Alternative Cures

  and Natural Health Remedies

In the tenth of our series of informative articles related to alternative cures, and the third in our three part mini-series on food, we look at organic produce.


The food we buy in shops and supermarkets, from markets stalls and even farm shops all has one thing in common. It is killing us. Meat has become so unhealthy for so many different reasons. Fruit and vegetables are loaded full of toxic chemicals. Is it any wonder our children are having behavioural problems and we are the unhealthiest generation in modern times despite the incredible advances made in modern medicine?

In the third and final part of this three part mini-series, we'll put the organic farming industry under the spotlight. We'll see just how much difference switching to a totally organic diet can make, as well as exposing one or two things you may not know about organic produce.

Part 3: The Organic Solution?

Go into any supermarket these days and look at the fruit and vegetable section and you'll see a separate section dedicated to organic produce. The same goes for the meat section, although not with quite as much choice or variation. The first thing you'll notice is that the prices are a little higher for organic produce than they are for the regular produce. All fairness to the supermarkets, in that this price difference is a lot less than it was five years ago as their enormous spending power has driven the cost of organic produce down in recent years, which is good for the consumer.

Of course the question on everyone's lips is "What are the benefits of eating organically farmed produce?"

There are several benefits of consuming organically farmed produce over the more intensively farmed produce that we generally see for sale in shops and supermarkets. The first and foremost of these is the great reduction in the amount of residual chemical pesticide and other unnatural compounds. I say reduction and not absence, because there are still several exempt compounds that can be legally administered to crops in order to eradicate or reduce pests that would otherwise damage those crops. They'll be mentioned a little later.

Organically farmed meat products are also healthier and more morally acceptable in that organic regulations do ensure a very high standard of animal welfare and they are spared the cocktail of drug, steroid and hormone injections that their more intensively farmed cousins have to endure.

Other benefits of organically grown crops are that they are grown on land that has been naturally fertilised with manure taken from organically farmed animals, thereby ensuring its virtual freedom from chemicals and artificial fertilisers. Soil that has been manured naturally has a better structure to it than soil that has been intensively farmed. Organic soil benefits from a micro-culture of friendly soil-borne bacteria that helps the crops grow strong and naturally disease resistant, while the worms return to the surface to aerate the soil. Natural compounds in manure not only fertilise the soil, but also improve its overall crumb structure and return natural nutrients to it which is essential for producing strong, vitamin and mineral packed crops.

Compare the vitamin and mineral constituents of organically grown crops to that of intensively farmed crops and you will see a marked difference in the levels of important minerals such as selenium, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium and potassium that intensive farming methods have seriously depleted from the soil. Overall, there is no question that organically grown crops are much richer in minerals and therefore tons better for you than the alternative.

Animals fed on organically grown feed and allowed to live a more natural life, free to roam in the open and play with their fellows, are also naturally healthier and less stressed than their intensively farmed counterparts. This all creates much more nutritious and natural meat, rather than the antibiotic, steroid, growth hormone laced meat of animals fed on artificially fertilised and pesticide ridden feeds, or worse, feeds that contain other animal proteins – in other words, the ground up and processed leftovers from the abattoirs. By giving feed that contained meat derivatives to cows and sheep, which are herbivores, this type of practise resulted in the BSE crisis of the 1990s. But did farmers learn from this mistake?

If I told you that this practise still continues to this day, would you be surprised? I thought not.

Still another major benefit from eating organically farmed produce is the legacy aspect. Our children will have the best start in life if their growing bodies are nurtured with truly nutritious and chemical free food. They will grow into healthy adults and have stronger immune systems to fight illness, be less prone to what are termed modern diseases. These include diseases that are on the increase, such as asthma, diabetes, arthritis, certain cancers etc.

They will also be less prone to obesity, because their bodies will be used to obtaining all their nutrients from their food and will therefore not have the compulsion to overeat that those fed on a vitamin and mineral starved diet do, simply as a way of attempting to make up the shortfall of these essential nutrients that their bodies demand and that their normal food does not provide.

So there are some of the benefits of eating organically farmed produce. Now I'll put a dampener on the whole thing…

In 1995, the Observer newspaper ran an article on the rapidly growing trend for shops and farmers markets that specialise in organic produce. That can only be good for the consumer, you might surmise and if everyone was honest and profiteering did not take place you would be right. Unfortunately, the report highlighted some unsavoury facts.

Here is an excerpt from that report:

" And then came the worrying case of the honey roast ham. And the lamb and mint sausages. And the dry-cured streaky bacon. And the English lambs' liver, calves' liver, free range chicken breasts and fillet steaks. In fact, large quantities of the meat Stephen Sains was selling in his shop, Organic World, in the affluent borough of Richmond in south-west London, was not organic at all.

