Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Guest Post- Kathy Penrod

I would like to thank Kathy Penrod, author of the book Tumptin's Sneeze and creator of My Kids Food Allergies for writing this very special Thanksgiving post for my blog-

 Why is Organic Food Better for Thanksgiving (and Always)?

Thanksgiving is such a joyous holiday, isn’t it? Few can argue that it’s important to reflect on the blessings and wonderful people in our lives, and give thanks for them. Is Thanksgiving at your house this year or are you going to a loved one’s home and contributing your signature dish? From cranberries and green beans to macaroni and cheese and turkey with all the trimmings, as you sit down to create your shopping list, don’t forget to make it all organic.

I know many people who swear by organic and locally grown food and others who say, “Pffft! There’s absolutely no nutritional difference between the two! And besides, it’s so expensive! I can buy perfectly good food in my grocery store.”  

While it’s true the organic is more expensive, I know there is a big difference between food grown organically and food that’s mass-produced.

An Organic Apple a Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away
We’ve all heard the expression “an apple a day helps keep the doctor away.” Rich in 1500 milligrams of vitamin C, antioxidants, beta-carotene and vitamin E, apples (and most other fruits) lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes, many types of cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Does an organic apple offer more there is no nutritional difference between food grown organically and conventionally. But does that mean all apples are created equally? While all apples reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer and CVD, over many years of eating apples sprayed with pesticides, any benefits you could have received will have been reversed. Pesticides contain cancer-causing carcinogens; affect hormonal balance and the endocrine system, which can cause reproductive problems and type 2 diabetes.
nutritional value than one grown using what has come to be termed “conventional farming” method? As it happens, no,

But, What About the Worms and other Bugs on My Organically Grown Food?
If conventional farming relies on pesticides to kill everything from mold, mildew and fungus to bacteria and insects, doesn’t that mean my food may have worms in them and bugs on them? Yes, it’s very possible if you go to an organic farm right now and pick an apple off a tree, you may bite into a worm or acck! see a bunch of other creepy-crawly insects on there. The same foods you love to eat and for the same reasons, bugs, invertebrates and birds do as well. If they’re yummy to us, they’re just as yummy to them. Rather than see them as pests, understand their purpose on a farm. Worms aerate soil by burrowing, and they leave trails that run from deep in the ground all the way to your plants’ roots. With all those tunnels created, the natural fertilizer (which I go into at length a little later) can make its way to the plants and enrich the soil with nutrients your plant can continue to thrive on long after it’s been planted. So while that earthworm seems like a pest to you, he’s serves an extremely valuable purpose.

Photo courtesy Disney.wikia.com
Oh those other bugs? Did you ever see the movie the Lion King? Remember the theme song, “The Circle of Life?” I look at organic farming the same way. What some may see as pesky, in reality serve a benefit. Eliminating one or two even several bugs from a farm paves the way for more dangerous organisms to move in and harm crops. I’d like to think that nature can do a better job of creating a system of checks and balances than we humans can. Soap and water can wash off any bugs you can see or can’t see.

Weeds: Why Pull Them and Your Back Out When There’s Weed Killer?
If you’ve ever done any gardening, you know it’s not just an expression when people report it’s backbreaking work. Hard on the knees from squatting while planting and painful on the back from yanking those weeds that seem to grow at an alarming rate, it’s easy to see why many just use a week killer like Round Up. The preferred method by homeowners and suburbanites, it’s estimated that approximately 100 million pounds are dumped on lawns and farmlands across America. Have you ever thought about what’s in Round Up, and why it’s able to kill weeds on contact? Further, despite the manufacturer's claim's that it's safe and biodegradable, there are two ingredients in Round Up that are linked to many chronic diseases.

In several clinical studies (MIT, University of Sweden, others), Round Up’s main ingredient, glyphosate, is linked to everything from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, other cancers, reproductive problems, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Autism, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.

An ingredient that didn’t have any attention paid to it until the last couple of years because it is inert, POEA is a detergent that’s comprised of animal fat. Its purpose is to allow the main ingredients in Round Up to bind to the weeds, so they can kill weeds “better, faster and stronger,” as the expression goes. It turns out that POEA is just as potentially dangerous as glyphosate and studies done by the National Institute of Health Science concluded that it causes cancer and is particularly dangerous to embryonic cells. Gosh, how many suburbanites do you suppose use Round Up in their gardens and on their lawns who are pregnant?

Fertilizer: You Really are What You Eat
I have a friend who has flat out said she’d rather eat foods grown using chemical-based fertilizers vs. knowing her fruits and vegetables have been growing using natural fertilizer (which involves mixing animal manure with compost). I asked if she realized that most fertilizers made in a laboratory add petroleum to their “recipe,” which means she’s exposing herself to cancers and hypoxia? Although she hadn’t before I mentioned it, she said that this still seemed perfectly acceptable to using manure on her plants, which as she says, “grosses me out!” With no exception, all commercial farmers use chemical-based fertilizer vs. the compost/manure combination.

Leaving aside the fact that the chemicals and petroleum in commercial fertilizer can kill us (as if we can ignore this), it is destructive to the environment. Run-off of these chemicals into the waterways kills fish, algae and other living organisms who make water their home. Additionally, it depletes the soil of nitrogen and other valuable nutrients. So while plants do grow at faster rate, is the trade off really worth it?

The objection I frequently hear from people who don’t buy organic is that it’s too expensive. While the unit price can be almost twice that of commercially grown foods, when I add up the cost of treating all those chronic illnesses and the cost to the environment, it seems to me that organic foods are actually cheaper in the long run.

Essentially if you let nature do its thing and don’t mess with it, it will repeatedly reward you by giving you healthy food today and even better, it will continue to allow future generations to eat healthfully. As you are enjoying your Thanksgiving dinner of organically grown food, remember that it is a better representation of the very first Thanksgiving dinner, long before dangerous chemicals made their way into our food.

Now that’s something to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Little About the Author
Kathy Penrod is many things: a wife, mother and children’s author of the book Tumptin's Sneeze. She lives in Colorado with her family and she has a Bachelor’s of Science, which Kathy received after she was married and had had her children, thanks to her supportive family. Having a daughter with food allergies, and understanding the challenges this has brought to their lives and the lives of many families who struggle with the same issues, Kathy created My Kids Food Allergies. There isn’t a day that goes by that Kathy doesn’t feel blessed for all the wonderful things and people in her life, which she contends, wouldn’t be possible without God’s love and putting God at the center of her life.


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