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What is Organic Food? The Best Benefits Reviewed

What is Organic Food?

What is Organic food, and what are the benefits of an organic food diet? It is healthy and beneficial for our health. Organic food should be the source of our energy, development and fitness. Organic food production does not need chemical fertilizers, pesticides, preservatives, irradiation, or GM techniques, but natural fertilizers and natural pesticides.

With the growing population, demand for food started to increase, and scientists devised different uses of chemicals to produce more food to support the population. Farmers began using chemical nutrients to crops to increase crop volume and started using steroids, growth-regulating hormones, etc., to animals to improve animal products. Farmers use chemical pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides to minimize the loss of crops. The production also increased multi-fold with the use of Genetically Modified organisms or seeds.

Then comes problems which New York time rightly states, “Our Food is Killing Too Many of Us”.

What is the solution?

The solution to this is Organic food. It should be organic from the farms to our plate at the dining table. It should be free from the use of any types of chemical fertilizers and by-products.

The organic food industry is growing and becoming more and more popular. Per a survey of 2020, U.S. consumers spent nearly USD 56 billion on organic produce. Many people believe it is a safer, healthier choice of food and better for the environment and the well-being of animals.

Materials or methods are not allowed in organic food production.

  • There should not be any use of hormones, steroids, etc.
  • There is no use of chemical preservatives.
  • In organic food production, there are no artificial colouring or taste enhancers.
  • No Genetically Modified contamination.

Practices for organic crop farming?

ORGANIC FOOD, WHAT IS ORGANIC FOOD
ORGANIC FOOD, WHAT IS ORGANIC FOOD
  • We are implementing compost, plant waste (green manure), or farm animals’ manure to fertilize the soil to improve the quality.
  • Using Crrotation to keep good soil quality and stop pests or disease cycles cover crops to prevent soil erosion.
  • Plough the soil to improve soil quality. 
  • Using of mulch to control weeds
  • Usage of insects or insect traps to control pests
  • Organic farming includes certain natural pesticides and a few synthetic pesticides. Their usage is scarce and the only option when other methods fail.

Practices for farm animals (livestock)?

  • Animals should live in healthy living conditions.
  • They should have access to the outdoors.
  • Animals should get organic foods.
  • Vaccinate to protect the animals against diseases.

Why should we choose Organic food over “Non-Organic Food”?

  • Non-organic food contains persistent pesticides such as chemical insecticides, fungicides, etc. But Organic nutriment production allows only natural pesticides. Hence these harmful chemical does not become part of our diet.
  • Eating organic helps us to keep ourselves away from Genetically Modified Foods.
  • It does not contain artificial colouring agents.
  • It’s free from chemical preservatives.
  • It does not allow artificial flavour/taste enhancers.
  • It contains more vitamins, antioxidants, and micronutrients than non-organic food.
  • Continuous use of chemical fertilizers makes the farmland barren over time. Suppose we choose Organic food over non-organic food. In that case, farmers will have to use natural fertilizers and compost, green manures (crops grown for improvement of soil such as legumes), and animal manures to build healthy soil. Food is automatically becoming healthier when grown in healthy soil.
  • Organic food has no radiation, but non-organic foods get intense ionizing radiation. Radiation breaks chemical bonds and reduces microorganisms, and causes cancer.
  • Growing these foods does not use chemical pesticides, so it is friendly to pollinators. It protects bees, wasps, and other wildlife from toxic chemicals. This process thus provides biodiversity and improves natural resources.
  • We don’t want to slow poison ourselves. Hence, we need food that is healthy and beneficial for our health. We should carefully choose our food as it is the source of our energy, development, and fitness.

Is Organic Food Better Than Non-Organic Food?

ORGANIC FOOD, WHAT IS ORGANIC FOOD
ORGANIC FOOD, WHAT IS ORGANIC FOOD
  • Organic foods may contain more nutrients.
  • Due to natural variation in food handling and production, organically grown foods could be more nutritious.
  • Organically grown crops have more antioxidants and vitamins.
  • Organic foods generally contain higher levels of antioxidants, up to 69% higher, and certain micronutrients, such as vitamin C, zinc, and iron.
  • Organically grown berries and corn contained 58% more antioxidants and up to 52% higher amounts of vitamin C as per a study 2003.
  • Suppose we replace regular fruit, vegetables, and cereals with organic versions. In that case, they could provide extra antioxidants in our diet, amounting to eating about 1 to 2 portions of extra fruit or vegetable of regular produce.
  • As organic plants do not depend on chemical pesticide sprays, they produce more of their protective compounds, such as antioxidants. It may explain the higher levels of antioxidants found in organic produces.
  • Nitrate levels are generally lower in organic food.

