What Are the Benefits of Organic Foods?

Organic Foods

The organic foods movement has really taken off over the last decade. At one time, you could only find organic foods in health food stores but now there is quite a large selection in just about any supermarket or grocery store. While prices have come down some over the years, items that are certified organic are usually still more expensive than non-organic choices.

What exactly is “organic?”

Organic fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, dairy products, and even non-food items are grown according to stringent regulations set out by the USDA. They must be produced without any chemical pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. They must be grown using organic farming techniques and without using any hormones or antibiotics.

What are the benefits of organic foods?

Taste – Organic fruits and vegetables tend to by juicier, sweeter and more flavourful. Grown in rich, fertile soil, organic produce is very rich in flavour and nutrients, and since it is usually grown closer to home, tends to be fresher than imported non-organic produce. While organic produce tends to spoil faster due to the lack of preservatives, it is still a much better choice. You may also see a difference in the way the fruits and vegetables look – they may be slightly smaller or not perfectly shaped. This is how produce grown naturally is supposed to look! Organic meat comes from animals that are free to graze and benefit from fresh air, fresh water and healthy organic foods sources, making the meat much more flavourful.

Health Benefits – chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers are known carcinogens. These sprays and additives are applied liberally to non-organic food and they do leave a residue on the fruit as well as often penetrating the skin as well. Washing produce does not remove all of the harmful chemicals. Organic produce is grown without the use of these harmful chemicals. There is also the benefit of not having the toxic run-off from the farms polluting our waters. Workers on organic farms are not exposed to these deadly chemicals either, unlike their non-organic farm worker counterparts. Organic meat animals lead much healthier lives than the commercially farmed animals. Rather than living in a cage barely big enough to fit in, wallowing in their own waste, organic animals are allowed to graze freely in fields with fresh water and clean surroundings. This means that they don’t have to be pumped with antibiotics just to survive their lifestyles. Organic meat and dairy animals are also not given any hormones or other chemicals.

Regulation – In order to be certified organic, farms need to meet very strict regulations in their farming methods. If you see a “certified organic” seal on your food, you can be sure that that item has been carefully produced and its source has undergone careful inspection and certification by the USDA.

Resistance of Disease and Allergies – As mentioned above, the chemicals used in commercial farming are known to cause cancer, so by eating more organic food, you will be reducing your risk of these cancers. The over-use of antibiotics in meat and dairy is causing antibiotic-resistant strains of viruses and diseases as well. The prevalence of food allergies is growing at an alarming rate. Part of the reason for this is the unhealthy farming methods used in traditional farming. Raising your children on organic produce, meat and dairy products can significantly reduce the risk of them developing food allergies.

Environmental Benefits – Today’s agriculture industry is ravaging our earth. Soil erosion form over-farming is becoming a huge problem and commercial farms are one of the biggest contributors to water pollution with the toxic runoff from the farms. Organic farming builds up the soil by crop rotation and the use of compost and manure. Since no chemicals are used, water pollution is not an issue either.

Supporting Local Farmers – Studies report that half of the food produced in the US comes from only 1% of the farms. Local farmers are struggling to maintain their market share in the industry. With the increase in smaller organic farms, we are starting to have healthier choices when it comes to our food sources. Since there are no preservatives used in organic food production, that means stores need to source the food from much closer. By buying organic food from your grocery store, farmers markets and vegetable stands, you are supporting the local economy while getting healthier choices for your family’s meals.

While buying organic may cost you a bit more on your grocery bill, the benefits really outweigh the cost. You’ll be healthier, feel better about the foods you’re feeding your family, and be doing your part to preserve our environment. Your food will taste better, and your local farmers will thank you too.