Organic foods become more available

While organic foods and products were formerly difficult to find, they are now available at most supermarkets. According to the United States Department of Agricultural Marketing Service, products must show they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity and using only approved substances to be considered organic. 

“If you buy local and if you’re interested in being green, it’s just that it’s a whole lot less travel for it to get here,” said Deborah Gouedy, owner of Simply Harmony Farms, a local farm which strives to provide pesticide-free food. “If you support food chains in your local area, then you support your local infrastructure. Or if you’re just interested in organic food there isn’t a whole lot here, so I’m trying to meet a need.”

One large argument for buying organic locally is that the food does not have to travel long distances. The decrease in travel time provides food that is fresher, in season and has reduced carbon emissions and use of fossil fuels.

Non-organic food is produced with fungicides, pesticides, herbicides and other products shown to harm the environment, causing contamination to soil, water, air and groundwater pollution. Organic farms use natural tools to build healthy soil, which according to famous nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, provides produce with more minerals and nutrients. 

The USDA mandates that irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides and genetically modified organisms are not used on organically labeled crops. To label livestock as organic, the animals cannot be injected with antibiotics and growth hormones and they must be given 100 percent organic feed and outdoor access.

“You can’t really read anything scientific and not see that when you poison your food, you poison your body,” said Gouedy. “It’s not rocket science that what your food ate makes it good for you. So cows that are raised on pasture are not as bad for you as cows that are raised in feed lots.”

According to Food Matters, an organization striving to educate people that “you are what you eat,” when we drink non-organic milk we are drinking estrogen. Cows raised in non-organic industries are shot with hormones so they lactate year round, grow faster and provide more milk. 

It is these injections that have driven some to live an organic lifestyle and put only natural things in their bodies.

“One thing the country today needs is to start eating live food [food straight from the garden or farm]. What good is a Mercedes with kerosene? You need to run good fuel,” said Joe Polotzola, owner of The Steaming Gourmet, a business at Hammond’s local farmer’s market, which sells steamers that keep food alive by not killing the nutrients from overheating. “I’m 77 years old and have never been sick a day in my life. I feel too good. I don’t want to go back to being tired. I have all that energy, and I think it’s because of live food.”

One of the largest arguments behind not eating organic is that it is more expensive. Comparing prices at local supermarkets, organic products can be considerably higher in some cases.

Snyder encourages shoppers to make decisions on their budget and choose organic when they can. She encourages buying some fruits and vegetables organic, while getting others like avocados conventionally because they are often not sprayed with pesticides anyway.

“As much as your budget allows get anything you can [organic],” said Gouedy. “Look at the clean 15 and the dirty dozen and try to replace the dirty dozen at least. And dairy because dairy is dirty.” 

The clean 15 foods are foods, which you do not need to buy organic, while the dirty dozen are foods highly recommended to buy organically because they are produced with more pesticides.

Some clean 15 foods include avocado, eggplant, kiwi, sweet potatoes and mushrooms. Some dirty dozen foods include spinach, lettuce, apples, celery and grapes. 

Organic produce can be found at Hammond’s local farmer’s market, which takes place every Saturday in downtown Hammond. Also, organic foods can be found at Berry Town Produce in Hammond and local stores.