Which is better Organic Food vs Non-Organic Food?

  • Lower levels of nitrates are present in organically grown crops. Studies found that nitrate levels are almost 30% lower in organic produce.
  • A lower nitrate level means less risk of certain types of cancer. Nitrate can cause methemoglobinemia. It is a condition in infants where the body’s ability to carry oxygen is negatively affected.
  • Organic dairy and meat may have a more favourable fatty acid profile.
  • Organic dairy products such as milk and other items contain higher omega-3 fatty acids and slightly higher amounts of iron, vitamin E, and some carotenoids.
  • But selenium and iodine, two essential components for our health, are in fewer amounts in organic dairy products.
  • Organic meat has higher omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of saturated fats than conventional meat.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for a healthy heart. They lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, slow the development of plaque in the arteries, reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm and reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke.
  • There are fewer chemicals and resistant bacteria.
  • In organic food, artificial chemicals are absent. Consuming these reduces the exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Cadmium is a highly toxic metal, 48% lower in organic produce. Cadmium can accumulate over time in the body, causing harm to it. Though washing, scrubbing, peeling, and cooking food can reduce it but doesn’t eradicate it.

Do organic foods have health benefits?

ORGANIC FOOD, WHAT IS ORGANIC FOOD
ORGANIC FOOD, WHAT IS ORGANIC FOOD
  • Organic foods have many health benefits. The higher antioxidant content helps protect cells from damage, and organic diets also benefit growth, reproduction, and the immune system. It also lowers the risk of allergies and eczema in children and infants.
  • Organic food is fresher than non-organic foods because they do not contain preservatives.
  • This type of farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and conserve water.
  • Organic farming is also suitable for nearby birds and animals and people who live close to farms because of not use synthetic pesticides.

Are there downsides to buying organic food?

A common concern with organic food is the cost. It is often costlier than similar foods grown using conventional methods.

What are the fruits and vegetables where the organic label matters most?

You don’t need to buy all organic. Still, you can try to buy the below-mentioned fruits and vegetables organic because their non-organic version uses a high level of pesticides.

Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, Celery, Potatoes, Grapes, Cherry Tomatoes, Summer Squash, Peaches, Spinach, Strawberries, Hot Peppers, etc., are an example of such fruits and vegetables.

There are also certain fruits and vegetables you don’t need to buy organic as pesticide usage is low in their farming. Examples of such items will be Asparagus, Avocado, Mushrooms, Cabbage, Sweet Corn, Eggplant, Kiwi, Mango, Papaya, Pineapple, Sweet Peas, and Onion, Sweet Potatoes, Grapefruit, and Cantaloupe.

Why should you buy organic meat, eggs, and dairy?

Conventionally raised animals are fed corn, grains, antibiotics, animal by-products, growth hormones, etc. Because of this, animals and people consuming their meat, eggs, or milk can have health consequences. One should look for beef or dairy products labelled “pasture-raised” or “100% grass-fed.” One should look for a “certified organic” label for pork, chicken, or eggs.

How do you keep the cost of organic food within your budget?

  • You can shop at farmers’ markets. Small towns or even big cities host farmers’ markets, where local farmers can sell their produce.
  • You can join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm where you can purchase “shares” of produce in bulk.

Organic food buying tips

  • Always try to buy in the season. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are the cheapest and are available very fresh.
  • You can also compare the price of organic items at the grocery store, the farmers’ market, online, and in other venues.

Why is organic food often more expensive?

  • Organic foods are labour-intensive because the farmers do not use synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc.
  • Organic feed for animals costs twice as much as standard feed.
  • This type of farm is generally smaller, distributing fixed costs and overhead costs to smaller production volumes.
  • Even organic certification is expensive.
  • Conventional farmers get subsidies from the government, but nothing like that for organic farmers.

