The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a significant shift in our lifestyle and food habits. One such option that has gained considerable attention is organic food. It has been the talk of the town since covid era. Most people need to learn more about it and the benefits of organic food. To keep yourself updated and healthy, you must know what organic food is. However, when talking about organic foods, generally, two questions arise in mind. “What is organic food?” and “Are organic food healthier?” So, to understand what organic food is, this article brings you a detailed explanation for you.
What is Organic Food?
One main thing that happened during the pandemic was that everyone became health-conscious and wanted to keep themselves and their family safe from Covid-19. This could be a stepping stone in the production of organic foods. There is a growing emphasis on health and wellness, leading many to reconsider their dietary choices.
Interestingly, the idea of “What is organic food?” did not originate during the pandemic. It has been there for many years. The difference is that it started gaining much more attention when people improved their dietary habits during the pandemic.
The food which is produced without using chemicals and fertilizers and which is grown in a natural ecosystem is called organic food.
Benefits of organic farming
The general principle of organic farming is using equipment and methods that improve the ecological harmony of natural systems and join the various components of the farming system into an ecological whole.
Organic agricultural practices replace and maintain soil fertility without the use of harmful and permanent pesticides and fertilizers. This is the foundation of organic food production. Foods certified as organic must also be produced without the use of genetic engineering, synthetic hormones, antibiotics, sewage sludge, or radiation.
Organic farming can help to:
- Enhance soil and water quality
- Reduce pollution
- Provide safe, healthy livestock habitats
- Enable natural livestock behaviour
- Help in promoting self-sustaining farm life
As stated earlier, the idea of organic farming has been introduced previously. When traditional methods started to deplete the soil, causing soil and water pollution, farmers thought of a way of preventing this. They started with their early concept of organic farming in the last decade. This made organic food popular in different countries.
Are organic food healthier?
Organic food is more expensive than traditional food products. This is due to the fact that these are processed without any enhanced techniques. This is the reason why they are called natural food. You must be aware of the general principle of producing organic foods, but certain groups of people always have a question in their minds. The question is, “Are organic food healthier?”.
Scientific proof supports the claim made by multiple sources that organic foods are healthier than their conventional counterparts. They are produced naturally and free from any toxic chemicals, so they are safe for consumption. The best part is that they are free from GMOs, that is, genetically modified organisms, which help enhance plant growth.
In the year 2016, a group of scientists from the British Journal of Nutrition presented a report that said organic meat and dairy food items contain 50 per cent more omega-3 fatty acids, which is much healthier than other fats. This conclusion was made on an experiment in which animals were fed only an organic diet, and hence their meat and dairy items were also of better quality.
Various scientific researchers have answered the question, “Are organic food healthier?”. These all explanations are based on results of different experiments. But none claim to be perfect results. However, you should remember that even if they do not give a perfect surety, the benefits of organic food surpass traditional food.
Reasons to Choose Organic Foods Products
You might still be wondering whether you should go for organic food products. The questions can still arise in your mind “What is organic food?” and “Are organic food healthier?”.
You will never get a perfect answer for this because you first need to try these organic items for yourself, which will help you decide whether they are worth considering.
But first, before you go and try it yourself, you can look at some of the reasons for choosing organic food:
Enhanced Nutritional Content
The first compelling reason to choose organic food products is their enhanced nutritional content. Further research has proven that organic foods have more nutritional value than the food you might have on your plate right now.
- Organic food items contain a higher number of antioxidants. Antioxidants are very much essential to maintain a good heart and better health. These helps fight free radicals that could damage your cells and lead to heart disease.
- Also, it has been proved that organic food has a lower nitrate content. Higher nitrate content in your body is very harmful and can lead to methemoglobinemia, a medical condition which is deadly to newborns. Nitrate can also trigger the formation of cancer cells in your body.
- Organic food contains a higher iron, phosphorus, and magnesium content, which helps strengthen your body.
No Exposure to Pesticides and Chemicals
Organic farming practices prohibit synthetic pesticides and chemicals widely used in conventional agriculture. These substances can remain residues on (and in) our food. After opting for natural food, you will eliminate such pesticides from your diet, boosting your health.
These pesticides can drastically affect small children and cause weaker bones and a lousy physique. Pesticides can be removed to some extent by washing and peeling fruits and vegetables before consumption, but still, some parts of it remain. To protect yourself from such toxic chemicals, go for organic food.
To have a good harvest, farmers use GMOs in their fields. GMOs are genetically modified organisms created in a lab by modifying genes of different species. Scientists on bacteria, viruses and fungi do gene medication. Long-term use of these GMOs harms our health.
In organic farming, the use of GMOs is prohibited under its regulations. Some people always need help whether the food on their plates has GMOs. For such people, organic food can provide assurance.
Many people believe that organic food tastes better. This might result from the balanced soil used in organic farming, which promotes the growth of solid and robust plants. This is especially true for organic fruits and vegetables, which are frequently reported to have more robust flavours than traditionally produced.
Additionally, organic agricultural methods, which avoid synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, can produce better-tasting fruit. Organic meat and dairy products are sometimes regarded as having a deeper flavour than alternatives made using traditional techniques. When answering the question “What is Organic food”, you can say the food that tastes better is organic food.
Organic farming adds no extra items such as preservatives or food colour to the products. They have to be free from such things as it is not allowed under guidelines provided by health organizations. Organic food is costly and needs to be budget-friendly. But it will keep you away from long medical bills in the future.
Look at an example where you consume a pocket-friendly packet of chips daily. It has both food colour and preservatives. You will enjoy eating it, but soon, it will harm your health. You will get obese and even be admitted to the hospital for food poisoning or other medical issues. Will this be pocket friendly? Think again.
