BY: Pat O’brien

The health conscious movement has taken over the world. It’s evident in our
broad selection of organic products, from our produce to our health and beauty
market. Restaurants now clearly state when their menu choices are organic or
sustainably farmed. Behind the scenes, farms can often struggle to meet the strict
guidelines put forth to be considered an organic farm. The USDA organic
certification can cost farmers thousands of dollars and a tremendous amount of man
hours. Numerous studies have been done on the negative effects of many
“traditional” pesticides and other petroleum based chemicals, sprayed on millions of
acres of farmland each year. The run off from these fields moves into streams and
rivers, polluting the ecosystem with dangerous chemicals that are hard for
organisms to break down. It is a negative chain reaction that makes it all the way to
our tables.

A 2006 Columbia University study done on the insecticide; chlorpyrifos,
linked this chemical to an increase in childhood developmental disorders in children
whose mothers consumed produce sprayed with chlorpyifos during pregnancy 1 .
Taking numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website,
shows us that over a decade from 1997-2008 developmental disorders in children
rose 17.1%. Specific findings also show that children whose family live below the
poverty line had higher rates of developmental disorders over these years 2 . One of
the first rules of statistics is that correlation does not causation. This principle
should always be used when performing analysis on any amount of data. There are
many outside factors that will result in this number increasing such as earlier
diagnosis’ in children and the implementation of specific disorder screening tests.
However even with all of these medical advancements, these numbers continue to
grow. The one factor we haven’t altered is our mass use of pesticides and
insecticides in non-organic farming.

One of the greatest influences on a humans overall health is their diet. Our
bodies work best when food is unprocessed and little is added. The nutrients,
vitamins and minerals found in natural food sources have been crucial in
maintaining our incredibly complex bodies for millions of years. Only over the past
few centuries have farming techniques used synthetic additives to increase
production. It would be unimaginable for the growth of the country without the
modern farming techniques that are used today. However, the adverse effects need
to recognize and proper restrictions put in place. The only sustainable and safe
farming practices will be organics in the future. As more organic farms come online
we will see the high costs currently associated with organic products come down.
This will continue to be a conscious choice made by both the consumer and the
farmer to make this shift. At this time though, little, if anything, seems like it could
slow the organics train down now.


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