Friday, July 8, 2011

Why organic?

Why am I so passionate about eating organically?  It's a long story, so I'll try to keep it as brief as possible.

I have been pestered by chemical (and specifically pesticide) overexposure in very noticeable ways for the past 28 years of my life.

It all started with the local lake I swam in for a number of years during childhood.  It seemed as soon as the water was warm enough to not turn my digits a bluish-purple after 5 minutes of hypothermic exposure, the green ooze was everywhere.  Algae.  I remember coming home from swimming, getting in the shower, taking my swimsuit off and finding that I had a lovely thick green layer of algae plastered to my skin.

Throughout my youth, I swam often, and I guess I wasn't intimidated by the green slime.  I would hear adults talk about how this particular dammed lake is fed by streams that wind their way through agricultural areas.  Farm runoff, they'd say, caused the algae.  I was slightly deterred by thinking about swimming through cow poo.  This knowledge stopped me from drinking the lake water, but not from cooling down on a hot summer day.

"How awful is poo, anyway," I thought.

Then, after one late-August swim (a breech of etiquette - most locals don't go in this lake after July because the green ooze was so horrifically disgusting), I became very sick and a plethora of allergies were mine for the rest of my life.  What did I become allergic to?


I had to get rid of my fish tank, as trying to clean it caused my airways to constrict and skin to swell and itch.  I also never swam in that lake (or any other body of water with large deposits of algae) again.

Fruit skins

Especially apples, peaches/nectarines, plums and cherries.

Trees, grass, flowers

Basically anything with pollen.

These days, allergy symptoms are easily kept at bay with some kind of prescription or over-the-counter medication.  However, back in the '80s, there were not really any good allergy remedies.  The doctor gave me a big blue pill that took away my symptoms for 8 hours ... while rendering me unconscious.  When I woke up, the scratchy, watery eyes, sneezing and throat itchiness returned instantly.  :-|

I have experienced several more negative effects of chemical exposure that were more gradual.  Those will be covered in future posts.

What caused this sudden onset of allergies?  Well, let's consider what runoff from factory farms contains.

Free Poison Sign with a Skull and Crossbones
Antibiotics - 70-80% of all antibiotics consumed in the U.S. are by farm animals (29 million pounds).  As has been reported, more than 90 thousand Americans die from infections that have become resistant to antibiotics every year.  To put that into perspective, that number is higher than the death toll from AIDS, car accidents and prostate cancer combined.

Pesticides - They don't just magically disappear after they're sprayed on crops that both animals and humans eat.

Poo - A LOT of poo.


Not only does this cause concern for the environment, but for our health, our well-being.  After all, you are what you eat ... and we in this country eat a lot of factory farmed foods.

If you haven't seen the documentary Food, Inc., it is available to watch instantly on Netflix right now and should be put at the top of your queue if you have any interest at all about what you put in your body (not to mention sustainable farming practices).  If you don't have Netflix, maybe a friend does and will watch it with you.  Or rent it from your local library.  Here's the trailer:

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