Are Organic Foods Really Better For You?

Are Organic Foods Really Better for YouMost of us have experienced this. You walk in the grocery store to buy fruits and vegetables. You look over the produce section, and you’re suddenly faced with the unavoidable question.

Should I choose organic food?

It seems like a simple choice, and many consumers have began buying organic food in recent years. In fact, around 70 percent of Americans occasionally buy organic food, according to the Hartman research firm.

People have different reasons for buying organic. Many switch to organic produce because they want nutritious food, while others prefer organic fruits and vegetables because they think it simply tastes better. Whatever the reasons, studies show consuming organic foods can help people live healthier lives.

Despite the recent popularity, there are those who still wonder if organic foods are really better for them and, more importantly, if they’re worth the extra money.

What is Organic Food?

USDA Organic Cattle

Organic foods are basically fruits, vegetables and meat that’s been farmed without using harmful chemicals.

Organic livestock are free of antibiotics and growth hormones. They’re allowed to roam freely in pastureland and/or fed with organically grown food.

Organic crops are not genetically modified or exposed to ionizing radiation to speed up plant growth. Organic fruits and vegetables are also free of toxic substances like:

  • Traditional pesticides
  • Synthetic fertilizers
  • Herbicides
  • Sewage sludge

Organic CropsSince 2002, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been inspecting and certifying all organic crops and meat. To get the USDA organic seal, farmed fruits, vegetables and meat must contain 95 percent organic ingredients.

Are Organic Foods Really Healthier for You?

Switching to organic meat, vegetables and fruits have plenty of health benefits. Consider these 5 advantages the next time you shop at the grocery store:

5 Benefits of Choosing Organic Foods.jpg

    1. Consuming organic food minimizes your exposure to toxic substances – Conventional crops are grown with harmful pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Eating conventional crops puts those toxic substances in your body. A study in 2011 published in Pesticides in the Modern World links residual pesticide in food to headaches and even birth defects. Research showed even lower levels of pesticide can still be highly toxic to pregnant women and their developing babies. Long-term exposure to these toxic substances are also poisonous to adults.
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    2. Get more vitamins and antioxidants from organic crops – The absence of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides help organic plants produce more phytochemicals – a combination of vitamins and antioxidants – to naturally fight insects and weeds. For this reason, organic crops have higher nutritional value compared to conventional crops. Research in 2014 published by the British Journal of Nutrition found higher concentrations of vitamin C, E and antioxidants in organic food. Antioxidants are compounds that fight cancer-causing free-radicals and promote cell renewal in the body.
      .
    3. Avoid contaminated meat with antibiotics – Scientists are worried about the widespread use of antibiotics on farm animals. Antibiotics were initially thought to help livestock avoid sickness. However, over time, using antibiotics on animals develop antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It can contaminate meat and spread, causing severe illness in people who consume them.
      .
    4. Reduces the risk of certain cancers – Consuming conventionally farmed meat fattened with synthetic growth hormones are linked with prostate and breast cancer. In a research published in Biology of IGF-1, higher blood levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor (IGF) have been found in people who consume milk and beef from cows injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). Increased IGF levels raises the risk of prostate cancer by 50 percent in men, while a 65 percent breast cancer risk is seen in women.
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    5. Organic farming helps reduce soil and water pollution – Buying produce from organic farms can help decrease the use of toxic pesticides, which end up polluting the water and making soil infertile. Analysis by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found unsafe levels of pesticide in tap water when they checked samples in selected states. By supporting organic farms, we can help lessen chemicals that destroy our environment.

Overall, compared to regular produce, choosing organic foods is largely beneficial for our overall health. It’s not just nutritious, it ensures we’re eating food that’s safe for our bodies. Organic farming is also a sustainable way to produce food without harming the environment. Although organic foods may cost a little more, clearly the benefits far outweigh the cost.

Do you buy organic foods? If so, what percentage would you say you purchase? If not, why not? Comment below!

Bibliography

Barański, M., Średnicka-Tober, D., Volakakis, N., Seal, C., Sanderson, R., Stewart, G. B., . . . Leifert, C. (2014). Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: A systematic literature review and meta-analyses. British Journal of Nutrition, 112(05), 794-811. doi:10.1017/s0007114514001366

I., P. (2011). Pesticide Exposure of Farmworkers’ Children. Pesticides in the Modern World - Effects of Pesticides Exposure. doi:10.5772/21878

Kaaks, R. (2008). Nutrition, Insulin, IGF-1 Metabolism and Cancer Risk: A Summary of Epidemiological Evidence. Biology of IGF-1: Its Interaction with Insulin in Health and Malignant States Novartis Foundation Symposia, 247-264. doi:10.1002/0470869976.ch16

 

2 Thoughts

  1. I buy organic half of the time. I’m a college student who is on a budget and sometimes I need to get cheaper produce and meats because spending the extra dollar or isn’t in my budget.

    1. It’s still good to hear you’re making the effort to get organic food. 🙂 Yes, sometimes it’s just not gonna fit in everyone’s budget.

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