My Offering at The Mattress Factory
Image by Ted Drake
THAN HTAY MAUNG
My Offering, 2011
plaster, bread (donated by Breadworks)
I have not escaped the memories of the victims’ hands asking food and help in the aftermath of the Nagis cyclone that hit Burma’s delta in 2008. When my wife and I were doing relief work with other friends, I saw the many hands of people who were hungry for food, for safety, for kindness and for others. We continue to see countless hands like these all over the world today.
There are countless hungry people who are running and hiding because of civil war and war aggressions, who lost their job because of crises, and who are trying to survive under a dictatorship. They raise their hands with hunger and questions that are important to solve to stay alive.
Many people want to know if there are health benefits from eating organic food and whether organic farming is all a big lie. The anti-organic food crowd would have people believe that organic food is worthless and wasting time, space, and money. Those who live an organic lifestyle would rather burn at the stake than eat anything that wasn’t at least 95% organic.
So what do you do you live the organic lifestyle or continue on non organic food? Well here are some common concerns about organic food:
What does organic mean anyway?
The term ”Organic” means different things in different countries because it is up to the country to decide what the guidelines and regulations will be. The guidelines that you will see in most countries consist of food that does not contain GMOs, synthetic ingredients, and little to no processing.
What is a GMO?
Genetically Modified Organism. There are many reasons why farmers do this such as injecting genes into a crop so the crop will produce pesticides on its own. Many people are wary of this because they feel it is playing with fire. Genetics tend to be very unforgiving and hard to beat if something goes wrong. Many people do not think it is safe to consume GMOs, and in Europe the regulations on GMOs is extremely tight. Some countries in Europe have banned GMOs in many food areas.
Do organic farmers use pesticides at all?
The regulations on organic farming forbid the use of synthetic pesticides, but if pests do become a problem some organic farmers use natural pesticides.
But don’t pests always become a problem in farming?
Sometimes pests are a problem and sometimes they aren’t. There are things that can be done to get rid of pests that don’t include man made chemicals.. Organic farmers use methods in harmony with nature to prevent pests. An example of this would be to use a bug that doesn’t do any harm to the crop but is a predator to the pests that are becoming a problem. They mainly focus on prevention and on making healthy soil and crops that can be strong enough to use their natural defenses to fight off pests. Barriers of various types are used as well.
But are organic pesticides necessarily safe?
Organic pesticides, or natural pesticides are usually seen as a weakness and an attacking point against organic food. What most don’t know is that organic farmers don’t use them frequently, and if pests get out of control organic farmers must get permission to use a natural/botanical pesticide from the list. Natural pesticides are also attacked by being said to be as harmful as the synthetic ones, but natural pesticides don’t actually linger like synthetic ones do, and therefore don’t have much chance to become absorbed into crops. Most are derived from plants.
But just because something is natural does it mean it is safe?
No. Some natural substances are safe and some aren’t. I hate this question because my friends would always tell me whenever I did a detox or something to ”remember that just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is healthy” as if I was going to go out and smear some cow poop on my face, or I was going to go dig up some poison ivy leaves and use them on my acne or something. I and many people who live organic find this warning to be insulting because we understand that many substances deemed as natural sold on selves are not dangerous in any way and we aren’t going to go out and randomly cook up unknown substances in out kitchens. That is very much not the case. People need to understand that I as well as many organic lovers don’t just buy things without researching it first.
What else can one buy that is organic outside of produce?
Meat, milk, pasta, rice, cheese, spices, juices, chocolate, wine, bread, potato chips, soda, skin care, clothing, pet food, baby food, canned soup, tampons, sanitary napkins, vitamins, supplements, shampoo, cooking oils, condiments, cake mix, brownie mix, sugar, honey, makeup, cleaning products, and the list goes on and on and on. Going organic doesn’t mean you will end up living drastically different from everyone else.
How can one tell if something is organic?
This pretty much goes across the board from food to skincare. 100% organic is the jackpot, things labeled as organic with the USDA seal are 95% organic, and anything else that claims to be organic but doesn’t have the seal is made with organic ingredients but not necessarily free of synthetic ingredients.
What is the plus side of buying organic meat?
No hormones or antibiotics are injected in meat, and the animals are only allowed to eat organic food and are allowed to roam around freely and live a healthy life.
Are the organic farmers trustworthy or are they just out to make a profit by falsely appealing to people’s health fears?
I can’t see why any organic farmers would cheat the system because it is certainly too much work on their behalf to become legally certified organic and maintain that status. With everything there is always a wolf in sheep clothing, but for the most part organic farmers don’t have a choice but to be legit because the ”man from the health department” makes a visit to them as well.
Why is organic so expensive?
Some things such as apples are produced in high numbers and don’t cost that much to buy organic. Mainly the exotic fruits that are difficult to grow in the area costs more to get. Also organic products have high standards to meet and the costs usually deal with having things managed properly. Lately its been discussed that organic farming doesn’t actually cost any more than conventional.
Why do people eat organic food in the first place?
Many believe there are tremendous health benefits from eating organic food. The low volume of toxins in organic food is attracting all types of people because many are worried that synthetic chemicals may be responsible for the frighteningly high amount of cancer.
How much influence does organic food have in the rest of the world?
In a lot of countries much of the food is automatically organic because those people don’t really use modern practices when it comes to food. In some of these countries there are some conventional foods available as well. China and Japan have a bustling organic industry, which has contributed to some controversy over the quality of their organic food. Europe is probably the most aggressive in terms of their organic food. Their standards can probably be considered tighter than America, so organic food from Europe is probably better in terms of purity. Italy accounts for 1/3 of the organic food in Europe alone, and most Italians consume a considerable amount of organic food on a daily basis.
Britain has a very high demand for organic now, and France alone brought around 300 new skincare lines last year. In countries like Sweden, Norway, and Germany have banned a number of commonly used additives and food dyes already. Scientists in the EU have done multiple studies and will continue to do studies concerning the toxicity of our bodies and the link to cancer.
So in the end the decision to go organic is entirely up to the individuals preferences and beliefs as to whether there are any health benefits from eating organic food.
To learn more about organic food and how you can live a truly healthy lifestyle please visit http://www.squidoo.com/TheHealthBenefitsofOrganicFood