Have you heard that organic food is no better than conventional? Perhaps you saw the headlines discussing the Stanford University study (*See Note below). I beg to differ. Even if the study did not prove that organic produce has more vitamins and minerals (I never thought they did, BTW) or that a certain level of exposure has a causal link to certain ailments, I don’t think it’s wise to give up on organics. Here's why I will continue to buy organic foods as much as possible (and I encourage you to do so as well).
- More Expensive- I knew that would catch your attention! It doesn't quite seem like a benefit, right? Well, it depends how you look at it. More expensive means buying less than otherwise and doesn’t allow overbuying, thus minimizing waste. I make a strong effort to eat all that I buy. No organic apples, cucumbers, or lettuce gets tossed on my watch. I survey the organic food regularly and make sure that I’m using what’s there. I’ll add extra veggies to a salad, throw and older apple into a juice, just to make sure it’s not wasted. As an added plus, I’m making sure that the good stuff gets into somebody’s body around this place!
- Tastes Better- I really believe this to be true. When I’m stuck and have to buy conventional, it seems to be hit or miss on whether or not the taste will be good or not. Organic apples are always crisp and refreshing. Who wants a mealy apple? So, you’re not a big fan of fresh fruits and veggies? Well, I probably wouldn’t be either if I were only buying conventional produce at WalMart.
- More Antioxidants- Have you heard that you need to eat your fruits and veggies to get antioxidants (which help to protect you from illness and disease and repair your body)? Studies are showing that organic produce has higher antioxidant levels (could be as high as an added 40%). Antioxidants are the compounds inherent in foods that provide natural protection for them from their environment. If produce cannot rely on Monsanto’s chemicals to ward off the bugs, it has to up it’s own natural defenses. You get the benefit of those extra antioxidants as a result.
- A Vote for What's Right- My only way to really provide input to food manufacturers and farmers is to buy or not buy. Regardless of any other benefits, I still want to support less toxins, less pesticides, less chemicals, less antibiotics (and less antibiotic resistant strains of illness), less GMO’s, and less harm to the environment. The USDA states that organic farming "integrates cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” By the way, it’s also better for the farmers and the workers to not be exposed to that crap.
- Less Of the Harmful Substances- Do I really have to say that this is better? Even if it’s difficult to prove how much exposure to a particular carcinogen is toxic, we all inherently know this. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a strawberry and not a strawberry laced with 13 different pesticides (the amount typically found on conventional strawberries).
- Not Genetically Modified- I don’t know about you, but if the countries in the EU along with other countries like Japan and Australia have banned GMO’s, there seems to be some risk to them. Does it sound natural for the genes of salmon to be in genetically modified tomatoes? No thank you.
- More Natural, Whole Ingredients- Yep, when I buy packaged goods, I buy organic too. For example, the first ingredient in organic ketchup is tomato paste. Heinz is made from tomato concentrate (from GMO tomatoes) and has high fructose corn syrup. Have you seen the investigation on blueberries in cereal bars, muffins, etc? In general, most of the conventional foods are made from little to no actual blueberries, but use dyes, chemicals, HFCS, and transfats to make things to to look like blueberries. Organic foods that contain blueberries are made with real blueberries and none of the other junk.
*Note: The Stanford study findings were that “they did not find strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or carry fewer health risks than conventional alternatives, though consumption of organic foods can reduce the risk of pesticide exposure.” So, they were looking at nutrients, I.e. the levels of vitamins and minerals in organic verses conventional foods and the health risks of conventional foods. Please note that they state, “There were no long-term studies of health outcomes of people consuming organic versus conventionally produced food; the duration of the studies involving human subjects ranged from two days to two years.”