It is no secret that organic foods are all the rage now – their popularity has been growing through the years. With the overload of information available online and on the food labels, it can be quite challenging to navigate the vast maze of organic foods, their supposed benefits and their value proposition. All in all, you seek an answer to the simple question – are organic foods right for me?
To answer the question, we need to know what organic foods really are. Are they same as natural foods? Are they really beneficial?
Ok, so what are organic foods?
Essentially, organic pertains to the way agricultural produce and products are grown and processed. To be classified as organic, crops must be grown in safe and natural soil, must have no modifications – genetic or otherwise – and must be separated from conventional produce and products. Organic crops are not exposed to synthetic pesticides, GMOs and fertilizers that are petroleum-based or sewage sludge-based. Organic farming practices include the usage of natural fertilizers such as compost and manure to feed soil and plants. Crop rotation, mulching and tilling are used to control weeds, while insects are controlled using natural methods such as traps and birds.
Similarly, organic livestock must be raised on a diet of organic feed and must have adequate access to the outdoors; they should not be administered growth hormones, antibiotics, or any animal-by-products.
Are organic foods and natural foods the same?
Natural foods are not the same as organic foods, although it is quite common for people to use the terms interchangeably. Foods that are natural are those that do not contain artificial colours and flavours, artificial preservatives, GMOs and irradiated ingredients. Therefore, all organic foods are natural, but not the other way around.
How do organic foods benefit me?
Organic foods are associated with a variety of benefits – due to the absence of chemicals and artificial treatments, they spare the ecosystem the damage, and are strongly believed to deliver great benefits to your health.
1. Organic foods are safer to consume
Since organic foods are pesticide and chemical free, there are no harmful residues that are left on the foods, making them several times safer than conventionally grown foods that employ fungicides, insecticides and herbicides. This translates to lesser bouts of food-borne diseases.
2. Organic foods are healthier for you
Organic foods are a richer source of antioxidants as compared to conventionally grown foods. Studies have indicated that organic fruits and vegetables contain 27% more Vitamin C, 21.1% more Iron, 29.3% more Magnesium, 13.6% more Phosphorus, and 18% more Polyphenols while organic meats are less fatty. They have also noted that dairy products from organically raised livestock are healthier than conventionally produced dairy products – specifically, the content of Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants were significantly higher in organically produced milk.
3. They are often fresher
Organic foods are typically fresher as they are not preserved using chemical preservatives or agents. Hence these foods have shorter shelf life than the ones that are conventionally grown. This leads to quicker and more regular replenishment of fresher stock for consumption. Fresh food tastes better than the one that has been frozen, stored and shipped across long distances.
4. Organic farming is greener
Besides delivering health benefits, organic farming is better for the environment. These farming practices work to reduce air pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion and increase soil fertility, and consume lesser energy.
So, are organic foods right for me?
If you seek healthier and safer alternatives to conventionally grown foods, then YES, organic foods are the right choice for you. Apart from their greater nutritional content, you also support local communities and protect the environment.