On the face of it, the advantages of organic food seem obvious. After all, organic plants are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or ionising radiation. Sure, that all sounds good, but what does it really mean? And what are the true benefits of organic farming? We’re here to answer all your questions about organic food, to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you and your family.
What does organic really mean?
The boom in health-consciousness in recent years has led to a marked increase in the popularity of organic foods. However, with so many organic brands out there claiming to be pure and clean, it’s never been more important to properly understand what organic actually means.
According to the USDA, ‘organic is a labelling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods’. These approved methods ensure that shoppers can find products that are clean, pure, natural, and totally void of toxins and artificial additives. Brands should use Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified seals in order to credibly claim to be organic.
Are organic foods more nutritious?
The short answer is an emphatic, yes. Studies have shown that organic fruits and vegetables deliver 20-40% more antioxidants than conventional fruits and vegetables. And when it comes to the nutritional value, it’s thought that organic food is more nutritious, as without pesticides, organic plants naturally boost the production of vitamins and antioxidants to fight off pests. The end result is more wholesome and nutritionally dense produce.
Are organic foods safer? And if so, why?
Organic food is believed to be safer for several reasons. A recent Stanford University Study concluded that organic produce may reduce exposure to pesticides that are toxic to humans. It also found that consumption of organic pork and chicken may reduce our exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, thereby protecting us from antibiotic immunity.
The US government has also acknowledged that many of us are exposed to low levels of pesticide residues, which some reports have suggested may be linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease; asthma; depression and anxiety; attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); and cancer, including leukaemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. When we stop exposing ourselves to these toxins, our diets could be much safer.
Is organic food good for the environment?
One of the main benefits of organic farming is that it protects the environment. Organic farming reduces the pollution of water and land, which is much healthier for the many species of birds, animals and fish that live near farming land.
Organic farming conserves water, reduces soil erosion, and uses less energy, making it one of the most environmentally friendly ways to farm. Another benefit of organic farming is that it helps farmers maintain soil fertility and keeps their land free of toxic chemicals.
Does organic food taste better?
For many people, the primary benefit of organic food is the taste. Once you’ve have grown accustomed to the taste of fresh, pesticide-free produce, it can be hard to go back. People often claim they can taste the pesticide residue in non-organic foods, and that the higher antioxidant levels make a real difference to the taste of organic food.
This would certainly make sense, as higher antioxidant levels and lower crop yields mean that there are more nutrients available per plant to concentrate that luscious, healthy flavour.