By Jeremy P. Feakins
Organic food is finding its way onto e-commerce websites making it much easier for you to locate, choose and purchase without leaving home. In this COVID-19 era, we are all looking at keeping our families, loved-ones and ourselves safe. Online shopping for food is the way to go, and several major chains have excelled in offering organic foods with delivery. Whole Foods and Wegman's stand out from the crowd. Independent e-commerce stores are struggling with both product selection and grocery delivery, although this is expected to improve in the near future.
As I wrote in my blog last year, organic certification requires that farmers, producers and handlers document their processes. There are strict US Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards for organic growers, they get rules for growers to follow and they are inspected every year to make sure they are doing just that. On-site inspections account for every component of the organic operation including seed sources, soil conditions, crop health, weed and pest management, water systems, inputs, contamination and commingling risks and prevention, and record-keeping. In my opinion, it is very important that you see the ‘USDA Organic’ seal on products labeled ‘organic’. Only then will you know it really is, ‘Organic’.
The word "organic" refers to the methods and practices used when growing, harvesting and processing agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. When I refer to organic food, I mean those foods grown, harvested and processed in accordance with USDA guidelines.
Here are my top ten reasons why I believe organic food is better for you:
- Organic food is grown under USDA guidelines involving production, handling, and processing. Organic products must be produced using only allowed substances and without excluded methods (e.g., genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge). This means organic food is without noxious chemicals or synthetic additives and thus safer to eat (and tastes better, too!)
- Farmers and Growers must make sure they are looking after their land and animals, too! You might not think this has anything to do with growing food, but it does. Organic farmers and growers must create a safe, healthy and sustainable environment for their livestock, including access to outside pastures. Animals must be fed organic food and strict attention must be given to animal health, including vaccinations. No antibiotics or growth hormones can be given.
- In organic produce, some studies have shown increases in a number of nutrients, such as in certain types of flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties. According to Healthline, flavonoidshelp regulate cellular activity and fight off free radicals that cause oxidative stress on your body. In simpler terms, they help your body function more efficiently while protecting it against everyday toxins and stressors. Flavonoids are also powerful antioxidant agents.
- The feeding requirements for organic livestock farming, such as the primary use of grass and alfalfa for cattle, result in generally higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the "good" types of fat. They may help lower the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis. Your body can't make them. You have to eat them or take supplements. These higher omega-3 fatty acids are found in organic meats, dairy and eggs.
- Toxic chemicals can be found in soils and absorbed by plants. When compared with conventionally grown crops, studies have shown significantly lower levels in organic food. Nobody wants to eat toxic chemicals with their food.
- Non-organic meat may have a higher occurrence of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics are used more heavily in farm animals than in people. Researchers say companies are endangering public health. Regardless of the fact I don’t want to ingest any animal medication along with my food, I believe meat, dairy and eggs produced by organic farmers taste much better.
- According to Columbia University, organic farming is said to be a much better ecological alternative when it comes to food production. The lack of pesticides and wider variety of plants enhances biodiversity and results in better soil quality and reduced pollution from synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.
- Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are not found in organic food. Organic food is GMO free and has not been genetically engineered. GE or GMO refer to plants whose DNA has been scientifically altered in ways that would not naturally occur. This practice is most commonly carried out in order for plants to be resistant to pesticides. Nineteen out of the 27-member state countries of the European Union have voted to either partially or fully ban Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs
- Eating organically grown food is particularly important for people with diabetes, who likely have a compromised immune system. The pesticides used to grow conventional food may increase the risk of diabetes. A recent study showed that five different pesticides were associated with provoking diabetes.
- Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people suffering from allergies— these folks may benefit the most from choosing organically produced foods. And, although organic products are more expensive than conventional ones, you can be selective. If you are going to choose between organic and conventionally grown food, buy organic foods you eat daily such as eggs, dairy, meat and grains.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that eating organic foods and surrounding yourself with products free of chemicals is good for you, good for the planet.
Commonsense suggests the more natural your lifestyle, the healthier that must be.