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10 Myths About Organic Food Debunked

10 Myths About Organic Food Debunked

Last Monday as we wandered around the streets of Naples after lunch, we noticed yet anther green, organic and bio food shop. We also noted the layout and the colors which were mainly green, of course. We commented on the pricey food and then got to wondering whether this organic food is healthier and if it really protects the environment. When I got home, I did some research and this is what I found.

Here are the top 10 myths about organic food that are widely believed.

1. Organic farming protects wildlife

You hear people saying it all the time. Yes, organic food does not use pesticides or herbicides therefore it is not damaging the soil or wildlife. The only problem is that this type of farming needs lots of land which is already scarce. We would have to cut down 10 million square miles of forest if the world decided to adopt organic food globally. The fact is that modern farming has actually saved about 15 million square miles of wildlife habitat.

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2. Organic farming will save the world from hunger

If we think that this type of farming will save us from hunger, we should think again. Yes, it is true that it may be better to avoid pesticides and herbicides in an ideal world. But reducing food production will only make less food available for the hungry people in this world. It costs three times as much as traditionally produced food. This is a controversial topic. Reading Denis Avery’s book Saving The Planet With Pesticides and Plastic on the benefits of high-yield farming is an eye opener.

3. Organic farming never uses pesticides

The fact is that organic farmers also use pesticides and fungicides so you cannot get away from that. Did you know that there are 20 chemicals which are approved by the US Organic Standards and these are used all the time in organic food production? The alarming thing is that these are not so effective as the synthetic ones used in conventional farming. So, it may well be that organic food contains more chemicals than is really necessary. Some estimates say that organic farming uses double the amount of copper and sulphur organic fungicides than conventional farming!

4. Organic food is more nutritious

The bad news is that this is not true at all. Various studies have shown that organic corn may have more flavonioids than normal corn. But there are lots of studies that show there is no nutritional advantage in eating organic food. The sad fact is that nutritional value really depends on the shelf life of vegetables. It may be organic but if the spinach has been in the store for a week, then it has lost 50% of its valuable foliate content.

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5. Organic food is safer

Many people think that organic always means safer and healthier. Unfortunately, this is not always true. Let us take an infamous organic pesticide called rotenone. Yes, it is organic because it is extracted from the roots and stems of subtropical plants. The only problem is that researchers found that it killed off the mitochondria which are like energy powerhouses for our cells. It was also linked to possibly causing Parkinson’s disease. This is just one example, but overall, lots of plants have toxic mixes of their own bacteria and fungi. Just because they do not have chemical name which is impossible to pronounce does not necessarily mean they’re totally safe for us.

6. Organic farming is always ecological

This may be true in a few cases but look how statistics and labels have been manipulated to satisfy this thirst for organic ingredients. Let us take the case of organic milk. There has been such a demand that giant food companies who boast that they are producing organic milk actually import the ingredients to make up the shortfall. How ecological is that and who is controlling the source, quality, purity, and safety of these imported ingredients?

7. Organic food is cleaner

Whether the food is grown organically or not, it is still at risk of containing the deadly E.coli bacteria which is very difficult to treat with antibiotics now. People foolishly think that organic food is somewhat safer from all these germs. In fact, they are not and they need to be washed just as vigorously as vegetables which have been produced on a high-yield farming unit. In a ten year period from 1999-2001, over 10,000 people suffered food poisoning from E.coli infected food and organic foods were to blame in many of these cases.

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8. Organic labels are a guarantee of quality

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has started an organic certification program (the USDA Organic Label) which helps producers meet the high standards when they use this seal. But the label needs to be treated with a certain caution and scepticism as pointed out by Peter Laufer in his book, Organic: A Journalist’s Quest to Discover the Truth Behind Food Labeling. Investigating the origin of certain organic foods was extremely difficult, Laufer found.

9. Organic food products are carfully inspected

Yes, organic farms, staff, transportation and other relevant production processes are inspected and their goods are then certified. The only problem here is that the process is often poorly carried out and there are certifiers who are much less rigorous and less expensive to hire. There are many conflicts of interest so there is no 100% guarantee that every producer of organic cereal or apple you buy has been properly inspected. Organic accreditation by the USDA is plagued by competing certifying agents.

10. Organic food demand is growing

There are powerful lobbies at work which claim that the demand for organic food is growing at an exponential rate. In the UK, only 1 percent of food sold there can be considered as organic. The Soil Association in the UK is claiming that it is pursuing sustainable development. However, many claim that it is nothing more than a trading group. Maybe there is a conflict of interests here.

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It is impossible to say whether organic food is automatically safer and more nutritious than the conventional food produced on farms. It is a minefield. As we have seen, many myths abound and there are many false claims made. There’s nothing inherently wrong with organic, but you need to take that label with a grain of salt, or two!

Featured photo credit: Take Back Your Health Conference Los Angeles 2015/Flickr via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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