What is Organic Food?
Organic food is the food that is produced by using the organic methods of farming. Organic food can be fresh or processed but it does not contain synthetic chemicals, artificial food additives, and genetically modified organisms. Human-made pesticides and fertilizers containing synthetic chemicals are commonly used in the production and farming of food. Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are the animals and plants that go through DNA alterations to raise the yield and production of food.
The popularity of organic food has been raised in the last two decades. According to research in 2014, US consumers spent $39.1 billion on organic food production. The reason behind the popularity of organic food is it is thought to be safer, healthier, nutritious, tastier, and environmentally friendly as compared to inorganic food. This article will give you an overview of organic food, the health impact and how to know if food is organic or pesticide free.
Is Organic Food Healthier?
Several research studies show that organic food may contain more nutrients and antioxidants, fewer nitrates, more omega 3 fatty acids, and less saturated fatty acids, and fewer toxins and pesticide residue.
According to many studies, there are more micronutrients and antioxidants such as vitamin C, iron, and zinc (up to 69% more) in organic food as compared to inorganic food. Replacing fruits and vegetables in your diet with organic fruits and vegetables can result in more availability of certain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds that are present in plants to protect themselves. Inorganically grown plants rely on pesticides and chemical sprays for their protection but on the other hand, organic plants rely on their antioxidants, and to protect themselves they produce more antioxidants.
High levels of nitrates in the body are associated with some cancers and it also affects the body’s ability to carry oxygen. According to studies, there are lower nitrate levels in plants that are grown organically. (Up to 30% lower) Organic milk and dairy products also provide more nutrition as compared to inorganic dairy. Organic dairy contains more omega 3 fatty acids, more iron, and less saturated fats.
Although organic food has a lot of health benefits, there is something to keep in mind. If a food is labeled as “organic” it doesn’t mean it’s always healthy. Some organic foods also have a high amount of salt, sugar, and calories. Junk food is junk food whether it is organic or inorganic. If you want to consume a healthy and balanced diet you cannot consume an excessive amount of salts, sugars, and calories, and the balance of nutrients is always needed.
How to know if food is organic or pesticide-free?
To know if food is organic you need to look for the USDA organic seal on the food packaging. An organic certification program by the United States Department of Agriculture has been set up for farmers and food producers. This certification program allows the consumer to recognize organic food and develop strict standards for farmers and food producers. There are three categories of organic food which are 100% organic, organic, and “made with organic”. You need to read the food label to identify which category you are consuming.
Food made with entirely organic ingredients is labeled as 100% organic. If the food is labeled as “Organic” it would be made with at least 95% organic ingredients. And if the food is labeled as “Made with Organic” then it is made with at least 70% organic ingredients.
Organic does not mean pesticide-free. Organic farmers are supposed to use natural pesticides, meaning there are no synthetic chemicals used. Buying food from a local farmer’s market is a great opportunity to find organic food that is pesticide-free. This is not to say that all locally grown food is organic or pesticide-free, but oftentimes you can ask the person selling the food how it was grown.
Organic food can be a healthy part of your lifestyle, but it can get expensive and costly on your budget too. Also, there is less shelf life seen in organic foods. These are a handful of benefits and conditions you should keep in mind when you are going for organic food.