Why Organic Food Is Better for You

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Organic Vegies by Hardworkinghippy via Flickr. Licensed under creative commons.

Awareness of the importance of organic food as blossomed in the past few decades. This has developed from a time when consumers simply grabbed produce out of bins without a thought of how it had been grown to a careful consideration of the ‘background’ of the food being eaten.

For years farmers drenched plants and the soil with pesticides, herbicides, and artificial fertilizers, and it can certainly be no accident that elevated rates for serious diseases have soared, sometimes dramatically. With the chance of getting cancer at some point in your life now at nearly 30%, people are looking for ways to live longer and healthier lives.

Understanding Organic Food

People are often confused about the difference between conventional, natural, and organic food. The difference lies not only in the methods used to grow or raise the food, but also how the food is processed.

• Conventionally raised food is grown with the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. This is probably the most economical way to grow vegetables and raise livestock.

• Natural foods can be produced in basically the same way as conventionally grown foods, with the ‘natural’ label simply being applied to the food. Some natural food has been processed to a lesser degree than conventional food, but there is no government oversight to guarantee the quality and safety of the natural food.

• Organic food is grown or raised without the use of any artificial substances. Organic farmers also do not spread sewage sludge onto their fields. Organic food must not only be grown using only organic farming, but it must be processed in facilities that produce only organic products. Organic food is produced following a strict set of regulatory guidelines so that the purity of the food can be depended upon.

Because of the care needed to grow and raise organic food, it is generally higher in price than either conventional or natural food, but most people who prefer organic consider it to be well worth the additional expense.

Pesticides and Herbicides Are Harmful

The debate about whether organic food is actually healthier for people could go on forever, but there are a couple of significant facts that may speak in favor of organic food:

• Cancers have been linked with the use of pesticides and herbicides on food. Leukemia and Hodgkin’s disease are the cancers most commonly associated with pesticides, but cancers that affect nearly every part of the body were more likely in those who had been exposed to pesticides, including those that are found as residue on foodstuffs.

• Pesticide use contributes to the onset of Parkinson’s disease.

• Some studies have indicated a possible connection between pesticides and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

• Pesticide use also increases the chances for spontaneous abortion, birth defects, and low birth weight babies.

Even if the food is washed before being eaten, it is often impossible to remove all the pesticide, especially when a systemic pesticide has been used.

The Benefits of Organic Food

Because food grown or raised organically has not been exposed to toxic chemicals, it will not produce the potentially harmful long term health effects that conventionally grown food will.

• The nutritional value of organic food is also considered to be much higher than that of ‘ordinary’ food. To begin with, the use of natural fertilizers allows the plants to absorb nutrients more effectively and utilize them more efficiently.

• Because pesticides are not used, plants actually make adjustments of their cellular content to make it less likely that insects will attack them. These phytochemicals are actually powerhouses of vitamins and trace elements and provide added benefit for those who eat organically.

• Minerals such as zinc, calcium phosphorous, and iron are found in greater concentrations in organically grown fruits and vegetables. Small, organic oranges have been found to have a much higher level of Vitamin C than larger, conventionally grown oranges.

• Livestock that has been raised using organic principles is also much healthier than the hormone and antibiotic soaked meat found in most supermarkets. Grass, grain, and other natural foods make up the diet of cattle, sheep, pigs, and fowl raised organically. Meat produced in this fashion has a lower fat content and will also prevent beef eaters from being exposed to Mad Cow Disease.

Eating organically is important for everyone in the family, but will benefit children and pregnant women especially. Going organic will mean that you and your family will be able to eat more wholesome and nutritious food, and food that also tastes a good deal better than that produced by artificial means.