I was going to answer every question I’ve been asked in the course of my transition to the organic lifestyle but that would be a terrifyingly long post which I do not want! So I will break down, group each question and then answer them in different posts. I’ll start with what I think is the most important and that’s WHY and WHAT!
First of all, let me explain WHAT these organic lifestyle jargons are all about. Bear in mind that It could mean different things to different people but here’s essentially what it means to me: It is me being conscious and intentional about how I live! By organic lifestyle, I am essentially grouping everything about how I live my life under that umbrella. That includes; what I eat and wear (products I apply to my skin, clothes I purchase etc.), my attitude about and towards the environment (Overtime, I learnt that everything thing I do either affects the planet and environment that I live in think of not recycling or wasting water) or someone else somewhere (think of the factory workers who work to manufacture the clothes and products we buy).
In sum, this organic lifestyle (or the green lifestyle) for me means constantly learning and actively indulging in practices that are healthy and environmentally friendly. It means cultivating a lifestyle that prioritizes sustainability, protecting the planet and natural resources. Now I don’t mean to sound too “academic” about this so I will keep it very informal because I want you all to enjoy reading this content and not feel compelled to overhaul your lifestyle (I do wish you’d take minutes out of your day and marinate on these ?).
The more I was learning about this lifestyle and going green, it was only a matter of time before I switched. Again there are many components to this which will be addressed in subsequent posts.
Two terms I want to define for the purpose of these series are Conventional farming and organic farming
Conventional farming is your typical modern farming which involves the use of modern technologies, pesticides, herbicides, GMOs and other “approved” synthetic chemicals for the growing of crops.
Organic farming is basically the opposite of conventional farming. It is free of those synthetic chemicals, pesticides, and GMOs. It’s also focused on sustainability, increasing biodiversity as well as improving soil and air quality.
With that out of the way…… Here are some of the top reasons why I switched. I will try to remember them all but should I forget any main reason, I will include it in subsequent related posts.
1. Reduce my exposure to harmful chemicals
Conventional farming uses a host of synthetic pesticides and herbicides in growing the food we eat. This includes the most common and dangerous one being Roundup with the active ingredient being glyphosate. Glyphosate’s use is very controversial. It has been linked to many illnesses and developmental abnormalities and has been cited by many major organizations to be a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). These chemicals are sprayed on farms to obviously kill weed but their residue is absorbed in the fruits, veggies and other plants that we consume. Why would I want to ingest that? Not to mention that many weeds are now being considered resistant to this powerful herbicide, so does that mean we should be expecting an even stronger herbicide? Hmmm.
More so, studies have shown that the average women absorb about a huge % of the chemicals in their makeup each year. This is why I wear organic makeup (when I do wear makeup) and use organic/natural skincare products. There’s even more, but I will go even deeper in future posts or you could start reading up on these things on your own.
2. Reduce Exposure toStay away from the growth hormones & antibiotics in products
In conventional farming, most animals are injected with antibiotics to prevent sickness (thus maximizing profit for the business). This might sound logical to the average business mind but the effect of this on us consumers is scary. Injecting these animals with antibiotics means consumers are also taking in some of those antibiotics. This results in increased cases of antibiotic resistance which is currently a public health problem. Being antibiotic-resistant is scary- imagine being sick and needing antibiotics only to find out you’re resistant to most antibiotics. According to WHO, about 480,000 develop antibiotic resistance annually. About 80% of the antibiotics sold in the US is used in poultry and livestock farms and according to the CDC, “each year in the United States, at least 2 million people acquire serious infections with bacteria that are resistant to one or more of the antibiotics designed to treat those infections. At least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these antibiotic-resistant infections. Much more die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.” So there’s that major factor right there! If you’re in the US, you might have noticed that many livestock companies are now advertising their products as “no antibiotics or growth hormones” which is sorta great because at least they have realized now that consumers are becoming aware and conscious of what is in their food. It begs the question: what else is in our foods that we do not know of?
In Europe, I believe the use of hormones have been banned but in the US it is allowed under some regulations (which I don’t trust due to the nature of the regulatory bodies-We’ll talk more about the FDA and USDA hopefully in future posts).
