A recent UK government report found that chickens raised in the widespread, non-organic fashion, have a 23.4% chance of being contaminated with salmonella, a bacteria responsible for food poisoning. The chance of an organic flock having salmonella? Only 4.4%.
What’s the difference between how the chickens are raised?
Organic chickens must have “access to outdoor ranges and pasture, with an emphasis on enabling the animals to express their natural behaviour.” Sounds pretty reasonable.
The non-organic chickens are mostly housed in cages which allow each individual bird the space of a standard sheet of paper. Yes, the 8 1/2 X 11 kind. These birds are also given antibiotics, which not only help to create superbugs and weaken the birds’ immune systems, but they potentially have the same effect on you when you eat the chicken or its eggs.
So, non-organic animals are likely to be raised under harsh conditions and administered antibiotics and hormones (the run-off of which create mutated fish), but what about non-organic fruits and vegetables?
Non-organic fruits and vegetables are grown with synthetic pesticides and fertilizer. So what? Well, studies are showing that more than 90% of children in the US “have detectable residues of at least one neurotoxic pesticide in their urine.” Something is called neurotoxic when it is poisonous to your brain and nervous system.
According to Dr. Mercola, pesticides also contribute to “disruption of the endocrine system, carcinogenicity and immune system suppression. Pesticide exposure may also affect male reproductive function and has been linked to miscarriages in women.”
How can we avoid them? According to a study outlined in a 2003 Environmental Health Perspectives article, children “eating organic fruits and vegetables had six times lower levels of pesticide byproducts in their blood versus children eating conventional produce.”
Anytime that pesticide is found on organic produce, it is either because pesticides have drifted from a nearby non-organic farm or the produce has been contaminated by “long-ago banned pesticides that linger in the environment.” So the effects of pesticide use are extremely long term!
Besides helping you to avoid dangerous pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones, choosing organics also supplies you with more nutrients. Those organically raised chickens we just discussed lay eggs which, according to a Mother Earth News, contain:
1⁄3 less cholesterol
1⁄4 less saturated fat
2⁄3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene
That’s a huge difference! And the non-organic produce has roughly 17% less nutrients than as its organic counterpart.
If organics are not in your area, you can use this list, compiled by the Environmental Working Group, which shows how much pesticide is likely to be on a given fruit or vegetable, so you can choose those with the least contamination.
While it is better to eat fruits and vegetables with pesticides instead of processed foods, those who eat organically will have a healthy advantage.