Do you ever stand in a supermarket and wonder if it's worth to go for the organic option? Is it healthier or better for the environment, or maybe both? Understanding this can help you make an informed decision. Let us help you with that.
What is organic?
At the heart of organic, is growing food the way nature has intended it to be, promoting sustainability and using as little artificial chemicals as possible. It means taking care of the soil, waterways and maintaining the biodiversity and wildlife of nature around us. This is done by using natural and harmless alternatives of pesticides and substances to fertilize soil. Likewise, animals that produce eggs, dairy and meat, are not given antibiotics or growth hormones and are kept in more natural, free conditions, this way ensuring animal welfare.
It also means that the food production process is more transparent for you as a customer. Organic food is closely regulated and farmers need to follow strict set of rules to ensure the standards. All organic farms and food companies are inspected at least once a year and the requirements, for food to be labelled organic, are laid down in the European law.
Is it healthier?
When it comes to health benefits, organic fruits and vegetables have a higher antioxidant content compared to conventionally grown plants. This is because organic produce has longer time to ripen naturally, whereas in conventional farms fruits and vegetables are given high doses of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers to accelerate the growth and ripening process. This diverts more plant resources to growth rather than defense, as they need to ripen in a shorter time. It is important, though, to give plants enough time to be exposed to predators and UV rays, as this is the way they produce antioxidants, in order to protect themselves. In return, when we eat fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants, they protect our health and help to diminish harmful effects of free radicals, that we are exposed to on everyday basis, coming from the air and water we use, medicines and food. Free radicals can weaken your immune system, are linked to several diseases, like heart disease and cancer, and are associated with aging. Organic produce can therefore be considered 20 to 40 percent healthier due to the elevated antioxidant levels, which equals of adding an extra or two servings of 6-a-day.
Choosing organic is also an easy way to avoid number of potentially harmful chemicals. For example, conventional produce has twice the levels of cadmium - one of the three toxic heavy metals in the food supply, along with mercury and lead.
Researchers are still discussing potential harmful impacts from pesticides and antibiotic residues, such as cancer, diabetes and parkinson's disease. While the studies are still ongoing, why not take the precautionary principle instead of accepting any risk? Choose organic, when possible!