Organic Food vs None-Organic Food: What’s the deal?

A study of 110 urban and suburban children in Washington State found that children who ate primarily organic foods had significantly lower organophosphorus pesticide (nervous immune system disruptor) exposure than children on conventional diets. Out of the children tested only one did not have measurable levels of the pesticide in their urine. This child was on an all-organic diet. Other children eating mainly organic foods had exposure levels below the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) safe “level”, while the children eating conventional foods were above this level. How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy – Paul Chek

Over the years the word organic has turned into a bit of a meme – Is it Organic? But what’s the real story? Is organic produce and products really that different? What does organic even mean? In today’s article, I hope to demystify all these thoughts and queries.

Firstly, what is organic?

Organic food is grown without the use of toxic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or chemical fertilizers. Organic foods are better for your health, and they’re produced in ways that support a healthy environment; organic farming works with Mother Nature, not against her.

Before achieving organic certification in the US, fields must be farmed for a minimum of three years under guidelines handed down by the organic committee of the farmer’s state. This three-year period assures that microorganisms have time to digest and eliminate chemical residues that may be left in the soil from previous exposure. Farmers operating in this three-year grace period can label their food as “organically grown,” yet there may still be pesticides in their soils, so it is best to purchase “certified organic” products.

Nutrient Values

The media generally report that there is no significant difference in the nutritional value of organic foods when compared to conventionally grown produce. This is virtually impossible if you consider what organic farming entails. Dr. Virginia Worthington reviewed 1230 published comparisons between organically grown and conventionally grown crops. The results of her survey indicated that organic crops had higher nutrient levels or lower levels of toxicity in 56% of the comparisons. While many more of these studies proved that organic foods had more nutrients, it’s interesting to note that there is still a high percentage of researchers who claim that conventionally grown crops were better. The British Soil Association analyzed 109 studies of organic and conventionally raised foods. They determined that only 27 studies were valid comparisons almost all of which found organic foods to be significantly better. In many of the other studies, the organic produce was flown in and was much older than the locally grown conventional crops, therefore decreasing the nutritional value.

Secondary Nutrients

The nutrients generally mentioned when comparing conventionally grown and organic foods are primary nutrients such as water, fiber, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Among the differences cited between conventional and organic foods are notable increases in the amount of secondary nutrients in organic foods.

There are some 5000 – 10000 secondary nutrients compounds in plants. While secondary nutrients have not been classified as, or known to be, essential for health there is a wealth of information suggesting numerous health benefits. The beneficial effects of secondary nutrients are also well-known among Naturopaths and holistic medical practitioners.

Many doctors and healing clinics include an organic diet in their approach to treatment. The healing effects of these organic foods are associated with superior secondary nutrient content and quality as well as with increased vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, protein, and enzyme content.

Protein Quality

One of the largest studies on organic foods, the Haughley Experiment, found that cows fed organic produce ate less but consistently produced more milk. Some feel this is due to the quality of protein in the grass. Protein is dependent on the range of amino acids in its composition. Plant proteins may or may not contain certain amino acids that are essential for human and animal nutrition. Whether they do or not depends largely upon the soil conditions in which the plant is grown. The plant is dependent upon minerals, trace minerals, and trace elements – and their availability is dependent upon microorganisms in the soil. These essential microorganisms are depleted by as much as 85% in conventionally farmed soils, usually as a result of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. The protein composition of plants growing in the depleted soil is, therefore, inferior.

Better for the environment

From the soil up, organic farming is better for the environment. We survived for thousands of years on organically grown foods. Modern “advances” in farming such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, are destroying our soils, which results in the destruction of the planet, animals, and ultimately the humans dependent upon them. There are numerous sources of information covering the benefits of organic products. Remember, where you spend a bit more to buy organic, you’re not only doing yourself a favour, you’re helping to improve the environment.

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