Organic food has become increasingly commonplace even in standard grocery stores, thanks to the notion that organic food is healthier and overall better for you.
But is organic food healthier? The following guide will help you understand more about what organic food is and whether organic food is healthier for you.
What is “Organic” Food?
The exact definition of “organic” food will vary depending on where the food is grown and sold, as well as the type of food being labeled; this is because different organizations have different regulations in regard to food (particularly produce and meat products) being labeled organic.
In general, however, the concept behind organic food is that it will grow without using synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, irradiation, genetic engineering or modification; and it does not contain antibiotics or growth hormones for meat such as beef and chicken.
Instead, organic farming uses natural practices such as employing insect traps for pest control, using plant or livestock manure as fertilizer; and humane practices for livestock, such as providing healthy living conditions, providing pasture grazing, and so on.
In simple terms, when you buy organic food you are buying quality food that is better for your personal health and it is better for the health of our environment.
When shopping for organic produce always look for the USDA label. This can be found on a huge range of products; meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables, dry food, etc.
By purchasing the food with this label, the organic seal, you can guarantee it is a quality organic produce. These foods have an organic certification with the USDA. Companies using the label are responsible for meeting five organic standards.
In relation to the “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” seals on food, items must:
- have an ingredient list
- content must be at least 95% “Certified Organic”
According to the USDA “Certified Organic” means free from synthetic additives such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides, dyes and can not be made with the use of industrial solvents, genetic engineering or irradiation.
But what about the other 5%? Don’t worry, these last ingredients must be on their approved list too. The certification appears to be a thorough process. Once certified, companies will be subject to annual reviews.
In addition, organic meat farmers must raise their animals in more spacious surroundings.
Different countries have a different understanding or certification for ‘organic’ produce. What is written here applies to the certification process of the U.S.A.
Is Organic Food Healthier?
The question remains: is organic food healthier? Although organic food is sometimes dismissed as simply a way for companies to make more money, due to the fact that organic food is usually higher in price, research has shown that there are health benefits to consuming organic foods compared to non-organic foods.
Nutritionally, research has shown that organic produce has at least a slight increase in nutritional value compared to non-organic produce. For instance, flavonoids (which contain antioxidants) are higher in organic produce than non-organic produce.
Organic meats, dairy products, and eggs are also significantly higher in Omega-3 fatty acids than their non-organic counterparts. Omega-3 fatty acids are much more heart-friendly than other types of fats.
Another health benefit associated with organic food is a significant decrease in toxic pesticide residue compared to non-organic produce. Non-organic produce needs to be thoroughly washed before consumption to remove toxic pesticide residue, but most people do not fully remove pesticides, even if they happen to rinse the produce in the sink.
Organic produce, on the other hand, is grown with natural pesticides or pest-control options so the level of pesticide residue ranges from only slight to zero depending on how it was grown.
Organic produce should still be thoroughly washed to remove bacteria, but the chances for toxic pesticide residue on the products are much lower.
Studies have also found that livestock meats grown organically have much fewer bacteria contamination compared to livestock grown in a conventional, non-organic manner.
The reason for this is multi-faceted: livestock grown for conventional meat production is typically grown in areas with poorer health conditions and with less nutritionally useful food, which can decrease an animal’s resistance to bacteria.
Livestock grown with organic methods are typically given healthier lifestyles, vaccinations against various diseases, as well as more nutritionally valuable diets that improve their health before they are cultivated for their meat.
The answer to the question “Is organic food healthier?” is a definite “yes.” If you want to make sure you are buying organic food, carefully check food labels the next time you go grocery shopping.
A Few Final Thoughts
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