Every year more and more savvy consumers are going organic, and it seems that every year the stakes get higher. From protecting the health of your family in future generations to preventing the collapse of the bee population, shrinking the oceans’ dead zones, and doing your part to reduce climate change, here are 10 research-supported resolutions you can adopt this year.
One: Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables—and make sure they’re organic.
Daily consumption of fruits and vegetables can decrease risks of mortality by 10 percent and delay mortality by 1.12 years according to a recent study. (Fresh fruits and veggies had a stronger correlation to longevity in the study than cooked.)
Two: Balance your omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid intake.
Healthy omega-6 to omega-3 ratios are low, around 2:1, but unhealthy diet trends have increased that ratio to between 10:1 and 15:1. A 2013 study showed that organic milk contained 25 percent less omega-6 fatty acids and 62 percent more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk.
Three: Save the soil.
Eating organic can help improve soil quality by building organic matter and supporting the soil microbiome. Recent studies show that long-term organic management resulted in more biologically active organic matter, better resistance to erosion, and an increase in the soil’s ability to sequester carbon.
Four: Focus on future generations.
New animal studies in 2013 have shown that it is possible for future generations to be affected by the chemicals that their ancestors were exposed to, even if the future generations were never directly exposed to the pollutants themselves.
Five: Listen to the frogs.
Amphibian populations have been in dramatic decline over the past decade, leaving many scientists worried that several species of frogs will go extinct in the next few years if we don’t change our agricultural practices. Studies published last year suggest synthetic pesticides may be contributing to the decline.
Six: Avoid antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report detailing the threats of antibiotic-resistant diseases to the public. One of the factors contributing to antibiotic resistance is the broad application of low doses of antibiotics in rearing animals. About 80 percent of all antibiotics sold are used in livestock facilities, and antibiotic resistance has been linked to this use of antibiotics in conventional animal rearing.
Seven: Bee friendly.
Unfortunately, 2013 saw a continued trend of bee population decline—without bees, many important crops would disappear, such as apples, almonds, blueberries, cherries, avocados, and oranges. One of the most recent studies examining honey bee population declines showed that a combination of insecticides and fungicides can have a negative impact on bees’ immune systems. The pollen that bees collect to feed to their larvae contained an average of nine different pesticide contaminants.
Eight: Shrink the dead zone.
Dead zones are low-oxygen zones in the ocean caused primarily by nutrient pollution from synthetic fertilizers. Oxygen levels in these areas are so low that most aquatic life cannot survive. They affect large areas of the ocean—especially in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay and have been growing in size since 1985. A current project by The Organic Center has found that organic production cuts nitrogen pollution by 50 percent. You can also personally contribute by avoiding chemical fertilizers on your own lawn and garden.
Nine: Stabilize the climate.
Climate change will continue to be a major concern in 2014, and organic production may be a key part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A study from Germany showed that organic farming not only produces less greenhouse gases, but also uses less energy than conventional farming techniques.
Ten: Go bird-watching.
Organic agriculture benefits birds on a large scale, according to a 2013 study from France. The study cited “bird-friendly” practices used by organic techniques—such as diverse crop rotations, reduced use of pesticides, and the creation of more heterogeneous landscapes—as being responsible for these benefits.