Before we start with why organic is better, let’s start with what is organic.
Organic food refers to a holistic means of growing and handling food. Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations.
Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.
Most countries have strict standards for organic food. Providers wanting to sell organic products must undergo rigorous tests and meet these standards. When this is done, the provider can then stamp their produce with a Certified Organic label.
So why is organic better?
Modern conventional farmers will use various pesticides and chemicals on their farms. Some will even use genetically modified seeds. Whilst the conventional farmers and the chemical companies state that these pesticides and chemicals are safe, do we really know the answer to that? I suggest the answer is no! Look at how many chemicals that are approved one day and then no longer approved a while later as the real side effects become apparent over time. DDT is one such example, which was banned in the US in 1972 – but traces of this can still be found in some produce still today.
People also believe that washing their fruit and vegetables removes any pesticide or chemical residue. This has been proven to be false. A study by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2009 showed that after 10 seconds of washing in water, 98% of apples, 97% of grapes, 92% of potatoes and oranges still had pesticide residue. Why, because after the plant gets sprayed, then watered; the chemicals travel into the soil, only to be absorbed by the plant – then absorbed by you when you eat the produce.
Does the farmer only ever use the “approved” pesticides at the “approved” dosage, No! The same 2009 USDA study said that “just” 3% of all of the samples of produce, beef and rice, contained either unapproved pesticide or an improper amount of pesticide. I know 3% is not high, but how do you know if you are eating part of the 3%. Are you prepared to gamble your long term health on this?
I think it would be hard to find anyone who does not agree that excessive exposure to chemicals and pesticides are harmful to people and will cause health problems.
Another key benefit is the impact on the environment. The more holistic farming practices means less chemicals in the soil, which is better for the environment.
When a conventional farmer uses pesticides, does it just stay where they were used, No! How often have you heard stories of pesticides found near drinking water? For example, on eight occasions in 2010-11, the levels of pesticides at a reservoir providing drinking water to Melbourne were recorded above safe European Union drinking water standards.
Other benefits to the environment of organic farming include better soil quality. A 21 year study in Switzerland has found that organic farming enhances soil fertility and biodiversity and reduces the risk of soil erosion. The more nutrients and vitamins in the soil, equals more nutrients and vitamins in the food you eat.
Another benefit to the environment is that organic farming may help reduce climate change by storing more carbon dioxide in the soil.
So you can summarise the benefits of organic food and produce in that you are putting less chemicals and pesticides directly and indirectly into your body and the environment you live in.