Why not is all organic food nutritious?

A product labelled “organic” doesn’t mean it is full of nutrients. These products could have high sugar, salt, and added fats contents—for example, organic cookies, chips, sodas, and ice cream. Instead of being organic food, they are low in nutrients.

Also, choose between eating based on your dietary needs. Find out the food’s carbohydrate, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals content. Don’t judge only by organic or non-organic labels.

How to know if you’re buying organic food?

ORGANIC FOOD, WHAT IS ORGANIC FOOD
ORGANIC FOOD, WHAT IS ORGANIC FOOD

Department of Agriculture in the U.S. (USDA) has established an organic certification program. According to this program, any farmer or food producer selling organic food must meet stringent government standards. So, when buying organic, it’s essential to look for the USDA organic seal.

Also, look for the below statements on food labels to identify the degree of organic produce.

  • 100% organic. Use complete organic ingredients to make the product.
  • Organic. 95% of the ingredients in this product are organic.
  • They are only organic ingredients. At least 70% of the ingredients are organic.
  • Suppose there are less than 70% organic ingredients in a product. In that case, companies cannot be labelled organic or cannot use the USDA seal.

Europe, Canada, and Australia enforce similar standards.

Each country or continent has its seal to help consumers identify organic food.

Organic food production is different from private gardening. In the EU, organic farming and food production are more commonly known as ecological or biological, or in short ‘eco’ and ‘bio’.

The European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan, and many other countries require organic producers to obtain special certification based on government-defined standards. Only then they can market their food as organic within their borders.

Below is a list of certification programs used by different countries for organic foods.

  • Australia: NASAA Organic Standard
  • European Union: EU-Eco-regulation
  • Sweden: KRAV
  • United Kingdom: DEFRA
  • Poland: Association of Polish Ecology
  • Norway: Debio Organic certification
  • India: National Program for Organic Production (NPOP)
  • Indonesia: BIOCert, run by the Agricultural Ministry of Indonesia.
  • Japan: JAS Standards
  • Mexico: Consejo Nacional de Producción Orgánica, department of Sagarpa
  • New Zealand: there are three bodies; BioGro, AsureQuality, and OFNZ
  • United States: National Organic Program (NOP) Standards

Do organic foods have health benefits?

  • Organic foods have many health benefits. The higher antioxidant content helps protect cells from damage. Organic diets may also benefit growth, reproduction, and the immune system. It also lowers the risk of allergies and eczema in children and infants.
  • Organic food is fresher than non-organic foods because they do not contain preservatives.
  • This type of farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and conserve water.
  • Organic farming is also good for nearby birds and animals as well as people who live close to farms because of not using synthetic pesticides.

Are there downsides to buying organic food?

A common concern with organic food is the cost. They are often costlier than similar foods grown using conventional methods.

What are the fruits and vegetables where the organic label matters most?

You don’t need to buy all organic but you can try to buy the below-mentioned fruits and vegetables organic because their non-organic version uses a high level of pesticides.

Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, Celery, Potatoes, Grapes, Cherry Tomatoes, Summer Squash, Peaches, Spinach, Strawberries, Hot Peppers, etc are an example of such fruits and vegetables.

There are also certain fruits and vegetables you don’t need to buy organic as pesticide usage is low in their farming. Examples of such items will be Asparagus, Avocado, Mushrooms, Cabbage, Sweet Corn, Eggplant, Kiwi, Mango, Papaya, Pineapple, Sweet Peas, Onion, Sweet Potatoes, Grapefruit, and Cantaloupe.

Why should you buy organic meat, eggs, and dairy if you can afford to?

Conventionally raised animals are fed corn, grains, antibiotics, animal by-products, growth hormones, etc. Because of this both the animals and people consuming their meat, eggs, or milk can have health consequences. For beef or dairy products, one should look for labelled “pasture-raised” or “100% grass-fed.” For pork, chicken, or eggs, one should look for a “certified organic” label.

What are the ways to keep the cost of organic food within your budget?

  • You can shop at farmers’ markets. Small towns or even big cities host farmers’ markets, where local farmers can sell their produce.
  • You can join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm where you can purchase “shares” of produce in bulk.

