Organic 18 August 2014

Organic Foods: What You Need to Know

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Organic food has become very popular. But navigating the maze of organic food labels, benefits, and claims can be confusing.

Is organic food really better for your mental and physical health? Do GMOs and pesticides cause cancer and other diseases? What do all the labels mean? This guide can help you make better choices about shopping organic, including what to focus on and how to make eating organic more affordable.

What does "organic" mean?

The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. While the regulations vary from country to country, in the U.S., organic crops must be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.

Organic livestock raised for meat, eggs, and dairy products must have access to the outdoors and be given organic feed. They may not be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal by-products.

Organic vs. Non-Organic
Organic produce: Conventionally-grown produce:
Grown with natural fertilizers (manure, compost). Grown with synthetic or chemical fertilizers.
Weeds are controlled naturally (crop rotation, hand weeding, mulching, and tilling). Weeds are controlled with chemical herbicides.
Pests are controlled using natural methods (birds, insects, traps) and naturally-derived pesticides. Pests are controlled with synthetic pesticides
Organic meat, dairy, eggs: Conventionally-raised meat, dairy, eggs
Livestock are given all organic, hormone- and GMO-free feed. Livestock are given growth hormones for faster growth, as well as non-organic, GMO feed.
Disease is prevented with natural methods such as clean housing, rotational grazing, and healthy diet. Antibiotics and medications are used to prevent livestock disease.
Livestock must have access to the outdoors. Livestock may or may not have access to the outdoors.

The benefits of 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 often find their symptoms lessen or go away when they eat only organic foods.

Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Chemicals such as 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 often (but not always, so watch where it is from) produced on smaller farms near where it is sold.

Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. Farming without 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 byproducts increases the risk of mad cow disease (BSE) and the use of antibiotics can create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Organically-raised animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, which help to keep them healthy.

Organic meat and milk are 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 in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide.

Organic food vs. locally-grown food

Unlike organic standards, there is no specific definition for “local food”. It could be grown in your local community, your state, your region, or your country. During large portions of the year it is usually possible to find food grown close to home at places such as a farmer’s market.

The benefitis of locally grown food

Financial: Money stays within the local economy. More money goes directly to the farmer, instead of to things like marketing and distribution.

Transportation: In the U.S., for example, the average distance a meal travels from the farm to the dinner plate is over 1,500 miles. Produce must be picked while still unripe and then gassed to "ripen" it after transport. Or the food is highly processed in factories using preservatives, irradiation, and other means to keep it stable for transport.

Freshness: Local food is harvested when ripe and thus fresher and full of flavor.

Small local farmers often use organic methods but sometimes cannot afford to become certified organic. Visit a farmer’s market and talk with the farmers to find out what methods they use.

Understanding GMOs

The ongoing debate about the effects of GMOs on health and the environment is a controversial one. In most cases, GMOs are engineered to make food crops resistant to herbicides and/or to produce an insecticide. For example, much of the sweet corn consumed in the U.S. is genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup and to produce its own insecticide, Bt Toxin.

GMOs are also commonly found in U.S. crops such as soybeans, alfalfa, squash, zucchini, papaya, and canola, and are present in many breakfast cereals and much of the processed food that we eat. If the ingredients on a package include corn syrup or soy lecithin, chances are it contains GMOs.

GMOs and pesticides

The use of toxic herbicides like Roundup (glyphosate) has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. While the World Health Organization announced that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” there is still some controversy over the level of health risks posed by the use of pesticides.

Are GMOs safe?

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the biotech companies that engineer GMOs insist they are safe, many food safety advocates point out that no long term studies have ever been conducted to confirm the safety of GMO use, while some animal studies have indicated that consuming GMOs may cause internal organ damage, slowed brain growth, and thickening of the digestive tract.

GMOs have been linked to increased food allergens and gastro-intestinal problems in humans. While many people think that altering the DNA of a plant or animal can increase the risk of cancer, the research has so far proven inconclusive.

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 be lower when eating organic.

What are the possible risks of pesticides?

Most of us have an accumulated build-up of pesticide exposure in our bodies due to numerous years of exposure. This chemical "body burden" as it is medically known could lead to health issues such as headaches, birth defects, and added strain on weakened immune systems.

Some studies have indicated that the use of pesticides even at low doses can increase the risk of certain cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Children and fetuses are most vulnerable to pesticide exposure because their immune systems, bodies, and brains are still developing. Exposure at an early age may cause developmental delays, behavioral disorders, autism, immune system harm, and motor dysfunction.

Pregnant women are more vulnerable due to the added stress pesticides put on their already taxed organs. Plus, pesticides can be passed from mother to child in the womb, as well as through breast milk.

The widespread use of pesticides has also led to the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs,” which can only be killed with extremely toxic poisons like 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (a major ingredient in Agent Orange).

Does washing and peeling produce get rid of pesticides?

Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate pesticides. Peeling sometimes helps, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the skin. The best approach: eat a varied diet, wash and scrub all produce thoroughly, and buy organic when possible.

The best bang for your buck when shopping organic

Organic food is often 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.

