Is Organic the Magic Pill?

Posted by: Kathy Harmon on 9/7/2010

Is Organic the Magic Pill We Seek?

Is it worth a 100 percent increase in your monthly household food bill to buy organically-grown products?  Frankly, I’ve never paid much attention to organic food.  Most of what was available was smaller in size and generally less visually appealing than the cheaper, chemically-grown alternatives. So I’ve just accepted the lack of flavor in tomatoes, carrots, eggs and chicken that I eat.  

You readers know that  I’m a boomer—although I plead with you not  to tell any of my friends that I’ve admitted that I’m aging.   I’ve accepted each new ache and pain without question or complaint.  Recently, though, I saw Jamie Lee Curtis talking directly to me about “occasional irregularity.”  Ah, I thought, if yogurt producers market a product to fix malfunctioning colons, other people are having those same tummy aches I’ve been getting lately.  Maybe, I wonder:  Are we slowly poisoning ourselves?

I began to pay more attention to people who sang the praises of macrobiotic diets, fasting, cleansings, and claims they experienced freedom from pain, better sleep, sharpened focus, memory improvement, and healing--even cures for terminal illness--all of which are somehow in addition to weight control and improvement in general health. Could this be substantially about what we choose to fuel and clean our body engines?

During short Minnesota summers I grow some of our favorite fruits, vegetables and herbs, and I find an abundance of locally-grown produce available in our community.  But I admit that I typically fertilize with chemicals several times during the growing season, and much of the produce really isn’t locally-grown.  Farmers rarely raise organically.  Two years ago, though, a totally organic farmer’s market opened in our city. There are live chicken underfoot, brown eggs, spicy greens, wild fish and an explosion of crafts and baked goods for sale.  It’s an adventure in fun and taste--but pricey.

I’ve seen the squalid conditions where eggs are collected, and I’ve watched as chickens are brought to maturity at 48 rather than 90 some days.  I’ve cringed at the sight of chickens fed with massive doses of hormones and unable to walk because of  the weight of their own breasts.   

While we are at it let's examine cattle production.   Although cows eat grass, we feed them corn, which sickens them.   So we serve them with antibiotics to keep their illnesses at bay.  It works, right?   I’ve begun to suspect there is something wrong with this picture.

 I like chicken and beef.  I also like eggs and fish.  I eat them all.  But I don’t feel as healthy as I used to.  What if it’s true that “we are what we eat?”  Isn’t that a scary thought? 

I love to eat.  That’s always how I prove that ”I love you” to my friends, family and myself.  Whenever I experience stress, an unpleasant task or disappointment, my first thought is to head for the chocolate.

I finally popped for the $17 organically-grown chicken.  Wow!  I had forgotten how good it tasted!  Although the cost seemed extravagant, I now religiously buy only free-range organic eggs and organic skim milk, the latter in half-gallon returnable half-gallon glass bottles.  Again, the price is double the competition, but the taste is simply amazing.

I’ve vowed to start my own compost, and abandon pesticides and chemical fertilizers.  I even intend to seriously contemplate a medical purification “fast,” although the operative word here is “contemplate.”  I’ve had no medical training, but I’ve read that hormones make chickens’ breasts grow.  I constantly hear of family, friends and acquaintances who have polyps, cysts and tumors.  The beef we eat has been raised on antibiotics.  Do we inject them into the meat we eat?  As a nation we have been over-prescribed with these drugs for much of our lives, and we’ve built up a tolerance for a “wonder drug”’ for many of us antibiotics have become an ineffective treatment.  Is there a cause-effect relationship here?  We may not know the answer in our lifetime.

As a nation and as individuals we have searched for magic pills to make us happy, sleep peacefully and get thin.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to discover that we the solution is as simple as returning to how our great-grandparent ancestral farmers grew the food they brought to table?  

By the way, I’ll let you know how that fast thing goes.

 

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