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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
(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
, and all-round chemical conscious nut.  Sarah is the Director of
Roots in Nature Pty Ltd and Ambassador for Australian Certified Organic.
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
on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane
with her two girls and flock of quirky chickens.

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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! 
October 4, 2014