Before I start let’s establish the organic definition and meaning as it relates to food, this will give you clarity on the most common questions, what is organic food? and What is organic farming?
- Organic Market Overview
- Is Organic Food Better For You?
- How Organic Farming Helps The Environment
- What Makes Food Organic?
- To Be Organic Or Not To Be?
The definition of organic food:
of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals.
Now you have a clear understading of what organic food is and the organic farming definition, let’s continue with some of the things that are required for food to be certified organic, benefits of eating organic and things to consider when making the switch to organic living.
Eating organic was once something that was the norm in the past. Today many foods are not organic, which has led many people to become suspicious and concerned. The growing concern has resulted in large amounts of people reverting back to organic foods, which really is a return back to a society norm.
Organic Market Overview
The money generated in the organic food market continues to rise. This market was worth $35.9 billion and between 2013 and 2014 it grew by 11%. In 2015, it is worth as much as $55 billion!
- The stats show that there’s a 51% increase of families from 2014 that are now buying more organic products.
- 8 out of 10 parents will choose organic food when feeding their families.
- You can find over 25,000 certified organic institutions across more than 120 countries throughout the world.
- The organic market has been regulated further with the removal of 45 different synthetics in 2008 these synthetics are now prohibited when producing organic produce.
- In 2012 43% of U.S produce was organic food sales.
The unfortunate thing is that the new non organic streamlined farming, may be faster and more efficient for producing food but it comes at the expense of both our health and the health of the environment.
The Additives, pesticides, growth hormones and the various other chemicals that are added to fruits, vegetables and other foods, with the intent of helping animals and other produce be mass produced for consumption are definitely a concern for us.
Is Organic Food Better For You?
The problem with using unnatural substances to assist growth of produce are the strange and even dangerous side effects on our bodies as well as the environment.
The effects unnaturally produced food can have on us is the main reason organic farming and eating are essential.
Why Eat Organic?
The reasons to eat organic should be obvious. Using processes to speed up the growth of food can result in harming us physically, so this is definitely a good reason to eat organic foods.
Also eating foods that in some cases, simply taste better and leave you energised is a great incentive to eat organic. If this is what you want then organic food is for you.
Some times people are put off by the preparation of organic food, because of the fast food culture we have. The truth is preparing organic food is not as hard as it may first appear and the benefits of organic food outweigh the negatives.
The Alternative To Organic Goods
So what are your options if you don’t eat organic foods? As mentioned earlier eating foods that are not organically produced means mass-produced foods that are sprayed with pesticide, herbicides and other chemicals and GMO’s.
These are not the best choices and can cause many unforeseen side effects and worse still, may contribute to serious disease.
Foods That Are Known To Have The Most Pesticides Used On Them:
- As much as 99% of all apples in tests, were effected with pesticides and made the Environmental Working Group’s 2015 Dirty Dozen List of most pesticide residue ridden foods.
The FDA alarming found upto 36 different chemicals on apple samples that were tested, and half of them are neurotoxins that can potentially cause brain damage according to studies conducted in 2012.
- Raspberries come into contact with 39 chemicals and as much as 58% of all fruits registered positive for contamination
- Cherries contained 25 pesticides per fruit
- A grape has 15 pesticides and it has been shown that 35 different types of pesticides are used in the vineyards that grow them
Other Food Stuff Known To Have Pesticides:
- Nectarines (imported)
- Spinach And Greens
- Snap peas (imported)
- Hot peppers
- Blueberries (domestic)
- Kale and collard greens
- Potatoes – The Pesticides in one average potato was found by the EWG to have more pesticides in it by weight compared to any other type of produce
*The alternative to these pesticide ridden foods are organic fruits and vegetables.
Is Organic Better?
What you need to keep in mind is that eating organic means you’re not ingesting pesticides, additives and growth hormones which are given to cows and chickens in store bought foods.
You could actually be growing your own foods and/or buying the organic selections that you can find at your supermarket or even the organic farmers markets, at least this way you know exactly what is (and isn’t) in your food.
Taking the organic route means that you know your food is pure and safe to eat.
Where the environment is concerned growing organic food is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and it promotes safe farming all around the world.
The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).
You don’t have to give in to using chemicals to grow your foods. You can actually send a better message by growing your own food in an organic garden, you could even house animals like chickens to produce your own fresh eggs.
How Organic Farming Helps The Environment
Nature is something that has been here before us. The sad thing is that with all the modern society manipulation of nature, to grow more efficiently, we have been left the side effects which are dangerous.
One of the biggest concerns of all this food manipulation is that it fills the earth with manmade chemicals, this gets into the soil, plants, groundwater, and even the animals.
What this means is that, even if you have been trying to avoid chemicals and additives you’re still at risk of ingesting them because they’re already in the earth and becoming a part of nature.
Creating more organic farms and promoting the consumption of organic foods, is the only way to reduce the amount of chemicals being put in the soil. This could also help revert the soil back to it’s natural state.
What Is Sustainable Agriculture?
