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
K2_TAGS
Read 50388 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.

29142 comments

  • michael kors handbags
    michael kors handbags Sunday, 19 May 2019 10:47

    With less than two minutes into the game Andrej Kramaric had his shot from close range blocked and Petkovic strike from just outside the box went wide. Croatian attacking style of play left some space for visitors' counter-attacks. Azerbaijan lone striker Ramil Sheydaev outsprinted Domagoj Vida on the left wing in the 13th minute but couldn't get the ball pass the Croatian goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic.

  • red bottom shoes
    red bottom shoes Sunday, 19 May 2019 10:47

    Shaikh Salman took over as the 10th president of the AFC in May 2013. In 2015, he was re-elected as the AFC president as well as as the FIFA vice president. In 2018, Salman was appointed as the FIFA senior vice president.

  • adidas clothins
    adidas clothins Sunday, 19 May 2019 10:39

    REAFFIRMING COMMITMENT ON SEALING SOUTH CHINA SEA COC

  • clarks shoes
    clarks shoes Sunday, 19 May 2019 10:36

    Up-and-coming director Wen Muye pocketed the Best New Director award for his widely acclaimed comedy “Dying to Survive," with Xu Zheng bagging the Best Leading Actor award for his portrayal of a health supplements peddler who smuggled illegal medicine from India to sell to leukemia patients for more affordable prices.

  • nike kd trey v iii men blue orange
    nike kd trey v iii men blue orange Sunday, 19 May 2019 10:14

    kvinders nike lebron 15 sort wool long sleeve polo nike huarache black and gold nero nike air max trainers schwarz adidas weightlifting schuhe ole miss rebels 47 ncaa 47 closer cap
    nike kd trey v iii men blue orange http://www.investicrypto.com/nike-kd-trey-v-iii-men-blue-orange-shoesk

  • nike mercurial superfly grau rosa
    nike mercurial superfly grau rosa Sunday, 19 May 2019 10:14

    frau cortez nylon 100 anniversary rose rosa nike internationalist burgundy pink michael michael kors bedford flip flops svart chucks converse nero and rosa converse scarpe nike sb stefan janoski max green
    nike mercurial superfly grau rosa http://www.yogafriendly.com/nike-mercurial-superfly-grau-rosa-schuhei

  • grey jordan eclipse kids
    grey jordan eclipse kids Sunday, 19 May 2019 10:14

    nike air max 90 hyp sp maschio forest camouflage hiking femmes adidas ultra boost rose blanc north face denali hoodie camo air jordan 3 retro black white nike cortez tout noir suede womens grey adidas superstar
    grey jordan eclipse kids http://www.citypixxel.com/grey-jordan-eclipse-kids-shoesk

  • adidas originals cap red
    adidas originals cap red Sunday, 19 May 2019 10:14

    nike free trainer 5.0 hommes jaune noir north face mens apex bionic jacket adidas ultra boost wool black air jordan retro 13 noir bleu blanc triple black adidas eqt buffalo sabres baseball cap
    adidas originals cap red http://www.showboxi.com/adidas-originals-cap-red-hath

  • adidas latest blanco zapatos
    adidas latest blanco zapatos Sunday, 19 May 2019 10:14

    hombres kobe 10 elite high top gris negro verde nike kobe 12 jujube r酶d nike air max nero in esecuzione scarpe nike air max tn plus grigio kansas city royals toddler jersey coach small black crossbody
    adidas latest blanco zapatos http://www.amsinconline.com/adidas-latest-blanco-zapatos-zapatosl

  • nike air pegasus 89 txt svart dark gr氓
    nike air pegasus 89 txt svart dark gr氓 Sunday, 19 May 2019 10:14

    nike free trainer 5.0 maschio gituttio nero femmes nike air max 87 noir womens blue north face denali jacket best white adidas shoes air jordan retro 11 light bleu adidas predator blue
    nike air pegasus 89 txt svart dark gr氓 http://www.xjdscnuh.com/nike-air-pegasus-89-txt-svart-dark-gr%C3%A5-obuvk

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 organic-products.eu must not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment.