There are definitely benefits to using organic products and eating organic food. First, there is the health benefit since organic food and other organic agricultural products contain no pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The second benefit is it’s safer for the environment. Since no pesticides or chemicals are used, there is less soil, air and water pollution. Third, some people say organic food tastes better (and who doesn’t like that idea). And finally, organic food and other products are much easier to find these days. The organic food available in grocery stores now is quite significant; not just produce but all kinds of food. This makes it much more convenient since you don’t have to go out of your way to find it any more. Listed here are some of the organic foods available at a large grocery store near where I live in California:
- organic juice, coffee and tea
- organic breads and breakfast cereals
- organic butter, milk, soy milk, eggs, and yogurt
- organic frozen, fresh and canned vegetables and fruit
- organic flour, sugar and chocolate chips
- organic cooking spray, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, ketchup and salad dressing
- organic peanut butter, preserves and honey
- organic broth
- organic chicken
- organic pasta and rice
- organic pasta sauce and pizza sauce
- organic chips, crackers, nuts, popcorn, pretzels and cookies
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What is Organic?
What does it mean when a product is called “organic”? According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia: “organic foods are those that are produced using environmentally sound methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms, and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.” In addition, animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs and dairy must not take antibiotics or growth hormones.
Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products.  Usually any business directly involved in food production can be certified. Requirements vary from country to country. In the United States, the USDA runs the National Organic Program which does organic certification and is in charge of the legal definition of ‘’organic”. Legislation has defined three levels of organics:
- “100% organic”- products made entirely with certified organic ingredients and methods
- “Organic”-products made with at least 95% organic ingredients
- “Made with organic ingredients”-products must contain a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the other 30%
Products that are in one of the first two levels may also display the USDA organic seal. This assures the consumer that they are indeed getting real certified organic products. Some people use the term “organic” as a marketing tool which can be an advantage these days but this does not guarantee that the product is legitimately organic. Only if it says “certified organic” is the product truly organic.
The Great Benefits of Organic Food
The benefits of eating organic foods are numerous. With it becoming more and more popular to eat organically, it is becoming easier and a little more affordable to purchase organic foods. Local farmers markets, health food stores, and even Walmart cater to those who eat organically.
Organic crops mean the foods are grown in safe soil, without any additives or alterations. Organic livestock means that the meats you eat have been fed organic ally and have had lived naturally (i.e., outdoor). While many foods are deemed ‘organic,’ only those which meet the above criteria are stamped with the USDA approval for organic. In stores, you can be assured that foods with the USDA Organic sticker are at least ninety percent organic.
Support local farmers
Because most organic foods are grown and sold locally, it promotes and supports farmers in your surrounding area. With a drastic drop in people living on farms, this helps keep the remaining farmers in business. Supporting local farmers also encourages less government intervention in the foods you eat. By purchasing foods from organic farmers, it sends a statement that you are willing to pay a little more in order to be healthy and refuse to have interference on what is sprayed on fruits and vegetables and fed to animals.
Organically grown foods also benefit our environment in many important ways. One is it helps keep our water safe to drink. Water is the most important liquid on the earth, and it is vital to ensure its purity. When pesticides sprayed onto plants and medicated animals defecate, these harmful chemicals make their ways into the water system. With organic farming, this does not occur, and plays an important part in keeping water clean for our ecosystem.
It follows if our water is affected by chemical processes, then the soil is as well. If the soil is contaminated, then whatever feeds off of it or is grown in it has the likelihood of being polluted. This also means organic foods make it safer for wildlife.
Higher nutrient levels
Whether or not organic foods have higher nutrient levels than treated foods is a highly debated topic. However, many treated foods give the appearance of being more nutritious because they are bigger. Do not be deserved by size, though. Most treated fruits and vegetables are larger due to a higher content of water. While organics are smaller, they still are packed with nutrients-just minus the deceptive water size.
Absence of food colorings
Many treated foods have vibrant, healthy-looking colors. However, you bite into them only to find that they are either over-ripe or under-ripe. In these cases, food colorings have been added to the fruit or vegetables to make them appear healthy and convince you to purchase them. Organic foods do not have food colorings. What you see sitting in front of you is exactly what you are getting.
If you are only going for taste, organically grown foods have a much richer taste than treated foods. Most organic foods are fresh because they are usually locally grown. The majority of people will agree that fresh foods are hands down significantly more lush and tasty than preserved foods. Plus, because organic foods do not have all the additives and are instead grown as they were originally meant to be, they taste better.
Even after you have washed or even peeled foods which have been previously treated with pesticides, there can still be a remnant of pesticides left which can affect you. The Environmental Working Group has studied the effect of pesticides on foods and has determined the top twelve fruits and vegetables which are the most effected by pesticides. In order from highest, they are apples, bell peppers, carrots, celery, cherries, imported grapes, kale, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, pears, and strawberries.
Pesticides build up inside your body and create health problems, which can progressively grow as you eat more and more non-organic foods over the years. Problems which can occur include birth defects, and headaches. Babies, children, and pregnant women are especially prone to pesticide-related health issues. Because pesticides add stress to already weak immune systems (such as in babies or pregnant women), the chance to get sick is much easier. Pregnant women also need to be aware that pesticide-treated foods which they eat can also be transmitted to their child while pregnant or nursing.
By eating organic foods, you can rest assured that they are free from pesticides.
Antibiotics are commonly injected into animals. These antibiotics can then be transferred into your body when you eat the meat. A bombardment of antibiotics actually makes your body immune to the effects of antibiotics. Consequently, when you need to take antibiotics to fight disease, your body is unable to use them.
Organic farmers who raise cattle or chickens or other animals for meat feed their animals natural foods the way they were originally meant to eat, and they do no inject antibiotics. Consequently, meats coming from organic farms are free from antibiotics.
To meet the high demand for meat, commercial, non-organic farms give their animals hormone-injected feed in order to make them grow bigger and faster. While this may work for production, it translates into your children’s hormones maturing faster.
As organic farmers do not use antibiotics, they also allow their animals to grow naturally. No problems with hormones with organic meat.
Non-organic foods have fewer antioxidants than organic foods. This is because the longer foods sit out in the store, the less antioxidants left. Organic foods are fresh and must be eaten faster. Consequently, they are higher in antioxidants.
Antioxidants help boost your health, including fighting heart disease. There are even studies which seem to indicate that antioxidants can fight cancer.
Reduce health risks
Obviously, if there are not pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics treated into your foods, the benefits of avoiding these products will help you avoid many debilitating-if not deadly-health risks. While many people will argue there is not that big of a difference in health risks between organic and treated foods, there have not been definite studies to show that the treated substances put into our foods are not detrimental in the long run. By purchasing organic foods, you steer clear of the possibility of harming your family’s and your health.
Knowledge is power. By knowing what we are purchasing, by what we are putting into our bodies, we have the ability to choose how to protect our health and lifestyles.
About the Author
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