The organic (and inorganic) facts about food
Once only sourced from health food stores, organic food is now a buzzword on the online blogosphere as well as offline in supermarkets.
Here’s where the issue begins – in the produce aisle.
As an example, conventionally grown apple, smile sweetly at you, alongside organically grown ones. Both offering the same degree of firmness, sheen and colour. Both provide the eater with vitamins and fiber; both free of fat, sodium and cholesterol.
If price is or is not the question, which would you plonk into your cart?
To help you resolve this dilemma, consider these facts:
Conventional farming vs. Organic
‘Organic’ is actually the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, that find their way to our store shelves. Organic farming employs practices that encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution.
Conventional methods are not used to fertilise and control weeds. Instead natural fertilisers are used to feed soil and plants; while crop rotation as encouraged to manage weeds.
All organic foods are required to meet strict government standards. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published a list of approved UK organic control bodies, who certify the organic food that is grown and reaches shelves or farmer’s markets.
- To be certified as 100% organic, products must be either completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
- Products must be at least 95 percent organic, to use the ‘Organic’ label.
‘Natural’ and ‘organic’ do not mean the same thing. Terms such as ‘natural,’ ‘all natural, ‘free-range’ or ‘hormone-free often used in food packaging may be truthful, but they’re certainly not ‘organic’ in the accepted sense of the term. Only foods grown and processed according to the approved UK organic control standards can be labeled as organic.
The answer isn’t yet clear if organic foods are more nutritious. A recent study examined the past 50 years’ worth of scientific articles about the nutrient content of organic and conventional foods. The researchers concluded that organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs are not significantly different in their nutrient content.
Consumption of non-organic food definitely raises some concerns:
- A pesticide used in farming
- Food additives
- Environmental concerns
Cost is a common concern with organic food. Higher prices are in part due to the more-expensive farming practices employed.
Organic foods may also spoil faster because they aren’t treated with waxes or preservatives
They may also look less ‘perfect’ in shape, colour or size.
Finally, whichever variety of food you buy remember to:
- Select a variety of foods from a variety of sources. This will ensure you get a better mix of nutrients.
- Buy fruits and vegetables in season when possible. This ensures the freshness of the produce
- Read food labels carefully. Some organic products may still be high in sugar, salt, fat or calories.
- Wash and scrub fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water. This helps remove dirt, bacteria and traces of chemicals from the surface of fruits and vegetables.