Organic food: Pros and Cons

Organic food: Pros and Cons

The organic food industry has boomed in the last decade or two, with anywhere up to 70% of the population buying organic food products on an occasional basis, and almost one quarter of the population buying organic food items on a weekly basis. People, ever increasingly aware of health concerns and solutions, want to feel that they are taking all the steps they can to ensure good health and the prevention of illness and disease. But does organic food really come with greater benefits than other foodstuffs, or are there hidden demerits to its consumption that consumers or unable or unwilling to see? First, let’s examine some of the positive benefits to be had from consuming organically produced food, meaning that the food items in question have not been grown or cultivated using pesticides or any other synthetic methods or chemicals:

1. Buying organic foods can help in the preservation and conservation of the natural environment. By buying foodstuffs not produced and harvested using chemical and synthetic means, we decrease their usage in the farming and harvesting process. This results in a reduced level of pollutants in the ground soil, thereby resulting in richer soil with stronger topsoil, thereby preventing soil erosion and also leading to healthier crops. This process also lowers the level of pesticides that would otherwise end up in the consumable water supply, making drinking water healthier.

2. There is research to indicate that organically produced food items can be more nutritious and is therefore healthier for us than conventionally produced food. The principal reason for this is the lack of pesticides and insecticides used in the production of organic foods. This enables the crops being grown to increase their production of photochemicals such as antioxidants and vitamins, thereby raising the crops’ resistance to bugs and weeds., resulting not only in more nutritious foods, but also in greater crop yields. As an example, non-organic apples are generally sprayed as many as sixteen times with as many as thirty-six different chemicals. Even a thorough and deliberate washing is far from guaranteed to remove all of these chemicals’ residues.

3. The lack of pesticides in our food can also aid our health, as studies have indicated that such pesticides are linked to health conditions ranging from headaches to birth defects and even cancer. Despite the fact that some experts maintain the levels of chemicals found in conventionally-produced foods are perfectly safe, even low levels of chemicals have been found to be detrimental to the health of a developing foetus and of young children. due to their sensitive, developing immune systems. Pregnant mothers are also affected, due to the fact that their organs are already being taxed in the natural course of pregnancy.

4. Organic farming, due to the lack of chemicals in the production cycle helps to support biodiversity, encouraging a much wider range of plants and animals, leading to a healthier, more balanced ecosystem.

5. Organic processed foods do not contain hydrogenated fats, contrary to processed non-organic foods.

6. High levels of hydrogenated fats have been help responsible for higher incidents of heart disease. As a result, organic food products can aid keeping your heart healthy in concert with other lifestyle choices.

7. The farming methods involved in the process of organic farming help to ensure that animals’ diet is kept wholly natural and they themselves are kept and raised in a free-range environment.

8. For those concerned about the merits or demerits or Genetically Modified crops, organic production standards preclude any Genetically Modified crops.

There are, however, a number of negative benefits where organic food is concerned:

1. Firstly, due to the lack of artificial preservatives and the fact that organic food is not irradiated, it may have a tendency to go off much more quickly than non-organic produce, especially in the case of fruits and vegetables.

2. In general terms, organic food items tend to be much more expensive than non-organic produce. In fact, they can be anywhere up to three or four times more expensive. This fact, coupled with the fact that the various merits and demerits are still being debated, consumers may be paying far too much in support of claims that are not fully substantiated. Organic food is very much an industry, and the ‘health food’ industry makes huge profits, often with little evidence to back up many of the claims made on their behalf.

3. Perhaps the vast majority of the public are of the opinion that the production and cultivation of organic food produce precludes the use of all chemicals. Contrary to this widely-held belief (mostly due to the campaigning of the ‘health food industry’), a limited number of chemicals are permitted in the organic food production cycle.

4. Certain research conducted by the UK Food Standards Agency in conjunction also with the French Food Safety Agency and the Swedish National Food Administration has indicated that organic food produce is neither safer or of greater nutritional value than non-organic produce.

5. Despite the widely-held belief that organic produce is inherently healthier than its non-organically produced equivalent, the UK’s Consumers’ Association has found no general agreement as to reports linking the consumption of organic produce with concomitant health benefits.

Clearly, there are a range of factors to take into account when weighing up whether or not to choose organic produce and include it in your diet to a greater extent. Consumers should stay abreast of the latest reports and research and choose items that concur with their lifestyle philosophies and health aims, and as always make the best choice at the time for your body dependent upon what you feel is best suited for you and your diet. While this may include sticking to non-organic foods or making the change to an all-organic diet (or some mixture in between) the exact desires and needs of different people can vary from place to place as well as what government regulations have been established in order to regulate food production for the general population and ensure quality products regardless of whether they are organic or not.

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