How Eating Organic Benefits People & Planet
Removing GMOs and pesticides from your diet can take a huge toxic burden from your body—and our environment.
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You’re probably familiar with the benefits of eating organic when it comes to your health. After all, removing pesticides and other synthetic chemicals from your diet can only help, right? But have you ever considered how going organic can help our environment?
Consider taking the big step to support organic farming by regularly choosing organic foods when you shop. Doing so is one of the most effective ways you can take action to protect the health of the Earth, as well as your own.
Organic Is Significantly Better
Unlike conventional farmers, certified organic farmers cannot use toxic synthetic chemical pesticides, artificial fertilizers, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and unnecessary hormones or antibiotics. Instead, they use practices that restore, maintain, and enhance soil and ecosystem health. Perhaps not surprisingly, this type of farming produces more nutritious foods. Organic foods have 18–69 percent higher concentrations of health-protective antioxidants than conventionally grown foods, according to a 2014 meta-analysis that examined 343 peer-reviewed publications in the British Journal of Nutrition.
But the benefits of eating organic don’t stop there. Organic foods also contain lower levels of toxic heavy metals and pesticides than conventional produce. And that’s important, especially for kids. Certain pesticide residues are thought to trigger subtle changes in a child’s development and have been linked to health problems, including ADHD, autism, and obesity.
Eating Organic Linked to Lower Risk of Cancer
A study reported in October 2018 in JAMA Internal Medicine found that eating organic can significantly cut your risk of developing cancer. The study, which followed close to 70,000 adults for five years, found a 25 percent decrease in risk of all types of cancer among regular consumers of organic foods when compared to people who eat organic less often. The association was particularly marked in breast cancer among postmenopausal women (34 percent decreased risk) and in lymphoma (a staggering 76 percent decreased risk).
“Things like cancer don’t just happen. They happen for a reason,” says Grain Brain author David Perlmutter, MD, in the 2018 documentary Secret Ingredients. And now we’re seeing connections between the mechanisms of cancer and mechanisms by which pesticides change human physiology to increase the risk of cancer.
More Benefits of Eating Organic
There’s a growing number of stories of people who recovered their health after switching to an organic diet. The Secret Ingredients documentary shares the personal accounts of people who turned around serious health conditions—including breast cancer, infertility, and life-threatening food allergies—after adopting an organic diet that naturally avoids GMOs and pesticides.
For example, Kathleen DiChiara and her family were collectively struggling with 21 chronic diseases. Kathleen experienced sudden-onset neuropathy in her legs, followed by surgery, followed by paralysis and chronic pain syndrome. Her oldest son had autistic spectrum disorder. Her middle son had asthma, chronic bronchitis, bloating, and mood swings. Her youngest son had rashes and allergies and experienced an anaphylactic reaction.
Kathleen identified the hidden GMO and pesticide ingredients she felt were keeping her family in a perpetual state of illness and eliminated them from her kitchen by adopting an all-organic diet. With this simple change, she recovered her health so much that she no longer feels she has a disability, and her children amazingly overcame their varied chronic health problems, too.
This type of evidence is often called anecdotal. But, in the documentary, Perlmutter explains that multiple anecdotes make up data, ultimately accumulating to a body of information.
Organic Heals—Here’s Why
It makes sense that eating organic foods would help the body overcome disease, Perlmutter says, because it eliminates toxins from the diet. The herbicide glyphosate, for example, is a metal chelator, antibiotic (that can kill good bacteria), endocrine or hormone disruptor, and probable human carcinogen. For all of these reasons, it sets up what he calls “a perfect storm” of ways to deteriorate health. By eating organic foods that aren’t sprayed with glyphosate and other pesticides, people remove the ingredients that cause this toxic burden.
Pediatrician Michelle Perro, MD, coauthor of What’s Making Our Children Sick?, has also seen dramatic turnarounds in health from patients who switch to an organic diet. And it doesn’t just help improve the health of the children who are most sick, Perro says. Going organic offers health benefits for all members of the family, some quite dramatically.
4 Ways to Successfully Make the Switch to an Organic Diet
If you want to start enjoying the benefits of eating organic, here’s what you need to know:
- Make your diet budget-friendly—and compromise where needed. Buying organic is an investment in health, but there are ways to make it more affordable. You may pay more than you did buying conventional foods, but if you’re careful, you may not. Just watch for sales and special discounts on organic foods at various natural food stores, comparison shop, and stock up on organic staples when you see super deals.
- Have a Plan B. You may not be able to get organic foods at your favorite supermarket, or restaurant, or friend’s house. That means you have to think ahead. Stock up on organic snacks that you can take with you when you go out, and bring your own organic dishes or desserts to parties.
- Keep it simple. Eat what you normally eat, just substitute organic versions of those foods. Go from vegetables to organic vegetables, cookies to organic cookies, and so forth.
- Look at labels. When possible, choose foods that carry both the USDA Organic label and the Non-GMO Project Verified label. If you can’t find both, opt for foods with the USDA Organic seal—these are produced without the use of GMOs, synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, artificial dyes, artificial sweeteners, and antibiotics and artificial growth hormones. In contrast, products that carry the Non-GMO Project Verified seal are independently verified to be in compliance with North America’s only third- party standard for GMO avoidance, including testing of at-risk ingredients. But these foods still could be sprayed with glyphosate or other synthetic pesticides and you wouldn’t know it.