- Authors: Christopher and Dana VanDeCar (Owners and Founders of Optimally Organic)
The benefits of going organic are numerous. Organic food has become a very popular concept these days. While we should be wary of the food industry taking our organics, there is no question that more people are interested in the benefits of organic food than ever before. On top of the influx of interest, there are also more people on the fence with this subject than ever before. Despite the impressive volume of people who are interested in all things organic right now, there are still others who remain incredulous. These are the individuals we want to try to convince today.
If you are one of those people who can’t make up their minds about organic food, ask yourself the following:
- Do you believe it’s all just one big scam?
- Are you interested in learning more about the pros and cons of organic food, but you don’t know where to begin? For many of us, making a good decision about our health sometimes requires a little push in the right direction.
If you answered yes to either of those questions, we can help. Organic food as a concept is not a scam. There are TONS of reasons to go organic. We’re going to cover a few of them here today, while also giving you some basic tips for getting started. These are suggestions that can help to inform your next shopping list.
Before we get into the benefits of buying organic food and other products, let’s first define the concept of organic food. When it comes to the question of “What is organic food?”, there are a few things you are going to want to keep in mind.
What Makes Food Organic?
While it might be problematic, the USDA defines organic produce and other things as being grown without anything in the way of pesticides, GMOs, synthetic fertilizers, and similar elements. With animals, the definition means that any food-producing animal with an “Organic” label has not received growth hormones or antibiotics.
The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) breaks down their “Organic” label thusly:
- “100% Organic” means, according to the USDA, the product was made with 100% organic ingredients.
- The standalone “Organic” label, per the USDA, the product was made with a minimum of 95% organic ingredients.
- The USDA also defines “Made with Organic Ingredients” as products that contain at least 70% organic ingredients.
- If a product has less than 70% organic ingredients, they are not allowed to claim any “Organic” status on the front of their packaging. However, on the package’s side panel, the company can list specific organic ingredients.
While the USDA is far from perfect, these are still labels you want to pay attention to while shopping. Watch out for products that make claims like “Free-Range” or “Natural”, in lieu of any of the organic food labels we listed above. These are terms that are not really defined/enforced by the FDA or USDA.
With a basic understanding of the question “What is organic food”, we can now focus on the benefits of organic food. For those of you who are still trying to decide if organic food is legitimate or not, or if it’s worth making the effort to shop organic as much as possible, we have 10 things that will almost certainly change your mind!
Let’s start things off with one of the biggest organic food benefits:
1.) You’re Getting More Of Those Crucial Healthy Fats!
While you should still make an effort to cut as much dairy and meat from your diet as possible, there is no question that organic dairy and organic meat can give you plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Organic meat/dairy offers as much as fifty-percent more omega-3 fatty acids than products produced through conventional means.
As you may or may not already know, omega-3 fatty acids are pretty darn important. Some of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids includes promoting good brain health, improving the risk factors associated with heart disease, and fighting various autoimmune diseases. They can also reduce fat in your liver, while helping to promote good joint and bone health.
2.) You Have A Better Chance Of Avoiding Antibiotics And/or Synthetic Hormones
This another of the benefits of going organic that we are particularly fond of. As we’ve mentioned before, we are under a constant assault from toxins, antibiotic-fed products, chemicals, and so much more. The food we eat, air we breathe, and water we drink are all contaminated on one level or another. In many cases, the best we can do is minimize our exposure, while we all work towards a world of restored, beneficial soil. To that end, keep in mind that conventional livestock can be given antibiotics to fight various illnesses. The problem obviously is that this allows farmers and companies to raise more animals with less space, while not having to worry as much about the illnesses that can be created through unsanitary conditions.
Yes, the FDA recently set some limits for livestock and certain antibiotics, but this remains a troubling subject. There are still loopholes that many organic food companies take advantage of. Furthermore, only chicken farms are barred from using synthetic growth hormones. These synthetics are used to ensure the animals gain weight more quickly, or are capable of producing more milk. Among other consequences, synthetic hormones have been linked to increased cancer risks.
The “Organic” label in any form is only granted when there is a significant-to-absolute absence of synthetic hormones and/or antibiotics. In other words, “Organic” may not completely protect you from these things, but it will sidestep a great deal of them.
