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The Food Snob – Is Organic Food Worth It?
The explosion of the organic market in recent years has been hard to miss. Organic used to be a label reserved for a small percentage of fruits and vegetables, but now those organic labels are being slapped on everything: our meat, milk, eggs, cheese, even macaroni and cheese, grains and crackers. Once its popularity increased, in the midst of this economic crisis, consumers are buying less organic because of the high price. Today there is almost a stigma attached to buying non-organic produce, making those trying to cut their budget feel like they are eating lower quality or less nutritious food. If that’s you, read on and breathe easy.
Organic consumers typically buy organic for three reasons: to avoid pesticides and genetically modified foods, for increased freshness and quality, and for increased health and nutrition. These are great things to be concerned about, but there are some drawbacks to buying organic to meet this criteria.
Perhaps one of the biggest motivations for buying organic produce is that organic produce is grown and cultivated without the use of pesticides, which many believe are harmful to their health. They are chemicals, how could they not be, right?
The United States has strong food and beverage regulations to determine food safety and quality. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits on how many pesticides can be used on food during the growing and processing stages, and how much of those pesticides can remain in your food when you buy it. The purpose of using pesticides on food is to prevent, destroy or reduce the presence of pests that eat and destroy crops. EPA thoroughly evaluates pesticide and pesticide levels to ensure they are safe for both human consumption and the environment as a whole. All foods must pass EPA standards for safety or they wouldn’t be in your supermarket and anywhere near your family.
MYTH: Organic means better food.
TRUTH: Organic is the type of farming that does not use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or hormones. Organic does not mean better food.
Genetically modified foods have been a hot topic since the early 2000s. Genetically modified foods refer to food products affected by plants that have been modified with some desirable traits, such as improved resistance to pests and diseases, herbicides , cold and drought tolerance and improved nutrition. Animals eat these plants and then we consume animal meat, eggs or dairy by-products. The fear is that the protein chain that is altered could create new proteins, increasing the chance that a new allergen could emerge, potentially causing an allergic reaction in the consumer. However, there are guidelines used to assess the toxic potential of a new strain in transformed culture, with the history of the parent culture and the quality of the gene donor also taken into account when assessing for safety.
Genetically modified foods have been shown to be safe and nutritious due to the reported lack of adverse effects, but as with pesticides, many organic consumers do not believe that the absence of pronounced effects is proof of safety.
It is important to note that safe does not mean healthy. Safe, according to regulatory standards, means that consuming the product will not adversely affect your health, but the term healthy means that the product has health-promoting benefits, such as nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
This is where the battle line is often drawn. Fear of chemicals and genetically modified foods seems to be more widely accepted as a reason to go organic, but many are under the misconception that organic foods are healthier for you. Organic refers to the way the food is grown and processed – it does not change the actual nutritional value of the food itself. Farming methods for organic and conventional food products include the use of best management practices, following environmental regulations and applied crop rotation. The main differences are the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers in agricultural management.
Did you know?
Frozen fruits and vegetables are harvested at their peak ripeness and are an excellent source of nutrition. Look for unsweetened packages.
88 studies on organic quality have been conducted from 1980-2007, with about 10-15 new studies expected in the near future. Studies have shown an average increase in antioxidant levels of around 25% in organic produce, however this can be attributed to growth patterns/rituals, plant defenses and their response to stress.
There is much controversy on this topic, however, some studies have resulted in different findings on the nutritional quality of organic and non-organic. According to the “State of the Science” report, 61% of studies on this issue favored organic as having more nutritional value, 37% favored conventional foods and 2% of studies remained neutral, simply put, it’s a ratio of almost 3:2. Future research is still warranted to provide a more definitive answer, as there are many aspects yet to be studied, such as the effect on large populations and chronic diseases, which would further prove which option is truly healthier. .
Organic crops benefit the environment by increasing soil quality and promoting biodiversity. The effects on the soil are undeniable, and for some greens, this is reason enough to buy completely organic. Support for local farmers is also a big factor, as local farmers tend to use organic farming methods to produce their products.
Whether or not one buys organic is a personal decision, but in these tough economic times where everyone’s dollar needs to stretch a little further, just know that something labeled organic and priced accordingly isn’t necessarily a healthier choice. The organic farming industry is a business like any other, looking to convince you that their product is the best and to make a profit. Do what’s best for your family and your budget, and don’t let any of those Whole Foods shoppers give you the stink eye.
* Organic food refers to the farm production of the product and not the actual composition of the product itself
* Organic and conventional dairy foods are safe and nutritious
* Period fruit and vegetables (organic and conventional) are the keys to preventive health – there is little evidence to suggest that organic is healthier than non-organic
* If you can afford to buy organic, then spend your money on a good cause, however, if you can’t afford organic produce, there are cheaper alternatives.
Cheap fruit and vegetable options:
* Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables.
* Buy frozen fruits/vegetables (look for “unsweetened” packages).
* Buy canned fruit, packed in fruit juice (stay away from “heavy syrup”).
* Buy canned vegetables (look for the “no salt added” label).
For reference see http://www.fitpeeps.com
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