Farming practices are some of the most significant influences on our health and the natural environment. In fact, the simple choice to eat certified organic food and food supplements might be more important to your health, your family’s health and the health of the planet than any other lifestyle choice you make. While there are numerous reasons for this, they can be sorted into two primary categories: the toxic trail and the vanishing nutrients. Both have enormous implications for your health and the health of the planet.
Consider the implications of this for a moment. A multitude of government studies have demonstrated that residues of these chemicals are still present on foods when they reach your plate. While the residue of 16 chemicals on the apple you are eating might seem insignificant, if you add up the residue on all the apples, or apple products, you’ll eat in a lifetime and then factor in the residues found on all the food you’ll consume in a lifetime, the numbers quickly become staggering. Today, 500 synthetic chemicals can be found in the average North American’s blood. Moreover, in one year, the average North American will consume a total of two pounds of toxic chemicals in the form of trace residues found on their food – two pounds of chemicals that are known deadly poisons in just one year!  Due to their small bodies and fast metabolisms, children are even more at risk. Every day, more than 1,000,000 children eat a dose of organophosphate insecticides that the federal government considers unsafe, and 100,000 eat a dose that exceeds the benchmark levels by a factor of 10 or more.  Babies are now born with pesticide residues in their bodies and fed on breast milk that contains pesticide residues.
Understandably, diseases that were once relatively rare have become rampant – for example, cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, birth defects and behavior disorders all have their roots in chemical exposures. In fact, after ranking 29 environmental problems under its jurisdiction, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that only worker exposure to chemicals and indoor radon exposure posed a greater risk for cancer than the pesticide residues found in our food.  The EPA also rates pesticide exposure as creating a “high risk” for non-cancer disorders and diseases.
Have the benefits of pesticide use been worth the risk? Ironically, no. The USDA reports that in 1915 the percentage of crops damaged by insects was actually less than in 1988 to 1989. Typically, farmers lost one-third of their crops to insect damage before the introduction of chemical pesticides, and they still lose an average of one-third of their crops to insect damage today.  This is because insects are extremely adaptable. Unlike humans, insects have brief life spans and reproduce prolifically, allowing them to quickly accommodate changes in their external environment through genetic mutations. As a result, insects have successfully survived numerous catastrophic planetary changes that wiped out other species. We have also inadvertently given them the competitive edge. Agricultural chemicals kill not only humans and the insects that we regard as a nuisance, but also the beneficial insects that eat crop-destroying insects, as well as insect-eating birds and fish.
Additionally, they destroy the beneficial bacteria, insects and worms that live in soil. These important organisms keep the soil vibrant and alive and allow strong, healthy plants to grow and flourish. Compromised soil leads to weak, unhealthy plants that have poor resistance to insects and diseases. The 1992 Earth Summit reported that the United States now has the worst soil on the planet. Eighty- five percent of our soil has been depleted to the point that it can no longer nourish healthy plants, and this has led to the problem of vanishing nutrients.
Plants draw minerals and other nourishment from the soil up through their roots, and the minerals are deposited in the body, fruit and seeds of the plant. Plants then use these nutrients to manufacture the vitamins and phytonutrients we consume when eating a plant. Historically, farmers carefully tended and fed the soil, through a variety of natural methods, to keep it vital and healthy and replace the nutrients used by each crop. The rich soil in turn produced vital, healthy, nutrient-rich plants. With the advent of chemical fertilizers, natural soil feeding and tending declined markedly, and, as a result, there is little nourishment left in soil for plants to draw from. This led to a marked reduction in the nutrient content of our food.
Fortunately, organic farms operate very differently. Organic farmers continue to focus on feeding and tending their soil. Through the use of crop rotation, cover crops, biological inoculants and compost and other organic soil amendments, organic farmers are constantly revitalizing and enriching the soil in which their crops grow. This allows organic farmers to raise plants that are not only healthy and disease and pest resistant, but also rich in the vital nutrients necessary for our good health. While we have always intuitively known that healthy soil produces healthy, nutrient-rich plants, scientists have recently become interested in confirming this. Research at Thurman State University, in Florida, found that organically grown oranges contained up to 30% more vitamin C than those grown with conventional chemical methods.  The Doctors’ Data study suggests there are significant differences between organic and conventional food.  This study found organic pears, apples, potatoes and wheat had, on average, over 90% more mineral content than similar conventional food. After reviewing 41 published studies, certified nutrition specialist Virginia Worthington concluded that organic crops contain substantially more of several nutrients: 27% more vitamin C, 21.5% more iron, 29.3% more magnesium and 13.6% more phosphorous. 
By their very nature, organic products are powerfully life-affirming. When we choose them, we embrace the value, beauty, safety and regenerative practices of a way of life that successfully nourished the human family for thousands of years, in harmony with the surrounding environment.
In doing so, we provide an opportunity for family farmers to once again thrive and work in an environment that does not directly threaten their health. We restore farms and their surrounding environment to thriving ecosystems that nourish dozens of species and cooperatively cohabit with wildlife and natural spaces. We ensure the pristine quality of groundwater, streams, rivers, estuaries and ocean coastal areas, thus preserving safe drinking water and habitat for aquatic species.We ensure a food supply that is free of dangerous, cancer-causing poisons. We, once again, consume foods that truly nourish and sustain us.
 Theodore Wood Carlat, Organically Grown Food (Los Angeles: Wood Publishing, 1990).
 Environmental Working Group, Overexposed: Organophosphate Insecticides in Children’s Food (January 1998): 1-3.
 Lisa Lefferts, “Pass the Pesticides,” Nutrition Action Newsletter (April 1989): 1-7.
 Brian Clement, Living Foods for Optimum Health (Roseville: Prima Publishing, 1996).
 Science Daily Magazine, June 2, 2002.
 Bob Smith, “The Doctors’ Data Study,” Journal of Applied Nutrition 45, no. 1 (1993).
 Virginia Worthington, “Nutritional Quality of Organic versus Conventional Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains,” Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine 7, no. 2 (2001).