3. My choices affect the planet
it was an awakening for me to realize that my choice of foods and other products as well as things I do daily directly and indirectly affected the planet. Whether I was personally indulging in habits that weren’t eco-friendly or patronizing companies who couldn’t care less about how their manufacturing process affects the planet, I knew that I had to stop living selfishly and start to look the big picture and living for more than just myself. Today we are experiencing the effects of years of not caring about the planet. It was also interesting to note that although landfills are great waste management alternatives, the things I was leaving in landfills alongside millions of people were truly detrimental to the planet. I had to remind myself that this “climate change” issue was really nothing random and senseless but rather something that I played a part in. I had to stop being selfish and living for just me. This planet is where I will raise my children in. There are billions of other people sharing it with me and so I knew that I had to be considerate of them and ensure that my way of life was not negatively impacting their standard of living.
4. Supporting the local economy and sustainable practice
This one ties into the previous point as well. Have you ever thought about where the food and other products you pick from store shelves come from? Who manufactures them? How are the farmers and factory workers living? It might shock you to know that workers who pick fruits and veggies found in most stores live in horrific conditions because they are underpaid and overworked. (this particular point will be tackled in future post when I address the issues surrounding our food chain/system and fast fashion). It was very sad for me to learn that in order for me to buy foods and clothes for cheap, someone had to suffer tremendously. That was just not okay with me. In 2013, 160 workers in a Bangladesh factory lost their lives when the overcrowded and ill-structured factory they worked in collapsed while they were working to produce clothes sold in many retail stores. These clothes were being produced for big brand names including GAP, H&M, Walmart and JCPenny yet at the time of these catastrophic events, none of these brands or company took any responsibility for the part they played in it. These workers were only paid between 14 cents to 20 cents/hour and they work for ridiculously long hours, the women often had to leave their children in far away villages and live in unsanitary dormitory style situations because they couldn’t afford to live well even in the towns where the factories were located.
In the US here, Immokalee farm workers for e.g are working in modern day slavery, earning about 2 cents per pound of produce picked. These are the workers who pick some of the produce you get at grocery stores for $1-$4/pound. (You can read more about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers on google). Learning about these things made me realize that I don’t need to buy foods and products that aren’t sustainably farmed. No one should have to remain in abject poverty just for me to be able to buy things for less. If it means me paying more (and really, eating organic is not as expensive as most make it seem) and ensuring that farmers are living well and thriving, so be it! Life is more than just myself. This is also the reason why I subscribe to the Ethical Fashion movement. I know the main reason why I have previously bought so many clothes is because they are CHEAP. They are cheap because workers like those in Bangladesh produce them for little to nothing. It’s unfair! Most times we buy the clothes we don’t even need just because they are cheap.
5. Fresher and tastier (and healthier)
This one I personally experienced and was one of the main reasons why I stopped buying conventional fruits.
One day, I purchased a bag of apples (conventionally farmed) from Walmart, it had such a weird chemical taste. I was repulsed. I rinsed it out and tried another apple but it tasted the same. I threw the whole bag away and vowed never to purchase apples from Walmart. This was before I actively started transitioning. I went to Trader Joe’s the next day and purchased a bag of organic apples and it was the freshest, smoothest taste. Since then, I have noticed major differences in how organic vs conventional fruits and veggies tastes. Most fruits and veggies tend to absorb more chemicals which totally affects their natural flavor. The key reason why organic fruits and veggies taste better is due to the absence of these harsh chemicals and excess fertilizers sprayed on them. I have read somewhere that tomatoes grown organically contain more antioxidants when compared to conventional tomatoes. Who wouldn’t want that goodness?
6. Effect on Agricultural Diversity
With organic farming, I can trust that they preserve the biodiversity of both the soil and seeds. This is very important because really, a key aspect of life revolves around the soil and our ecosystem. Conventional farming destroys the integrity of the soil as well as the natural structure and components of our ecosystem. Most conventional farmers would argue that the organic method of farming is not effective in feeding the world’s population. This could not be farther from the truth. We know now that many of the promises made by top conventional biotech companies have failed. The New York Post even recently posted an in-depth analysis on this topic.
Countries like Norway have since understood the detrimental effects of conventional farming and how it threatens biodiversity. They have since worked to build one of the world’s largest seed banks for this purpose.
So Here we go! These are the top reasons why I switched to a more organic, ethical, eco-friendly and more intentional lifestyle! It only makes sense after learning about these things. Please do well to read up more about these things on your own and pass your own judgment. Your conviction is really what will keep you going should you decide to make the switch as well.
I have absolutely no regrets since switching! In fact, I am happier, feel more healthy and positive. In my part two of this post, I will discuss When I started transitioning, how long it took me and How to do it affordably! So look out for that one later this week or early next week.
Thank you guys so much for reading!