We love to hear from our community, so we’ve reached out to you with the question: what inspires you about organics? The responses blew us away, and we just had to share them as part of our Organic People series.
Erin Ireland is a food reporter – and food lover – always in search of the next to die for meal. For her, great taste isn’t the only thing that qualifies a food as to die for. For Erin, how the ingredients were grown has become as important as the meal itself – and she sees endless benefits in choosing organic. We love her “healthy food is love” philosophy, which is why she’s one of our Organic People. We hope you fall in love with Erin (and her joyful approach to life) just like we have!
Nature’s Path What does living organically mean to you?
Erin Ireland Living organically means living consciously and mindfully in relation to the well-being of our planet. You’re tuned in to the Earth’s environmental issues. You choose all-natural and organic versus the alternative. You do your part daily, whether that be recycling at home, driving an eco-friendly car or purchasing locally grown, organic foods.
NP What was your first experience with organics?
EI At the age of nine, I remember grocery shopping with my mom at the Super Valu in Edgemont Village. As usual, she was scanning labels in search of produce grown here in BC (or at least in North America). When I asked her what organic meant, she explained that organic food was “living” and had fewer contaminants than non-organically grown produce. The deeper ramifications of her concerns were lost on my young mind, but certainly, as a nine-year-old, I understood it was the “healthy choice”.
NP How did organics become part of your life?
EI It was an evolution. During my South Carolina university years, I lived on a cafeteria meal plan and $120 a month. Though my apartment had a kitchen, I couldn’t afford to cook on a regular basis, let alone cook with organics. Also, I was playing NCAA volleyball, which meant I was immersed in a world of intense daily workouts fueled by an abundance of carbs and proteins. Sadly, there was no time or interest in the discussion of the pros and cons of organics versus mainstream food products.
The more documentaries I watched, the more I began to care about what I put into my body. Knowledge is power and I passionately want to encourage people to learn about our food systems. What I’ve discovered shocked me to the point where, with some foods, organic seems to be the only option, especially when it came to “the dirty dozen” (the twelve fruits and vegetables that are highly recommended we purchase organically to avoid high levels of pesticides and other poisons). Did you know regular apples contain up to 64 different pesticides, as well as wax?
When we take time to reflect, all we really have is our health and it’s absolutely worth investing in. I spend a large portion of my income on food (as opposed to clothing or entertainment) because the pleasure I receive from being healthy, clear-headed and full of energy is more satisfying than any name-brand bag or night on the town.
NP What do you see as the benefits of organics in your life? And in the world?
EI The list is endless. Hopefully, the main benefit of organics is a mindfulness that farmers will incorporate into their daily practices, which transcends our food system—through better farming and better treatment of animals, improved working conditions for employees and a lack of pesticides to taint our environment.
With the rise of the industrial organic food industry and these factory-style organic farming operations, some of the typical “organic” practices are being forgotten in the name of profit. We’re seeing more and more single crops (monoculture), which can be unhealthy for the earth. I hope that, in our quest for organic, we don’t become so focused on the label that we forget what this word really means.
NP How do you share your passion for organics?
EI I cook for my friends and family. To me, healthy food is love. Though they’re probably sick of hearing it, I love having food-related discussions around the dinner table about why it’s important to reduce your meat intake, why (if you must eat meat) it’s important to choose organic, local and ethically raised meat, and why we should always buy organic versions of certain ingredients (like spinach, which unlike an avocado, doesn’t have a protective barrier, and therefore pesticides are virtually impossible to avoid). When my dinner guests witness how easy a particular organic dish was to cook, the chances of them trying it are greater...as are the chances they’ll reap the benefits of healthy eating and pay it forward. Of course, I also love sharing my passion for healthy, organic food on my Twitter and Instagram accounts, too.
NP Do you buy or grow?
EI There’s no dinner more special than the one you cook with ingredients from your own garden. I am counting down the days until my fiancé and I are able to buy a home with a big back backyard for our own little crops. At my current apartment, I have a few herb bushes on the patio, but that’s it. Tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, carrots, beans and more homegrown goodness are in our future. Until those fruitful days, we buy mainly organic at our favourite natural grocery stores and at farmers markets.
NP What do you wish the world understood about organics?
EI That organic food is more than a pesticide-free edible. There are so many more benefits, as I mention above. There’s also the vast topic of GMOs, which I’m continuously learning more about. Recently, I attended Nature’s Path’s screening of GMO OMG, a documentary about a dad in search of answers regarding genetically modified food. The title had me anticipating an angry, one-sided story about GMOs, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the movie was extremely unbiased. Director Jeremy Seifert didn’t bash GMOs at all; he simply wanted to learn more about them. The conclusions I drew from the flick were that GMOs are relatively new and we don’t know their long-term effects on our health, therefore how can we trust them? Also, why was it so hard for Jeremy to get answers? If companies like Monsanto (the biggest GMO seed producer in the world) had nothing to hide, they’d have accepted his interview requests. When someone is hiding something, it’s never good news.
Erin Ireland with GMO OMG director Jeremy Seifert at the award-winning documentary's Vancouver premiere.
Do you have an organic story of your own? We’d love to hear from you! Share in the comments or email us at email@example.com you could be one of our next Organic People!