To buy organic or not to buy organic; it seems to be a hot topic which causes a lot of confusion! It seems that celebrities, athletes, and health enthusiasts are all choosing organic. Farmer’s markets are suddenly popular again to purchase freshly off the crop produce and specialty grocery stores are aggressively growing in popularity.
For some people this trend can be overwhelming and for other health enthusiasts, it may be second nature to base their nutrition on organic produce and meats. What is the best choice for optimal health results? And is it worth the extra cost?
So, what exactly does organic mean? In a nutshell, organic refers to food that contains no preservatives, no added chemicals, fertilizers, coloring or additives and is not genetically modified. With regards to meat, the animals are reared without any antibiotics or growth hormones. Something you may think twice about when your diet is composed mainly of produce and chicken breasts!
The benefits of an organic diet are numerous. Here are a few reasons to switch over to organic:
2. Organic food does not have any synthetic additives – they do not have artificial food colors and flavors, preservatives, nitrates and sulphites, artificial sweeteners or monosodium glutamate (MSG). Food is preserved and sweetened naturally using substances such a honey and grape juice.
3. Organic food has significantly higher levels of nutrients – depending on the choice of produce, organic food is shown to have higher amounts of salicylic acid and more vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.
4. Organic livestock production does not use antibiotics or growth hormones – in a lot of cases, antibiotics or growth hormones are injected into cattle to make them larger, fatter and hence deliver more meat. In organically reared cattle, they are allowed to grow and develop at their own pace, and without any synthetics injected into their system.
5. Organic food is free of Genetically Engineered (GE) ingredients – organic farmers do not use GE seeds or irradiation methods. Instead, crop rotation and use of natural compost produces a richer soil in which to grown and harvest their produce.
To answer your question, not ALL foods purchased need to be organic. The following chart specifies the “clean” foods, which are safe and have the lowest levels of pesticides and the “toxic” foods, which have the highest levels of pesticides and would be recommended to be purchased organic, bought local from a farmer or grown organically yourself.
- Bell Peppers
Foods with Lowest Levels of Pesticides – Clean Fifteen
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Cantaloupe (domestic)
- Sweet potatoes
What about meats, dairy products and Eggs? How important is it to choose meats from organically raised animals?
When you choose organic meat, milk, and eggs they are free of antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticides. Unlike conventional meats and dairy products, the animals used for organic products are raised without antibiotics or hormones.
Chemicals present in animal feed can end up in conventional meat, dairy, and eggs. However, organically raised animals eat an organic diet that does not contain pesticides or fertilizers.
The main differences between organic and conventional meats are; the foods the animals are fed, and the manner in which the animals are raised. Here are a few reasons why you should eat organic meats:
Organic feed: Farmers that follow USDA organic rules are not permitted to feed their animals any by products of other animals; animals can only be fed 100 percent organic feed or are allowed to roam wildly and eat grass.
Antibiotic and hormone-free: Organic animals are not administered antibiotics or hormones or fed GMOs or pesticide-containing feed, meaning you also will not be ingesting any of these drugs or chemicals yourself.
Humane treatment: If your meat is labeled “free-range” or “grass-fed,” then you can be certain that the animals were raised humanely and ethically. They were allowed to exercise daily and graze on whatever is in the area and were not caged in tiny coops or fenced-in areas.
In a nutshell, buying and eating foods that have been treated with chemicals designed to kill things does not make sense that they are healthy for us. If cost is an issue, I would recommend choosing organic whenever you can, especially for the foods you consume on a regular basis.