Let’s talk about the big “O” in Food Security

Good food is like having a companion who not only cooks well but nourishes your well-being as well. In Ghana, food forms an integral part of our identity. Arguably, ones’ choice of food easily dictates their mood and health in the long run.

Think back to your most productive workday in the past week. Now ask yourself, on that afternoon, what did you have for lunch?

When we think about the factors that contribute to workplace performance, we rarely give much consideration to food. For those of us battling to stay on top of emails, meetings and deadlines, food is simply fuel.

But as it turns out, this analogy is misleading, the foods we eat affect us more than we realize. With fuel, you can reliably expect the same performance from your car no matter what brand of unleaded you put in your tank. Food is different, imagine a world where filling up at Shell meant avoiding all traffic and driving no faster than 20 miles an hour. Would you then be so cavalier about where you purchased your gas?

I recently converted to organic food and that means looking for produce that are limited and mostly in unknown markets. I also realized that “Organic” is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. The term is being used in television, food packaging and overheard conversations, but few of us know what it actually means or what makes a produce organic.

Before you spend the extra few bucks on something with a certified organic label, let’s get acquainted with what the big “o” means.

Organic food is a product of a farming system which avoids the use of the man-made fertilizers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock additives. To brand a food produce as organic, farms have to adhere to specific criteria. A few of the things that might disqualify a produce include the use of synthetic fertilizers, GMOs, antibiotics, growth hormones and feed made from animal byproducts.

Organic food is cheapest when bought directly from a farmer or producer, either via a farmers’ market or from the farm shop. Buying local, organic food will often cost less than the non-organic equivalent. Unfortunately, most of us cannot access organic food directly from the producer and therefore it tends to be more expensive than the basic non-organic equivalent in the supermarkets. It does pay to shop around. Some organic products cost less than premium non-organic products.

If you are on a tight budget but would like to buy more organic food, then you could try prioritizing your purchases. Items such as organic flour, milk, bread and butter can be cheaper, as can fresh seasonal produce such as salad leaves and herbs.

There are other reasons, besides nutrition, that people choose organic food – such as taste, to avoid pesticides and a concern for the environment. The organic movement does promote better soil and it stands to reason that in the long run, organic farming is better overall soil quality. Lets’ not forget that most important factor in your diet, as far as fruit and vegetables are concerned, is to eat as much as wide a variety as possible.

I buy my organic vegetables from the “Farmers market” at Labone and the Du Bois center in Accra. However, the question is, how does one know and trust that the purchased produce is organic?

Keep your interest on the organics as we bring you the answer and more about Ghana going organic next week…

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