Being healthy means making the right choices for you and your body. More often then not, these choices can become difficult. With so much information out there regarding how you should live, as well as the appropriate ways to be healthy, it may be challenging to figure out what you should do. With that in mind, lets take a moment to review organic food.
Coming out of the 1940’s and the industrialization of agriculture in the United States, the organic food movement was born from an earlier ‘green movement’ dedicated around preserving the quality and integrity of produce. Run by and monitored through the National Organic Program, or NOP, the Department of Agriculture is responsible for defining things as organic or not. So what are some of the pros and cons associated with organic food?
The Pros of Organic Food
1. Treated Less
Organic food is produce that is defined as being comprised of organic components and being allowed to naturally decay on their own. There is nothing added to organic food to make it last longer, or otherwise protect it from insects, weather, etc. The reason why people prefer organic food is because of the chemical food additives, chemicals, and pesticides used in treating produce.
Many of these chemicals and additives are only partially examined for their health benefits, meaning that Americans may be at risk to things like cancer and not even know it. With several popular product and chemical recalls in the past, it is not uncommon for these chemicals to be found to be harmful. With organic food, there is strict regulation about what can and cannot be done in the production of this food, meaning that it is less risky then non-organic foods.
2. Greater Nutritional Content
Whether the crop is genetically modified or irradiated and treated, the nutritional content of the produce can be lost as it goes through processing. While this processing allows for the mass production of produce, it does not mean that we are getting all the health benefits from what we eat. Being significantly less treated, organic food preserves a number of the vitamins and minerals we require from the food we eat. As a result, organic food is often considered healthier.
3. Better Taste
Organic food either tastes better or the same as its non-organic alternative. Mass food producers have acknowledged this through their various taste test experiments designed to make certain kinds of meat taste like how they should. While genetically modifying things like cows can make them last longer and produce more beef, the taste is often lost in the process.
The Cons of Organic Food
1. You Will Have To Pay More
There are a few crops where the organic variety is either equal to or only a little more expensive then the non-organic equivalent. Carrots come to mind as something that is as inexpensive to produce organically as through non-organic methods. For the majority of other things however, it is far cheaper to produce them through non-organic means.
Chemicals, irradiation, and genetically modified crops can reduce the costs of production while also increasing the yield. On average, organic food will cost you about 20% more then the non-organic alternative. While you are paying for a better and tastier product, you have to spend more as a result. People who are struggling to pay bills will not be able to pay for the organic alternative due to cost.
2. Higher Bacterial Levels
Organic foods have been found to increase levels of bacteria associated with their production. This increased risk in bacterial contamination means that organic food may be more risky when it comes to E-Coli.
3. Livestock and Vaccines
Organic meat means that livestock will not be given growth hormones, additives, or antibiotics. As all of these can transfer into us through the food we eat, this is considered very good. At the same time, livestock need to be given vaccination against diseases regardless of whether or not they are organic. As a result, the meat you get may still have things in it which you do not want to eat.
Organic foods provide a healthier alternative to the industrialization practices seen in modern farming. While large scale farming can allow for cheap food, it also has a host of health and ethical problems that come with it. In addition, organic foods are not universally good, as they have a number of cons associated with their purchase and use.
In the end, it will come down to what you consider important when purchasing food. If you care a great deal about what you put in your body as well as the livelihood of small-scale farmers, then organic food is the way to go. If you do not consider it a problem, then non-organic is also a viable and cheaper option.