Organic Food: Is Organic Food Really Better Than Non-Organic?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 - 1:31pm

By Wendy Hodsdon, ND

In the United States, we have become more reliant on pesticides, fertilizers and hormones to increase food production. While this may increase the overall yield, the effect of these chemicals may damage our health and the environment. Organic food offers a much more sustainable option for feeding ourselves and our communities.

What is organic food?

Food that is grown or raised without chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers is called “organic.” Organic meat must come from animals that have access to the outdoors, that are not treated with antibiotics or hormones, and that are fed organic feed. Processed foods containing many ingredients (e.g. bread) that have the organic label must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. If only 70% of the ingredients are organic, the food can be labeled “made with organic ingredients.”

Why should you eat organic food?

1.   With organic foods you enjoy a superior taste

Organic foods taste better. Yes, sometimes they have blemishes or the occasional bug, but their taste is superior to conventionally grown foods. Organic foods often contain less water than conventionally grown foods and thus have a more concentrated flavor. Because organic items are often grown locally, they “ripen on the vine” and are fresher than conventionally grown foods that are shipped from further away. The difference can be subtle, but it is there.

2.  You can avoid toxins by eating organic produce

The body has to process everything you put into it and eliminate what it cannot digest. If your food contains toxins in the form of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, your body has to figure out a way to get rid of the toxins. When the body cannot get rid of toxins fast enough, it stores them until it has time to eliminate them. This can lead to many health problems. Many of the pesticides used in farming have been found to be carcinogenic. Reducing your exposure to these toxins can improve your health. True, some people eliminate toxins well. Still, the body needs to expend energy to eliminate toxins when it could be doing other things such as healing damaged cells, fighting off viruses and bacteria, or patrolling the body for cancer cells. (For more information on foods that have a higher concentration of chemical residues see the following article from TheDietChannel: Organic Food: Important for Cancer Patients?)

3.   With organic produce you can benefit from extra vitality

Organic foods are more alive. This is a hard one to prove, but as fruits and vegetables ripen, they incorporate sunlight and nutrients from the soil and store vital energy. Your body uses this vital energy as well as the vitamins and minerals stored in the food you eat. Because the natural process of growth is honored with organic foods, organic foods often look more “alive” than conventional foods. Animals raised on organic feed, have an appearance of health and well-being.

4.   Environmentally, organic food is gentle on the earth

Modern farming practices lessen the biodiversity of the soil, which increases the need for and dependence upon fertilizers. The pesticides used in farming can run into rivers, lakes and streams, affecting the water supply we rely on as well as affecting the local wildlife. Eating food that is organic and produced locally is good for you and is good for the environment.

For more information on organic food and kids see the following article for TheDietChannel: Organic Foods and Children.

For information on the difference between organic food and grass-fed food see the following article from TheDietChannel: Going Grass-Fed: The Nutrition and Environmental Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef