Organic Tea: A Better Choice by Far

by Elena Popec 7. June 2010 10:43

Organic tea is a healthy, delicious choice and has been becoming more and more popular in recent years. The demand for organic products has led to these types of teas being available from mainstream tea companies and in most supermarket chains. It’s easier than ever to buy organic tea.

Why is Buying Organic Tea Important?
   
Avoiding toxic chemicals is one of the main benefits of buying organic tea, and of course there is also the benefit of helping to protect the environment.

Toxic Chemicals:
   
Non-organic teas may have traces of harmful, toxic chemicals due to the use of pesticides in the production. Much of the tea available in stores comes from China and India, where the environmental regulations are not as stringent as those in the United States or countries in Europe. The toxic chemicals in pesticides can be dangerous to ingest and be a risk to the health of people drinking the tea. There are many benefits to drinking tea, such as properties that may help prevent cancer, but this is outweighed by the toxic effects of the chemicals used in the production. Some of these chemicals are known to have carcinogenic effects and toxins.
   
The consumption of teas that have used these chemicals in their production can cause health problems for people who drink it. It’s dangerous as well for people who live near the area of production as the areas may have become contaminated by the toxins. By buying tea that has been produced by such methods contributes to the environmental contamination and to the health problems the people in the area suffer from.

Nutrient Pollution from Fertilizer:
   
Beyond the toxins that are in the pesticides used for production, there is damage to the environment itself. The overuse of fertilizer can destroy the environment. Tea needs fertilizer to grow because as the tea leaves are harvested the organic matter is taken away. Overusing fertilizers can acidify soils and add nitrogen to runoff. This is incredibly destructive, as these damages entire ecosystems in rivers and streams and even in bays near the region or area that grows the tea. The effects of this are devastating and can destroy or damage the fishing industry as well.
   
Using organic fertilizer helps, but doesn’t completely eradicate this problem.

What does Organic Certification Mean?

   
Organic certification has certain requirements that the tea is produced without the use of synthetic chemicals. This generally includes pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. The organic cortication does vary depending on the organization that determines the certification, or on the product that is being certified. The certification also prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms. It also requires a certain number of years that the land has had to have been maintained free of synthetic chemicals. The organic certification also requires records to be kept to make certain that organic materials are kept separate from non-organic materials.
   
In the United States, the USDA is the organization that determines organic certification. In other countries there are a number of other agencies that certify products as organic.

Organic Agriculture is not Perfect:
   
Of course organic agriculture is not the end-all solution to all environmental problems, but it is a step in a positive direction. There are flaws with the process of course. Some products are falsely marked as organic by some companies so that they can sell them at a higher price. It’s important to check the certification of the teas, to make certain that they do have the proper organic certification. But even when the product has been certified, organic agriculture itself is not without flaws. It can still have some damaging impacts on the environment. And the certification process doesn’t address other problems. There is a need for fair wages for workers, which is not addressed by the organic certification.

Is Organic Tea More Expensive?
   
It depends. Sometimes it is, but the prices of teas vary. Many organic tea prices are comparable to non-organic tea prices; they may be about the same or even a little less expensive. Organic tea is healthier and better for the environment and is becoming more readily available. It seems like common sense to buy organic. As buying organic becomes more and more common, and then the focus can be addressed to more environmental concerns and public issues. We can begin restoring the earth’s ecosystems, keep toxic chemicals out of our environment, and help people by addressing the needs for fair wages for workers.

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