Organic food buying tips

  • Always try to buy in the season. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are the cheapest and are available very fresh.
  • You can also compare the price of organic items at the grocery store, the farmers’ market, online, and in other venues.

Why is organic food often more expensive?

  • As the farmers do not use synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc organic foods are more labour-intensive.
  • Organic feed for animals can cost twice as normal feed.
  • This type of farm is generally smaller, hence distributes fixed costs and overhead costs smaller produce volumes.
  • Even organic certification is expensive.
  • There are also no subsidies from government like for conventional farmers.

Why not all organic food is nutritious?

A product, labelled “organic,” doesn’t mean that it is full of nutrients. These products could have high sugar, salt, and added fats contents. For example, organic cookies, chips, sodas, and ice cream. Instead of being organic food, they are low in nutrients.

Also, choose between eating based on your dietary needs. Find out the carbohydrate, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals content in the food. Don’t judge only by organic or non-organic labels.

How to know if you’re buying organic food?

Department of Agriculture in the U.S. (USDA) has set up an organic certification program. According to this program, any farmer or food producer selling organic food must meet stringent government standards. So, when buying organic, it’s important to look for the USDA organic seal.

Also, look out for the below statements on food labels to identify the degree of organic produce.

  • 100% organic. Using complete organic ingredients to make the product.
  • Organic. 95% of the ingredients in this product are organic.
  • Made with organic ingredients. At least 70% of the ingredients are organic.
  • If there are less than 70% organic ingredients in a product then companies cannot be label organic or cannot use the USDA seal.

Europe, Canada, and Australia enforce similar standards.

Each country or continent has its seal to help consumers identify organic food.

ORGANIC FOOD, WHAT IS ORGANIC FOOD
ORGANIC FOOD, WHAT IS ORGANIC FOOD

Organic food production is different from private gardening. In the EU, organic farming and food production are more commonly known as ecological or biological, or in short ‘eco’ and ‘bio’.

The European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan, and many other countries require organic producers to obtain special certification based on government-defined standards. Only then they can market their food as organic within their borders.

Below is a list of certification programs used by different countries for organic foods.

  • Australia: NASAA Organic Standard
  • European Union: EU-Eco-regulation
  • Sweden: KRAV
  • United Kingdom: DEFRA
  • Poland: Association of Polish Ecology
  • Norway: Debio Organic certification
  • India: National Program for Organic Production (NPOP)
  • Indonesia: BIOCert, run by the Agricultural Ministry of Indonesia.
  • Japan: JAS Standards
  • Mexico: Consejo Nacional de Producción Orgánica, department of Sagarpa
  • New Zealand: there are three bodies; BioGro, AsureQuality, and OFNZ
  • United States: National Organic Program (NOP) Standards

Organic vs Non-Organic

Organic vs. Non-Organic
Organic produce:Conventionally-grown produce:
Grown with natural fertilizers (manure, compost).Grown with synthetic or chemical fertilizers.
Weeds are controlled naturally (crop rotation, hand weeding, mulching, and tilling) or with organic-approved herbicides.Weeds are controlled with chemical herbicides.
Pests are controlled using natural methods (birds, insects, traps) and naturally-derived pesticides.Pests are controlled with synthetic pesticides
Organic meat, dairy, eggs:Conventionally-raised meat, dairy, eggs
Livestock is given all organic, hormone- and GMO-free feed.Livestock is given growth hormones for faster growth, as well as non-organic, GMO feed.
The disease is prevented with natural methods such as clean housing, rotational grazing, and a healthy diet.Antibiotics and medications are used to prevent livestock disease.
Livestock must have access to the outdoors.Livestock may or may not have access to the outdoors.

Policy and Organic Food

Organic food production started as an alternative farming method. Later it became divided into two distinct paths:

(1) There are small-scale farms that are not formally certified. They depend on informed consumers seeking local, fresh, organically grown foods. The educated consumers who know and trust their local farmers and production methods do not ask for a certification label. 

(2) large-scale farms which produce certified organic foods. The distribution takes place through typical grocery store chains. As the food is produced on far away farms and shipped, consumers are more likely to look for certification labels.

