Health + Fitness
Why You Should Only Eat Organic Foods
A very popular modern day debate is the dilemma of understanding the difference between organic and non-organic food, and consequently choosing which one becomes part of our daily diet. If one were to guess, organic food refers to foods that are naturally grown and produced, whereas, non-organic or inorganic food refers to food that has been artificially mass produced. But to better understand the difference and benefits, that is, organic versus non organic, we must first thoroughly understand what both terms mean and represent.
Organic relates to or is derived from living organisms, i.e. organisms that are part of a natural flow of things. Hence, organic foods are those that meet certain standards and specifications that qualify it to be organic. These are, that for crops, they should be grown in safe and clean soil, separate from conventional products and foods, farmers are not to use synthetic pesticides, genetically modified seeds or organisms, and petroleum and sewage sludge-based fertilizers. For livestock, it is essential that the livestock must have access to outdoors and fresh air and be given room and time to walk about, that they are given organic and natural feed, and that they should not be given any antibiotics, growth hormones or animal by-products. In layman’s terms, the entire process from start to finish must be natural and follow the natural flow of things.
Organic foods were essentially the normal food of our ancestors until the industrialization and scientific era changed the way we produced food. Higher yield and mass production became more important than the overall quality of food. This practice has led to serious negative drawbacks, not only with our health, but with the environment as well. To produce more yield from the same amount of crops and livestock, a lot of unnatural processes such as; spiking chicken feed with growth hormones, became more and more common. These resulted in numerous diseases that became common in the next generation, such as; obesity, cancer, listeria, salmonella and more.
The health benefits of eating organic food are numerous and can certainly be considered a pre-requisite for a clean and healthy lifestyle. Here are some of the reasons why you should eat organic foods.
High in Nutrients
The main reason why we eat various forms of foods is to gain access to a wide array of nutrients, which then help our bodies and minds grow. If there is a minimal amount of nutrients in the food we eat, we are essentially just putting chunks of useless (or even harmful) material in our stomachs.
A research by the Organic Consumer Association stated, “Organic food is higher in nutrients than conventional foods and products, and organic produce is much higher in important minerals and vitamins and also antioxidants that help fight disease and viruses. With organic practices, the soil is fresh and nourished, hence, the yield in nutrients is high.”
Avoid Harmful Chemicals in Crops and Produce
Neurotoxins are chemical agents that were used in World War I to damage the enemy’s brain and nerve cells and render them ineffective in battle. Aside from this, other pesticides include, fungicides to kill the mold or fungus on plants, insecticides to kill insects, and herbicides to kill unwanted weeds and plants. All these have their own chemical compound and approximately each one is present in non-organic produce. It is common sense that anything that is harmful enough to kill other living things, whether insects or plants, can eventually cause harm to humans as well.
Organic food that is looked after and well-tended to, can produce the same results without all the harmful chemicals. Moreover, genetically modified crops produce their own pesticides, and research has shown that they continue to produce it even after harvesting. In order to avoid consuming such harmful chemicals, ensure your food is naturally grown.
Avoid Hormones (i.e. in livestock)
Aside from organic produce, it is common for poultry to be given enhanced feed so that the size and volume of the meat may increase. This results in a hormonal imbalance in the meat, which will then carry on to those who consume it. Moreover, it is common practice for cattle to be fed animal by-products such as raw meat to up their protein intake and increase their mass. In addition, research has shown that most of the pesticides consumed by a human, in fact come from consuming meat products. This is because cattle are fed contaminated produce and graze on the same grass that is full of pesticides. Antibiotics, drugs, and growth hormones have also become common practice. These are used to increase the muscle mass, and increase the volume of milk production.
If you’re thinking that by the time you cook the meat, the heat and preparation process will have killed all the pesticides and broken down the hormones, think again. The union of scientists in farming has stated that, “Even in intense heat temperatures, the hormones, and other chemicals remain in complete form and are carried on directly to the consumer’s diet.”
Organic and naturally grown livestock are not buff and fat like the livestock that has been enhanced using drugs and hormones. Organic food from livestock can have a positive impact on your diet by normalizing the level of hormones in your system and providing you with the right kind of nutrients and minerals.
Supports the Earth
Not only is organic food beneficial to us but it is to the Earth as well. This is because the process of growing organic food is not industrialized, it is sustainable and does not have adverse effects on the Earth and the environment. Organic farming supports the ecosystem, sustains the resources of the Earth for future generations and allows for farming that is in sync with nature. By preserving the natural cycle and flow of things, every animal and living organism is able to play their role naturally that keeps the land and environment healthy as well.