Also, the consumption of organic food can help you to stay away from cancer. JAMA Internal Medicine has proved that those who eat organic food have meagre chances of having cancer.
Organic food production is environment-friendly. It involves no such use of fertilizers and pesticides that degrade the soil permanently. Fertilizers extract every small amount of nutrient in the soil so that the land might become infertile for crop cultivation after some time.
In organic farming, only natural fertilizers such as compost and cow dung are used, boosting soil health and leading to a healthier crop free from any chemicals. The use of fertilizers in large amounts can also lead to eutrophication.
No hormones, drugs, and antibiotics in animal products
Traditional meats and dairy items that are available have a high risk of contamination. Crop pesticides get into the livestock’s food, making their byproduct toxic.
According to a report by EPA (Environmental Protection Agency, USA), most pesticides come from animal food intake. Small animals such as goats consume pesticide-rich grass, and that gets accumulated in their body. This is then passed on to us when we consume their meat.
Another primary concern is the use of antibiotics and growth hormones in animals. These growth hormones enhance the animal’s physique, making them look more prominent, and more meat can be produced from one animal. Cows and animals that provide dairy items are given antibiotics to increase their milk production. Read about white revolution in India.
All these medicines harm human health and might lead to deadly diseases if consumed longer. Therefore, organic animal rearing is done nowadays to minimize the use of these drugs. Organic dairy items are majorly required by breastfeeding mothers and growing children for their better future health.
Supporting Local Economy
Small, family-owned organic farms are prevalent. You can support regional farmers and the local economy by choosing organic food. Production of organic food items is costlier than conventional methods. Most farmers want to be outside the organic production sector.
If you start buying only organic food products, this will support them financially, and there will be a rise in the number of organic farmers. Also, it can help in generating more jobs as organic farming requires more labour than traditional methods.
Governments should also offer various subsidies to the farmers who do organic farming, boosting their morale.
Pollination is a fundamental phenomenon in natural ecosystems. Plants that are pollinated by different species of pollinators produce fruits that have a higher nutritional content.
Traditional farming has made the number of pollinators decrease drastically. This is because bees and other pollinators get toxicities from the pesticides used in farming.
Organic Center has published a report which says that organic farming keeps a check on the health of these tiny pollinators. This is because flowers grown without any chemicals are toxin free, which helps boost the pollination rate.
Also, the grown flowers must be produced in a natural ecosystem only, which also positively impacts the health of bees.
Promoting biodiversity is very much essential these days. There was a time when many species were present in the ecosystem, but with the involvement of chemicals and artificial techniques, most species were lost.
Organic methods can help to maintain a balance between different organisms and species. It provides a pollution-free and healthy environment for all the species in the ecosystem.
Supporting organic farming and food also encourages agricultural methods that promote biodiversity. Both the present and future generations gain from this.
Organic Food Global Market
A research body known as TechSci presented a report which showed a global rise in the organic food market, which was $89.7 billion in 2016. The biggest markets are North America and Europe. They account for almost 96 per cent of the total sales.
The benefits of organic food have helped in its growth at a CAGR of 16 per cent between 2017 and 2022. This is because the people who were earlier asking, are organic food healthier are now leaning more towards it.
To study the impact of it, you can have a look at some of the factors that are boosting the market:
The demand for organic food products has steadily increased worldwide. Consumers are becoming more health conscious due to the stated health benefits of organic food. According to the Organic Trade Association, organic food sales scaled 6.3% from $97 billion in 2018. The demand for organic foods has increased globally in response to this.
To fulfil the rising demand for organic products, more farmers are switching to organic farming practices. Sustainable soil, ecology, and human health are all benefits of organic farming. Instead of employing inputs with adverse effects, it focuses on biological processes, biodiversity, and cycles that are tailored to local conditions.
The organic food sector has aided global economic expansion. Farming, processing, distribution, and retail all saw job growth. More than 2.5 million people are involved in the organic food sector, either directly or indirectly. The Govt. also generates a significant amount of revenue. Since most organic farms are in developing countries, their economic effects are particularly significant.
Organic farming methods support sustainable ecological practices. It helps in preserving soil health, conserving water, and promoting biodiversity. Journal of Applied Ecology said that the biodiversity in organic farms is 30 per cent higher than in conventional farms. Since no fertilizer is used, there is no water pollution caused by it.
The organic food market is still growing, but there are still a lot of challenges to go through. The major challenge is that it is expensive to produce. Also, regulation, fraud, and organic certification issues must be resolved. These challenges can be overcome by educating customers about the benefits of organic food and lowering the cost of organic options.
This trend has benefited and harmed the organic food sector. New international markets for organic goods have emerged due to globalization, which has also caused organic laws to become more standardized. Globalization has also heightened competition and made it more challenging for small organic producers to survive. The organic market runs the risk of getting controlled by big businesses.
Organic food is somewhat expensive, but the benefits of organic food make it a worthwhile investment. Every dollar you spend on organic food is a vote in favour of a healthy tomorrow for current and upcoming generations.
The COVID-19 epidemic has served as an urgent reminder about protecting human health and the biological processes that keep us alive. The health of people and the earth is closely linked to our food system. You can develop a food system that nourishes both by choosing organic foods.
In these times of uncertainty, eating organic food ensures you provide the healthiest, most nutritious meals for you and your family while promoting sustainable farming methods. Though nothing will ever be the same again, our dedication to sustainability and good health can improve the planet. Choose organic. Your body will be grateful for you, as will the environment.
Stepping in the Era of Organic Food
Now you should have gotten all the answers to your question, specifically the one which was “Are organic food healthier?”. After reading the article, one can draw their own conclusions and decide whether they should consume organic food.
In short, organic food is natural and safe for the environment. If you choose organic food, it will help develop a sustainable future for you and your future generations.