3.) You Also Have A Better Chance Of Avoiding Pesticides And/or Heavy Metals
First of all, it is important to understand that fruits, veggies, and grains that have been given one of the USDA’s organic labels refers to things grown without using most artificial fertilizers or synthetic pesticides. These things have been deemed safe to use in the current quantities in traditional farming. However, many health experts and others are deeply concerned over the consequences that could arise from ongoing exposure.
Roundup is a good example of what we mean. Defined as a “probable human carcinogen”, you will find this herbicide a common sight at countless farms. The residues found in pesticides have been linked to reduced sperm counts for men, as well.
Crops grown through organic practices are not flawless, but studies do seem to find that organic crops have a diminished potential for containing measurable levels of pesticides. The fertilization techniques generally utilized with organic crops are forty-eight percent more likely to not test positive for the heavy metal known as cadmium. This toxic heavy metal can build up in the liver and kidneys, causing all sorts of serious health problems. Certainly, keep this in mind, the next time you wonder if it’s worth looking for an organic food store in your area.
4.) You’re Helping To Preserve The Ecosystem
As we can keep the food industry from completely taking our organics, you can look to organic farming as a means of supporting good eco-sustenance practices. This can also be farming that maintains a mutually beneficial harmony with nature.
Respectful organic farming measures emphasize not only the need to preserve the soil, but also the importance of preserving crop rotations. This is one of the reasons to go organic that goes beyond merely benefitting humanity. These efforts can go a long way towards keeping the land used for farming healthy. Abstaining from the use of chemicals helps to preserve the ecosystem in a profound, essential way. We sometimes forget that even the ecosystems that immediately surround us are elaborate, complex concepts. We aren’t just talking about wildlife. An ecosystem consists of wildlife, various insects, frogs, and numerous birds. Certainly, an ecosystem is also going to include the millions of organisms that can potentially be found in your soil.
All of these things have a role to play. All of these things play a vital role of some kind in the integrity of the ecosystem. Different parts of the world naturally have different ecosystems, but there are certain elements you will always find.
We must co-exist with this ecosystem. We have to work on ways to meet our needs for things like food, while also keeping in mind the fragility of the ecosystem which surrounds us. We must look for ways to get what we need to survive, without causing anything in the way of interference to that ecosystem. We must also look to avoid the types of compromises that might minimize the damage to the ecosystem, but will still ultimately cause a lot of problems. If utilized properly and responsibly, organic farming can be an effective means of working in harmony with the other aspects of our ecosystem.
It is important to remember that we are all in this together. Everything we do must be in harmony with the ecosystem, or we will simply worsen the air/soil/water problems we are globally experiencing in the twenty-first century. A true organic food definition understands all of this.
5.) You Get To Enjoy Better-Tasting Food!
Certainly, this is one of the most appealing ways to get you to your local organic food store. While it is important to maintain a good, mutually beneficial relationship to our ecosystems and planet as a whole, it also helps to remember that organic food honestly seems to taste better than the synthetic/chemical-laden counterparts.
When crops are no longer being “protected” by pesticides, they have to deal with various blights and unfortunate pests. The upside is that when this occurs, fruits and veggies start ramping up the production of their chemical defenses. This includes the release of aromas that are designed to bring in bugs capable of countering the ones that threaten the crops. These chemical defenses can also create something unpleasant/toxic to the invading insects, or such defenses can create anti-fungal compounds.
What does all this mean for us? More often than not, these various defenses can translate to superior aromas and flavors. This is particularly true when they are compared to the fruits, vegetables, and other things created and brought to market through conventional farming practices. Since they aren’t going to be safeguarded by pesticides, these crops can build up greater levels of flavor chemicals. Other protective molecules can be built up, as well, including those crucial antioxidants.
To put in the simplest possible terms: The harder crops fight against natural predators, the heartier those crops will often become. That translates to not only more flavor, but more nutrition, as well. Is Organic food healthier? In many cases, the answer is yes.
Even More Reasons To Go Organic!
Thus far, we have covered five very good reasons to go organic. However, there are even more benefits of organic food to consider. We also want to make sure you have some tips, in terms of how to go organic.
Join us later this week for part 2 of this article, in which we will cover not only some tips for going organic, but also a few more organic food benefits to keep in mind. This is a deep subject, and it deserves an equally-in-depth look."