Contributed by Cate Palmer
Organic food is everywhere today and its popularity will only grow more and more. This is all because of the proven benefits to human and animal health, but also due to the environmental advantages. The ongoing opinion that organic food is healthier is one of the main reasons for its increased demand.
However, science has come to different conclusions. Some results say that organic and non-organic foods have equal benefits to human health. On the other hand, other studies show that some organic products might be healthier like meat and milk. Nevertheless, some facts about the organic products can never be diminished nor will their benefits be insignificant.
Growing of organic vegetables and fruits requires fewer pesticides.
The plants absorb their food from the soil. Therefore, anything poured on their roots will be taken and processed by the plant. This means that residues of herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides will remain on and in the vegetables and fruits we consume. These synthetic and artificial fertilizers have known side effects to human health causing cancers, infertility, and other disorders.
Organic agriculture also uses minerals as fertilizers but only those from fossils, like greensand and some limestone. The studies showed that non-organic food does contain residues of fertilizers, but that it’s inconsequential to the human health. However, some toxic heavy metals can remain in the body and accumulate over time causing kidney and liver failures like cadmium.
Organically raised animals don’t receive growth boosters and animal by-products.
One of the best-known consequences of feeding livestock animal by-products is the mad cow disease. The controls for infected by-products were introduced in the meat industry in 1989, but it is still not eradicated completely.
Another important issue is the use of antibiotics and growth hormones in order to quicken the natural growth cycle of the animal and eliminate possible consequences of unsanitary living conditions. Overuse of antibiotics is a global problem that causes some bacteria to become antibiotic-resistant and threaten the existence of human, as well as animal life on the planet. Humans intake these substances by eating animal products, meat and foods derived from them.
Organically raised animals have access to the meadows and pastures where they can move freely. They don’t eat any animal by-products or foods containing growth hormones, antibiotics, drugs, pesticides, and chemicals. Their main diet consists of baled hay, clover, and grass in the fields.
Meat and milk from organically raised animals are healthier.
European study in 2016 showed that organic meat and milk contain 50% higher levels of certain nutrients than those from conventionally raised livestock. This includes 57% higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are important for the cardiovascular system, against cancer, for mental health, cognitive and brain functions. In addition, organic milk contains 69% higher alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) levels which reduce LDL cholesterol, as well as 41% higher conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Since organically raised animals are allowed to eat grass and move freely, their meat has lower fat levels than animals fed on a grain-based diet. It also has fewer pesticides and is without antibiotic and growth hormone residues. Conventional farming also uses feed with urea and arsenic compounds, the latter used to prevent parasitic infection in poultry.
Organic food is fresh
When buying organic groceries you will notice that they are fresh and can’t stay unused for too long. This is because they don’t contain any preservatives that will make it last longer. Organic food is usually grown on the smaller farms and transported immediately to the groceries and markets. This makes the food tastier and with all the nutritive values a ripe plant should have.
Conventional food, however, is picked and then processed in the factories with gas to ripen it or preservatives to keep it fresh and unspoiled for a longer period. In 2003, the study from the Archives of Disease in Children showed that the consumption of food preservatives lead to the increase of hyperactive behavior in 1,873 subjects. Other studies showed that food preservatives could weaken the heart tissue, transform into carcinogens when digested and cause breathing difficulties.
Although organic food is often more expensive, its benefits are priceless in the long run. Some budget planning may help to afford these products. Shop at the farmers’ markets or join a cooperative grocery store where members buy at lower prices. Compare prices at different stores and keep an eye on discounts, but also if you can be patient enough, buy fruits and vegetables in a season since then it’s the cheapest.