What are the benefits of organic food?
Organic. It’s the latest buzzword. In the 1990’s it was ‘low fat’. In the 1980’s ‘low-carb’ was the rage and the 1970’s found the word ‘lite’ plastered all over food packages. Are organic foods another fad that will lose momentum over time? Or, are they a permanent part of our diet? Read on to learn the benefits of organic food.
Whether organic food contains more nutrients is highly debatable. A recent Stanford University study claimed that organic foods were not healthier, however it did find that organic chicken and milk contained higher omega 3’s. Studies like this only looked at a two year period which does not give us a long term picture of health.
One area of agreement on the benefits of organic food is that they contain fewer pesticides. By definition organic means foods that have been produced without chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, and synthetic substances. Additional benefits of organic food are that they are free of hormones, artificial flavors and colors, and GMO’s (genetically modified organisms).
Pesticides have been linked to a range of health problems including reproductive issues, cancer, and birth defects. Environmentally, they contribute to water pollution, soil contamination and the destruction of animal habitats. Conventional farming produces 40% more greenhouse gases than organic practices. The American Medical Association recommends limiting pesticide exposure.
Limiting exposure may seem simple, but it can be costly to buy foods that are organic. By following a few guidelines you can provide safer foods at a lower cost.
Here are a few tips for knowing when to buy organic food
- Buy local. Small, local farmers cannot afford costly pesticides so they spray only when absolutely necessary, thus reducing your exposure.
- Avoid the “Dirty Dozen.” The Environmental Working Group has a guide that lists the dirtiest (and cleanest) produce. If you cannot afford to buy organic all the time focus on buying the dirtiest fruits and vegetables organic.
- Buy in season. Check out your weekly market mailer to see what organic foods are on sale each week. Tailor your menu around the organic foods that are on sale.
- Wash your produce. If it isn’t possible to buy organic, always wash your fresh produce well with a simple solution that will help remove harmful pesticides from the surface of the food.
The evidence is overwhelming when it comes to the dangers of chemical exposure. Nutritionally organic food may not vary drastically from conventional fruits and vegetables, but there is no doubt that the benefits of organic food are they are free of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. If given a choice, organic is the healthiest option.
Dawn Wynne is a best-selling children’s author, award-winning teacher, and certified L.E.A.N. coach. Combing her love for the environment, passion for nutrition, and teaching talents she works with children and families to help them make healthy lifestyle choices.