If you're trying to get both your weight and your health on track, you've probably heard the arguments both for and against seeking out organic foods. Some studies and institutions recommend that you buy organic or else, while others say that there's no real scientific basis that conventionally-raised meats or conventionally-grown produce are any worse for you than their organic counterparts.
A July 2014 Gallup poll of 1,013 adults aged 18 or older showed that 45 percent of Americans actively seek out organic foods, while 38 percent don't think either way about the types of foods they eat, and that 15 percent actively AVOIDED organic foods altogether. Digging deeper, this poll also showed that younger adults aged 18-29 with an annual household income of $75,000+ were more likely than any other age or lower income group(s) to actively seek out organic foods.
Now, I'm not going to lie -- I'm a HUGE proponent of eating organic foods as often as possible, and I fall within both that age and that income bracket that's most likely to do so according to the above study. If you're of the other 55 percent of Americans that do NOT actively seek to include organic foods into your daily nutrition, I hope that this article will help in your reconsideration of your stance on the matter.
It's no secret that conventionally-raised animals are pumped with antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals prior to slaughter in order to keep them healthy and to fatten them up. If you've ever seen the memes of turkeys around Thanksgiving time highlighting how starkly they've grown in both weight and in chronic health issues over the last 70-80 years, these physical changes are just as true in other common meat sources like chickens, pigs and cows. Ever hear the term, "You are what you eat"? In this case, there are a few different health issues that can arise based on this popular saying...
First, we'll tackle the antibiotics. Initially, one would think that giving these animals antibiotics is helpful in keeping them healthy and, thus, in keeping the meat healthy, right? WRONG! While yes, antibiotics will help these animals in avoiding some common maladies as they grow, these drugs also aid in the creation of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, which can cause some serious food sickness outbreaks. Ever wonder why the penicillin today isn't the same as the penicillin of 50 years ago? Because these bugs continue to adapt and evolve, creating the necessity to continually update antibiotics in order to fight them.
From a hormone and a chemical perspective, studies have shown that the hormones in the animals prior to slaughter remain within the meat, and can convert into potentially toxic chemicals, like arsenic. For example, roxarsone was commonly used in chicken feed to inhibit intestinal parasites in chickens, and is a form of "organic arsenic." Unfortunately, when converted within the body and excreted in the feces of exposed chickens, this "organic arsenic" becomes "inorganic arsenic," which has led to arsenic poisoning in consumers and major callbacks by popular poultry distributors like Tyson and Perdue in the last 10 years. While the FDA has told Pfizer and other major pharmaceutical companies to discontinue the use of roxarsone in chicken feed, this is just one of the better known examples of the many different hormones and chemicals that conventionally-raised meat has been force-fed up until slaughter in recent years.
Conventionally grown crops tend to be sprayed religiously with pesticides and herbicides. You've probably heard about this, and have probably been turned on to lists like the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 in order to save money on buying organic produce. In recent years, genetically-modified crops have been created to be Roundup-Ready, aka pesticide-resistant. While this may seem like a good thing in order to eliminate issues pests can bring during harvest, the constant spraying of these toxic chemicals on the crops results in residue buildup on the skin, and sometimes this residue seeps into the inner part(s) of the fruit or the vegetable. As a result, when we're trying to do a good thing by eating fruits and vegetables, we're inadvertently poisoning ourselves with toxic chemicals.
Companies like Monsanto will state that the quantity of residue used during harvest is safe to ingest, but check out this video of a Monsanto lobbyist contradicting himself here. In it, you can clearly hear that he's willing to drink that 'safe quantity' of Roundup, and yet when the interviewer offers him a glass, he immediately says 'I'm not an idiot' and leaves the interview in a tiff. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Many studies show the benefits of switching to a diet rich in organic foods. In the February 2006 edition of Environment Health Perspectives, a study found that the amount of pesticides found in the blood of children switching to an organic diet was dramatically reduced over the study's lifespan. The study was able to draw a direct correlation between food intake and pesticide exposure among these children. Another study from the same journal in May 2015 recorded the direct effects of eating organic versus non-organic in 4,446 individuals. This study came to the same conclusion as the one that had come nine years prior: If you want to minimize your exposure to pesticides and other toxic chemicals in the environment, a great deal of prevention comes from the quality of the foods that you eat. Organic produce is certainly the way to go in this case, as it was even found to LOWER the trace elements of the toxins in the blood of the individuals studied.
As you can see, there have been direct links to serious health issues in non-organic forms of meat and non-organic forms of produce. There's a reason that both myself and 45 percent of Americans actively seek out organic foods: We want to minimize our exposure to environmental toxins, and the best way to do that is to control what foods go into our bodies.
Now, some of you may still be on the fence. You may think, "Organic food is more expensive. I can't afford that!" My response to you: That's a BS excuse!
While, yes, organic foods are on average 47 percent more expensive than their conventional counterparts, you have to look at organic foods as a means of PREVENTION, or, if you're presently overweight or you're presently sick, a REVERSAL of the preventable health conditions you're currently suffering from.
Are you overweight? Type 2 diabetic? Suffering from heart disease? How about cancer? These are just some of the many debilitating health conditions Americans suffer from on a regular basis that can be PREVENTED, or, in the case of those already suffering from these conditions, REVERSED just by making this SIMPLE dietary change!
I'll leave you with this question to ponder: Would you rather spend a few extra bucks at the grocery store each week and live a long, happy and healthy life, or would you rather spend tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills thanks to a preventable health condition that you caused due to your lack of care? The choice is your's. Choose wisely!