Nowadays, it seems like the organic food movement is getting more and more popular. Sure we know organic food is supposed to be better for us and that it’s generally a bit more expensive. But what exactly is organic, what are the health benefits, and is it worth it?
In order for a food (meat, animal by-products, and produce) to be approved by the USDA as organic product:
1. It must be produced while utilizing renewable resources as well as conserving soil and water in order to be environmentally friendly and sustainable.
2. Any meat or animal by-product such as eggs and dairy must come from animals that have not been given antibiotics or growth hormones.
3. Organic farmers must adhere to methods:
Using natural fertilizers as opposed to the chemical ones used by conventional farmers.
Allowing animals to graze outside, have a balanced diet, and clean housing in order to prevent disease — unlike conventional factory farms.
Using alternative methods to handle weeds instead of herbicides, and natural interventions instead of insecticides to control pests and disease.
4. Organic farms and processing plants must be inspected by a government-approved certifier to ensure they are following USDA standards.
Many people choose to eat organic for different reasons. Now that we’re familiar with the USDA standards and definition for organic foods, let’s explore the benefits of eating organic food.
According to the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, researchers found that organically grown berries and corn contain up to 58 percent more polyphen-olics (antioxidants) than their conventional counterparts grown in plots near by. The same study found that there they also contained more ascorbic acid (vitamin c).
Because organic food isn’t sprayed with chemical pesticides and is grown in a much more natural way, there are far less toxins in organic foods. A University of Washington study found that children who ate organic food had a pesticide level that was six times lower than children who did not eat organic food.