Monday, 6 October 2014

It's Australian Organic Awareness Month: So why is it so important to live ‘Certified Organic’?

GUEST POST BY Dr Sarah Lantz (PhD)

Its Australian Organic Awareness Month all over social media and I am so happy to have the opportunity to have Dr Sarah Lantz here to talk to us about why it is so important to eat Certified Organic! It can be tricky to take it all in and understand why Organic is the way to go, alot of people get turned off by the price but its important to understand that when you choose organic you are investing in you families health. I will pass you over to Dr Lantz to give you the run down, she is amazing!

I’ll put my cards on the table here. I’ve long been a consumer of the certified organic products. Why? Growing up on a farm I could never see the logic in poisoning things to grow food.  It always seemed like commonsense to me that if you spray chemicals on food such as pesticides, they will eventually turn water toxic, harm animals, destroy the microbes in the soil, and in the end up make its way in peoples bodies. As for being more nutritious, I simply didn’t know, but seasonal organic produce always tasted and felt much better to me – the carrots more carroty, chicken more chickeny, lemons more lemony. But is there any proof of this? Can consuming organics reduce toxic exposure? Are organic products really better for the body?
This much we know for certain: all babies (including baby animals) are being born polluted with a range of industrial chemicals – pesticides, plastics, cosmetics, mercury and heavy metals caused largely by human activity and the health impacts are significant. Pesticides are directly linked to cancers, neurological, endocrine, developmental, reproductive, respiratory, and immunological disorders; acute poisoning, cardiovascular, skin and eye effects, liver and kidney damage, reduced fertility, early onset puberty, endometriosis, and multiple chemical sensitivities.
We also know that we use more pesticides than any other time in history. During 1964 the world used 265 million kilograms of pesticides in agriculture. This close to doubled in 1991 to 500 million kilograms. The current world usage of pesticides is 3.3 billion kilograms a year. A big problem we face is that despite all our anthropological learning’s we still conduct our affairs as if we (humans) have no connection to the soil. There’s a great quote by Wendell Berry that resonates here. It goes something like: ‘For no matter how urban our lives are, our bodies live via farming; we come from the earth and return to it, and so we live in agriculture as we live in flesh’.
It is also well documented that the nutrient value of fresh produce has dramatically declined over the generations. Modern intensive agriculture has increasingly stripped nutrients from the soil in which our food is grown. Farmers as early as the 1930’s warned us of this, and now organic farmers are showing us the way out. They know more than anyone else that soil matters and utilise practices that improve carbon content in the soil - crop rotations, increase organic matter, add minerals, wisely utilize animal manure, and avoid pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, irradiation and genetic manipulation.
Fortunately for Australians we also have a certifying body that ensures the integrity of food and consumer products in the marketplace is guaranteed to be organic. When a food, or personal care or cleaning product for that matter, is certified organic (a BUD logo is displayed) a consumer can be assured that all the product ingredients have been certified to the Australian Certified Organic Standard and have met rigorous certification checks. Certified organic products are anything from fruit and vegetables, to cleaning and personal care products, cosmetics, and beverages. 
There is a growing body of research emerging that shows that eating organically can significantly reduce pesticide exposure and the prevent the potential health impacts. A study conducted by RMIT in Melbourne and published in the Journal of Environmental Research found that eating a mainly organic diet for just seven days reduced organophosphate pesticide levels in urine by 89 per cent. So what we put at the end of our fork, spoon, chopsticks or in our glass makes a difference to how you feel and to the health of our bodies.
‘But consuming certified organic products is expensive’, I hear you say, ‘I can’t afford it’. To be honest I find it interesting that people will penny-pinch when it comes to food habits when, frugality so rarely rules over other less vital domains. Eating organically is a matter of priority and families from all walks of life live organically. According to the ABS data on Australia’ household spending it’s certainly not fruit and vegetables, nor healthy food for that matter, that are forcing families into debt. As a percent of household spending we spend less (nearly 4% less) on food than what we did in 1984. On average Australian household spends more on junk food than fruit and vegetables; more on fast food and take-away than fruit and vegetables; more on alcohol than fruit and vegetables. Households spent an average of $13.70 per week on vegetables and $9.60 a week on fresh fruit, compared with and a whopping $30.50 on takeaway and fast food, and $11.77 on confectionary. Alcohol and tobacco combined account for nearly twice the spending on fruit and vegetables, and we spend five times more on recreation than fruit and vegetables. So it’s certainly not fruit and vegetables, nor healthy food for that matter, that is forcing families into debt. Home-cooked, real ingredient meals actually save money and safe-guard your body, controlling not only what goes in your food, but what stays out including additives, emulsifiers, sugars, hydrogenated fats which slip seductively into processed foods.
But if living organically is still a cost you think you can’t afford there are some practical things you can do: grow some of your own food (herbs and fresh greens are super easy), make some of your own personal care and cleaning products (think vinegar, bi-carb soda and essential oils), eat seasonally, eat locally, preserve or ferment foods when they are in abundance, join a fresh food co-op that buys in bulk, and get to know the farmers at your locals farmers market. In my household toxicity for us is not a consumer choice. We consider certified organic living an investment into our health. Living this way undoubtedly saves money on trips to the doctor and will inevitably save money in the long term when lifestyle diseases tend to emerge later in life. As well as investing in the health of our family, directing our dollars towards organic farmers is also part of our spiritual practice. We fold our charitable giving into our grocery and household bill by buying certified organics. We
choose to support prevention – and organic farmers do just that.

Dr Sarah Lantz (PhD) is a researcher, health writer, author, nutritional consultant, and all-round chemical conscious nut.  Sarah is the Director of Roots in Nature Pty Ltd and Ambassador for Australian Certified Organic. Sarah is the author of the bestselling book Chemical Free Kids: Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World, and is currently writing her second book. Dr Lantz currently lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane with her two girls and flock of quirky chickens.


This pack includes some serious goodness valued at over $200, all Australian Certified Organic and absolutely beautiful! 
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Be sure to head over to Australian Organic facebook page to keep up with all the action and hashtag  #AOAwarenessmonth over on Instagram! 
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