In recent years there has been a rising interest in organic foods, as more people look for healthier and more sustainable dietary options. There is much debate about whether or not organic foods are more healthy than their pesticide-grown counterparts. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between organic and non-organic, as well as the benefits of incorporating more organic food into your diet.
Organic food is grown and processed without the use of synthetic fertilizers or hormones.
Some studies have shown that organic food has higher nutritional density than non-organic food.
Barriers such as cost and access can prevent some people from being able to buy and consume organic food.
Organic food growing practices are kinder to the environment and animals than standard agricultural farming methods.
Organic vs. non-organic
There has been an ongoing debate in the food industry as to whether organic foods are better, healthier, and more sustainable for people and the environment. The methods used to create organic food support ecological harmony and biodiversity preservation. These foods are grown without the use of industrial pesticides, artificial fertilizers, or genetically engineered organisms.
Non-organic foods, on the other hand, are produced routinely using standard agricultural methods, which involves the use of FDA approved synthetic chemicals and pesticides to promote growth and ward against pests.
In general, organic food has a greater nutritional density, due to the fact that the soil it is grown in is healthier and contains many more beneficial microbes and nutrients. There are many supporters of organic food who believe the taste is better too.
Pros and cons of organic food
While there are many benefits of organic food, there are some potential drawbacks and access issues to be mindful of.
Organic milk vs. regular milk
Dairy cows that are raised and farmed organically are fed organic feed and are often allowed to graze freely on organic pastures. They aren’t given synthetic hormones to make them produce a higher volume of milk and aren’t given routine antibiotics.
In the USA, regular milk is produced by cows who are frequently given hormones, fed food that contains pesticides, and are often kept in barns and not permitted to roam on pastureland. Other countries do not use these farming practices.
Pros and cons of organic milk
Nutritionally there is little different between the two milks. Let’s take a look into some of the benefits and drawbacks of organic vs. regular milk.
Non-GMO vs. organic
GMOs or genetically modified organisms have had their genetic makeup changed in an accelerated setting, such as a lab. They are a hot topic globally as some proponents of GMO food say they provide the solution to feeding a growing population, especially in countries with poor farming climates. Others argue that we don’t have a food production crisis, instead looking to the distribution and wastage issue as the core problem.
Non-GMO foods have not undergone genetic alteration, but they do not have to adhere to the same strict standards of organic food production.
Pros and cons of non-GMO food
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of non-GMO food vs. organic food.
Most people who are interested in their health will have looked into supplementation at some point on their health journey. Taking extra vitamins and minerals can help build the body’s store of these vital nutrients, especially if they are lacking in food sources.
Organic supplements are dietary supplements made from organic ingredients, following the same principles as organic food production.
Types of organic supplements
There are many different types of supplements, those that contain plant nutrients can be made with either organic or non-organic ingredients. The most frequently used organic supplements include:
- Organic protein powder. Made from organically sourced protein, such as whey or plant-based proteins like pea, soy, or hemp.
- Organic multivitamins. Vitamins and minerals that use plant derivatives from organic sources.
- Superfood powders. An addition to smoothie recipes often containing organic superfood plant sources such as spirulina, chlorella, baobab, wheatgrass, maca, acai, and barleygrass.
How to eat more organic food
One drawback of the organic food industry is because it's not as widely used as standard agricultural practices, access to organic food is more limited. It's also more costly to produce and the burden of that cost falls to the consumer, which might be difficult for those working on a tight budget. However, if you are interested in incorporating more organic food into your diet, there are a few options for you to explore.
- Grow your own. You can grow organic food in the smallest of places. Consider having indoor tomato and herb plants if you lack outside space. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, you could try out a small veg patch with a few easy-to-grow veggies and expand the variety as your confidence grows.
- Farmers markets. Take a weekly trip to a farmers market. If there isn't one close by, consider going to one further afield with friends and take turns to drive.
- Buy online. If organic fresh produce is hard to find in your area, try looking for online retailers who can deliver to your door.
- Veg boxes. Many towns across the U.S have options for organic vegetable box deliveries. You'll be supporting small farms, saving money, and eating seasonally which is great for your body and the environment.
The decision between organic and non-organic meals mostly depends on your personal preferences, financial situation, and views on food production. Although non-organic foods tend to be more readily available, if you have the budget and want to support smaller farms then try out organic food where you can.
Where does organic food come from?
Organic food comes from farms that follow organic farming practices, avoiding synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. The farms adhere to strict regulations regarding what goes into their soil, onto the plants, and fed to their animals.
Can organic food be processed?
Yes, organic food can be processed, but it must still adhere to organic standards, avoiding certain synthetic additives. Organic tofu is an example of a processed organic food.
How to find organic food near me?
To find organic food near you, check local farmers' markets, organic grocery stores, or use online directories and apps for organic food suppliers.
- The ISME Journal. Distinct soil microbial diversity under long-term organic and conventional farming.
- Alternative Medicine Review. Organic foods contain higher levels of certain nutrients, lower levels of pesticides, and may provide health benefits for the consumer.
- Journal of Cleaner Production. Increasing organic food consumption: an integrating model of drivers and barriers.
- Environmental Health. Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review.