The Real Difference Between Organic and Non-Organic
It is said we become what we eat. With that in mind, it is crucial to minimize as much as possible the number of toxins that enter our bodies through food. In most cases, the food becomes toxicity because of the pesticides used during growing or preserving. According to the journal International Journal of Research in Engineering and Technology (IJRET):
“The World Health Organization estimates that there are 3 million cases of pesticides poison in each year and up to 220,000 deaths, primarily in developing countries. The potential health effects of pesticides include asthma, allergies, and hypersensitivity, and pesticide exposure is also linked with cancer, hormone disruption, and problems with reproduction and fetal development. Children are at greater risk from exposure to pesticides because of their small size: relative to their size, children eat, drink, and breathe more than adults. Their bodies and organs are growing rapidly, which also makes them more susceptible; in fact, children may be exposed to pesticides even while in the womb.”
Modern farming and landscaping have made pesticides so invasive that is difficult to avoid them completely. It is hard also to attribute the above health conditions to consuming non-organic food.
In 2000, Greater Boston Physician for Social Responsibility stressed that using organophosphate class of chemicals around home and school can put children at risk.
According to the journal, tests done on animals of organophosphate pesticides showed that even a small dose on a critical day of development can result to hyperactivity as well as permanent changes in neurotransmitter receptor levels in the brain.
Pyrethroids pesticides are also known to cause permanent hyperactivity in animals.
Children who grow up in the agricultural community in Mexico experience impaired stamina, memory, coordination, and capacity to identify familiar subjects in drawings.
These side effects are just a result of kids being exposed to these pesticides on their playgrounds. Imagine how dire the consequences will be if start evaluating the effects of actually eating non-organic foods.
Difference between organic and non-organic food
With all these side effects of pesticides, it is clear that we should limit their exposure to the food we eat.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) came up with a list called Dirty Dozen. The list is supposed to help consumers understand the number of pesticides in their food supply and which produce contain higher levels of pesticides. The list includes the following food;
- Imported nectarines
- Sweet bell peppers
- Imported snap peas
- Cherry tomatoes
According to the findings by EWG’s:
- 100 percent of imported nectarines and 99 percent of apples were found to contain at least one residue of pesticide.
- By weight, potatoes have more pesticide residues than any other food
- Grapes tested positive of up to 15 pesticides
- Cherry tomatoes, celery, imported snap peas as well as strawberries were found to contain 13 different residues of pesticides each.
Three years after EWG has published the Dirty Dozen list, they expanded it by adding a category called plus. They reported:
“Two foods that contain trace levels of highly hazardous pesticides. Leafy greens – kale and collard greens – and hot peppers do not meet traditional Dirty Dozen ranking criteria but were frequently contaminated with pesticides that are toxic to the human nervous system. EWG recommends that people who eat a lot of these foods buy organic instead.”
The Dirty Dozen Plus list
While compiling the Dirty Dozen Plus list, EWG also researched and created another list on the other end of the spectrum called “The Clean Fifteen.” This list contains what the organization perceives as the food supplies that are least likely to contain pesticide residue. The list includes fresh vegetables and fruits:
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Sweet potatoes
Consumers can use these fifteen foods without having to worry about harmful pesticides. The reason why these foods contain zero amount of harmful chemical is that most of them have a thick protective outer layer or shells, which prevents pests from investing. Others are deeply buried in the soil, thus if the soil isn’t exposed to Round Up or any other harmful pesticides, the fruit should be alright.
From the EWG’s research, they found that none of the Clean Fifteen produces tested positive for more than four types of pesticides. They also found that avocados are the best in the list with just 1% of the test sample showing detectible harmful chemicals. 61 percent of cantaloupe, 88 percent of mango, 80 percent of papayas, 82 percent of kiwi, and 89 percent of pineapples had no pesticide residues.
How to identify organically grown food
Different countries around the world have an organic certification program that calls for all organic foods to meet certain strict standards.
Any foodstuff labeled organic must be certified as meeting the required standards. When a product is labeled “100% organic” it means that is entirely made from organic ingredients, while when it is just labeled “Organic” it means it is at least 95% organic.
In some cases, you will find other products labeled “Made with Organic Ingredients,” in which case it means is 75% made of organic ingredients.
Food is non-organic when synthetic chemicals are used to boost the growth of the food crop. Non-organic foods include ready to cook meals, pre-cooked, commercial food, processed foods, frozen foods, and baked goods.
Are Organic foods more nutritious than Non-organic?
Even though many types of research have been conducted, no one has ever come out with sufficient evidence to conclude that organic foods are more nutritious than non-organic foods.
Foods like whole grain, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, eggs, and legumes are all very nutritious regardless of whether or not they were grown organically or not.
Are Organic foods tastier than Non-organic?
