Even though the information is easy to find, many people still don’t know what the benefits of organic food are and why it is better than conventionally grown food. Because of this, WhichChoose wrote this article about their most important health benefits. You can learn more if you read on.
What Is Organic Food?
Organic food, be it plant- or animal-based, is anything that conforms to organic farming standards. These vary worldwide, of course, but in the United States, they are set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). A study conducted by the Soil Association shows that half of the people who buy organic food do so for the health benefits and lack of chemical residues, while others do so to protect the environment and support animal welfare.
While people may purchase organic food for different reasons, all of the benefits of organic food can be enjoyed by everyone. So let’s review just four of the benefits organic food can offer each of us.
Benefits Of Organic Food
2.1. Organic Food Is More Flavorful
Putting aside all the potential health benefits and improved nutritional value, the first thing that springs to mind when talking about locally grown organic fruits and vegetables is flavor. Nothing tastes quite like strawberries bought at a farmer’s market in June or Cox’s apples in October. When grown organically, fruits and vegetables are only available at certain times of the year due to their natural cycle.
When you eat what’s in season, you get the most natural, nutrient-dense food that doesn’t need a lot of energy to grow. This also significantly reduces your carbon footprint. The reason organic food tastes better might come down to lower crop yields and higher levels of antioxidants. Since there are fewer fruits and vegetables but more nitrogen in the soil, the crops are full of flavor and nutrients.
2.2. Organic Food Helps Preserve Wildlife
By choosing organic foods, you are also taking part in preserving wildlife for future generations. Because synthetic herbicides and pesticides are not used as much on organic farms, they are safe places for many local species. Organic farmers go above and beyond to help protect natural habitats by keeping hedgerows in good shape, planting flowers, and taking care of grasslands, ponds, and other water features. By taking care of these fragile ecosystems, they are making sure that important bees, butterflies, birds, and small animals don’t go extinct.
2.3. Organic Food Is Sustainably Farmed
Organic food is also sustainably farmed. This means resources are recycled to minimize waste. In a world where resources are running out every minute, this is becoming more and more important. There are a lot of problems associated with large-scale industrial farming, such as soil erosion, chemicals leaking into biosystems, and the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. All of these problems are avoided by organic farmers by using natural fertilizers, like manure from farm animals, and by choosing crop varieties that are naturally resistant to certain pests and diseases. They also rotate crops to keep the soil full of nutrients. In spite of what most people think, soil is not a resource that can be replaced, so keeping it for future generations is of the utmost importance.
2.4. Organic Food Lowers Food Miles
There are other, less obvious factors to consider when buying food as well. One such factor is the amount of time required for your dinner to arrive at your table. This is often measured in “farm-to-fork” hours or food miles.
A lot of fruits and vegetables, especially out of season, are imported to the US, for example, which is not surprising given the climate conditions. The transportation this produce requires, however, is what contributes to the carbon footprint. Think of all the miles bananas travel from countries like Colombia and the Dominican Republic and the emissions those cargo vehicles produce. Most of the time, the problem of food miles can be solved by buying seasonal, local fruits and vegetables. However, some fruits, like bananas, do not grow naturally in the US. In cases like this, look for the organic certification on the packaging. Not only will this food be more nutritious and flavorful for you, but it will also help the economy and environment in other countries. After all, we are all in this together!
2.5. Support Local Farmers
Because most organic foods are grown and sold locally, it promotes and supports farmers in your surrounding area. A drastic drop in people living on farms helps keep the remaining farmers in business. Furthermore, supporting local farmers also encourages less government intervention in the foods you eat. Purchasing foods from organic farmers means you are willing to pay a little more to be healthy and refuse to interfere with what is sprayed on fruits and vegetables and fed to animals.
As you know, organically grown foods benefit our environment in many ways.
One is it helps keep our water safe to drink. Water is an essential liquid on the earth and is vital to ensure its purity. When pesticides are sprayed onto plants, and medicated animals defecate, these harmful chemicals make their way into the water system. With organic farming, this does not occur and plays an important part in keeping water clean for our ecosystem.
If our water is affected by chemical processes, then the soil is also. If the soil is contaminated, whatever feeds off of it or is grown in it is likely to be polluted. This also means organic foods make it safer for wildlife.
2.7. Higher Nutrient Levels
Whether or not organic foods have higher nutrient levels than treated foods is a highly debated topic. However, many treated foods give the appearance of being more nutritious because they are bigger. In other words, most treated fruits and vegetables are larger due to their higher water content, while organics are smaller organic food.
2.8. Absence of Food Colorings
Many treated foods have vibrant, healthy-looking colors. However, you bite into them only to find that they are either over-ripe or under-ripe. In these cases, food colorings have been added to the fruit or vegetables to make them appear healthy and convince you to purchase them. Organic foods do not have food colorings. What you see sitting in front of you is exactly what you are getting.
2.9. No Pesticides
Even after you have washed or peeled foods previously treated with pesticides, there can still be a remnant of pesticides left which can affect you. The Environmental Working Group has studied the effect of pesticides on foods and has determined the top twelve fruits and vegetables most affected by pesticides. From the highest, they are apples, bell peppers, carrots, celery, cherries, imported grapes, kale, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, pears, and strawberries.
Pesticides build up inside your body and create health problems, which can progressively grow as you eat more and more non-organic foods over the years. Problems that can occur include congenital disabilities and headaches. Babies, children, and pregnant women are especially prone to pesticide-related health issues. Because pesticides stress already weak immune systems (such as in babies or pregnant women), the chance of getting sick is much easier. Pregnant women also need to be aware that pesticide-treated foods they eat can also be transmitted to their children while pregnant or nursing.
By eating organic foods, you can rest assured that they are free from pesticides.
2.10. No Antibiotics
Antibiotics are commonly injected into animals. These antibiotics can then be transferred into your body when you eat the meat. A bombardment of antibiotics actually makes your body immune to the effects of antibiotics. Consequently, when you need to take antibiotics to fight disease, your body cannot use them.
Organic farmers who raise cattle, chickens, or other animals for meat feed their animals’ natural foods the way they were originally meant to eat and do not inject antibiotics. Consequently, meats coming from organic farms are free from antibiotics.
2.11. No Hormones
To meet the high demand for meat, commercial, non-organic farms give their animals hormone-injected feed to make them grow bigger and faster. While this may work for production, it translates into your children’s hormones maturing faster.
Organic farmers do not use antibiotics but allow their animals to grow naturally—no problems with hormones with organic meat.
2.12. More Antioxidants
Non-organic foods have fewer antioxidants than organic foods. This is because the longer foods sit out in the store, the fewer antioxidants are left. Organic foods are fresh and must be eaten faster. Consequently, they are higher in antioxidants.
Antioxidants help boost your health, including fighting heart disease. There are even studies that seem to indicate that antioxidants can fight cancer.
2.13. Reduce Health Risks
If there are no pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics treated in your foods, the benefits of avoiding these products will help you avoid many debilitating-if, not deadly-health risks. While many people will argue there is not that big of a difference in health risks between organic and treated foods, there have not been definite studies to show that the treated substances put into our foods are not detrimental in the long run. By purchasing organic foods, you steer clear of the possibility of harming your family and your health.
These are just four benefits of organic food that WhichChoose wants to bring you. No doubt there is a great deal more. Remember that organically certified foods are better for you and the environment, and make an effort to purchase them the next time you go grocery shopping.
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