Organic food and how it's different.
There has been much speculation and debate surrounding the organic food movement over the last few years especially. Focus around the GMOs has been a hot topic, along with the increase in worldwide obesity, cancers, health awareness and weight related illnesses.
Globally there have been proactive campaigns around the benefits of eating clean, healthy and unprocessed foods. Governments are recognising the burden on the health-care system caused by illnesses related to poor nutritional choices. Education and programs involving healthy food preparation have been growing - with more people embracing healthy, clean and unprocessed ways of life.
Demand for fresh, organic produce is on the increase, with more people becoming aware of the benefits and contents of their everyday products.
One of the main turn-offs of organic produce is often the price. Organic production is more expensive given the absence of the cost effective practices of conventional larger farms.
Is it REALLY worth paying the extra price for an organic option over an “everyday” option?
Here we take a look at what makes organic produce different:
1. Organic means chemical-free
Everyday we’re exposed to heavy metals and toxins - from the air we breathe, to our deodorants, toothpastes, cleaning products, detergents and even the containers we use to store and heat our food.
Traditional agriculture uses chemicals and pesticides to boost crop production and lower costs. The two most heavily used chemicals in agriculture include Roundup and Atrazine - they are also the most controversial, which one considered a ‘probable carcinogen’ and the other a ‘hormone disruptor’.
Chemical and pesticide residues leach into fresh (and processed foods) and subsequently into our bodies. According to the US National Academy of Sciences 90% of the 1000’s of chemicals applied to food haven’t been tested for long-term health effects before being approved… that’s a genuinely scary thought! These chemicals also leach into soils, groundwater and they are also inadvertently consumed by birds and other wildlife.
The chemical load doesn’t end with fruit and vegetables either. The EPA has stated that a high level of our pesticide and chemical intake comes from meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and other dairy products. This is because these animals are reared in environments where they consume chemical laden foods- allowing the amounts to accumulate in their system due to the fact that they are higher up the food chain. With the increase in chemicals and pesticides also comes the increase of heavy metals like lead and mercury.
2. Organic generally means additive-free
Conventional food options are geared at promoting cheaper products, more quickly - that have a longer shelf life and are more “tasty”. This includes the prevalent use of additives including colours, flavours, preservatives and synthetic antioxidants. A good way to see proof of this, is to look at the food labels, to see the substantial list of numbers, “flavour enhancers” (MSG) and other unrecognisable ingredients.
Many of these additives have been linked to numerous behavioural, neurologically, learning and digestive problems. Through eating organic, you’re able to reduce your exposure to the prevalence of the processed additives.
3. Organic means less exposure to growth hormones and antibiotics
This point relates to the production of organic meats and meat related products, including beef, chicken, lamb and pork. Conventional meat production uses growth hormones to assist with speedy livestock maturation, meat production as well as extensive use of antibiotics to prevent livestock disease.
The high density farming methods along with these chemicals make conventional meat production far cheaper than organic methods, which don’t use these chemicals... which inevitably translates to the price that we pay in the supermarket.
Consuming antibiotics can wreak havoc with your healthy gut bacteria, which we know first-hand from when we’re prescribed antibiotics from our doctor and also advised to take a probiotic at the same time! Eating organic meat drastically reduces exposure to growth promotants and antibiotics.
4. Organic means more sustainable and ecofriendly farming methods
Organic and biodynamic farming methods are focused around the natural and ecofriendly quality of the land, environment, soils and produce. The absence of chemicals, pesticides and promotants means that a more sustainable farming method is used, with produce appearing in its “natural” state. Because of this, many organic farms are far smaller than conventional producers and tend to grow a variety of produce as opposed to the mainstream mono-cultural approach.
Buying and consuming organic produce supports organic farming communities and their sustainable farming practices. Organic farms require a higher proportionate number of labourers and use less external inputs than conventional farms, which means that the surrounding communities benefit through access to local employment, reducing unemployment and poverty. Less money leaves the community in favour of the multinationals, too!
5. Organic produce may contain more nutrients… and it definitely tastes better!
It makes perfect sense that produce farmed in chemical-free and nutrient rich soil, using eco friendly methods would be packed with nutrition and flavour. No modifiers, promotants or pesticide residue. Simply as nature would have it.
Recent research from hundreds of different studies has concluded that overall, organic produce delivered between 20-40% more antioxidants than conventional produce. These antioxidants include compounds like flavonoids and carotenoids which help our body’s cells combat chemical bombardment and free radicals.
We think that it tastes better too. Don’t take it from us, though - give it a go yourself. Eat organic for a week, a month or even two… and see if you feel, notice and taste the difference.
So often we are desensitised from what’s actually in our food, how it’s grown, made or even where it comes from. It’s good to reassess our habits every now and then and see if there’s room for improvement. When it comes to our health and wellbeing, it’s always worth the attention.