Bare Bones Biology 233 – Organic Gardening

Sorry, I need to rush the production this week as a result of tending to my own health, which is always a problem. Medics of all kinds require man-made chemicals to ply their trade, and of course, man-made chemicals are chemicals, and chemically sensitive people may or may not be sensitive to any particular man-made chemical. Because there are hundreds of thousands of man-made chemicals – and to my knowledge nobody is studying how they affect chemically sensitive people — this is a very difficult balancing act for the people who need to get treatment without getting sicker than they would be without the treatment.

 We all know (
bare-bones-bio…arden-recycled) that the best way of being healthy is to not use, eat, breath or drink man-made chemicals, but it’s not always possible. Yesterday – I goofed. So now I will finish this off in a hurry and then I’ll take two whole days to relax and recover.


Organic gardening. The healthy way to grow, is the art and craft of growing a garden without adding man-make chemicals. The word “organic” means the way nature does it in living organisms. It might be stated as the Biosystem way or even God’s way of growing living organisms. Originally, organic gardening was about growing healthy food by imitating the way food grows in nature.


141027-Abiquiu-ASC_2563RLSs copyHowever, that’s not the Government’s definition of organic, and now that the Government certifies organically grown products in the supermarket and elsewhere, we also have a government definition that must be followed by anyone who claims to be selling organic products. And our government is not God, nor the Biosystem, nor nature. So it has its own definition. If you grow food for yourself and your friends, it doesn’t matter and it’s a lot easier to use my definition – grown without man-made chemicals. When you are buying products, the government label really does help us to avoid foods that are unhealthy.


So, yesterday I was reading labels in a local supermarket, trying to find a healthy cereal. We can say right off that in our culture, more sugar is not healthy. We get more than enough sugar of all kinds, natural or unnatural.


That’s another way the Government helps us out. Food manufacturers are required to provide labels on foods. I once thought that meant they are required to tell us EVERYTHING that’s in the can, but that turns out not to be so. T he producers are allowed to add things that are not on the label, if they are added in very low amounts. Especially if they are believed to be harmless.


But there’s that problem again. The government (or often industry) gets to decide what’s harmless and what is not, and most of the time the government doesn’t really know whether a thing is harmless or not until after a lot of people have eaten it. But here is a short version of the government definition of organically grown. I found this on the back of a package of Nature’s Path cereal: “ . . . certified organic products are guaranteed to have been grown without chemical herbicides and pesticides, and there are never synthetic preservatives or additives.”


A study at Stanford University (Smith-Spangler et al., 2012) suggests that organically grown foods really do contain a much lower level of pesticides and herbicides, and that’s good news, because those things are poisons.


However, in the long term, we have to take responsibility for our own health, based in the principles of healthy living. Or, grow your own food. It’s much less confusing and very much more healthy for all the levels of life, to just not add the chemicals in the first place. Grow your own organically, or whatever you call it, using healthy soil, healthy water, healthy air and healthy additives with no poisons, no plastics, no sugar, no hormones. It doesn’t need a fancy name. Call it healthy.


The podcast of today’s blog may be found at:…arden-recycled

Crystal Smith-Spangler, et al. 2012. Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives? Ann Intern Med. 2012;157:348-366.