In collaboration with Natalie Siu-Mitton, Registered Dietitian
As organic foods become increasingly popular, the question persists: Is organic food better?
Organic food is produced under a regulated system excluding the use of fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and feed additives. Producers rely on crop rotation and recycling of plant and animal wastes. Evidence proves that organic food production is beneficial to the environment but in terms of food quality, more research is needed to prove its full benefits to human health. Consider these points:
- Studies are inconclusive, as several factors affect nutritional quality.
- Some health promoting phytochemicals appear to be higher in organic produce.
- More research is needed, although people working with high doses of pesticides, have higher rates of asthma, Parkinson’s disease and certain cancers.
- Some non-organic produce contain significantly more pesticides than others.
- Organic chickens have shown higher rates of salmonella in the absence of routine antibiotics, however proper food practices should prevent food borne illness.
- No significant differences have been found with produce.
- Theoretically, a well-managed organic farm should not produce foods with higher risks than a conventional farm.
- Organic or not, always use safe food practices.
- Organic farming practices are designed to benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving soil and water. However, organic food that has traveled from afar may leave a bigger carbon footprint than conventionally farmed foods purchased locally.
- Choosing to eat organic foods is a personal choice. Consider the big picture when evaluating health decisions. Organic or not, a diet high in fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of chronic illness such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. As for packaged foods, a product labeled organic contains a percentage of organic ingredients but is not necessarily low in unhealthy saturated fats and sodium.
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If you care about what goes in your body, and want to nourish yourself in the best way you can, check out Copeman’s definitive guide to