Organic vs Non-Organic Food

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Monday Morning Acu-Minute by Karen Johnson

On the theme of This and That, today’s topic…organic vs non-organic food. What’s the difference?

Foods labeled “Organic” have been grown or farmed without the use of pesticides, artificial chemicals, hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified organisms and must be free of artificial food additives,artificial sweeteners, preservatives, coloring, flavoring and MSG.

Organically grown crops tend to use natural fertilizers like manure to improve plant growth. Organic farming tends to improve soil quality and the conservation of groundwater. It also reduces pollution and may be better for the environment.

As far as labeling goes… products that are completely organic, like fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods can be labeled 100 percent organic. Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can say “Organic” but must add the following words, depending on the number of organic ingredients:

  • “100 percent organic,” if they are completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
  • “Organic,” if they are at least 95 percent organic.
  • If the product has at least 70 percent organic ingredients, it may say, “made with organic ingredients.” Foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can’t say “organic” on their label but they can mention the organic items in their ingredients.

Conventional growers use synthetic pesticides to protect their crops from molds, insects and diseases. The pesticides can leave a residue on produce. Organic farmers, on the other hand use insect traps, careful crop selection, like disease-resistant varieties, predator insects or beneficial microorganisms to control crop-damaging pests.

Some people prefer the taste of organic produce.

Organic produce is likely higher in nutrients. While some studies dispute that, others suggest that organic products have higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants. This might come from the better soil quality and slower growth rate that is common in organic farming. Fruits and vegetables fertilized with conventional fertilizers are pushed to grow rapidly and may have less time to absorb nutrients. The soil itself may have fewer nutrients to offer.

Some people buy organic food for environmental reasons. Organic farming practices are designed to benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving water and soil quality.

The biggest problem with organic food is cost. Organic foods often cost more than conventionally produced foods. Higher prices are due to more expensive farming practices.

Whether you buy organic or conventionally grown foods, it’s always good to have fresh fruits and vegetables. Washing them thoroughly will help remove dirt, bacteria and any traces of chemicals on the surface. You can also peel fruits and vegetables to remove pesticides. But remember that a lot of the nutrition is in the edible skin of produce.

Buying conventional produce from local farmers also has benefits. Nutrient values are highest when produce is fresh picked, just after harvest. As a general rule, the less produce has to travel, the fresher and more nutrient-rich it remains.You could also find out what day fresh produce arrives at the grocery store.

When it comes to animal based products. “Organic” products will have fewer hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and other chemical additives that have shown to have harmful consequences for people. And the animals raised under approved “Organic” conditions use have most likely been treated more kindly.

Wishing you all the best,