Health - Diet & Nutrition
By: - at June 20, 2013

Organic Foods – Are they better than Conventional Foods?

What are organic foods?
Organic produceA lot of health and environment conscious people nowadays turn to organic instead of conventional food. There are factors that are considered before a certain food is labeled as “organic”. The soil where the crops are grown must be safe and must not contain any chemicals. Also, the farmers use natural pesticides and must refrain from using pesticides that are synthetic. The DNA of the crop must not be altered. However, in some countries, some crops may have GMOs (bioengineered genes) and are still considered organic food.

What are the differences between conventional and organic food?

  • GMOs - Conventional foods are mostly Genetically Modified Organisms.
  • Artificial sweeteners - Organic food does not contain artificial sweeteners (saccharin or aspartame) - toxic chemicals which are sometimes present in conventional foods.
  • Chemical pesticides - Because farmers who grow organic crops do not use chemical pesticides, they do not contribute to the pollution of the environment. Aside from that, conventional foods have higher levels of pesticide residue than organic foods.
  • Cost - Because of natural fertilizers and intensive care given to organic foods, they usually cost more comparing to crops that are grown the conventional way.
  • Nutrition - Although some researchers agree that organic and conventional foods have the same nutritional benefits, other research claim that organic foods have more nutrients than the conventionally grown crops.

How do I know if it’s organic or not?
USDA Organic Logo
Make sure that the food has U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) seal on it. Also, check the Price Look-Up code or PLU of the sticker. If the code is 5-digits and starts with number 9, the product is organic. If the 5-digit code starts with number 8, the crop is genetically modified (GMO). There are products however which have 4-digit PLU code. These are the crops that are grown conventionally.

100% Organic and Organic Food
100% organic foods are completely grown following the rules set by the USDA’s program for organic food. This means that the crop does not contain any pesticide and chemical or the product is made up of completely organic ingredients (like 100% organic cereal). Products however which are simply labeled “organic” may be 95% - 99% grown organically and may not have followed one rule of the USDA’s organic program.

Natural and Organic Food
Some people get confused about the differences between natural and organic food.  Natural foods are not the same as organic foods. While organic foods are grown and produced under the supervision of Organic Foods Production Acts, natural foods are produced without legal supervision and are not grown by following any rules. Natural foods are known to have lesser chemicals in them when compared to conventional foods. However, there is no assurance that natural foods are really safer.

Pros of Consuming Organic Food

  • Healthy and Safe - Research shows that organic foods have higher vitamin and mineral contents than conventional foods. Pesticides and harmful hormones are also present in conventional foods. These pesticides can cause nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and can even trigger allergies.
  • Healthier Kids - According to the research done by EWG (Environmental Working Group), pollutants such as food pesticides and chemicals can enter the placenta. In some cases, these pollutants cause birth defects such as autism. Pregnant women who consume organic foods will have higher chances of having healthy babies.
  • Cleaner Environment - Pesticides and other chemicals from conventional farms are carried by surface water to the river and oceans. These chemicals stay in the bodies of water for years and can pollute drinking waters. Organic farms on the other hand strictly use farming methods that do not harm the environment.
  • Organic milk HorizonProtected Animals - A lot of animals are also suffering due to the pollution brought on by using pesticides. Organic farming protects not just the different animal habitats, it also protects the organic livestock. Animals on organic farms are treated better than the animals at conventional farms.

Organic Milk
Some people are fond of organic milk because it lasts longer than the regular milk found in the market. Cows which are not treated with antibiotics and other chemicals produce organic milk. Farmers are only allowed to use antibiotics if organic cows are sick. USDA informed people that conventional milk contains pesticides.

A lot of people would agree that there are definitely a lot of differences between organic and conventional products. However, we can be assured that everything we see in the grocery has been checked if they are safe for consumption.





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