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When a food is labeled “organic” it means that no pesticides or chemical fertilizers were used in its manufacture.
Whether you are a gardener or a consumer – or both – it is important to understand what organic means, which foods to buy organic, alternatives to pesticides and herbicides, and how harmful pesticides and herbicides can affect us and the environment.
An organic lifestyle is a more natural and sustainable way to live. Not only will it save you money in the long run, but it will also improve your health, wellbeing, and longevity.
So how can you adopt an organic lifestyle at home?
Switch to natural herbicides / weed killers
Weeds are considered unwanted plants in a garden, field, lawn, etc. Common unwanted plants are dandelions, pigweed, and bindweed. These types of plants tend to deprive the desired plants of the nutrients.
Certain herbicides are known to cause cancer, particularly non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This type of cancer affects the lymph nodes, which are part of our body’s immune system. The lymphatic system flows throughout the body, eliminating waste products and fighting infections.
While scientific research on some of these chemicals continues, there seems to be general consensus that exposure to some phenoxy herbicides can increase your chances of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
In addition, several jurisdictions in more than 25 countries have banned the use of glyphosate, the most common ingredient in widely used herbicides.
Glyphosate is a known carcinogen (can cause cancer) so it is best to stay away from products that use this ingredient in high concentrations, or to avoid it altogether.
Steam and electricity
Two natural alternatives to herbicides are steam weed control and electric weed control.
In steam weeding, steam at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit is applied to weeds to destroy the cell membrane. Electric weeding is similar and targets unwanted plants with a high voltage to kill them.
Switch to natural pesticides / insecticides
As a gardener, you probably want to make an organic garden or garden as organic as possible. You don’t want these harmful chemicals on or in your food, but you also don’t want bugs and other pests to destroy your plants. How are you?
Essential oils seem like the cure for everything these days, but they actually work!
Eucalyptus, for example, is very popular when it comes to keeping insects away. This oil repels several insects. Neem oil, which is extracted in India from the fruit seeds of an evergreen tree, is also considered a natural pesticide. It kills aphids, mites, and whiteflies.
Himalayan pink salt
Mixed with water in a spray bottle, this salt repels spider mites.
While this tea offers many health benefits to humans, it is actually quite toxic to certain insects. It contains pyrethrum, an oil produced by the flower that attacks the nervous systems of insects.
It is important to note that chrysanthemum tea, pink Himalayan salt, and essential oils in small amounts are not harmful to humans. Large concentrations of it (and really anything) can be harmful to us. Always use these products as directed.
Buy organic food
If you’re not a gardener or a farmer, you probably want to buy all organic food anyway.
Organically grown foods tend to be more expensive than their non-organic counterparts. Fortunately, there are some fruits and vegetables that are still considered safe if you don’t buy the organic version. They are referred to as “The Clean Fifteen”.
The clean fifteen
The “Clean Fifteen” is a list of foods believed to have the lowest levels of pesticides. As such, they are considered to be safer to buy conventionally.
If you buy the non-organic version of these items, you are likely to have less pesticide residue.
The clean fifteen list varies, but usually they are fruits and vegetables that you need to peel before you eat them. These include products such as:
- Mangoes, pineapples and kiwi
- Cantaloupe, honeydew melon and watermelon
- Grapefruit, oranges and lemons
- Sweet corn, sweet peas and onions
- Potatoes, avocados and papaya
The dirty dozen
On the other hand, there are some products that you will always want to buy organic quality. These tend to have pesticide residue even after washing. This list also varies slightly, but is almost always made with an edible bowl, such as:
- Tomatoes (all), sweet peppers, cucumbers
- Spinach, celery, lettuce
- Apples, pears, cherries
- Peaches, nectarines, strawberries
There are many more, including grapes, milk, and some would even consider buying organic potatoes as potatoes have a thin shell.
These are just a few ways to live an organic lifestyle. You can also use organic and natural cleaning products in your home, beauty and personal care products, and nutritional supplements.
As always, use everything as directed!
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