There is a lot of information out there about organic food, but is organic food really more nutritious?
What are the differences between non-organic and organic food, when it comes to nutrition, safety and price?
What does organic mean?
Organic food is the name called to the products that are made without using synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and growth regulators. This means that the focus of organic agriculture is on an environmentally, socially, and economical sustainable production system.
It is very hard to understand if all products named ''organic'' really are organic, since each situation is different and changes overtime. In addition, people accept that organic food is healthier and more nutritious than traditionally grown foods but it all depends on the conditions in which they are grown in and how the foods are prepared.
For example, deep-frying organic food is just as unhealthy as deep-frying non organic food.
Organic vs Inorganic
Health Benefits of Organic Food
Researchers from the University at Buffalo found that the chemicals used in non-organic foods are harmful to the human's melatonin.
Melatonin is refered as the sleep hormone as it plays a big role in the regulation of sleep cycles and if you don't get enough, you're at risk of bad sleep or even insomnias. Therefore, by eating organic foods, you make sure to not lower your melatonin levels and improve your sleep.
By eating organic, you know that you're eating fresh. The products that you buy do not contain artificial substances and therefore do not harm your body. The only downside to this is that you will have to consume your food in a shorter amount of time... But that can also be a motivation to eat more veggies and fruit.
- Better for the environment
There's a climate emergency- the choices we make today are becoming more and more relevant to the future of our earth.
According to the centre for climate and energy solutions, about 76% of the Earth's pollution is due to greenhouse gases and we can see that the United States is the biggest example of that.
Why is this important to know? Because organic farming reduces greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating the use of manufactured chemical fertilisers. Instead, farmers rely on natural fertilisers, which can be sourced locally or from their own farm like green manures, animal manures and ‘cover crops’ to fix nutrients, as well as crop rotations.
GMO's are genetically modified organisms in any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.
Accordong to PubMed, they may cause toxic effects such as hepatic, pancreatic, renal, or reproductive effects and alter the hematological, biochemical, and immunologic parameters.
The use of GMOs is prohibited in organic foods, so by consuming them you're once again making sure to save your body of more damage.
- Organically raised animals are not given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts.
Most farm animals are given antibiotics and growth hormones to control diseases and promote growth of lovestock animals.
At first sight, we would think that there is no problem with giving them medication if animals are sick but there are many concers regarding the safety of livestock products and the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance. This goes not only for them but also for humans.
Animals have become resistant to these medicine and the more medicine you take, the more you hurt your body. Humans, by eating animals, are also eating the "damaged" part of it and ingesting the drugs making themselves resistant as well and harming their health.
One of the prohibited methods in the process or growing of organic food is Sewage Sludge.
This is a fertilizer or soil improver material that is produced as a by-product during sewage treatment of industrial or municipal wastewater. It is a mud-like residue resulting from wastewater treatment, and since it contains heavy metals and pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, it is not considered organic.
Soils rich in organic matters hold more air and water and produce higher yields than soils low in organic matter.
Having a healthy soil is extremely important since it is the foundation of a productive and sustainable agriculture.
- Less damage of pollinators
A pollinator is an animal that moves pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower. This helps to bring about fertilization of the ovules in the flower by the male gametes from the pollen grains.
Why is this not organic? Because agriculture, mining and human development are the reason why pollinators are endangered.
In a study conducted by researchers from the Centre for Environmental and Climate Research, there was found that the number of bumblebee species in organic farms was higher and more stable over time and space than in conventional farms.
Natural vs organic
"natural" and "organic" are not the same terms. In general, "natural" on a food label means that it has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. It does not refer to the methods or materials used to produce the food ingredients. By the organic definition, the methods and materials used play a big part in this type of agriculture.
Myths About Organic Food
Pesticides Are Not That Bad
Certain people assume that pesticides are okay, which is proven otherwise. Pesticides are poison designed to kill pests in agriculture. These pesticides are absorbed by the human body and can remain in your body for several years. Some pesticides that we thought were safe have been banned over time. We can only hope that pesticides used today are a ‘relatively safe’ poison.
