Most people strive to achieve optimal health. With so much conflicting information in the nutrition world, it is hard to know how to do this. One of these conflicting debates is organic versus non-organic foods. Can organic foods really help us achieve optimal health? Are organic foods nutritionally better than non-organic? Let’s find out.
What is organic farming?
Principle of organic farming is to work in harmony with nature, not against it. The aim of organic farming is to preserve the environment. It helps to maintain the natural habitat for plants, animals and wildlife. Organic farming avoids all synthetic material such as fertilizers, pesticides and antibiotics. Organic farming must not use genetically modified crops, otherwise known as GMO’s. To pass as an organic farmer you must receive an annual on-site inspection to approve organic practices are being met.
How can you identify if a food is grown organically?
There are organic certification programs which require all organic foods to meet strict standards. Any product labelled organic, must be certified as meeting the standards. There are different labels which can be used to claim a food is organic. “100% Organic” claims the food is made entirely from organic ingredients. “Organic” claims the food is at least 95% organic material. “Made with Organic Ingredients” claims at least 70% organic ingredients and can display three organic ingredients on the food label. “Non-Organic” is used when less than 70% of the ingredients are organic. Non-organic is when synthetic chemicals are used on the crop or product to boost its growth. Foods classed as non-organic include pre-coked/ready to cook meals, processed foods, commercial food, baked goods, and frozen foods.
Is organic better than non-organic?
There are lots of reports that organic food has a higher nutritional value to non-organic foods. Most studies found organic food doesn’t have significantly more vitamins and minerals. However, organic food does seem to have a higher percentage of antioxidants to non-organic food. Antioxidants can be 20-40% higher in organic foods to non-organic. Some people choose organic foods because it has less exposure to pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics. Remember that organic foods can be cross contaminated with non-organic foods. Non-organic foods do contain higher levels of heavy metals. Organic meat is produced from animals which are free from antibiotics or steroid injections. All meat naturally contains sex steroid hormones. All meat, whether organic or non-organic, will contain estrogen. Studies have shown that non-organic and organic chicken contained multi drug-resistant bacteria. However, in the future, studies may be more accurate with more years of research behind it. Remember that not all organic foods are not necessarily healthy. For instance, you can buy pesticide-free potato chips, organic jelly beans, organic cookies. But these types of food are still junk food with little nutritional value. It is still the consumers responsibility to choose the quality of the food they consume.