Organic food and the Environment

Organic agriculture is beneficial for our environment. Certified production methods prohibit the usage of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which reduces chemical runoff and the pollution of soils and water bodies. Compost created on-site for small farms, and Off-site for large-scale organic farms are Green fertilizers. There is a drawback here for large-scale organic farms as they require inputs of more significant fossil fuels to carry the compost from far away.

Organic food and Society

Demand for organic food varies depending upon geographic locations. Organic foods are more expensive for consumers than conventionally produced food. There is a correlation between more incredible wealth and education with organic food purchases. Lower-income countries try to make certified organic crops solely for export to wealthier countries. It creates a situation where the farmers cannot afford to buy the organic foods they produce. In the short term, this may look like economic gain, but it is a concern when farmers are forced out of growing food crops that feed their local communities. It ultimately increases food insecurity.

How do I know if something is organic?

Look for USDA Organic Seal or as per your country’s authorized agency’s seal.

What does the USDA Organic seal mean?

The USDA Organic seal assures the quality and integrity of organic products. Annual inspections and random checks ensure that companies follow the standards correctly.

How does a farmer go about converting land to organic status?

It is three years-long processes to convert typical farming land to organic status. In the first two years, the fertility of the ground improves. The produce grown in the first year is not organic. The second year’s crop could be stated as “In Conversion”. Produces of the third year could be expressed as fully organic.

Why does organic cost more?

Organic foods are labour-intensive because the farmers do not use synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc. Organic feed for animals costs twice as much as standard feed. This type of farm is generally smaller. Therefore, fixed costs and overhead costs are distributed across smaller produce volumes. Even organic certification is expensive. There are also no subsidies like conventional farmers.

Reference List

  1. Asami, D. K., Hong, Y.-J., Barrett, D. M., & Mitchell, A. E. (2003). Comparison of the total phenolic and ascorbic acid content of freeze-dried and air-dried marionberry, strawberry, and corn grown using conventional, organic, and sustainable agricultural practices. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry51(5), 1237–1241. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf020635c
  2. Barański, M., Srednicka-Tober, D., Volakakis, N., Seal, C., Sanderson, R., Stewart, G. B., Benbrook, C., Biavati, B., Markellou, E., Giotis, C., Gromadzka-Ostrowska, J., Rembiałkowska, E., Skwarło-Sońta, K., Tahvonen, R., Janovská, D., Niggli, U., Nicot, P., & Leifert, C. (2014). Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. The British Journal of Nutrition112(5), 794–811. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114514001366
  3. Hunter, D., Foster, M., McArthur, J. O., Ojha, R., Petocz, P., & Samman, S. (2011). Evaluation of the micronutrient composition of plant foods produced by organic and conventional agricultural methods. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition51(6), 571–582. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408391003721701
  4. Organic Industry Survey. (n.d.). Ota.com. Retrieved August 2, 2022, from https://ota.com/organic-market-overview/organic-industry-survey
  5. Średnicka-Tober, D., Barański, M., Seal, C. J., Sanderson, R., Benbrook, C., Steinshamn, H., Gromadzka-Ostrowska, J., Rembiałkowska, E., Skwarło-Sońta, K., Eyre, M., Cozzi, G., Larsen, M. K., Jordon, T., Niggli, U., Sakowski, T., Calder, P. C., Burdge, G. C., Sotiraki, S., Stefanakis, A., … Leifert, C. (2016). Higher PUFA and n-3 PUFA, conjugated linoleic acid, α-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic milk: a systematic literature review and meta- and redundancy analyses. The British Journal of Nutrition115(6), 1043–1060. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114516000349
  6. Średnicka-Tober, D., Barański, M., Seal, C., Sanderson, R., Benbrook, C., Steinshamn, H., Gromadzka-Ostrowska, J., Rembiałkowska, E., Skwarło-Sońta, K., Eyre, M., Cozzi, G., Krogh Larsen, M., Jordon, T., Niggli, U., Sakowski, T., Calder, P. C., Burdge, G. C., Sotiraki, S., Stefanakis, A., … Leifert, C. (2016). Composition differences between organic and conventional meat: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. The British Journal of Nutrition115(6), 994–1011. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114515005073

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