Quite simply put, organic food tastes better due to lack of chemical properties and overall freshness of the product. A lot of genetic modification has been done to crops to make them more aesthetically appealing and larger in size.
Supports the Agricultural Community
Small-scale farmers or those who have not as yet been bought by big enterprises can have a sustainable livelihood and steady source of business if they’re organic produce is bought and supported in forms of investment and trade.
When dealing and trading with non-organic food some hidden costs are incurred by the consumers such as pesticide testing, waste cleanup and more. Rather than bearing the burden of these costs and settling for toxic food one should look towards organic food farmers. Not only is the investment in their food cost-effective, it is quite simply a healthier lifestyle for both you and the farmer.
While we have probably gotten a grip on what non-organic food is, it is important to fully understand the technical definition and reasoning behind the term non-organic food.
Literally, the term non-organic refers to anything that is not organic or natural. In its simplest definition, it refers to anything that does not contain carbon – a necessary element for living things – and is not derived from living matter. However, with regard to food non-organic simply means food that has been produced artificially or unnaturally.
Ideally, it is important to note that non-organic should not be a major part of your diet. However, if you are in an area where that is difficult there are some tips to understanding which non-organic foods have minimal impact on your health.
According to the Environmental Working Group in America, “There at least twelve worst and twelve best non-organic produce to have in your diet.” These include: asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, kiwi, mangos, onions, papaya, pineapples, and peas – as the twelve cleanest non-organic foods; and apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, and strawberries as the twelve worst non-organic items to have.
Another tip would be to read some of the labels and packaging information on the produce. Sure it takes time, but if you find a brand name with a sticker on the produce or if you read any ingredient you don’t understand it is probably the worst non-organic food you could find.
To be clearer on what qualifies as non-organic let us take a look at the types or categories of non-organic food that is most common amongst us today.
Crop Level Processes
Aside from the chemicals and pesticides used on crops as discussed before, large industries have also begun using processes that involve making the final product more aesthetically appealing. These include polishing, refining and a process known as de-skinning. So if you pick up a fruit that looks picture perfect. It is most likely non-organic. You’ll notice that some apples in the grocery store have this waxy-film covering them, and that is exactly what you need to stray away from!
This section is pretty self-explanatory. All canned products, baby food, milk powders, readymade paste, ketchup, and jams, are all non-organic. This is because preservatives, additives and other ingredients used to boost flavor and shelf life are added to the product.
Pre-Cooked or Ready to Cook
We’ve all been to the grocery store and seen those packets of mixed vegetables or pre-packaged spring rolls, and all we’d have to do is to heat up them in a pan, microwave, or in the oven. It is safe to say they’re all inorganic. Once they lose their taste due to chemical enhancement, flavor enhancers, and other ingredients are added to make them taste better than before. This list of products includes instant noodles, fruit drinks, ready to eat vegetables and mixed salads.
TV dinners and microwaveable dinners are classified as non-organic. As mentioned before these products are treated and carefully made to look aesthetically appealing in factories, which are why they are usually so uniform in shape and size. The vegetarian items have too much salt and oil, as do the poultry items. Moreover, the supposed farm fresh eggs are injected with gas or are treated in an incubator to increase size.
Sweeteners, extracts, food coloring, fruit essence, baking powder and synthetic vinegar are all examples of non-organic groceries. The taste and appearance are enhanced so that large corporations make profits.
Unless you’ve baked the bread in your own wood burning oven with the wheat you harvested yourself, it is most likely inorganic. Bakery items of today are made with bleached or treated wheat that is made to look white to produce white bread products such as cakes etc. or white bread products that are colored and treated to make consumers think that what they are purchasing is actually bran bread. It is unfortunate to say neither product is organic.
Finally, the restaurant and obviously the fast food industry are the largest producers of inorganic food. Not only do they purchase raw materials and resources that are inorganic, their own process for cooking and preparation, regardless of hygiene, results in a non-organic product as well.
The negative side effects and harmful consequences of non-organic foods have been made quite clear, however, suffice it to say non-organic foods, their use and production will not diminish so soon. In fact, some would say entire countries are dependent upon the sale and practices involved with non-organic food. The fault lies with us. As human beings during the industrialization era of the late 19th century we were overwhelmed by the possibilities and potential of creating more bang for our buck, so to speak.
Nevertheless, serious considerations must be taken against the spread of non-organic food. The best place is to start at home. It is impossible to remove all non-organic items from the household since items such as ketchup, mustard, and other grocery items are difficult to replace with organic items in large cities. But an effort must be made for the sake of your health and the health of the future generation to switch to eating organic, as the reasons as to why you should eat organic foods have made it clear, it is the best and sustainable option for the future.