EAT WELL: WHY ORGANICS?

Why Organic? Just when you thought you knew all the reasons...

10 Really Excellent Reasons to choose (and keep on choosing) organics, whenever possible.

We use 100% Organic Flour! Yawn…Where’s the news in that? Well, in 1997, opening an organic bakery in the Cass Corridor raised some eyebrows. In fact, before we opened the bakery, a close relative with whom one of us shares DNA suggested we offer two lines of bread: one with organic flour, and a cheaper line made from non-organic flour. “We are doing that Dxx”, I said (the said relative shall remain pronounless). “They can come to Avalon and buy bread made with organic flour or they can go to another bakery and get non-organic bread.” The funny part is, far from complaining about paying more for bread with organic flour, our customers’ number one response when we opened the bakery was (and this is a quote, we swear): “Thank you for opening a place where I can spend my money.” I guess Detroiters know a good value when they taste one.

Although many people prefer organic foods, Avalon is still the only bakery in Southeast Michigan that uses 100% Organic Flour. This is not a fleeting trend, but a way back to the traditional (and wise!) way of eating and growing food that is healthier for our bodies and the planet.

There are lots of really solid reasons why to choose organics and the list seems to be growing. Here are 10 to start.*

1. Reduce The Toxic Load:
Keep Chemicals Out of the Air, Water, Soil and Our Bodies Buying organic food promotes a less toxic environment for all living things. With only 0.5 % of crop and pasture land in organic production, according to the USDA, that leaves 99.5 % of farm acres in the U.S. at risk of exposure to noxious agricultural chemicals. Our bodies are a part of the environment too, so supporting organic agriculture doesn’t just benefit your family, it helps all families live less toxically, including farmers, millers and bakers!

2. Reduce Off-Farm
Pollution Industrial agriculture doesn’t singularly pollute farmland and farm workers, it also wreaks havoc on the environment downstream. Pesticide drift affects non-farm communities with odorless and invisible poisons. Synthetic fertilizer drifting downstream is the main culprit for dead zones in delicate ocean environments, such as the Gulf of Mexico, where its dead zone is now larger than 22,000 square kilometers, an area larger than New Jersey, according to Science magazine, August, 2002.

3. Protect Future Generations
Studies show that infants are exposed to hundreds of harmful chemicals in-utero. In fact, our nation is now reaping the results of four generations of exposure to agricultural and industrial chemicals, whose safety was determined by using adult tolerance levels, not children’s. According to the National Academy of Science, “neurologic and behavioral effects may result from low-level exposure to pesticides.” If we have a choice, why not choose the healthiest option for our children?

4. Build Healthy Soil
Did you know that the “Dust Bowl” of the 1920's wasn’t a random natural disaster? It was result of the first industrial agricultural use of petroleum-based fertilizers. Rotating crops, which was a traditional way of reducing pests, contributed to the health and stability of the soil by rotating the nutrients that the various crops take from and contribute to the soil. Mono-cropping and chemical fertilizer dependency has taken a toll with a loss of top soil estimated at a cost of $40 billion per year in the U.S., according to David Pimental of Cornell University. Added to this is an equally disturbing loss of micro-nutrients and minerals in fruits and vegetables. Feeding the soil with organic matter instead of ammonia and other synthetic fertilizers has proven to increase nutrients in produce, with higher levels of vitamins and minerals found in organically-grown foods, according to the 2005 study, “Elevating Antioxidant levels in food through organic farming and food processing,” Organic Center State of Science Review (1.05).

5. Better Taste and Truer Flavor
Scientists now know what we eaters have known all along: organic food often tastes better. It makes sense that strawberries taste yummier when raised in harmony with nature, but researchers at Washington State University just proved this as fact in lab taste trials where the organic berries were consistently judged as sweeter. Plus, new research verifies that some organic produce is often lower in nitrates and higher in antioxidants than conventional food. Let the organic feasting begin!

6. Assist Family Farmers of All Sizes

According to Organic Farming Research Foundation, as of 2006 there are approximately 10,000 certified organic producers in the U.S. as compared to the 2,500-3,000 tracked in 1994. Measured against the two million farms estimated in the U.S. today, organic is still tiny. Family farms that are certified organic farms have a double economic benefit: they are profitable and they farm is in harmony with their surrounding environment. Whether the farm is a 4-acre orchard or a 4,000-acre wheat farm, organic is a beneficial practice that is genuinely family-friendly.

7. Avoid Hasty and Poor Science in Your Food Cloned food.
GMOs and rBGH. Oh my! Interesting how swiftly these food technologies were rushed to market, when organic fought for 13 years to become federal law. Eleven years ago, genetically modified food was not part of our food supply; today an astounding 30 % of our cropland is planted with GMOs. Organic is the only de facto seal of assurance against these and other modern, lab-produced additions to our food supply, and the only food term with built-in inspections and federal regulatory teeth.

8. Eating with a Sense of Place
Whether it is local fruit, imported coffee or artisan cheese, organic can demonstrate a reverence for the land and its people. No matter the zip code, organic has proven to use less energy (on average, about 30 % less), is beneficial to soil, water and local habitat, and is safer for the people who harvest our food. Eat more seasonably by supporting your local farmers' market while also supporting a global organic economy year-round. It will make your taste buds happy.

9. Promote Biodiversity
Visit an organic farm and you’ll notice something: a buzz of animal, bird and insect activity. These organic oases are thriving, diverse habitats. Native plants, birds and hawks return usually after the first season of organic practices; beneficial insects allow for a greater balance; and indigenous animals find these farms a safe haven. As best said by Aldo Leopold, “A good farm must be one where the native flora and fauna have lost acreage without losing their existence.” An organic farm is the equivalent of reforestation. Industrial farms are the equivalent of clear cutting of native habitat with a focus on high farm yields.

10. Support a Sustainable Economy
We vote with every dollar that we spend. By choosing organic ingredients and foods, we support businesses that share our commitment to the health of the earth and our bodies. While not every organic producer is small and values-driven, we are supporting healthy choices of both the small and large companies and encouraging our economy to move in a more sustainable direction.

Most of the information on this excellent list is lifted from Organic.org. Why reinvent the wheel? Great job, folks! Additional information can be found at www.organicfoodinfo.net

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