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Reasons to Buy Organic Food (2010-11-14)

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Buying organic products is important not only for the higher quality of food, but also for the impact on our economy and agriculture. As we continue to support the organic and eco-friendly industries, environmental protection and lower pricing on organics will become possible.

Whenever feasible, try to buy organic or local foods for the following reasons:

• Avoid chemicals. Many pesticides approved by the Environmental Protection Agency were registered before research had been completed which linked them to cancer and other diseases. Now, the EPA considers many of these substances to be carcinogenic; some are implicated in birth defects, nerve damage, and genetic mutations.

The bottom line is that pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms, and they can also harm humans.

• Better flavor. There's a good reason why many chefs use organic foods in their recipes; they taste better. Foods grown in a nutrient-rich soil and picked fresh have a richer flavor

• Protect water quality. The EPA estimates that pesticides contaminate the ground water in 38 states, polluting the primary source of drinking water for more than half of the country's population.

• Promote biodiversity. Growing one crop year after year has left the soil lacking natural minerals and nutrients. Single crops are also more susceptible to pests, making farmers more reliant on pesticides.

• Save energy. Modern farming consumes 12 percent of the country's total energy supply. More energy is used to produce synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate, and harvest crops in North America. Organic farming is more likely to use labor-intensive practices, cover crops, natural fertilizers, and rock powders instead of synthetic fertilizers.

• Protect farm workers. A National Cancer Institute study found that farmers exposed to herbicides had six times more risk of contracting cancer than nonfarmers. Field workers suffer high rates of occupational illnesses.

• Protect future generations. Children can receive four times more exposure to pesticides than adults

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