Organic Soil

What about Organic?

One thing most people are becoming more aware of is the option, and benefit – or lack there of, in terms like “grass fed,” “organic,” and “cage free.” Notice I didn’t use the term “natural,” as it is the most deceptive and dishonest term in food marketing today. The term is being used so much today it has become utterly meaningless. Remember nicotine and gasoline are both “natural,” but that doesn’t mean you should ingest either one of them.

There is the whole issue of “grass fed” and “free range,” but I will get to that when we move into specific foods like meat and poultry. But “organic” is now used on labels from fruit and veggies to cocoa crunch cereal. What does it mean?

Food comes from somewhere, and that “somewhere” is very important on many levels. From a nutritional standpoint, most importantly, is the food quality. Ok, what is food quality? Simply enough, it is this: Quality of the food we eat comes from the quality of the food our food eats.

This maxim even applies when we’re talking about fruits and vegetables. Early studies show that carrots grown in one part of the country do not have the same nutrient content as carrots grown in another part of the country. This practice, and the studies were abandoned because it outraged farmers. Grapefruit growers in one part of the country did not want data out there showing that grapefruits in another part of the country had more vitamin C. Agribusiness is dedicated to selling us the concept that “carrots are carrots, and beef is beef.” Unfortunately, that’s not the case. For example: On a gram for gram basis, a California avocado has 77percent more monounsaturated fat, 44 percent more potassium, and 21 percent more fiber than its Florida brethren.

How soil quality affects food quality

Agribusiness interests aside, where food comes from can make a significant difference in its nutritional composition, and how it was produced makes a big difference in its chemical composition. If a fruit is grown in mineral-depleted soil, that fruit or vegetable is going to be less nutritious than those grown in a nutrient rich environment. Recent studies have revealed that many fruits and vegetables have had a 5 to 35 percent decline in many key vitamins, minerals, and protein over the last 50 years. If an apple is sprayed with loads of chemicals and pesticides followed by artificial treatments to make it bigger, more uniform, redder, and polished as to be more appealing to the eye, obviously it will have a different chemical analysis compared to an apple growing wild on a farm. How big of a difference does it really make? That is the growing debate. If you ask me, I would nutritionally and morally support local organic, and if possible a farm that practices permaculture.

“Organic” and/or “Natural” Movement

This brings us to organic foods. The idea and “spirit” of the movement is simply going back to the basics. The idea stemmed from a righteous wish to consume the truly healthy products of the small sustainable farm, where fruits, vegetables, cows, pigs, chickens, and horses lived in an interdependent atmosphere of pastoral tranquility. The organic movement was defined by a time and place where animals were not fed steroids and hormones, or pumped with antibiotics.  Crops were left to fend off their elements with minerals from the soil that produce their own antioxidants and anthocyanins, rather than chemical pesticides and carcinogens. “Roundup Ready,” genetically modified franken-plants (GMOs) were non-existent. Buying organic represented a return to natural and presumably healthier foods.

That was the intention.

Don’t get me wrong I buy organic whenever possible, but the little organic farm you picture isn’t always the case. If you want real food from real farmers, it’s going to take more than looking for the “organic” label on your supermarket foods. You might need to join a food collective (box pick-up) or go to a farmers market. Don’t buy food from strangers. If you are lucky enough to have a farm nearby you can buy direct and get the pleasure of saying ‘hello’ to the people that grow and raise the food you eat.

 

By becoming more involved and conscious in the whole spectrum of diet and health, you can begin step back and see the whole picture. In health and happiness it’s important to get back to the basics and start seeing past the enhanced, micromanaged programs that market wisdom tells you to use.