Organic food and switching to organic products have been on the rise in the past few decades. In today’s world, the organic food industry is a 30 million dollar business. Moreover, it’s common for a lot of us to use organic products in our households. Further, most of us have an idea that these products are good for our health in the long run. Also, there are a lot of debates going on the pros and cons of organic foods. So in this article let’s try to understand what these are.
UNDERSTANDING ORGANIC FOOD:
Food products produced, processed and prepared without the use of chemicals are organic foods. Further, the production of these food prohibits the use of any form of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or preservatives. A product is labelled as organic if it follows the criteria set by regulating bodies of the respective countries. For instance, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspects, labels and brands products as organic in Canada. Similarly, the food safety and standards authority of India governs the organic food and products in India. An organic certificate is given if the product meets the following criteria.
- No genetic modification
- No use of pesticides or herbicides
- Preventing fertilizers
- No antibiotics or growth hormone in the production of the products
- No chemical additives
- Avoiding radiation to sterilise or preserve the food
It is important to understand that organic is more of a wholesome and a environmentally sustainable idea.
WHY ARE ORGANIC FOODS COSTLY?
Not all organic food are costly. Sometimes, organic food may cost equal to their conventional counterparts or even lesser. Further, organic farmers do not receive federal subsidies like conventional farmers. Moreover, organic farms are smaller than conventional farms. And therefore, the benefits from the economies of scale the larger growers get are not applicable to organic farmers.
ORGANIC VS CONVENTIONAL FOODS:
The National Academy of Science reports that 90% of the chemicals that are applied to the foods have not been tested for long-term health benefits. Various pesticides require varied methods of testing. Chemicals are not tested in every food we take. This poses a question of safety.
The EPA reports that the majority of pesticides intake comes from meat and dairy products because all of these are high on the food chain. Studies also conclude that conventional produce had 48% increased exposure to the heavy metal Cadmium.
BENEFITS OF ORGANIC FOOD:
ABUNDANT ANTI-OXIDANT CONTENT:
Anti-oxidants are substances that protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals. These foods are rich in antioxidants that promote better health. Further, one way organic foods achieve this is due to the fact that they’re free of chemicals. These chemicals hinder the absorption of vitamins, minerals and a lot of essential compounds in the food. Anti-oxidants from organic foods can prevent heart diseases, cognitive malfunction, vision problems, premature ageing etc.
A study done by the British Journal of Nutrition reports that organic foods are more nutritious. Further, organic food has 70% more antioxidants than their conventional counterparts. Even though the conventional produce is larger the nutritional value is not the same. The chemicals used for the faster and bigger development of conventional produce does not allow the proper package of antioxidants. Organic food prevents the intake of harmful chemical products and heavy metals.
GREATER NUTRITION CONTENT:
Further, organic food has a better nutrition content. For instance, organically grown vegetables like lettuce, spinach, carrots, potatoes provide an adequate allowance of Vitamin C. On the other hand, the conventional serve of the same quantity doesn’t contain the same amount of Vitamin C. On average, organically grown foods provide 21% of more iron, 27% of Vitamin C, 29.3% of more magnesium, 13.6% more phosphorous and they seem to taste better.
IMPROVED CARDIAC HEALTH:
Organic food maintains the heart’s health. The conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a type of good fatty acid essential for good cardiac function. Animal products contain them. Plants produce food through photosynthesis. When animals feed on them the animal body converts the plant protein into CLA. This way CLA benefits the consumer. The milk and meat of animals raised in free-range contain abundant CLA.
PREVENTING ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE:
Firstly, non-organic food especially meat uses a lot of hormones, antibiotic shots for faster growth and wholesome meat. Meanwhile, the hormones fed to the livestock cannot be broken down even at a higher temperature. Further, when we take them we subsequently expose ourselves to those drugs. Therefore, they remain incomplete and are passed to us directly through the meat we consume. Further hormone supplementation through consuming meat is a major concern. There is no acceptable safe limit of daily intake of hormones. Hormones can cause the early onset of puberty, growth of the tumour and genetic problems. Increased risk of cancer in women is also common.
These drugs weaken our immune system and create a resistance to antibiotics. This makes it difficult to get them at times of need. A study concluded that children who took conventional food on a regular basis showed an increased amount of pesticide residue in their urine. It also showed that their bodies contained lots of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, there were a lot of controversies on this study. On the other hand, organic food products and meat from animals raised in a natural environment don’t contain all these drugs. This makes organic food safe to consume.
TREAT YOUR TASTE BUDS:
Organic food tastes better than conventional ones. The time of growth is the reason behind this difference in taste. Sufficient time is given to organic foods to develop and mature. Moreover, natural farming methods are used for cultivation. This retains the natural structure of the sugar and minerals. This originality improves the taste to a great extent.
FREE OF CHEMICALS:
As we already saw in the above points these foods are free of pesticides. These chemicals contain a harmful substance called organo phosphorous. Further, these can cause an array of health problems like cancers, digestive problems, headaches etc. In children, this can cause ADHD, autism and a lot of birth defects. Further, a weakened immune system and premature death are also not uncommon.
Taking organic foods that are free of pesticides can save us from a lot of trouble.
AN ENHANCED IMMUNE SYSYTEM:
Organic foods greatly enhance the immune system. Genetic modification or genetically modified food is a great concern. GMO produces conventional food. These are foods with altered DNA that do not take place in nature naturally. Researches show that GMO is a leading cause of slow brain growth, internal organ damage, gastrointestinal problems and thickening of the digestive tract. This might solve one of the biggest global concerns like food insecurity but in the longer run, they are harmful. These can cause sensitivity to allergens and an impaired immune system.
On the other hand, organic food greatly reduces the risk of the decline of the immune system. The unaltered nature of organic food is a great advantage. It retains a good amount of mineral and vitamin content that strengthens the immune system.
MAXIMUM USE OF NUTRIENTS:
Since organic products are naturally cultivated they offer a lot of benefits. They take their own pace and time to grow thus utilising the maximum nutrients. These minerals directly from the soil offer the human body a wide range of nutrients. The absorption is also good in the body.
PRESERVING THE ENVIRONMENT:
Choosing organic helps us to preserve the environment at large. Organic farming preserves the environment by creating harmony in nature. The chemical abstinence in the ecosystem is extremely good for the birds, animals and soil health. It also reduces pollution and prevents water contamination. It’s very important to protect agricultural diversity. Moreover, it is believed that 75% of the genetic diversity of agriculture have been lost in the past century.
THE UNDERSIDE TO ORGANIC FOOD:
However, a study concluded that there were no nutritional differences between conventional and organic foods. Organic is the way a product is prepared or produced. Further, it also concluded that conventional foods did have pesticide residues but they were all within acceptable limits. Another issue with organic foods is the availability and accessibility of these products. Some organic products can cost 40% more than conventional ones. Further, the yield could also be 20% smaller than the conventional ones. Furthermore, organic food is less viable compared to conventional food due to less use of genetic modification techniques. Further, the lack of scientific studies to support organic food over conventional ones always brings us back to the same question. Which one is better?
This brings us to the conclusion that even if we buy conventional food, it is better to wash the fruits or vegetables thoroughly. This reduces the pesticide load and bacterial contamination to a great extent.
To sum up, it all comes to the same conclusion. Spending our money in the organic sector is a direct vote for a sustainable future for the generations to come. Food is a matter of personal choice and one way of being better at what your choose is staying educated and updated. It is always better to consume food as a whole diet closest to its natural form. It is always better to have colours on our plate.