Organic Food Is Very Expensive
It is true that organic food can be quite pricy. However, it does not have to be like that. In some cases organic food can be even cheaper than its inorganic counterpart. This is because conventional food has hidden costs, like health costs spent on pesticides and cleaning up the environment.
If a product is labeled organic, it hasn’t been exposed to herbicides or pesticides.
Unless the product says "100% organic", there is no guarantee that it doesn’t necessarily mean zero pesticides or herbicides. For products with the USDA “organic” label, only 95 percent of the ingredients must be organic.
And even those who do use the words "100%" are often not true.
So, should we trust "organic" labels?
The Great Organic-Food Fraud has been trying to show people that organic food labels might not be so reliable.
These products often have a number of labels on them, but the USDA (originally from the US) organic lable is the only one in this country that's federally certified by accredited agents.
For a product to carry the USDA organic label, a third party must verify at least 95% of the ingredients as organic. The phrase "made with organic ingredients" means at least 70% of the ingredients used counted as organic. Foods can still be organic even if they're not labeled as such.
This organization seems very transparent about their values but as you can see, even with the label, you still might ingest products that are not organic.
Obviously, 5% is better than 10 or 15 but we must stay true to ourselves and not believe that we are consuming zero non-organic ingredients.
In Europe, the logo can also only be used on products when they contain at least 95% organic ingredients as well and additionally, respect further strict conditions for the remaining 5%.
It is each person's choice to trust or not the word "organic" but such labels will always make us more secure and confident to be consuming less harmful products so make sure to check in your packages the organic labels.
For further information about false organic labels, click here. This is an article called "The Great Organic-Food Fraud" that caught a lot of attention from the Americans.
What if we choose to not trust organic labels? These are some health tips:
1. Buy at farmer markets
If it is a local farmers market that doesn't sell the same brands as in the supermarket, it will most likely be organic, even if they don't have labels on. By buying locally, you are supporting your local business, are able to go to their fields and have a closer look to how they produce food and be more confident that you're not eating chemicals.
2. Make your own food
Yes, this will steal you some time and energy but you might also see this as a new hobby. Give homemade production a chance and you will probably be surprised with the taste and freshness of your own food, plus know for sure that there are no harmful products in it.
3. Don't be too picky
The purpose of using so many unnatural products is to make food look better. If it looks too good and after a few days you don't see that your products have gotten old, you already know that there ware chemicals used. So, try opting for those who look a bit older but more natural.
Also, eating more vegan and plant-based is a way of making sure that you don't consume antibiotics and growth hormones since you're not eating animals.
Recipe With Organic Food
What would an article about organic food be without a recipe ? Underneath you can see a very delicious and unique organic food recipe.
You can also opt tp leave the cheese out or by a plant-based cheese in order to transform it into a vegan meal.
Rogue Creamery's Oregon Blue Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms
- 12 large cremini mushrooms
- 2 slices thick sliced bacon
- ½ c. onion, minced
- ½ c. panko or breadcrumbs
- 3.5 oz. Oregon Blue, crumbled
- ¼ c. parsley, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Wipe mushrooms with a damp cloth to clean. Remove stems and set caps aside in a medium casserole. Coarsely chop stems.
- Heat a large skillet to medium. Using kitchen shears, snip bacon into bite sized pieces into the skillet and cook until fat renders, about 3-4 minutes. Drain most of the fat, allowing about 2 tsp. to remain. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add chopped mushroom stems and cook an additional minute.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Stir in panko, crumbled Oregon Blue cheese and parsley. Mix until well combined. Stuff each mushroom with an equal amount of stuffing.
- Bake in medium casserole dish 15-18 minutes until mushrooms are cooked through and topping is golden brown. Serve immediately.
This is a very healthy recipe as it includes vegetables and has protein from the cheese! All of the ingredients together form a delicious taste.
Eating nutriciously and organic improves our general health and therefore also our sleep.
“Eating healthy and allowing the body to absorb proper nutrients provides the brain with the chemical environment that it needs to produce the neurotransmitters that it needs to maintain adequate sleep,” Krieger says.