Organic food is now steadily gaining more prominence and popularity than before. With increasing awareness among the people about food safety, the demand for potentially ‘safer’ options – which includes organic food – has also risen.
But there lies the problem.On one hand, you have a conventionally grown apple. On the other, you have one that’s organic. Both apples are firm, shiny and red. Both provide vitamins and fiber, and both are free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. But which one should you choose to buy? Let’s first understand the difference.
Conventional v/s organic farming
Organic farming includes practices which are designed to conserve soil and water , along with reducing pollution.
Farmers who grow organic produce don’t use conventional methods to fertilize and control weeds. They use practices like using natural fertilizers to feed soil and plants, crop rotation or mulch to manage weeds.
But organic food is advantageous in many ways , such as:
- Pesticides : Organic farmers use insect traps, careful crop selection (disease-resistant varieties), predator insects or beneficial microorganisms instead to control crop-damaging pests. The produce typically carries significantly less pesticide residues than does conventional produce.
- Food additives : Organic regulations ban or severely restrict the use of food additives, processing aids (substances used during processing, but not added directly to food) and fortifying agents commonly used in nonorganic foods, including preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavorings, and monosodium glutamate(MSG)
- Environment : Organic farming practices benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving water and soil quality.
However, the question still remains – Is Organic Food really healthier? 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.
There are other concerns with Organic Food – one being the cost. Organic foods typically cost more than do their conventional counterparts. Higher prices are mainly due to the higher prices of the farming practices (without using conventional pesticides etc.)
Also, since organic fruits and vegetables aren’t treated with waxes or preservatives, they may be spoiled faster. Despite the non-addition of these preservatives, organic foods should also meet the same quality and safety standards as those of conventional foods.
Organic or Inorganic Food?
Whether or not you end up buying Organic Food,there are a few pointers that you should keep in mind when buying groceries :
- Buy fruits and vegetables in season whenever possible.
- To get the freshest produce, buy food from the local farmers market.
- Read food labels carefully. A product claiming to be Organic or containing organic ingredients doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthier alternative. Some organic products may still be high in sugar, salt, fat or calories.
- Washing helps remove dirt, bacteria and traces of chemicals from the surface of fruits and vegetables.
- Not all pesticide residues can be removed by washing, though. You can also peel fruits and vegetables, but peeling can mean losing some fiber and nutrients.
Organic food is undoubtedly a healthier option, but from an economic point of view, it would need heavy investments – both in time and money.