by Bev Iverson Bedford, Becketwood Member
There are many things regarding my health over which I have no control, but one thing I can control is what I put into my body. That is why I eat organic food as much as possible. By eating organic, I can avoid the cocktail of chemical toxins present in commercially grown food.
Organic crops, unlike commercial crops, cannot be grown with synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides or sewage sludge. The soil must be managed and nourished by responsible standards therefore producing foods with more nutrients. By eating organic food I can avoid genetically modified organisms, or organisms in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. Since we do not know the long-range health outcomes of such alterations, and since GMOs do not have to be labeled in the USA, the only way to avoid them is by choosing organic food.
Regarding animal products, the organic label assures us that the animal was not given hormones, antibiotics or drugs that tend to collect in the fat or tissue of meat and dairy products and then transferred to our bodies. Finally, the farming practices that meet the standards required for organic certification help to preserve our ecosystem by farming in harmony with nature. These farmers need our support and we need them as we move toward a more sustainable future.
In my research for a “What’s on Your Plate” event we had at Becketwood last month, I found some information about PLU codes that may be helpful. PLUs are price look-up codes that cashiers use to ring up purchases. A five-digit number that starts with a 9 means the item is organic. A four-digit code beginning with a 3 or 4 is probably conventionally grown. For example, regular small lemons sold in the U.S. are labeled 4033; small organic lemons are coded 94033. A five-digit code that starts with 8 means the item is genetically modified. You won’t see many of those because only genetically modified versions of corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, papaya and squash are now widely sold—and because PLU codes aren’t mandatory, companies can label those items as conventional. For more information, visit the Non-GMO Shopping Guide website.