The common myths and facts about Organic Foods
Healthy is a relative term, and organic might not fit into everyone’s lifestyle and that is ok. So let us discuss the major organic food facts and debunk some common myths.
First up – is organic food is pesticide free? If a product is labeled 100% organic, that means if it is meat, eggs, or dairy it is free of antibiotics and growth hormones. If it is food, it is grown with fertilizers and free of synthetic components and is non-GMO. But that doesn’t mean that zero pesticides or herbicides are used or that farms crops aren’t exposed to pesticides even if its inadvertently. If food is labeled with the Food Standards Agency organic label, then 95% of the ingredients must be organic, not 100%. So that other 5% could be sprayed with pesticides, and even the 95% could be sprayed with pest controls or chemicals that the Food Standards Agency “approves of” to be safe for humans even if they are not safe for animals or bugs or weeds.
So a bag of corn chips could be made with organic corn but non-organic oil. So about 25% of a chip is oil, and that means it still meets the standard. You do need to understand the different labels if you are concerned about things being organic. However, do you need to be concerned? Organic food is expensive so if you choose to buy organic food, make sure that it is worth your while. If organic food costs the same as conventionally grown food sure, buy it organic. It isn’t going to hurt you but do you need it so badly as to be digging so deep into your wallet? Maybe not.
Level of Nutrition
Another common debate is whether organic food is more nutritious than non-organic food. So actually, there is not much evidence showing that consuming organic food will lead to improved health or lower risk of disease. The occasional study here or there show that organic tomatoes have more vitamin C or something like that, but overall nutrients aren’t particularly different, and the qualities that are different don’t factor much into the nutritional quality. The truth is that the loss of nutrients is much more dependent on how long the produce is sitting out on the shelf. This for organic food can be a long time because a lot of organic food is transported for long distances. Remember organic does not mean local and local does not mean organic.
Another myth about organic food is that it is better for the environment. Yes, obviously keeping farmland free of pesticides is great, but organic farming isn’t as productive as conventional agriculture. It requires much more land to produce the same amount of food and many organic farms still do use some pesticides if they can keep it under that 95% seal.
There is also a major debate on whether organic food tastes better than non-organic food. Most studies say no. Most people cannot tell the difference. Remember that not all organic farms are the tiny local farms run by the wonderful people that you encounter at your farmers market. There are many that are huge, and the conditions are not much better than the conventional farms. When you go to the store, try to go for local before you go for organic. Even if the local food is not certified organic, it often is still grown with organic conditions but the local places cannot afford the certification. It is best to ask where the produce is coming from. You should also try to go to “the clean” and “the dirty dozen” which are lists that tell you which produce have the most or least pesticides.
Processed Organic Food
An organic chip is just as processed as a non-organic chip. It has just as many calories and fat as the non-organic chip but it costs three times more. While there are standards for organic food, it does not deal with processing. Nutritionally it is not doing anything for your body. Processed foods are not great fuel, whether they are organic or not. Studies show that most people do think that organic cookies and snacks are healthier and fewer calories and fat. That is not how it works. Organic does not mean anything when it comes to processed foods. If you are someone who buys organic processed foods, stop worrying so much about organics and start trying to wean off the processed snacks. If you want to buy organic produce, if it makes you feel better, go for it but do not convince yourself that the processed organic snacks are any better for you. Remember they are not food as fuel choices. If you want to make efforts to be healthier, consider trying to get the whole foods into your daily diet.
It is important that we get rid of the stigma that you cannot be healthy if you are not organic. It would be safer and easier, however. You do not need to feel discouraged about your journey if you can buy organic food because that’s ok. You are still doing a great job and your body appreciates your hard work.