The term ‘organic’ is thrown around the wellness industry a lot. It’s thought of as the healthy way to eat produce. But what does it actually mean? Is it worth swapping your conventional groceries for organic, even though they’re pricier?
What does ‘organic’ mean?
‘Organic’ describes the way produce is grown or cultivated. What is defined as ‘organic’ differs from country to country, but usually, it means it is pesticide free and not genetically engineered. This is why organic veg often looks unconventional and more rustic! For organic meat and dairy products, animals must have been fed with organic food and no hormones.
What are the benefits?
Pesticides are used to deter organisms feeding off produce. This includes insects, mould and other natural diseases. Unfortunately, pesticides aren’t healthy for us, either, because they are strong chemicals. In fact, the term ‘-cide’ stems from the Latin word, ‘to kill’. One of the most common pesticides is organophosphorus, an unnatural mineral compound. It has been linked to several developmental problems, including autism and ADHD (1). Many people choose organic food over conventional for this reason, especially when their children are in their developing years.
Organic food is often fresher because it does not contain chemicals to preserve it. This means that there are many more nutrients available for absorption. In this sense, organic food is much healthier for you.
Organic food can also impact your immune system. There have been numerous studies proving that GMOs (genetically modified organisms) attack your immune system. These attacks are in the form of allergies, infections, inflammation and cancers (2). Results from tests show a spike in white blood cells, basophils and lymphocytes. This is the body’s reaction to foreign organisms entering the blood. By switching to organic produce, you might find that you have more energy and become less run down.
Can eating organic produce really improve your heart health? Organic livestock spend more time grazing on grass. This is because they need longer feeding time to get the nutrients needed to grow. This increases the amount of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) in animal products. CLA is a crucial fatty acid which is great for your cardiovascular system. It’s most concentrated source is breast milk and free range, organic livestock.
Better for the environment
Organic farming uses less chemicals. Compared to normal farming it lowers pollution, saves water, avoids soil erosion, increases soil fertility, and uses less energy. A lack of pesticides also helps wildlife, as well as those who live near farms.
Is organic food pesticide free?
Despite what people believe, organic farms do use pesticides. The difference is, that organic pesticides are those which have been naturally-derived. While these are generally a lot less harmful, they can still have health risks. Of course, eating organically can help lower these risks.
What are the best kind of foods to buy organic?
There are some foods which require high levels of pesticides to grow in the required quantities. Or, that are genetically modified. Try to buy these organically if possible:
- Kale/Collard Greens
- Cherry Tomatoes
The following foods generally require less pesticides, so are safer to eat non-organic:
- Sweet Potatoes