When you pick up a pack of tomatoes at your local store, rarely do you consider where and how they were grown. Most farmers in Zimbabwe practice conventional agriculture where synthetic agro-chemicals and fertilizers are applied to increase crop yields. This method is generally accepted by most having been used over time. But what effect will these chemicals have on your long-term health?
This is why it is worth considering a switch to organic eating and farming, a chemical-free alternative using environmental friendly methods. The organic food trend has been dismissed by some as a western fad, but organic food is healthier than non-organic food. In fact, those who have allergic reactions to food colourants, stabilizers and other additives will find organic food a much better option.
Perhaps the most common type of organic food that people consume without giving it much thought are free-range chickens popularly known as ‘road runners. These chickens are bred outdoors and fed natural feed such as worms and seed. Organic beef is fed organic feed as well as given outdoor exposure and no growth hormones or antibiotics are used.
Research by Zimbabwe Organic Producers and Promoters Association (ZOPPA) has shown that most fruits and vegetables on the market contain pesticide residue, which even in small amounts can be harmful when consumed over time.
Pregnant women and mothers who consume non-organic food risk passing toxins to their babies, through breast milk, or even while in the womb. This is worrying because babies and children, whose immune systems are still developing, are even more vulnerable to negative effects. In adults, accumulated build-up over years can cause headaches and reduced immune system function.
ZOPPA has offices in Marlborough from where they distribute a market map reference showing where you can get 100% organic produce in Harare. Pick n Pay, Spar, Four Seasons, Bon Marché, FAVCO, Cairns, Valley Fresh, and many others are on the list.
Vegans – those whose diets consist solely of vegetables avoiding all animal products – are big fans of organic food. Just ask Louisa Ndlovu, the manager of Vegan Friendly, the vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Belgravia which offers a menu for the customers that is 100% plant-based. “We are a vegan restaurant. Our small organic garden is where we get some of our vegetables. We try as much as we can to source organic vegetables locally although in some cases we import produce.”
Organic foods do have their disadvantages however. For starters, they are more expensive than non-organic foods, and because they do not contain preservatives their shelf life is shorter. Accessibility to organic food is also variable depending on where you live in Harare.
If however, all the above good reasons to go organic are not enough to convince you, consider the role you are playing in maintaining biodiversity, better animal care, soil nutrition and combating pollution.