Once upon a time, “organic farming” was just called “farming,” but that was before the Second World War. See, in the 1920s, all agriculture was organic, meaning produce was grown with no pesticides. Then, while doing research into nerve gas (for use in the war), scientists discovered the gas also killed insects.
Did you read that? NERVE GAS, intended to dismantle an enemy and cause lasting physical damage to the human body, unsurprisingly killed insects, so hey, why not use similar chemicals on things we eat? If you’re not already freaking out, it gets worse.
In 1939, Paul Muller developed DDT, the first of a new class of insecticides, based on what scientist learned of nerve gas. Pests were no longer a problem on farms. Hooray! Chemicals were sprinkled everywhere like salt on a pretzel, and voila, so-called “organic farming” became a thing of the past.
In the 1960s, we finally started to wake up. Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, a book where she criticized the indiscriminate use of pesticides, fertilizers, and weedkillers. (She called it “silent spring” because songbirds no longer sang near farms due to their aversion to chemicals.)
Thank goodness for the hippie generation, because as the 60s moved into the 70s, people became more interested in their health and green living, which spurned famers to return to an organic way of growing. Really, the organic market grew due to customer demand.
Today, organic is everywhere! Organic produce, protein, and products are all over your local supermarket, so why should you “buy organic?” If I didn’t freak you out enough with the nerve gas story, here are some other things to consider …
Produce labeled organic are grown without using pesticides or fertilizers with synthetic ingredients. So? Well, the National Academy of Sciences reports that 90% of the chemicals applied to foods have not been tested for long-term health effects before being deemed “safe.” That means, if you eat enough non-organic food, you might eventually grow a third eye. I”m kidding, but … who knows?
Animal products labeled organic are free of growth hormones and antibiotics. Consuming meat filled with hormones and antibiotics can have serious side effects, like “early onset of puberty, growth of tumors, heightened cancer risks, and genetic problems.” Consuming unnecessary antibiotics can also cause your body to develop an immunity to treatment when you actually need it.
All organic produce is also GMO-free: a requirement for certification. Plus, organic farming focuses on treating the soil as a living organism—adding nutrients as needed and caring for it so that it grows plants in their natural state, versus conventional farming that uses synthetic fertilizers.
Okay, I hope I didn’t scare the heck out of you, but it is important to know why “organic” exists and why organic produce and protein can be necessary to a healthy lifestyle. Next time you go to the grocery store, just consider the evolution of farming in America and know why organic has become such a huge and integral part of modern consumption.