This guest post by Marla Gates from Organic 4 Green Livings is brought to you through the gardening series:
I am so happy to have Marla as our guest, I think you will love her heart for and appreciate her knowledge of all things sustainable!
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Organic gardening and organic food are becoming part of our mainstream society and for a very good reason. We the people want healthy, safe, non-toxic food that we know is good for our health and filled with the nutrition our bodies need to grow and thrive. We want to know that our food is pure and not filled with GMO's, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals that are harmful to our health and well-being. When you grow your own food organically you are eating the healthiest way possible. Below I have provided a little history of the organic movement, some helpful facts about organic food, and why you should be planning your own garden.
A Little History about the Organic Movement:
The organic food movement began in the 1940s in response to the Green Revolution. The Green Revolution marked a significant increase in food production due to the introduction of high-yield varieties, the use of pesticides, and better management techniques. As years went by the increase of GMO's and chemicals used to grow foods grew substantially and more concern within our society about our health and the adverse effects that these toxic chemicals caused to our environment.
As people became more aware of the health risks and pushed our government for guidelines so that we had access to healthy food - Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), which required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop national standards for organically produced agricultural product in 1990. This program is based on federal regulations that define standard organic farming practices for acceptable organic production guidelines. Organic products must meet USDA Organic Requirements to label their products as "Organic" and is illegal to label the word organic if they do not meet the standards of this law.
The USDA National Organic Standards prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in products that are labeled “100% organic.” However, the contamination of the crops may cause some organic food to contain GMO traces and there is also the problem of cross-contamination of pesticides in shipment.
Organic foods are certainly healthier and safer than conventional foods but there are always those gray lines that we just aren't sure about such as how many inspectors look the other way or are some of them paid off to let a small valuation be ignored. Let's face it - our world and government have a lot of questionable practices and we can't always be sure of any label on our products in our current society.
There is also Organic labels on produce that are from other countries and it is highly questionable about the standards of their regulations and their farming practices.
We can practice certain options that make our food safer such as -- washing fruits and vegetables to reduce pesticide residue. But if there are pesticides on your veggies that you bought from your local supermarket many of them are absorbed internally and cannot be washed off. You can choose to peel your produce but then you're losing valuable nutrients since in many fruits and veggies most of the nutrients are right beneath the skin.
A little extra information for you to help you know what you are buying at the grocery store.
The 4-digit price look-up (PLUs) codes on produce indicate the type of produce.
- The prefix #4 code label means is standard produce that could have many pesticides and herbicides, chemical fertilizers, sprayed with toxic chemicals and preservatives to keep them fresher.
- The prefix number “9” prefix on a label indicates an item is organic.
- The prefix number “8” indicates the produce is genetically engineered.
What is the answer to be truly sure that you are eating healthy foods?
Growing your own food organically. Then without a doubt, you know what you are feeding your family.
Why you should grow your own food and have your own organic garden:
- Food safety: When you grow food in your own backyard you know what you are eating - no pesticides, herbicides or toxic sprays. You also don't have to worry about the food-borne illness that is on the news constantly. Many deaths have occurred from these outbreaks or at the least many persons have suffered and got severely sick and had to be hospitalized. The most common foodborne disease or outbreaks are -- E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria that has occurred in the multiple states in the US and affects fruits and vegetables. Check out the CDC for the most recent outbreaks at this current time.
- More Nutritious and Flavorful: You can use heirloom seeds that are known for their high nutrient value. I buy my seeds from Mary Heirloom Seeds. Many people feel as I do that the flavor of the organically grown is much tastier. One reason local produce or your own garden produce is so much tastier is that it is picked fresh. Produce bought in your local supermarket whether organic or not is picked green and then shipping hundreds of miles in a truck and can take weeks until they get to your local supermarket. Sometimes they never fully ripen and so many of the nutrients can be lost plus the flavor is just not the same. Vegetables or any produce that's left ripen on the vine or plant and picked fresh and ripe ready to eat are always much tastier and some studies show they have more nutrients.
- A Family Project: It can be a family gardening project where everyone has a job and is part of providing food for the whole family. It helps teach your children responsibility and gives them confidence when they can see the fruits of their harvest and it gives a sense of pride to know that they have helped to provide for their family.
- No Chemicals, Toxic Fertilizers or Pesticides: With your own garden you have control over what and how you plant your crops. You can control any pests with natural DIY pest control and make your own DIY organic fertilizer to produce a bountiful harvest that will feed your family with the tasty produce that will be fresh and full of healthy nutrients.
- Saves Money on your Food Bill: When you have your own garden it certainly helps save you money. You have the freshest foods right in the backyard and what you don't eat now you can preserve for winter by freezing, preserving in whatever way you choose to store.
- Gardening is great for Your Health both Physically & Mentally: Gardening is good for your health and is a great low impact exercise. Gardening is not only good for your physical health but also your mental health. Getting close to nature is always uplifting and makes me feel alive; it relieves stress, can uplift your mood, relieves depression, and boost energy levels. Gardening allows you to connect to your primal state. Just being out in the fresh air and sunshine makes you feel better. Watching your garden grow whether it is vegetables or flowers gives you a satisfying feeling that you have accomplished something worthwhile.
If you can't have a garden or can only grow some of your vegetables a great second option is to buy local harvest. I buy a lot of my vegetables that I haven't been able to grow from a local grower or farmer and I know that all his produce is grown organically. The prices are very affordable and the taste of his produce is wonderful. I feel very confident that I am getting the healthiest produce possible.
Many areas have local farmers markets that are you can buy fresh organic produce at very reasonable prices. My advice would be; get to know your farmer and don't be afraid to ask questions about how they grow their food or even go to their farm to see how they practice their farming techniques.
It is your choice what you want to do. Buy from the grocery store where the produce is hauled sometimes 1000 miles, paying a high price for produce that you are not sure is completely organic, plant your own healthy garden or buy local harvest from your local farmer. I know for me it was an easy choice. I choose to grow my own and buy from my local farmer who grows everything organically.
My mission is to educate the public about Health, Environmental Issues and help you live a green and healthy lifestyle in every aspect of your life. I feel that every individual has a duty to do their part in to cleaning up our toxic world and helping to preserve our planet for all future generations.
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