The Truth About Organic Food
The question of whether organic food is better for our health is still one that goes back and forth. Organic food is classified as such when the farmers grow their crops with 95% synthetic pesticide and fertiliser free, and their animals are reared without antibiotics or growth hormones and fed organically grown food. Plus the animals can roam around outside rather than cooped together
So what does organic food do for our bodies and our environment? Is it packed with so many nutrients we must be eating organic 100% of the time? This article will take a closer look at organic food’s nutritional benefits and environmental benefits and if it is worth the higher price tag.
A 2015 Harvard Health article talks of several studies looking at the macro- and micronutrient content of both, to find that they share similar vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. It goes on to talk about the lack of knowledge on whether organic pesticides are safer than the ones in conventional farming. Similarly, there is no evidence as to whether the hormones and antibiotics
used for rearing animals are unsafe either.
Comparatively, this 2012 study stated, “It is now critical that agricultural use of antibiotics be recognised as one of the major contributors to the development of resistant organisms that result in life-threatening human infections and included as part of the strategy to control the mounting public
health crisis of antibiotic resistance.” Although not enough research is going into the effects of these chemicals on us, micro-biome experts such as Robynne Chutkan MD would suggest avoiding antibiotic fed animal produce.
So if you’re in a place where you can’t afford organic foods, then there’s no need to worry! It seems nutritionally you are still gaining the same benefits from your meat and vegetables, whether you shop organic or conventional. If antibiotic resistance is a worry for you, if the mistreatment of animals is something you care for, then alternating to organically grown meats might be the right option for you. Always remembering your food budget — as its better to be able to buy in bulk the fruit, vegetables and meats you need to be healthy — rather than buying not enough organic food.
There are studies that both prove and disprove the idea that organic food is better for the environment. One argument that refutes says that organic foods cause more CO2 emissions due to deforestation, as without growth chemicals there becomes a need to use more land for the same amount of crops. However, statistics show that emissions of ammonia are largely driven by activity in the agriculture sector, primarily linked to herd sizes and the extent of fertiliser spreading. This sector accounted for 87 per cent of emissions of ammonia in 2018.
The Soil Association states that organic food is better for the environment as the lack of pesticides and fertilisers provides better soil, which in turn, helps wildlife to thrive and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. However, one scientific study states that organic food is much worse when you factor in
deforestation, although it depends on what food it is. So if you are thoroughly confused as to whether organic food is more environmentally friendly, then I don’t blame you. It seems to be a strange balancing act, both deforestation and the use of harmful fertilisers both seem to be bad for the environment. So should we be spending a lot of our money on organic foods?
My personal bias is that I believe these chemicals affect our ecosystem, both that of our planet and our bodies. However, there is strong evidence for both its pros and its cons. I think as the years go by, hopefully, there will be an effective way to cut down on deforestation and the use of more harmful chemicals with regards to our food. In the meantime, I will buy organic produce when I can afford it. Otherwise, I will buy conventional foods with the knowledge that both have their benefits. It is up to you to decide on your preferences; keep in the loop with where your food comes from, how it is made and find out what is best for your wellbeing.
Written by Jacqueline Renouard
Jacqueline Renouard is a Film and TV Production graduate with a passion for self-improvement. Her passion extends to researching psychology, nutrition and wellbeing through her 8-year yoga and meditation practice, and writing across many different styles.