What does “organic” mean?
The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Generally, organic crops must be grown without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers, or bioengineered genes (GMOs).
Organic livestock raised for meat, eggs, and dairy products must be raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (such as the ability to graze on pasture) and fed organic feed and forage. They may not be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal by-products.
For some people eating organic may sound weird as organic foods are often considered as costly and made for wealthy people. In recent years, organic food producers have proved it wrong and offering them at an affordable price range. As the demand for the word “organic” in the food industry is on the rise, we have put up the real benefits of eating organic.
The benefits of eating organic food
How your food is grown or raised can have a major impact on your mental and emotional health as well as the environment. Organic foods often have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally-grown counterparts and people with allergies to foods, chemicals, or preservatives may find their symptoms lessen or go away when they eat only organic foods.
Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Chemicals such as synthetic fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat.
Organic food is often fresher because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer. Organic produce is sometimes (but not always, so watch where it is from) produced on smaller farms nearer to where it is sold.
Organic agriculture is about keeping the natural ingredients within, so the original taste and nutritional content of the food remains the same. Unlike food produced by using pesticides, organic food has no strange taste but juicy, crispy – contains original taste and nutrition value in each bite.
Organic farming tends to be better for the environment. Organic farming practices may reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. Farming without synthetic pesticides is also better for nearby birds and animals as well as people who live close to farms.
Organically raised animals are NOT given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts. Feeding livestock animal by-products increases the risk of mad cow disease (BSE) and the use of antibiotics can create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Organically-raised animals tend to be given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, which help to keep them healthy.
Organic meat and milk can be richer in certain nutrients. Results of a 2016 European study show that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50 percent higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally raised versions.
Organic food is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or traditional crossbreeding, most commonly to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide.
Does organic mean pesticide-free?
As mentioned above, one of the primary benefits of eating organic is lower levels of pesticides. However, despite popular belief, organic farms do use pesticides. The difference is that they only use naturally-derived pesticides, rather than the synthetic pesticides used on conventional commercial farms. Natural pesticides are believed to be less toxic, however, some have been found to have health risks. That said, your exposure to harmful pesticides will likely be lower when eating organic.
Eating organic food is a personal choice. People choose organic food for different reasons. Whether you choose organic or non-organic food, you can still eat healthily. Normally, organic food is more expensive than conventionally-grown food. But if you set some priorities, it may be possible to purchase organic food and stay within your food budget.