Go organic, invest in your health

Eating organic may not be the most economically friendly decision, but your body will thank you.

Ashley Bray

Feeling sluggish lately? Are you tired, unmotivated, crabby or perhaps short-tempered? While, admittedly, some (OK, probably most) of those feelings may stem from 12 hours of homework, classes and work you do every day, there is a good chance that what youâÄôre eating may contribute as well.

As college students, we understandably go for the foods that are the easiest on our wallets, which usually means processed, conventional foods.

Most fruits and vegetables that show up at your local grocery store have been grown under the protection of chemical cocktails, which guard crops from insects and diseases and also help the grower produce higher yields. In the same fashion, much of the meat we eat comes from animals fed with hay or grains containing the same chemicals. These animals are also commonly injected with hormones or vaccines. Those chemicals are, in turn, passed on to us as consumers.

Now, I understand that there are benefits of producing chemically altered food. In a world where population is booming and we are facing global food shortages, it may not be possible to feed entire populations with organic food.

However, our bodies were not made to process many of the chemicals that show up in conventionally produced foods.

Studies have linked these chemicals to diseases such as obesity and cancer. They also contribute to behavioral problems in children, sleep loss and a decline in overall well-being.

Organically grown produce is typically better for both the body and mind.

In a 10-year study conducted by the University of California-Davis, researchers found that organically grown tomatoes produced large amounts of the antioxidants quercetin and kaempferol, which are good for your health and help prevent heart disease. The quantities of antioxidants in organic tomatoes were more than 95 percent higher than in those grown conventionally.

Ever had raw, organic milk? Squeam all you want, but milk from grass-fed, organic cows is not only delicious: It has more antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins than nonorganic milk.

Additionally, going organic is a great choice if you are trying to be environmentally friendly. If a farmer isnâÄôt using chemicals and pesticides on the crop, they canâÄôt get into the soil, water or air.

As far as IâÄôm concerned, the best part about going organic is that the food actually tastes better. Try it for yourself. Get to your local co-op and buy some USDA-certified organic bananas: You will be able to tell the difference, I give you my word.

The biggest issue for college students trying to go organic is cost.

Since famers simply cannot produce as large of a yield of organic foods as they would conventional, prices are higher.

And, on a college budget, it is nearly impossible to eat only organic foods.

However, college is a good time to start thinking about infusing organic food into your diet and perhaps making the full switch later on in life.

IâÄôll admit it: The apples and oranges in my fridge now are conventionally grown. However, the bananas are not. While it is expensive, students may find comfort in the fact that they are essentially making an investment in their health for the long run when they eat organic food.

Even if the idea of raw milk makes you nauseous, or the thought of paying twice as much for a pound of grass-fed beef hurts your bottom line, the idea of flooding your body with chemicals and pesticides canâÄôt be much better. Start small âÄî try a few different things. And trust me, you canâÄôt go wrong with the bananas.

 

Ashley Bray welcomes comments at [email protected].