By Lauren Spicer
The term “organic” is everywhere. We see it in supermarkets, on health food packaging, cleaning products and even clothing labels. Organic traditionally means having come from a living or previously living organism. However, with a recent history of genetic modification and chemical use, the term has developed a whole new meaning.
Organic now refers to products that are free from genetic modification, use of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals. The world uses an incredible amount of these toxins to produce, preserve and ripen foods, causing a detrimental impact to our bodies, environment and to future generations.
Panama is one of the largest users of pesticides and agricultural chemicals in Latin America. The use of these chemicals has been linked to ailments as simple as skin and eye irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, allergies and asthma. It has also been linked to more severe side effects such cancer, neurological problems, infertility, ADHD and birth defects.
The popularity and prevalence of organic foods is growing across the globe. In Panama, we now have access to a range of fruits, vegetables and animal products that are free from toxic chemicals and disease-causing toxins. By purchasing organic produce, we can enjoy the full nutritional benefit that food has to offer while avoiding the not-so-healthy side effects of chemicals.
Healthy babies and healthy fertility rates
Pregnant women who are exposed to pesticides and other toxins have an increased risk of birth defect, low birth weight and neurological and behavioral problems in their babies. Eating non-organic (also known as “conventional”) food may affect otherwise healthy couples’ fertility and odds of conceiving.
Prevent cancer and degenerative disease
Cancer is the most common side effect of eating non-organic foods. All types of cancer, degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and premature aging can be prevented by choosing organic foods.
You are more likely to get full flavor from fresh food and organic foods are always fresh. Because organic foods do not contain artificial preservatives, they are always provided to customers when they are farm fresh, extra tasty and ready to eat.
The concept of nutrient density in organic versus non-organic fruits and vegetables is controversial. However, it has been proven that organic fruits and vegetables have much higher antioxidant levels which help to fight cancer-causing free radicals and prevent disease.
The environment, water and animals
Pesticides and chemicals are commonly found in our drinking water, lakes and oceans, causing harm to the animals and humans in the environment. Chemical use in farming also reduces the nutrients in soil, inhibiting the growth of future crops and the health of our planet.
While eating organic will provide you with better-tasting food that is higher in antioxidants, avoiding foods produced with pesticides will not only keep you healthier but could also make our world a safer place.
Lauren Spicer is a Panama-based Holistic Nutritionist, Health Expert and Chef who works with Organica Stores and runs their in-store cafe, So Fresh. In addition, she provides private and corporate nutritional consulting and is featured on The Breakfast Show with Jerry D every Tuesday morning. For more information, visit her blog, Sofreshnutrition.org.