Organic vs. Non-Organic: Is Organic Food Really Better?

In these days of widespread information, we are able to become more and more aware of what we put into our bodies, and what are the good and bad qualities of everything we eat. Most of us want to feed ourselves and our families the best possible quality produce we can source, but might be a bit unsure how to figure out what that is.

It’s a general consensus that organic is better, but why exactly is that the case?

What does organic mean?

Organic food is produced by a natural farming system that prohibits the use of any manmade or synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, or additives, processes such as irradiation and also prohibits the use of any genetically modified material. Organic produce can include, but is not limited to fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy and other protein products, and seeds and grains.

Organic farming is built on the concepts of using all natural products to grow and enhance your produce including systems of farming that were successful hundreds and thousands of years ago.

So what is better about organic food?

First and foremost, the lack of pesticides in the produce is said to be cleaner for your system. While companies producing non-organic food will assure you that it is safe for consumption, there has not been enough human studies done to support this. The World Health Organization has stated that some chemicals used in farming could be carcinogenic to humans, and may affect your brain, digestive system and internal organs. The National Academy of Science has stated that any exposure to chemical pesticides is not recommended for pregnant women, infants and children, or anyone with a reduced immune system. Basically we don’t know enough yet to be sure.

Other reasons you may want to consider an organic diet:

The food tastes better and in many situations has a higher vitamin and anti-oxidant content than their non-organic counterparts. This may be because the plants have to be actively stronger to fight their own pests and may be higher in nutrients as a result.

More fragile fruit and vegetables are generally exposed to the highest level of chemicals, so at the very least you should consider going organic with what is called the ‘dirty dozen’; apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, grapes, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, spinach and strawberries.

The plants have not been genetically modified meaning their DNA has not been altered. This can be a growing process used to create larger and prettier produce, which often comes at a cost to nutritional content and taste.

The produce is guaranteed to be fresher and have travelled less miles because it is not grown or stored using any chemical preservatives. Often non-organic produce is picked unripe to travel better across longer distances, and is then gassed to ripen on arrival.

Choosing organic produce will ensure you avoid all of this.

Buying organic produce supports the little guy, the local producer, and the people who really care about the environment. It puts money back into the local economy. Doesn’t this sound like something you want to do?

The animals in organic farming are generally better treated, with free range environments and no chemicals used in their food sources.

The lack of pesticides and chemicals used in the growing process gives greater longevity to the environment including healthier soil and cleaner waterways.

Synthetic chemicals are not naturally absorbed by human systems and can increase food intolerances in children and adults. Eating an organic-only diet has been proven to reduce food intolerance symptoms in a lot of people.

What are the drawbacks?

Generally organic food is produced with much more care and attention to the individual item, meaning that the food is rarer and cannot be mass produced. Organic farms usually can’t grow massive amounts of food and retain their certified organic status, although processes to increase organic efficiency are improving every day. The food is gradually becoming more readily available to the average family.

If you live in a rural area you can easily and quite cheaply get organic produce from the source itself and at Farmer’s Markets. If, like most of us you live in the city it gets to be a bit harder to find and more expensive to get. Therefore cost has to be a factor unfortunately, but it might come down to a decision as to what you want to prioritise when it comes to spending. You might find that organic produce is more important to you than some other necessities, and you may find other ways to cut corners.

Also eating a diet that is high in fruit and vegetables and lower in meat generally costs less in the long run, so you are usually better off with an organic vegetarian meal than one that is made with poorer quality cuts of meat. You are also better off if you stick to what’s in season, and may even find yourself branching out into using ingredients you’ve never tried before.

The main drawback according to the Internet seems to be the rash of people who have taken home pesticide free produce such as bananas or lettuce and then opened the package to find a friendly spider that hitched a ride all the way from the paddock to your kitchen. While this would be a surprise, I’m sure it doesn’t actually happen as often as Facebook would have you think, and is generally a small price to pay for complete peace of mind when it comes to your family’s diet. Technically you can eat the spider too, but that might be an article for another day. While we greatly appreciate our hairy-legged little friends, we can assure you at Eric’s there are no spiders hiding in our beautiful produce.

What to look for

When buying produce look for organic food labelling and soil association labelling, and rest assured that organic certification is hard to achieve and strictly managed. Buying at Eric’s you can be sure the produce is what we say, and if you have any concerns, chat to us; that’s what our expert staff are here for.

The bottom line

We understand that the organic option can generally be the more expensive one, and family budgets are tight at the moment, but there are just so many reasons why organic fruit and vegetables are better for you than those which are not.

And if you really want to feed your family well but are on a tight budget then why not try growing some organic produce for yourself? Some things take a minimum of space and can easily be grown in tiny plots or window boxes.

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