More and more grocery stores are making organic produce available to keep up with the increasing demand. Reasons include a growing national concern about the safety of our agricultural produce and general awareness movement towards an organic diet.
The Organic Diet: What Does Organic Really Mean?
Organic foods are thought to be better for health and the environment because they're grown in a natural, chemical-free way. Organic produce is grown using natural pest control methods, instead of pesticides, and organic meats don't rely on chemicals to prevent diseases in animals.
Instead of chemicals, organic farmers:
- Rotate crops frequently to stave off insects
- Fertilize crops with manure or compost
- Use chemical-free soils
- Allow animals to spend more time roaming instead of in confined spaces where diseases can spread
- Use organic feed to feed livestock
- Do not use certain medications (including hormones and antibiotics) on livestock
The Organic Diet: What Are the Benefits of going Organic?
- The decision to choose organic produce and other foods is a personal one, based on your own needs and concerns. Some people just don't want to eat any food that could contain pesticides and other chemicals. Another reason is that organic food tastes better. Studies have shown organic foods contain more disease-fighting antioxidants.
- In addition to health and better taste, there's the green aspect of going organic. A lot of people eat organic for the philosophy of it - to help sustain our earth. Organic farming practices are better for the sustainability of land, water, and food.
- For some, organic foods aren't necessary for better health - it's just a preference. Pregnant women and children are more susceptible to the health effects of pesticides (including nervous system damage and behavioral problems), so for them, organic foods are a good health investment.
Health Benefits of Organic Food
In general, organic food consumers, manufacturers, and farmers strongly believe that organic food has the following benefits compared to non-organic food. While there are plenty of arguments against the multitude of organic food being overpriced on the market, there is no denying that there are some benefits that can be enjoyed.
- Antioxidant Capacity - A number of studies have been completed regarding the effects of antioxidants derived from organic foods on your overall health, and the predominant results have shown that antioxidants tend to have more of an impact when they come from organic foods. This may be due to the fact that foreign chemicals are not negatively interacting with the different vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds that are so essential for the positive impact of fruits and vegetables in the prevention of things like cancer, heart disease, premature aging, vision problems, and cognitive malfunction. Recent research suggests that choosing organic food can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and reduced exposure to toxic heavy metals.
- Pesticide Reduction - One of the major complaints that organic food consumers cite when choosing organic over non-organic is the presence of pesticides. In order to keep crops from being attacked by the natural world, including bugs, pesticides are required. Although they do a good job keeping certain pests away from the crops, they also are composed of powerful chemicals like organophosphorus. This is an unnatural mineral compound that is not required by humans, but more than 80% of this material in our bodies comes from eating pesticide-coated foods. Organophosphorus has been connected to a number of developmental problems, including autism and ADHD, so those organic food lovers do have a pretty strong argument in this case. To be fair, many people do choose to go organic to make sure that their children grow up healthy and unaffected by the toxins of the world during their developmental years.
- Heart Health - Increased amount of time grazing on grass also increases the amounts of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) that can be found in the animal products. CLA is a heart-healthy fatty acid that can boost cardiovascular protection, and it is found in higher quantities in breast milk and in meat for animals that have been raised free range or cage-free.
- Immune System - In recent decades, one of the biggest projects for farmers and food growers has been genetic modification. Making tomatoes six times larger might sound like a possible option for solving some world hunger issues, but there is another side to it. Genetic modification is still in its early stages, so the long-term effects of it on human health aren't understood as well as we would like. In animal testing genetically modified food showed a major reduction in immune system strength, an increase in birth mortality, as well as in certain sexual dysfunctions, cancers, and sensitivity to allergens. Although there are some good things about genetically modified food, organic food advocates point to the lack of concrete details about the long-term effects.
- Antibiotic Resistance - People are very sensitive to issues of their health, and they often take precautions to make sure they remain healthy, like getting various vaccines and taking antibiotics as soon as a new strain of bacteria makes them ill. However, non-organic food sources, particularly livestock and feed houses, also use antibiotics to feed their animals. This extra dose of antibiotics may actually be weakening our immune system by basically overdosing on antibiotics, thereby reshaping our immune system so many times that it will eventually be unable to defend itself. Organic food growers and dairy farmers do not use antibiotics in their processes.
- Overall Health - Since organic food is not prepared using chemical fertilizers, it does not contain any traces of these strong chemicals and might not affect the human body in negative ways. Natural fertilizers, like manure, work perfectly fine, and organic farmers are happy to use this smellier, yet safer, form of fertilizer.
The Organic Diet: How can you confirm that the produce is Organic?
In India there is yet to be a proper certification norm for all organically grown foods.For now,the manufacturing bodies do put up in writing on the packaging that it is an organic produce but you need to keep in mind that products labeled "natural" or "hormone-free" are not necessarily organic.
At local farmer's markets, it can sometimes be difficult to verify whether a product has truly been grown organically, but local produce does tend to contain fewer chemicals since it doesn't have to be packaged for long-distance travel.
The Organic Diet: Is It Worth the Price?
Organic food is more expensive because it costs more to produce it. Fortunately, you can still eat a healthy diet without spending too much. Organic is organic, whether it has a fancy brand name or is a no-name. Buy generic store brands of organic foods instead of the pricier brands. Purchasing in bulk and freezing extra food can also help you save money. If you do end up paying a little more for organic food, you may also find yourself paying a little more attention to not wasting food which is a good thing.
So enjoy your organic food,knowing how it will give you better health and a better environment!