Many people are shifting to organic food. There’s no denying that organic produce has become popular. In fact, over 82 percent of American homes in the lower 48 states buy organic food on a regular basis. The question is: why?
Why has organic food become so popular? Is organic produce really better for your mental and physical health? Can GMOs and pesticides really cause cancer and other illnesses? What do all the labels even mean?
But before anything else, what does organic truly mean?
The Definition of “Organic”
The word “organic” pertains to how agricultural products are grown and processed. The regulations, however, vary from country to country. Like in the United States, crops have to be grown without using synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, bioengineered genes (GMOs), and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.
To be considered organic, livestock raised for eggs, meat and dairy products should have access to the outdoors. They also need to receive organic feed. The feeding of growth hormones, antibiotics, or any animal by-products is a no-no.
The Difference between Organic vs No-Organic
Knowing the difference between organic and non-organic can make a lot of difference. Here’s more detailed information on how they vary from one another.
- Natural fertilizers, such as manure and compost, are where organic food grows whereas conventionally-grown produce grows with chemical or synthetic fertilizers.
- In organic produce, removing weeds is done through hand weeding, mulching, crop rotation, and tilling. In conventionally-grown produce, chemical herbicides get rid of weeds.
- Pest control in organic food uses natural methods, such as traps, birds, and insects, and even naturally-derived pesticides. Conventionally-grown produce, on the other hand, get rid of pests using synthetic and chemical pesticides.
- Organic eggs, dairy, and meat receive all organic hormone- and GMO-free feed whereas conventionally-raised livestock receive non-organic, GMO feed and growth hormones for faster growth.
- Farmers prevent diseases in organic livestock using natural methods, such as healthy diet, clean housing, and rotational grazing. Meanwhile, preventing livestock disease for conventionally-raised eggs, dairy, and meat uses antibiotics and medications.
- Organic livestock have access to the outdoors, but access outside is optional for conventionally-raised livestock.
There is a big difference between the processes involving organic and non-organic produce. These differences matter a lot because they say where a particular food came from, what process it went through, and what benefits it has.
The Benefits of Organic Food
The process of growing food or raising livestock can have a major impact on the physical, mental, and emotional health of people. Not to mention the effects of such processes on the environment.
Organic food most likely has more beneficial nutrients than non-organic produce. They most consist of antioxidants. People who are allergic to food, preservatives, or certain chemicals often discover that their symptoms reduce or go away when they consume organic food.
Here are the benefits that will make you want eat organic food even more.
- Organic food has fewer pesticides. Bid pesticides goodbye if you plan on eating organic food. Conventional agriculture commonly uses chemicals like, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. But with organic food, there will be less or no exposure to pesticides.
- Organic food is fresher than non-organic produce. This is because organic food doesn’t have preservatives that make it last longer. Most organic food is produced in smaller farms near where it is sold.
- Organic farming benefits the environment. The practices of organic farming are sustainable and environmentally friendly. The process uses less energy, conserves water, reduces pollution, boosts soil fertility, and reduces soil erosion.
- Organically raised animals are not fed growth hormones, antibiotics, or fed animal byproducts. Giving animal byproducts to livestock heightens the risk of mad cow disease (BSE). On top of this, the use of antibiotics can make antibiotic-restraint strains of bacteria. But with organically raised animals, they have more space to move around outdoors, which, in turn, keeps them healthy.
- Organic milk and meat contain more certain nutrients. Organic meat and milk are richer in omega-3 fatty acids and certain nutrients compared with conventionally raised counterparts, based on a 2016 European study.
- Organic food has no GMO. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) food are plants with altered DNAs. The alterations done are those which cannot happen in nature or in traditional crossbreeding. In no way does organic food contain GMOs or GEs.
Switching to organic food is generally better for the health and the environment. These benefits seem to suggest that it’s time to ditch the conventional, nonorganic, and processed options.
The Difference between Organic Food and Locally-Grown Food
There is no actual definition for the term “local food,” unlike organic standards. Farmers can grow local food in their local community, state, region, or country. In large portions of the year, finding food grown close to home at places like a farmer’s market is relatively possible and easy.
What are the benefits of locally growing food?
Freshness: This is a given since farmers harvest local food once they are ripe. This makes the food fresher and more flavorful.
Transportation: For instance, in America, the average distance a meal travels from the farm to the dinner plate is more than 1,500 miles. In short, nonorganic farmers pick up the produce even when they are unripe, only to later gas them to “ripen” after transport.
They can also highly process the food in factories using irradiation, preservatives, and other means to keep it “fresh” and stable for transport. But locally grown food gets r
id of all this because local farmers grow them near their home or community. There is no need to rush their ripening or transport them to a far away land.
Financial: One of the major benefits of locally grown food is that money stays within the local economy. The farmer directly receives the profit because there are no other factors like marketing and distribution.
Local farmers commonly use organic methods. There are, however, some who have no means to being fully organic. The effects and benefits of organic produce are astoundingly better than that of conventionally-grown food. It’s not that hard to see why more consumers now opt for organic food.