Sustainable agriculture defined:
In simplest terms, sustainable agriculture is the production of food, fiber, or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare.
Farming Organic and Eating is more sustainable and universally healthy. It will reduces the amount of pollution in the world, as well as help both society and nature feel and look better, in contrast to conventional farming, which is harsher overall.
It’s worth considering that moderations in farming can be of some benefit, but the over use of these moderation will only result in one outcome, which is destruction.
Is Organic Eating Right For You? Key Considerations
Fortunately organic foods have become more available in local supermarkets and continue to grow in popularity.
Organic eating is definitely something that entails change, but this doesn’t have to be difficult. While going organic is likely to be a lifestyle change, it doesn’t have to be unmanageable.
Here are some things that you should consider when making the change to an organic lifestyle.
What Makes Food Organic?
In order for food to be considered organic it has to fit sanctioned criteria. This allows the seller to label it organic.
An example, of some qualifying criteria are:
(1) – There should be no pesticides present
(2) – Livestock must have only been fed organic feed.
(3) – Animals should have adequate outside space, and any treatment with any chemicals such as antibiotics is prohibited.
(5) – When the product is upto 70% organic a label that says made with organic ingredients is required.
It is worth noting that if you intend on being organic you should be avoiding, ‘made with organic ingredients’ labelling, because 30% of pesticides and other additives is still quite substantial.
The normal procedure for foods with organic labelling is that they are naturally produced with minimal processing.
In the United States the criteria set for organic produce has been set by USDA. They say that food can only be labeled organic when grown in strict conditions which include pesticide free, and sustainable agricultural and production practices, and farmers also have to minimize negative impacts on the environment and people.
Some criteria organic foods would need to meet:
- Food would need to use sustainable practices and no chemical pesticides
- Pests and weeds can only be controlled by non-chemical methods
- There’s to be no radiation treatment to prevent foods from spoiling
- There should be no genetically modified crops or organisms involved in growing food
- All livestock must be free of antibiotic and growth hormone and be treated without cruelty
Growing food organically also has a cultural context criteria to where people adopt the lifestyle which promotes:
- Minimizing exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins
- Supporting an eco-friendly approach that does not negatively affect the environment
- Achieving organic objectives by using naturally produced and sustainable products and services.
Cost And Availability
The cost of organic food is without a doubt higher than non organic foods. The reason for this expense is because of the more expensive production methods used.
The good news is that the cost of organic foods have dropped in recent years. There has also been an increase in the stores that stock them. This is great because there are now many organic alternatives, although admittedly they are more expensive, but not as much as before, and well worth it in the long run.
A Closer Look At The Cost Of Organics
Like most things an expensive cost is a deterent, the same is true for organic foods, which are in some case as much as 40% more than non organic foods.
A great place to get affordable organic foods are farmers markets. They are great places where you can choose from a selection of foods and save yourself some money.
A good source that is used as a yearly reference is the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List, it identifies the most pesticide-ridden fruits and vegetables.
Family And Household
When going organic you will have to consider your whole household, except if you all eat separately, which is not the most practical way to eat organic foods.
Getting the views of other household members is important if you want to transition to organic foods in the most cost effective way, some may agree others might not.
Do You Care About Environmental Impact
If you’re a person that is in favour of an healthy environment then going organic is definitely a way to support that feeling. As mentioned earlier organic processes are designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible, as well as cause the minimal amount of harm.
Also, workers, farmers and staff who are involved in organic food production are normally better compensated and have better working conditions.
There are those that will swear that organic foods taste better. This is a topic of debate. If you have ever had McDonald’s, it taste real good but it’s generally known that it’s not the best choice of food. The most important thing we say is that you’re eating food that nature intended for our bodies.
Within organic food there is usually less hydrogenated fat present; hydrogenated fat is known to be linked to serious health conditions such as heart disease. Reducing your hydrogenated fat intake is a good way to ensure you have better health and a better lifestyle as a result, lowering your risk of getting heart disease.
To Be Organic Or Not To Be?
Image source: www.slate.com
Eating organic foods is the only answer if you want to eat healthy. As expressed previously it’s possible for you to grow them yourself and also support local businesses and organic markets, by buying from them.
The objective of eating organic is to treat the environment right by providing healthy, trustworthy food.
Today we are in a world where there are many serious health concerns, pollution, and non beneficial industrial productivity – this is why it’s necessary to get back to basics and create a space where the earth can be the earth.
We all need to be appreciative of the environment as it’s not only nature, it is also our home too.
As with anything else that needs to be preserved, care and consideration is required, which are the automatic side effects when we choose an organic lifestyle.
Eating organic is certainly a great choice, and even the best choice. Focusing on organic or non-organic food is not the real story, although over the longterm the more organic food you consume the better – this should never take away from the most important factor, which should go along side eating organic, which is a balanced diet.
A balanced diet will always be the key to ensuring you have a sufficient quantity of fruit, vegetables, vitamins, and the main food groups that benefit your overall health.