Organic food: The Facts and Benefits

Organic food: The Facts and Benefits
Nov 26, 2015 The Diet Doctor

At Diet234 we promote adequate portions of organic food and strictly reduced portions of conventional food products. And so we figured…

“Organic food, drinking wine and some ‘organic’ singing is standard living!” ~ Collins Akanno

Did you know even the FDA and the USDA clearly mention that non-organic food is as healthy as organic food? However, there are some scientific studies that have proved organic milk and organic tomatoes to be better than the non-organic varieties. Let’s get to know more about organic food and why they are popularly campaigned for consumption.

What is organic food?

The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Specific requirements must be met and maintained in order for products to be labeled as “organic.”

Organic crops must be grown in safe soil, have no modifications, and must remain separate from conventional products. Farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.

Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and be given organic feed. They may not be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal-by-products.

What Does the “Organic” Label Mean?

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets, defines, and regulates the use and meaning of “Organic” on food labels. It is the term used to describe raw or processed agricultural products and ingredients that have been (a) organically grown (farmed) and (b) handled in compliance with the standards of April 2001, which have been fully enforced since October 2002. These standards prohibit the use of:

  • Most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides
  • Sewer sludge fertilizers
  • Genetic engineering
  • Growth hormones
  • Irradiation
  • Antibiotics
  • Artificial ingredients
  • Many synthetic additives

Below are outlined benefits of organic food:

  • Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Pesticides are chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. These chemicals are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat.
  • Organic food is often fresher. Fresh food tastes better. Organic food is usually fresher because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer. Organic produce is often (but not always, so watch where it is from) produced on smaller farms near where it is sold.
  • Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution (air, water, soil), conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. Farming without pesticides is also better for nearby birds and small animals as well as people who live close to or work on farms.
  • Organically raised animals are NOT given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts. The use of antibiotics in conventional meat production helps create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. This means that when someone gets sick from these strains they will be less responsive to antibiotic treatment. Not feeding animal byproducts to other animals reduces the risk of mad cow disease (BSE). In addition, the animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, both of which help to keep the animals healthy.
  • Organic food is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants or animals whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide. In most countries, organic crops contain no GMOs and organic meat comes from animals raised on organic, GMO-free feed.

What substances do we avoid by eating organic food?

Several thousand contaminants routinely present in the world’s food supply are, by law, excluded from organic food, including:

Synthetic Pesticides: The Environmental Protection Agency has classified dozens of pesticides as potential carcinogens (cancer-causing agents).

Heavy metals: The toxic metals cadmium, lead, and mercury can enter the food supply through industrial pollution of soil and groundwater and through machinery used in food processing and packaging. Cadmium exposure has been linked to increased risk of lung, prostate and testicular cancers. Lead residues can be found in many foods, including canned foods, which may still contain lead solder. Even low levels of lead intake can be harmful and have been associated with impaired neurobehavioral development, decreased stature and growth, and impaired hearing.

Solvents: Used to dissolve food components and produce food additives, solvents are found in a wide variety of commercially processed foods. Excessive exposure to solvents such as benzene and toluene has been linked to increased risk of several types of cancer also increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

While food is not our only source of exposure to potentially harmful synthetic chemicals or heavy metals, food passes continuously through our bodies, meal after meal, day after day, and year after year. It’s this constant exposure to food that makes its quality so very important in our health.

How do I know if my food is organic?

Look at the label. If you see the USDA organic seal, the product is certified organic and has 95% or more organic content (by weight, excluding water and salt). For multi-ingredient products such as bread or soup, if the label claims that it is made with specified organic ingredients, you can be confident that those specific ingredients have been certified organic.

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Share/view your concerns and opinions on this post and get a free mp3 track from the “Organically Singing” album of my friend and talented musical artiste of international repute – Tosinger. She goes natural and “organic” with an intense voice.

Now, go get involved in eating everything organic! Happy Thanksgiving Day!

References:

HelpGuide – http://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/organic-foods.htm#benefits

The World’s Healthiest Foods – http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=17

Organic Facts – https://www.organicfacts.net/organic-products/organic-food/health-benefits-of-organic-food.html

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