Know your produce pesticide levels

Some types of conventionally-grown produce are much higher in pesticides than others, and should be avoided. Others are low enough that buying non-organic is relatively safe. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that analyzes the results of government pesticide testing in the U.S., offers a annually-updated list that can help guide your choices.

Fruits and vegetables where the organic label matters most

According to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that analyzes the results of government pesticide testing in the U.S., the following fruits and vegetables have the highest pesticide levels so are best to buy organic:

  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Grapes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Kale/Collard Greens
  • Summer Squash
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Hot Peppers

Fruits and vegetables you don't need to buy organic

Known as the “Clean 15”, these conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables are generally low in pesticides.

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Mushrooms
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Onion
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet Peas (frozen)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
Read 3740 times
Last modified on 10 August 2017
Super User

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


  • barato nike huarache ultra mujeres oro
    barato nike huarache ultra mujeres oro Friday, 22 February 2019 11:53

    nike roshe run blum盲nner rosa schwarz white mens nike flyknit lunar 3 shoes slim fit long sleeve polo shirts for m忙nd kevin durant kids jersey white silver mens nike tri fusion run msl shoes white womens new balance 999
    barato nike huarache ultra mujeres oro

  • off white x jordan 1
    off white x jordan 1 Friday, 22 February 2019 11:44

    Needed to send you one very little note to say thanks a lot as before for all the superb techniques you have provided in this case. It is certainly surprisingly generous with you to give publicly all most people could possibly have supplied as an ebook to help make some profit on their own, principally considering that you might well have tried it in case you decided. The tactics in addition worked to become easy way to fully grasp that other people have a similar desire much like mine to realize more and more with regards to this problem. I'm certain there are lots of more fun periods in the future for those who looked over your website.

  • golden goose outlet
    golden goose outlet Friday, 22 February 2019 11:24

    I must show my passion for your kind-heartedness for persons who actually need help on this important subject matter. Your very own commitment to getting the solution all around had been exceedingly insightful and has continuously permitted guys and women just like me to realize their goals. This invaluable instruction means a great deal to me and far more to my office colleagues. With thanks; from everyone of us.

  • jordan 12
    jordan 12 Friday, 22 February 2019 11:23

    I precisely wished to say thanks once more. I do not know the things that I might have achieved without the entire aspects discussed by you directly on that situation. It seemed to be a real intimidating dilemma in my circumstances, however , coming across this well-written mode you resolved it took me to jump over gladness. I'm happy for your service and in addition expect you are aware of a great job you have been undertaking instructing men and women through the use of a site. Most likely you haven't met any of us.

  • old skool mens trainers uk
    old skool mens trainers uk Friday, 22 February 2019 08:39

    drew mens rockford black waterproof and insulated leather hiking bootbuy skechers relaxed fit breathe easy calmly skechers activemens shoes supra supra ineto men round toe canvas white skate shoe spring new styleim a guy shoe size 10 what is it for woman shoe size mount mercy
    old skool mens trainers uk

  • curry 4
    curry 4 Friday, 22 February 2019 07:49

    Thank you a lot for providing individuals with a very pleasant chance to discover important secrets from this blog. It is always so pleasing and also full of a lot of fun for me and my office acquaintances to visit your website nearly 3 times every week to study the new items you have got. Not to mention, I'm usually fulfilled with your awesome secrets you give. Some 1 areas in this posting are without a doubt the most effective I have had.

  • jenn lake derek lam 10 crosby tie waist shirtdress steve madden tan suede skales
    jenn lake derek lam 10 crosby tie waist shirtdress steve madden tan suede skales Friday, 22 February 2019 07:11

    winter men long sleeves velvet compression shirts fitness elastic gym running t shirt soccer basketball sportsgeezers sleeveless t shirt 6.5lyle scott lyle scott mens cotton merino crew neck knit sweatshirt deep plumwomens retro iowa t shirt vintage 70s rainbow tee design large lemon
    jenn lake derek lam 10 crosby tie waist shirtdress steve madden tan suede skales

  • justdoitperu
    justdoitperu Friday, 22 February 2019 06:41

    nike free balanza grigio oro kvinners ralph lauren mesh polo svart marinen nike air flight 89 tutti verde nike huarache wei脽 us adidas hurricanes 74 jaccob slavin red home authentic usa flag stitched nhl jersey mens ralph lauren mesh polo orange navy

  • tejarateparsi
    tejarateparsi Friday, 22 February 2019 06:41

    nike tiempo legend svart bl氓 kitten nike tiempo legend i v pelle fg for vendita adidas 11pro adipure trx orange gr眉n kvinders asics gel noosa tri 8 bl氓 s酶lv nike dam盲nner air max tailwind 7 laufen schuh noir on noir jordan 4

  • snowdayrealty
    snowdayrealty Friday, 22 February 2019 06:41

    nike free balanza rosa rosso nike dunk braun gr眉n nike air max lunar 1 kvinners himmelen bl氓 oransje reds 32 matt harvey green salute to service stitched mlb jersey air jordan retro 6 bambini rosa blu maschio air max lunar 90 verde bianca

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Healthy Lifestyle Portal

The information provided here cannot be considered under any circumstances as a substitute for expert advice or treatment of a qualified physician. The content of must not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment.