talk with management at your local natural food store.
Natural Food Stores
Although some conventional grocery stores are finally carrying organic produce in limited quantities, natural food stores (“health food stores”) devote most of their produce section to organic food. You’ll pay top dollar for organic produce at a conventional grocery store, and that is why many people believe it is so expensive. However, although organic food certainly costs more than conventionally grown food, you’ll find that overall it’s less expensive when you shop at your local natural food store. Most large natural food stores (e.g. Whole Foods, Puget Consumers Coop, etc.) carry a wide variety of organic produce all year long.
Natural food stores not only carry a large assortment of fresh organic produce, but also carry a wide variety of boxed, canned or frozen foods that are either all organic, or are at least devoid of synthetic chemicals and additives. In fact, natural food stores carry not only healthy food options, but also a wide variety of products devoted to the healthy lifestyle, such as botanical health and beauty products, products made from recycled resources, whole food supplements, natural healing remedies, non-toxic biodegradable household cleaning products, and more. Shopping at a natural food store is a rewarding experience that offers you access to some of the highest quality health-enhancing products available today.
>>> Continue to Chapter 4: Shop at a Natural Food Store