What Is Organic Food?
According to the Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the definition of organic food is:
Organic food is the result of an agricultural system that prohibits the use of, man-made pesticides, livestock feed additives, fertilisers, and growth regulators. Organic legislation usually forbids irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or goods derived from or by GMOs.
In order to be declared organic, a food product has to be free of any artificial food additives, including anything, ranging from preservatives, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sweeteners, and flavouring to colouring. Now that you know what does organic food mean, let's dive into the pros and cons of organic food:
Benefits of Organic Food
Organic food has seen a remarkable 18.7% boost in its sales during the COVID-19 imposed lockdown. As a matter of fact, it showed sustained growth and exceeded expectations by hitting the £2.6 billion target by the end of 2020. The reason for such a rapid increase in its sales were the benefits of organic farming and organic food.
People choose to consume organic food because of its integrity, sustainability, safety, and the peace of mind it offers. You can find so many brands dedicated solely to producing the best organic food, including some big names, such as Clearspring, Pukka, and Biona. These brands also offer additional perks, such as their food being vegan, fermented or free-from.
If you have been looking for reasons to eat organic, then consider this your invitation to do so. We have compiled a comprehensive list of research-backed 9 amazing benefits of organic food that everyone needs to be aware of, especially those who are thinking of switching to organic food:
Reduced Exposure to Pesticides
To keep crops from getting attacked by pests like bugs, beetles, and worms, pesticides are used in conventional farming. Even though they get the job done, they also contain compounds not required by humans such as organophosphorus. Organophosphorus has been linked to several problems like ADHD and Autism.
The presence of pesticides is one of the most cited complaints by food consumers. View.
Organic food reduces the number of chemicals in your meals, including persistent fungicides, weedicides, fertilisers, and insecticides. These pesticides are strictly monitored during organic food production. This is one of the environmental benefits of organic food because of which people switch to organic food.
Better for the Planet
Organic food works with nature instead of working against it. Compared to traditional agriculture, the primary advantage of organic crop, and livestock production, is that it focuses on soil-based production, with underlying concepts of soil quality conservation or development.
By using natural cycles and systems at all times, from plants and to animals, organic farming maintains the soil. As a result, the soil naturally retains photosynthesis carbon dioxide rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. Therefore, it helps fight climate change and consequently protects planet Earth.
Organic food is one of the best ways to avoid consuming GMO foods (Genetically Modified Organisms), ingredients, and contamination. The use of Genetically Modified Organisms, in any way, is inhibited in organic production. Hence, an organic farmer cannot use GMO seeds or feed his cow GMO corn or alfalfa.
Farmers and processors have to show that they are not using any prohibited substances like GMOs from the farm to the table to meet USDA organic regulations. This further restricts them from using any kind of prohibited substances.
Better for the Environment
You can also support the environment by choosing to consume organic food. Organic production practices result in various environmental benefits that can also benefit us in the long run.
Water and soil are the two most extremely crucial resources required for growing food. And organic farming stops chemicals from getting mixed in water supplies, as well as rebuilds soil health. So, if you choose to go organic, you cannot only conserve water and soil quality but also play your role in biodiversity, sustainability, soil building, and cleaner water tables.
Better for Soil Health
Based on the principle of nourishing the soil, organic food is produced while building soil fertility using clover and compost. It is not just beneficial for its consumers, but there are also some great environmental benefits of organic food.
Organic food is grown using natural organic fertilisers, organic matter, green manures, and animal manures to build a nutritious and healthy soil. The food grown in healthy soil boasts a better capability of resisting disease, surviving droughts, and tolerating insects.
Higher Nutrients and Antioxidant Capacity
Organic food can cause an increase in the consumption of nutritionally beneficial antioxidants, as well as decreased exposure to toxic heavy metals. According to a study, organic vegetables and fruits boast up to 69% higher levels of antioxidants, like phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and flavanones, than conventionally grown crops.
Organic foods are also packed with other nutrients such as vitamin C, magnesium, iron, chromium, and calcium. A European study conducted in 2016 showed that omega-3 fatty acids were up to 50% more in organic milk and meat than conventionally reared ones.
According to a study, in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, organic tomatoes have significantly higher amounts of antioxidant phenolic compounds. Read more.
Better for Wildlife
Organic farms act as a refuge for wildlife and provide homes for birds, butterflies, and bees. In fact, organic food and farms protect bees, wildlife, and pollinators from toxic chemicals. Large-scale, chemically intensive agricultural practices are a threat to pollinators. It destroys their habitat and also decreases the nutritious forage.
Producing food organically alleviate many threats to wildlife because organic farmers manage their farms to improve natural resources and foster biodiversity. Moreover, bird, insect, and plant lives are 50% more abundant on organic food production sites.
Better for Animals
In 2017, farm animals in the UK accounted for 30% of all the antibiotics used. Feeding livestock animal by-products raises the chances of mad cow disease (BSE), while antibiotics produce antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria in animals. But, organically-raised animals are provided more space to move around, and they also have access to the outdoors, which keeps them healthy.
Furthermore, organic food and farming restrict farmers from administering antibiotics to animals. Organic farmers and ranchers have to accommodate the natural behaviour of livestock and meet wellness and health requirements.
Lowered Chances of Cancer
A study, in JAMA Internal Medicine, reported that eating organic foods frequently can lower the risk of developing cancer. Specifically, eating primarily organic foods can prevent postmenopausal breast cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
One of the reasons for cancer, especially in women, are the growth hormones found in milk (rBGH or rBST), which are genetically modified. Consuming milk from hormone-treated cows can result in increased chances of cancer in humans. Therefore, if you go organic, you can save yourself and your family from the risk of cancer
Are There Any Disadvantages of Organic Food?
Yes. There are some disadvantages of organic food, including high costs. Organic food is produced without using pesticides, so the farming process is very labour intensive. This increases the cost of organic food way more than conventionally grown food.
Another downside of organic food is the use of synthetic chemicals. Synthetic chemicals might still be used, during the production of organic food. Organic farmers are allowed to use synthetic chemicals if, they can prove that natural pesticides and cultural practices failed to control pests.
Last but not the least, organic food has a shorter shelf life as compared to conventional food.
Conventional foods can be treated with waxes, cling film, and preservatives to retain the freshness during shipping. But organic food can’t be treated with these measures, which means that it is prone to spoilage faster than conventional food. But it is safe to say that the disadvantages of organic food do not outweigh its numerous advantages.
The Final Takeaway
Is organic food better for the environment? Yes, organic food is better for the environment including plants, animals, and soil. It is better for human and animal health? Yes, again. So, if you wanted to know that organic foods are healthier, then you have your answer.
Choosing to consume organic foods is an effective choice for not just personal but planetary health. Buying organically grown food that is full of sustainable sustenance, taste, and nutrition is a direct vote for our health and our generations to come, as well.
Also Read: 11 Best Tips for Quick Vegan Weight Loss