Organic foods may taste better than non-organic because they are fresher and locally produced.
Organic foods versus non-organic:
Generally, organic foods tend to cost more than non-organic foods. For example, organic meats tend to be expensive than non-organic.
Organic farming is about working in harmony with nature and not against it. The main objective of organic farming is to preserve the environment. This practice helps sustain the natural habitat for animals, wildlife and plants.
Organic farming abstains from using any chemical or synthetic material such as pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics. Organic farming must also avoid using genetically modified crops (GMO’s). For one to pass as an organic farmer, they must receive on-site inspection yearly to approve that organic practices are being met.
Organic or Non-organic
Cautious must be taken when shopping for food supply as these harmful chemicals can be hidden ingredients. Every consumer must be concerned with disease reversal and natural health so that they can educate themselves and their families what they eat. Organic foods are costly and hard to find in most grocery shops but it is worth the hassle.
You can start growing your own food in the backyard of your home and join organic food cooperation in your local area if you can.
If it is a must that you use non-organic food, then it is recommended that you stay away from EWG’s Dirty Dozen Plus Two. Also remember that dairy, organic grains and other products are the best options if you are looking to stay healthy.
The Difference between Organic and Non-organic Foods
The subject of organic versus non-organic food is quite complicated but majorly, it usually revolves around three concerns, namely:
Quoting the words of the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences:
“Organic foods are defined as those foods that are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, sewage sludge, genetic engineering, pesticides or drugs. Pesticides are chemical or control agents made to kill insects, weeds, and fungal pests that damage crops.”
From the definition above, non-organic foods are either straight manufactured with or indirectly polluted by synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, pesticides, genetic engineering, sewage sludge, drugs or pesticides.
It is argued that organic food tastes and looks different as compared to non-organic food. Many people feel that organic products look a lot like fresh vegetables and fruits in your backyard garden, with different colors, non-symmetrical shapes, and blotches. According to Food Sentry:
“The short version is that much non-organic, unprocessed or minimally processed produce is treated with a variety of growth-enhancing substances and is also commonly subjected to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grading and quality standards (voluntarily), while organic produce is not.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, organic foods are not highly nutritious than non-organic ones. A recent study observed over 50 years of scientific research papers and journals about the nutrient value of organic and non-organic foods and findings were that there were no huge differences in nutrient value between the two. Nevertheless, this conclusion is not embraced by everyone.
According to the British Journal of Nutrition, after conducting their own examination of about 343 studies on the topic of organic versus non-organic, they concluded that organic foods are healthier than non-organic as they contain 69% more antioxidants.
These findings by the British Journal of Nutrition should not be taken lightly, especially when the benefits of antioxidants are taken into considerations. Antioxidants have capabilities of preventing and treating successfully chronic illnesses such as cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and heart disease.
Another one of important findings by the journal was that organic foods contain significantly less cadmium – a toxic metal, and also harmful pesticide residues.
How to shop organic
A lot of food producers these days claim that their products are organic, so it is up to you to know and distinguish the real from the bad. Below are some pointers on how to be savvy when shopping for your family food supply.
- Don’t get confused by the terms “organic” and “natural,” as in most product labels the term “natural” means that is not made up of entirely organic ingredients.
- If you are doing your shopping at the farmers market, try to ask the producer about their method of farming. Are they practicing organic farming? Don’t be afraid as many producers usually enjoy this kind of interaction with consumers.
- Look for certified labels on products before buying. For example, USDA allows food products to be labeled “organic” provided they pass the agency’s certification evaluation. USDA only allows four types of organic food labels.
100 Percent Organic – This label means that the product was processed organically and all its ingredients are organic too. It also means that the manufacturer complied with the national list of organic ingredients used in processing the food product.
Organic – Organic label means that the product contains 95 percent of certified-organic ingredients. No GMOs and it comply with the national list of ingredients allowed in organically certified foods.
Made with Organic – this means that “Organic” seal is not allowed. However, at least 70 percent of the product ingredients are certified organic and the product does not contain any GMOs. The food product complies with the national list of organic-certified food ingredients.
Organic ingredients – Also this label means “Organic” seal is not allowed and there is no specified percentage of organic required ingredients. The food product may contain some elements of GMOs and is not required to comply with the list of national organic-certified food ingredients. Also, the product does not require undergoing the USDA certification process.
We all want to ensure that our families consume healthy and nutritious meals, free or with a limited amount of toxins.
This means constantly worrying about what kind of food we should purchase, organic or non-organic. When shopping for groceries, always keep in mind the Dirty Dozen plus Two and the Clean Fifteen.
At the end of the day, eating organic food is entirely a personal choice and what your reasons may be, eating organic and non-organic does not mean you cannot eat healthily.
Regardless, always choose plenty of whole grain, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, legumes, and eggs.