Organic food is the norm, and anyone caught with non-organic produce is unethical and risks becoming an outcast. Is it really better, or is it a trendy myth?
What is the definition of organic?
Lacking global consensus, organic has different definitions in different regions. The only thing that applies all over is that these products cost significantly more than other produce. Organic farmers produce crops in more traditional ways. They use compost or manure instead of synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. Rather than using GMO seeds, they use crop rotation and pollination. Are the products to which we have grown accustomed since childhood really so bad for us?
What makes organic food healthier?
Many people regard the natural cultivation methods these farmers use as healthier and more nutritious. According to various studies, organic crops have higher concentrations of antioxidants. Antioxidants are natural pesticides produced by plants. Although the general consensus is that antioxidants have health benefits, the jury is still out on precisely what those benefits are and how they help us. Furthermore, there is no indication of how much we must consume to absorb the necessary antioxidants.
Is it more nutritious?
There is not enough evidence by various studies to say organic produce has more nutritional value than non-organic foods. Some studies show slightly higher omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C concentrations in organically produced crops. In contrast, other studies found no significant differences in nutritional values.
That tells me that I will not see a significant difference in my health by eating organically grown food. What I do know is that the amount and variety of veggies I eat can affect my health more than the method of production.
Are the crops more natural?
When you ask people why they insist on organically farmed produce, the typical response is the same. They want to avoid toxic substances present in artificial fertilizers and pesticides. However, all crops attract a range of pests regardless of the methods used. Although the use of pesticides will always be a last resort, the quality of the produce is essential. The truth is that less pesticide is still pesticide.
Toxic remains toxic, whether organic or artificial
Organic pesticides are typically natural toxins. Farmers use hot ash soap, vegetable oils, sulfur and copper sulfates. But they are not always safer than conventional pesticides, even if they are obtained from nature. For example, many farmers treat apples with with the natural pesticide, copper sulfate, to keep them free of pests. Ingesting copper sulfate is reportedly more toxic than any artificial pesticide.
Is it necessary to lose sleep over organic or non-organic?
The danger of toxicity is in the amount of exposure and concentration level, regardless of whether it is natural or artificial. Mixed conclusions followed some recent studies to determine the impact of organically grown food on long-term health.
Certain circles criticized a 2018 study conducted in France. Although they based the research on responses to dietary questions, the levels of pesticides in the participants’ bodies were not tested. Nevertheless, the French concluded that never eating organic produce increases certain cancer risks.
In that same year, a Danish study compared the risks of pesticides consumed by adults to no more than drinking one glass of wine every third month.
Fungi and bacteria contamination is more dangerous
For me, the ongoing strict standards when it comes to food is sufficient. Strict standards and frequent testing of pesticides in both the EU and the U.S. are in place. Moreover, screening thousands of food and produce samples takes place each year to protect the consumers against toxic residues that exceed the tolerance level.
Health officials say fungi and bacteria contamination pose more serious health risks than pesticides, and such contamination affects both organic and non-organic crops.
I will conclude by saying to each his own, for some people, organic just feels right, and for others, it is an ideology. As long as no one judges me because I eat the occasional non-organic apple or tomato.
However, how organic farming benefits the environment is a discussion for another day.