Organic food products have dramatically increased in popularity in recent years, largely due to their personal health benefits. So what are those benefits specifically? Let’s have a look.
The Good Stuff That’s in it
Studies have shown not only that consuming organic food can lead to a greater intake of antioxidants, but also that antioxidants from organic foods tend to have a greater impact on health. This is likely because foreign chemicals not used in organic farming are not interacting with the many vitamins, minerals and organic compounds essential for nutrition.
As a result of the feeding requirements for organic livestock farming, such as grass and alfalfa being primarily used for cattle, higher levels of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids are found in organic meat, dairy and eggs. An increased amount of time grazing on grass also results in larger amounts of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) in animal products. CLA is another heart-healthy fatty acid. It can boost cardiovascular protection and is found in higher levels in breast milk and in meat from animals that were raised free-range or cage-free.
The Bad Stuff That’s Not in it
Chemicals. Fertilizers and pesticides that are prohibited in organic farming contain powerful chemicals such as organophosphorus. This unnatural mineral compound is not required by humans and has been linked to a number of developmental disorders, including autism and ADHD. But more than 80% of this material in our bodies is from pesticide coating on the foods we eat.
GMOs. In testing done on animals, the consumption of genetically modified food resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of the immune system. It also increased the rates of birth mortality, certain sexual dysfunctions and allergen sensitivities.
Too Many Antibiotics. Most everyone has been vaccinated and taken antibiotics at some point. But non-organic food sources, especially livestock and feed houses, also use antibiotics in feeding their animals. By consuming this “extra dose” of antibiotics, we may actually be weakening our immune system and possibly reshaping it so many times that it will eventually be unable to defend itself.
In comparison, materials and practices for organic crop farming may include:
- Plant waste left on fields (green manure), livestock manure or compost to improve soil quality
- Plant rotation to preserve soil quality and to interrupt cycles of pests or disease
- Cover crops that prevent erosion when parcels of land are not in use and to plow into soil for improving soil quality
- Mulch to control weeds
- Predatory insects or insect traps to control pests
- Certain natural pesticides and a few synthetic pesticides approved for organic farming, used rarely and only as a last resort in coordination with a USDA organic certifying agent
Practices of organic livestock farmers include:
- Healthy living conditions and access to the outdoors
- Pasture feeding for at least 30 percent of livestock’s nutritional needs during grazing season
- Organic foods for animals
So What Products Qualify as Organic?
The USDA Guidelines are as follows:
100 percent organic. This description is used on certified organic fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat or other single-ingredient foods. It may also be used on multi-ingredient foods if all of the ingredients are certified organic, excluding salt and water. These may have a USDA seal.
Organic. If a multi-ingredient food is labeled organic, at least 95 percent of the ingredients are certified organic, excluding salt and water. The non organic items must be from a USDA list of approved additional ingredients. These also may have a USDA seal.
Made with organic. If a multi-ingredient product has at least 70 percent certified organic ingredients, it may have a “made with organic” ingredients label. For example, a breakfast cereal might be labeled “made with organic oats.” The ingredient list must identify what ingredients are organic. These products may not carry a USDA seal.
Organic ingredients. If less than 70 percent of a multi-ingredient product is certified organic, it may not be labeled as organic or carry a USDA seal. The ingredient list can indicate which ingredients are organic.
Note: “Natural” on a food label means that it has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. It does not refer to the methods or materials used to produce the food ingredients.
Summing It Up
After reading about the negative impact that non-organic ingredients can have on my well being, I definitely feel motivated to keep making changes so that at least a good portion of my diet is organic.
Nine family-run farms and an experienced fisherman are under the umbrella of Farm Foods Market to bring you organic beef, pork and chicken as well as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, halibut and rockfish.
Thanks for reading and be sure to check back for more organic news and reviews!