The Benefits of Eating Organic Foods
There are so many buzz words surrounding the world of health and healthy foods that it can be difficult to know if something is actually good for you or it’s just marketed really well. Eating organic food is one of those trends that you may wonder about. The experts keep telling us that it is fresher and tastier, and maybe your friend has been assuring you that her diet was successful only because of organic eating. If you are wondering if it’s worth it to limit the intake of non-organic foods and replace them with more expensive organic products, the following information may help you get a better picture of what organic really means.
What is organic food?
“Organic” refers to the way agricultural foods are grown and processed. This way may vary in different countries but basically, the term “organic” in various countries can mean different things. According to the United States’ legislation, organic vegetables, crops, and fruits are to be grown without the use of chemicals, synthetic pesticides, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEOs) that change the genes of crops and plants in an artificial way, and without sewage sludge-based, and petroleum-based fertilizers.
When it comes to the definition of organic animal products, the discussion is about meat, eggs, and dairy products produced from domestic animals that have access to the outdoors and are fed with organic plants. For example, organic beef means that the cow didn’t receive antibiotics, wasn’t fed animal by-products, and didn’t receive growth hormones.
Is organic food better than non-organic food?
The organic produce process and conventionally-grown production are total opposites. The following comparison can help you make a more informed decision about whether or not you think it’s worth it to buy organic meat, fruits, and vegetables:
- The use of fertilizers:
- Organic foods are to be grown with manure, compost, and other natural fertilizers;
- Conventionally-grown foods are mostly grown with chemical or synthetic fertilizers.
- Weed control:
- Organic fruits and vegetables are grown with natural weeds control including crop rotation, mulching, tilling, and hand weeding;
- Non-organic foods use chemical herbicides to control weeds.
- Pest control:
- Organic foods are controlled from the pests by means of such natural methods as insects, birds, and traps;
- Non-organic produce pest control is done with the help of synthetic pesticides.
What are the possible risks of consuming pesticide-coated foods?
Are you still not convinced that organic foods can be better for your health? Then consider checking the science-backed facts of the most important benefit of organic food – pesticide reduction. The thing is that both non-organic and organic food manufacturers use pesticides. However, the non-organic produce means the use of synthetic pesticides, while the organic food producers apply only naturally-derived pesticides. Natural pesticides are believed to be less toxic.
What are the possible dangers of eating the pesticide-coated foods? Some studies claim that one of the most popular pesticides in the United States – Organophosphorus – may lead to certain development problems like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism.
Children and fetuses are more likely to be affected by synthetic pesticides. If you want your children to grow up healthy, reduce their consumption of non-organic foods to the minimum and include more organic snacks in their diet instead of preserved foods.
The accumulation of pesticides in the human body can also trigger a number of serious health problems. For example, recent studies claim that even the regular intake of low doses of pesticides may increase the risk of certain cancers – lymphoma, leukemia, brain tumors, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.
Important notice! Many people believe that washing and peeling of non-organic fruits and veggies can reduce the number of pesticides on them. This hypothesis is not 100% true. While rinsing and peeling can help, it doesn’t completely eliminate the level of potentially dangerous pesticides in fruits and vegetables. And even low doses of pesticides left after washing and peeling can be harmful.
Top 4 organic food benefits
If the enumeration of the science-backed organic farming benefits has not been convincing enough, the following health benefits of organic foods may help to tip the scale in the favor of organic produce:
- Organic foods have plenty of antioxidants that can prevent cancer, heart diseases, vision problems, premature aging, and cognitive malfunction;
- One of the most important advantages of organic foods is that they can protect people from heart problems because of high amounts of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) capable of protecting the cardiovascular system. Most CLA is contained in organic grass-fed and cage-free meat;
- The advantages of organic farming can be beneficial for the immune system by making your body less susceptible to the widespread viruses and catching common colds;
- Organic foods tend to be fresher (mostly these products come from local farming markets) and, as a result, may taste better.
What organic foods are worth your money?
So, you have finally decided to buy organic foods. Where to start and what foods are actually worth their not-that-cheap price? It is true that organic foods are more expensive than conventionally-grown crops, plants, fruits, vegetables, and animal products. Why? Because the organic methods of growing consume more human and time resources and yield smaller crops.
However, according to the non-profit U.S. organization Environmental Working Group, you may save money by buying only those organic foods that, when grown conventionally, have the highest pesticide level in the United States. These foods are:
- Sweet bell peppers;
- Nectarines (imported);
- Collard greens and kale;
- Cherry tomatoes;
- Summer squash;
- Hot peppers.
As the Environmental Working Group states, there is the so-called “Clean 15” – naturally the cleanest foods in the United States, even when they are not specifically grown organically. You can save on buying non-organic foods from this list:
- Sweet peas (frozen);
- Sweet corn;
- Sweet potatoes;
You may also consider buying organic beef, dairy, and eggs. Because, statistically, in the United States most non-organic animal products have a lot potentially harmful pesticides.
Shopping tips for organic foods
If you don’t want to worry – is my organic food really organic, you can try following these expert tips when it comes to organic shopping:
- Instead of visiting an organic store in your neighborhood, consider planning a weekend trip to a local farmer’s market where the farmers sell their organic produce, often with a discount compared to the franchise grocery stores;
- Consider joining your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm where families and individuals purchase “shares” of organic produce in bulk, straight from a local farm;
- Schedule your organic shopping – vegetables and fruits are cheaper and fresher when they are consumed in season.
Keep in mind that organic baked goods, desserts, and snacks can still be very high in salt, sugar, calories, and fat. Check the total nutritional value of the organic food labels before buying them.