Earlier this month, in what is believed to have been the first case of its kind in the UK, Sains pleaded guilty to breaching the European Union's hitherto obscure Organic Products Regulations, which threaten steep fines for those mislabelling food to suggest it is organic. The prosecution is thought to be only the first step in a long journey: trading standards officers across the country are now expressing concern that traders are passing off non-organic products at a healthy mark-up.

The EU's increasingly byzantine legislation governing the sale of organic food - a small army of technocrats is now employed to oversee the industry - is a sign Brussels is starting to take the threat of fraud within the industry seriously. But, until Sains, no retailer had been prosecuted for wrongly labelling conventional food 'organic' under the regulations.

"I had no intention to mislead the public. I'm now changing my labelling so there'll be no confusion," Sains said on Friday. He was fined £6,020 and ordered to find a new name for his shop which is fronted by a glass window proclaiming an engraved motto: "Purity, quality, welfare".

Sains, who plans to rename his shop The Real Butcher, was rumbled only because environmental health officers conducted a spot hygiene check on his shop, part of the burgeoning organic food scene in Richmond, which boasts three farmers' markets, two more in the pipeline and scores of home delivery "box" schemes.

The officers traced Sains's meat suppliers and established it had not come from organic producers as the public would have believed from the Organic World labelling.

It is a story that might have merited a few paragraphs in the local paper had it just stopped there. But Michael Eade, one of Richmond's senior environmental health officers, had a thought. "If this guy's getting away with it, who else is?" Eade told The Observer

Within days Eade had his answer. After visiting Richmond's myriad farmers' markets and food shops, the environmental health team had produced a litany of fraud and sharp practice among stallholders and retailers.

One trader, Andrew Portch, who ran a stall under the banner Somerset Organics at Barnes farmers' market just up the River Thames, was found to have misleadingly labelled a number of premium-priced products, including cheese, sausages and game. This month, Portch was fined £3,130 and ordered to pay £1,870 in costs. His company's website promises: "Here at Somerset Organics our core philosophy is to produce and supply the highest quality certified Organic food from the county of Somerset." The company declined to talk to The Observer

Other vendors were found to be falsely passing themselves off as accredited by the likes of the Soil Association, one of the 10 independent organisations that monitors the organic food industry. Others had accreditation but were failing to show it to consumers. The team also found evidence of a greengrocer selling vegetables falsely labelled "organic". Several other retailers are now being examined and further prosecutions are likely."

Source: Jamie Doward and Andrew Wander The Observer newspaper Sunday August 21, 2005

The report went on to highlight the problem people have in determining if the food they are buying is truly organic, or simply falsely labelled as such. It is a shameful fact of modern society that where there is a profit to be made, there will be a racketeer trying to make a bigger one.

So where does that leave us, the consumer? We either place our trust in the vendors of organic produce… and let's face it, the vast majority are honest people and will be selling you exactly what they claim, or we take the only truly sure-fire fool-proof way of ensuring the food we eat is truly organic.

We grow our own.

Not great advice for apartment dwellers or people living in tiny inner city housing with little or no open garden space, but for people who are able to escape from the sprawling metropolis and obtain a house with a garden, there is hope. Even a small sunny terrace can produce container grown organic vegetables when planned properly.

In the past, the author has lived in such a place and managed to grow a varied and plentiful crop of organic vegetables such as French beans, carrots, onions, garlic, beetroot, tomatoes, capsicum (peppers), Swiss chard, lettuce, celery and kale as well as fruits such as strawberries, gooseberries, plums, lemons and peaches all on a very crowded terrace in pots and containers (the trees took up the most room but were small enough to handle). So it can be done. A garden will produce a bigger and more varied crop of course and there is always the facility in a relatively small area to keep your own free range chickens for daily fresh eggs!

To sum up then, organic produce is tons better for you and your family and the environment, not to mention the quality of the air we breathe and water we drink – both would benefit from a reduction in the amount of chemical sprays that get into our atmosphere and leech into our water table. If you can trust the source of the produce you buy, all well and good. If you are suspicious, then the best way to go is to grow your own. In fact, if everyone who owned their own garden were to contribute to the vegetable content of the food they eat, the world would not have a food shortage, farmers would not need to use such environmentally destructive measures to obtain a crop from every last square foot of the mineral depleted soil they own and we'd all be healthier. Doesn't that make you want to put on your wellies and get out in that garden and start digging?

If not, you probably aren't reading this anyway.

Author: Terry Didcott

Word Count: 1964
Date Submitted: 28th June 2007

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