Organic Food - Is Organic Healthier?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

Now that we had a closer look at what Organic food is, I think the next question to tackle is:

Is Organic "healthier?"

You might have heard people say that organic products are not necessarily healthier because organic farms are allowed to use certain pesticides on their farms. Given, this does blur the debate of the comparisons between organic food vs. conventional food.

In my own research I found many interesting articles and topics that show me that in many ways organic food is healthier and better for you. This is something I'd like to share with you.

Organic food is grown with a minimal use of pesticides and only natural fertilizers. Furthermore, in studies carried out by the The Soil Association (regulates the organic food industry for the UK), it has been shown that over the years there is a difference between food produced organically and those produced conventionally.

Organic food is healthier because it does not contain artificial additives and retains more natural vitamins, minerals and antioxidant phytonutrients.

Food composition tables and data compiled by the US Department of Agriculture reveal that since the 1940s the mineral and vitamin levels in fruits, vegetables, meat and diary products have declined substantially in conventional food. When we pair this with pre-picking, longer storage and more processing of crops it should not come as a surprise that today we are getting fewer nutrients in our conventional food that we were 60 years ago.

Artificial fertilization in conventional crops produces lush growth, which means the produce is being swelled with water. When compared to organic food on a pound-for-pound basis there is more "dry matter" in organic products, in other words more "food." This is one of the many reasons that organic produce have higher levels of nutrients.
As a matter of fact, research by American nutritionist Virginia Worthington has confirmed that, based on current dietary patterns, the differences can be enough to help you achieve the recommended daily allowances for certain nutrients that you otherwise may not get.

It would also be logical that phytonutrients, many of which are antioxidants that a plant needs for its own defense system, will be higher in organic produce because crops rely more on their own defenses in the absence of regular applications of chemical pesticides. There is also evidence that supports this theory. A recent review of the topic estimated that organic produce will tend to contain 10-50% higher phytonutrients than conventional produce.

Organic food has considerably lower amounts of pesticide levels than the conventional food available. Organic food might not be the only way to increase the intake of nutrients in our diets, it is however, the safest. The conventional food industry often claim it uses "safe" levels of pesticide in their products and it is "safe" to eat these because there are "safe" amounts of residues. However, when researched, it was shown that one in three non-organic food products tested contain a higher level of pesticide residue. The levels in an on organic products contained much lower levels.

It's really quite easy to understand why. Most pesticide residue safety levels are marked for individual pesticides. Many samples of fresh produce, however contain multiple pesticide residues. So, the rules often do not take into account this "cocktail effect." Tests are being confirmed that such increases in toxicity of up to 10-fold result in reproductive, effect the immune and nervous system, which is not expected from the individual compounds acting alone.

Organic food is most important for our growing children. They are the most susceptible to the toxins than we adults are. Their developing organs, brains and immune system need it. Here organic food is not a question of luxury but of a necessity.

It has been found that American toddlers, who were brought up on mostly organic food, had one sixth the pesticide residues in their urine when compared to children eating conventional foods. This lowers their exposure from above to below recognized safety levels.

Furthermore, preservatives and artificial colorings in conventional food are also considered to contribute to hyperactivity in pre-school children. A recent study in the UK found that the proportion of hyperactive children was halved when additives were taken off their diets. Many of the additives like artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavorings are prohibited in organic food production.

Observation studies have also revealed that boarding school students eating predominantly organic food for a period of three years experienced a marked decline in colds and influenza, rapid recovery, excellent general health, fewer sports injuries, a greater resilience to fractures and sprains, clear and healthy skin, and improved dental health.

So, what can we take out of all this. Is organic healthier?

For me, yes, it is. I think if there is any way we can decrease our toxin burden and increase our intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants then we should choose this. If it has a significant impact on my child's health, then there is no question about it.

In my opinion organic food is how food is meant to be - just pure food.

What are your thoughts? Have you made positive/negative experiences with organic food? We'd love to hear about them.

Helpful Reads
Everything I Need to Know About Organic Foods
Updated link: Health Benefits of Organic Food

The Organic Food Guide: How to Shop Smarter and Eat Healthier
Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis
Your Organic Kitchen: The Essential Guide to Selecting and Cooking Organic Foods

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This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?


I must appriciate your efforts on the reserch on Organic Food. It's very unforunate that less people are concious about what the eat.

February 20, 2007 at 4:43:00 PM GMT+1  

You are very welcome. When my son was born I became very conscious of what we were eating. Over the years I have really seen and learned the benefits of healthy and good food. Eating organic is not really a lifestyle anymore but nowadays it is really the best choice we have if we want more from our food.
I hope you do not mind, when I disagree with you when you say that less people are conscious about what they eat. As a matter of fact the more and more people are becoming very aware of what they eat. That is also one of the reasons the organic industry is rapidly growing.

Meeta K. Wolff said...
February 22, 2007 at 8:56:00 AM GMT+1  

I have a hard time accepting all the benefits of organic food that you listed. I'm sure that some results are likely if a continued intake of organic food continues, but is it really true that organic foods can increase your immune system? If so, can you post a link for that study? I'm really new to organic foods, so that would be helpful. I'm also battling an issue right now. From where I come, organic food is not readily accessible. The nearest dealer of organic products is about 30 minutes away. People in my community live long happy lives without the "necessity" of organic foods. What am I to think of this? I also believe the mortality rate is lower in my rural community in comparison to those that have access to organic foods. If the health benefits are undisputed and they are a "necessity", why are the markets for this production only in highly populated areas? I would have to disagree with your statement about organic foods being a necessity rather than a luxury.

Anonymous said...
February 22, 2007 at 6:02:00 PM GMT+1  

Hi Kacy,

Golly! I do apologize for my late answer this one really slipped past me.

In my article I used many sources and my own personal experience. Besides the links mentioned in my articles, you might find this article extremely interesting, written by a naturopathic physician.

Furthermore, eating organic does not necessarily mean that it will prolong lives. I do very much believe though that is does help your strengthen the inner immune system, as less of the toxins are being taken in.

You say that you live in a rural place where people live healthy lives. I believe that one should compare not only foods that are eaten but also the complete lifestyles of people living in both cities and rural areas. The entire picture is very important in this comparison and not just the question Will I live longer if I eat Organic?

I presume that when you shop you buy local produce because it is probably cheaper and readily available. In most cases this is a great step towards choosing healthier types of food.
The fact really is that organic foods do have less chemicals, toxins etc. which for growing children is a huge benefit. Growing children are still developing in many ways. Unlike adults they do need a strong base right from the beginning. That is why in my view it is certainly a thing to think about. What is the best for my child? My choice was offering my child and family organic and local produce.

I also know that when my child and I are eating organic or locally grown strawberries we are not only eating strawberries that have been grown without the use of hormones and pesticides than those that come from Spain, for example, but we are also doing something good for the environment. Why should I choose food that is transported from another country (polluting the environment) when I can get it from my local farmer?

These are just a few factors that one should think about. One does not have to go Organic crazy. Buying Organic sensibly is what is important. I also mentioned in my articles that we only buy organic food stuff on things like fruit vegetables, diary and meat products. For example, I do not buy conserved organic stuff because I believe the nutrient contents of canned goods is not high (even in organic products) and therefore does not make sense.

Meeta K. Wolff said...
April 13, 2007 at 11:09:00 AM GMT+2  

Thanks for your information on this page. Its definitely useful to learn more on a subject of your interest to make ourselves more educated for certain topics. Another useful page for this topic of organic food

hifihobby said...
May 7, 2007 at 1:17:00 PM GMT+2  

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