What Is Organic Food and Why We Should Eat It

Organic is tastier, more nutritious, healthy, sustainable - but not often cheaper

What is Organic Food

Organic Food is produced by an ecological system of agricultural management that produces nutritionally superior plants, resistant to pests & disease.

Modern organic farming builds & maintains healthy soil through traditional methods of crop rotation, planting cover crops, releasing beneficial insects, composting and other natural soil amendments.

Organic agriculture doesn't just mean a return to traditional farming:

Just as in conventional agriculutre, biology has contributed precise methods of non-toxic pest & disease control in organic farming.

Chemistry allows sophisticated testing and monitoring of soil fertility.

Farm machinery allows organic farming on a large scale to meet the growing demand for organic food.

Those are just a few reasons why organic food production is the fastest growing segment of American agriculture. But there are many more.

People who care about their health & the environment are worried about pesticide & antibiotic drug residues in their food.

They're concerned about deadly food born illnesses from filthy slaughterhouses, contaminated feed, and diseased animals - all common in industrial agriculture.

They're alarmed by the wide-spread practice of food irradiation and the use of toxic sewage sludge as fertilizer.

They're equal parts mystified and terrified by genetically engineered food.

They see the environment & water supply threatened by the industrialization of agriculture, and wonder what kind of future their children will have.

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Anti-Organic Publicity:

Recently, studies have been produced showing little or no nutritional difference between organic and non-organically grown produce.

OCA: Forbes Smears Organic: "Organic Food: Behind The Hype"

The anti-organic bias arises from two factors:

1. Soil Quality: Through wind and water erosion, most of the original topsoil on the N. American continent has been lost. Over grazing, mono-cropping, the use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides have seriously depleted the nutrients in what is left. It will take hundreds of years to restore even a small part of what's been lost.

Any food, organic or conventional, gets it's nutrition from the soil in which it is grown, so in comparing the two, it's necessary to factor in the quality of the soil, something most studies don't do.

I'd like to see soil quality studies comparing soil samples from twenty year organic farms, with those from non-organic farms in the same geographic area. That kind of study would be much more meaningful to me than those comparing apples to apples.

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2. Studies: Another problem in comparing organic and conventional food, is that scientific studies with similar objectives often produce contradictory results. Much of that has to do with how the studies are designed, i.e. what type of study it is, how big and how long the study is, what questions it's asking, and who's paying for the study. What you believe often comes down to who you believe.

Many studies have shown more key nutrients in organic produce, on the whole, but critics question the value of those nutrients, or disagree about the optimal amount. For example, 3% more phytonutrients in organic produce may not be considered statistically significant, while 6% is.

Organic Food is Healthier Because it's Safer

While there may be differences of opinion, I'm satisfied that organic food, on the whole, is more nutritious than chemically grown food.

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Leaving that aside, it's beyond dispute that organic food is healthier. That's because, with conventionally grown food, you get the added bonus of pesticide and herbicide residues along with your nutrients.

Whether or not your organic apple has more potassium than it's non-organic brother, it definitely doesn't have the same load of poisons.

Using chemical fertilizers, and spraying food with herbicides and pesticides does NOT result in food equal to organically grown. There's plenty of supporting evidence and none that I've seen on the other side.

Plus, there are no GMOs in organic food. See 10 Reasons to Avoid GMO Foods Like the Plague

Why Organic is (sometimes) More Expensive

During the early seventies in Vancouver, B.C., on the weekends a bunch of us would head out to the market garden stalls south of the city, where the produce was both organic and cheap. Those were the days!

These days, organic produce usually costs 50 - 100% more than conventional produce.

Organic food often costs more to produce for various reasons, but also it is now in such demand that producers can't always keep up, and big box stores feel justified in charging a premium.

FAO: Why is organic food more expensive than conventional food?

Is Organic Worth the Extra Cost?

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It depends on who you're asking.

There's no doubt in my mind that organic food protects the environment and our health. I've heard people say that organic is cheaper than cancer. Plud, I've always found that organic food is tastier, and if it tastes better it's got to be more nutritious. Nay-sayers call that 'anecdotal evidence' but that's the best kind! And there's plenty of science to back me up.

For those on a tight food budget, those arguments don't cut it when you're comparing a bag of conventional carrots for $1.50 at Walmart vs the same amount of organic carrots for $2.50 at the whole foods grocery.

Multiply that difference in cost by many items, and you're looking at a higher grocery bill. The choice can be to buy the cheapest available conventional produce or no produce. Thats's one of the reasons why people shop at Walmart knowing that it's evil.

It's always better to eat organically grown food as much as possible, it's worth making it a priority in your food budget, and worth going to some trouble to get it. Think of it as an investment in your future, or at the very least, as cheap health insurance.

It is sometimes difficult to get organic food, and of course a well-balanced non-organic plant based diet is far better than the typical North American diet based on processed food.

But before you decide that organic food is out of your reach, explore all the available options, which are usually found outside the mainstream big box grocery stores.

10 Ways to Eat Organic on a Tight Budget

Why should we settle for half measures? The more people who loudly demand organic food, the more plentiful and affordable it will become, and the happier and healthier we will be.

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Related Posts:

10 Ways to Eat Organic on a Budget Confessions of an Obsessive Organic Gardener Living The Sustainable Life Organic Food Resource Guide Organic, Inc., by Samuel Fromartz, Review Back To Articles Index Medical Disclaimer Privacy Policy Contact Us
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