Organic farming and organic food has become very popular in the past few years. While considering organic food vs non-organic food, or organic vs inorganic food, the former offers plenty of health benefits. Consumers consider organic food safer and healthier and the sales have been constantly increasing over the years.
During the last year 88% of households in the US purchased organic food and the trend is continuing to rise. However, organic food labels and claims can be really confusing to the layman. Let’s try understanding the labels to help you make the best choice while shopping for organic products.
What is Organic Food
The word ‘organic’ refers to the way in which a food is grown or produced.
- No chemicals, antibiotics in organic food products. Pesticide sprays or GMOs are used in organic farming.
- In case of organic food like cookies or breakfast cereals, there are no artificial food additives, such as preservatives or flavors.
- Farmers make use of natural fertilizers for organic crops.
- In case of animals, they are reared without administering hormones or antibiotics.
Organic vs Conventional Methods
Check out the difference between Organic and Non organic Produce.
- Organic produce uses manure and compost while traditional produce uses chemical fertilizers.
- Weeds are eliminated with practices like crop rotation, mulching or tilling, whereas in conventional farming, chemical herbicides are used.
- Natural methods including birds and insects or traps are used for controlling pests, whereas synthetic pesticides are used in conventional or non-organic methods
- In case of livestock, no hormones or GMO feeds are given for organic milk, meat, etc., whereas in conventional they are given growth hormones, GMO feed etc.
- Livestock are protected by rotational grazing and clean house methods, whereas antibiotics and medicines are given to livestock in conventional method.
- Livestock are taken outdoors in case of organic products, whereas they are generally maintained indoors the conventional way.
Benefits of Organic Food vs Non-Organic Food
Health Benefits of Organic Fruits and Vegetables
- Organic foods contain higher levels of antioxidants for better health
Note: According to studies the antioxidants in organic foods are higher by up to 60%.
- Lower levels of toxic metals; pesticides.
- Organic produce is fresher. Preservatives used in conventional produce make it last longer. Organic produce is usually produced at a nearby farm and sold locally.
Environmental Benefits of Organic Produce
- Organic farming methods of producing food or rearing livestock is better for the environment. It reduces pollution and doesn’t waste energy. Water is conserved and soil erosion is prevented. In fact, it increases the fertility of the soil. It is also healthier for people living on the farms and for the nearby flora and fauna.
- The nutrition content of organic produce is more. Especially in substances like omega 3 fatty acids, which is more in meat, milk etc.
- Organic food is GMO free.
You must be aware that organic produce costs more than its conventional counterpart, but organic farming is on the whole financially more viable, as it eliminates several hidden costs that are not immediately visible.
- It is viable for farmers, as it is more expensive and they can get a premium price for their produce
- Though the yield of organic produce is initially less than conventional farming methods, the produce reaches 95% of conventional produce after a few years.
- Organic farming can be done without using fossil fuels and other expensive farming materials.
- When you add organic matter to the soil, the soil is able to store more carbon dioxide. This also increases the water retaining capacity of the soil, which in turn reduces use of water and increases the crops’ resilience to droughts. The farmer can, thus, produce food at a lower cost.
How to Make the Switch from Non-Organic to Organic
It could take a toll on your wallet to go organic all the way and all of a sudden. This is the main reason why many people hesitate to go organic. But there are smart ways to make the switch. Here’s how:
- Begin by switching over for some of your favorite foods. For instance, if you use a lot of milk in your home, start by buying organic milk.
- Never buy organic food in bulk. Follow the storage instructions and check out the manufacturing and expiry dates.
- Buy only seasonal products, as they will be cheaper.
- Read the labels. All organic products are marked with an original seal. Check out certifications. Check whether the product has been tested for presence of heavy metals.
- Better to buy a good quality organic product in a smaller quantity as compared to buying a cheaper inorganic product in larger quantities.
- Compare prices with different brands and buy a cheaper one.
Tip: Opt for private labels as against branded ones.
- Look for the organic percentage, which could be 70% to 100%. Green indicates 100%; White indicates 90% whereas the 70% category has no color but only a label saying it is made out of organic ingredients
Where to Buy Organic Food
- Premier grocery stores, organic supermarkets, discount grocery stores and other retail stores.
- Buy local products rather than international ones. Find a local store near you.
Tip: Buy at a local farmer’s market to get fresh, organic produce.
- Buy organic food online to get free organic food delivery.
Organic food has slowly but surely become a new lifestyle mantra today. Many people prefer to buy organic food, as they don’t contain artificial chemicals. This reduces your exposure to pesticide and bacteria. When you wash, peel and cook food, these chemicals could reduce, but they are not completely eliminated.
As more and more farmers learn about the financial, environmental and health benefits of organic farming, more of them will be ready to make the switch leading to a healthy ecosystem all over the world. Start going the healthy way by switching over to organic food vs non-organic food today. Going green might prove to be difficult at first, but it’s well worth it. So, are you hungry for better food?