Says editorial advisor Christina Pirello, Emmy Award-winning chef/host of PBS’ Christina Cooks. “With surprising frequency, all Americans (including infants and children) are exposed to pesticides via their diet,” reports Charles Benbrook, PhD, at the Organic Center.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture research, most of us consume three to four residues daily from conventional fruits and vegetables alone. Add in nonorganic dairy and other foods, plus tap water, and “the average American exposes him or herself to 10 to 13 pesticide residues daily,” Dr. Benbrook adds.
The Organic Difference
Not only are certified organic foods and drinks produced without the use of persistent, toxic herbicides and pesticides (increasingly linked to birth defects, cancers, and other health concerns), but they are increasingly found to be more nutrient rich. For example, both organic blueberries and oranges are higher in antioxidants than conventional crops, even when the farms that produce them are similar environmentally. A four-year E.U. study finds that organic produce has up to 40 percent more antioxidants than conventional counterparts, and organic milk contains as much as 60 to 80 percent more antioxidants than nonorganic.
“Unlike the conventional intensive agricultural systems, organic farming represents a deliberate attempt to make the best use of local, natural resources,” finds a recent U.N. report. To feed the world’s growing population “will require a wide range of creative, sustainable agricultural systems, which not only provide food but also factor in the economic value of nature-based services such as forests, wetlands, and soil organisms that underpin agriculture,” it states. Utilizing both traditional and scientific knowledge, organic agriculture is a holistic system that helps ensure soil health and productivity, uses less energy and water, and promotes animal and plant diversity.
“The future of our food is in jeopardy,” says chef Pirello, who shares some of her favorite organic recipes below, “but it is also in our hands. By choosing to rethink your life and how you live it, by choosing to feed yourself in a healthy and sustainable way . . . , you can decide what that future will look like.”