The term “organic” has been in the limelight recently and a lot of “organic” products have been appearing on grocery store shelves across North America. However, humans have been farming and eating “organically” throughout our evolutionary history. It was only during the 20th century where farmers were hard-pressed to supply food for a rapidly growing human population. The 20th century was the start of the industrial revolution and marked a paradigm shift in how business would be done. The goals of all titans of industry were to deliver as many products to the consumer at the most efficient low-cost way possible while contributing heavily to a company’s bottom line. This notion carried over to the agriculture sector and farmers and companies were trying to find a way to produce more for less. This resulted in science being manipulated to grow food. Synthetic chemicals were used to increase the production and shelf life of food to meet the growing demand of consumers. This involved the use of various chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, genetically engineered organisms, irradiation, and nanotechnology being manipulated to mimic nature. However, with the onset of diseases, it is very clear that the synthetic trade-off does not make economic sense in the grand scheme of things. This article will demystify what organic foods are and why we should all make the switch.
Organic vs. Natural: “Organic” and “natural” are sometimes used interchangeably; however their literal meaning and regulation are quite different. Organic foods are produced without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics – they are usually grown using renewable resources. Instead of chemical fertilizers, organic farmers use insects called “beneficial insects” as a method of pest control. In dairy, organic means that no antibiotics or hormones were given to cows the land is used for grazing and the feed has been certified. The feed also cannot contain animal byproducts. In fashion, organic clothing means that the materials are raised or grown in compliance with organic agricultural standards. When a product is labeled “organic” it is normally followed by a seal of certification normally issued by third-party government agencies such as USDA. Needless to say, true “organic” products are highly regulated and the companies that sell these types of products usually offer complete disclosure and transparency.
“Natural” products, on the other hand, are products that are made from substances found in nature but the products themselves are not regulated. A product can be considered “natural” even if it is prepared synthetically like in a laboratory. Any product derived from plants, animals or elements found on earth can earn the “natural” label. In the food industry today, there is no official definition of “natural.” A food labeled “natural” may contain pesticides, herbicides, toxic heavy metals, P.C.B.’s, fluorides, MSG, high-temperature cooking by-products, synthetic chemical vitamins, and other unnatural substances. Consumers should be weary of products labeled “natural” and the companies who manufacture them. Sometimes, however, companies temporarily label their products as “natural” while they wait to obtain the organic seal.
Why organic food is better: Organic food is a better choice than inorganic food for numerous reasons, most importantly for human health. First off, organic food is richer in essential vitamins and minerals. Consumers would need to eat a lot more inorganic food to even come close to the nutritional content of an organic food item. The reason for this has to do with how organic and inorganic items are farmed and the type of minerals the plants are absorbing. Minerals are elements that originate in the soil and cannot be created by living things. Plants absorb minerals from the soil, and animals get their minerals from the plants or other animals they consume. Most of the minerals in our diets come directly from plants, such as fruits and vegetables, or indirectly from animal sources. Inorganic food farming is practice on the large commercial scale and normally involves the use of synthetic fertilizers that contain minerals such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. These are the main minerals that a plant needs to survive and thrive and the ones found in most commercial fertilizers. With these three minerals, plants look better and the fruit lasts longer. However, unlike plants, humans and animals need a lot of other minerals in order to live healthily. Organic farmers use non-commercial fertilizers such as mineral-rich chicken and cow manure mixed in with compost. This so-called “green maturing” practice is more sustainable and results in a more nutritional plant.
Where to buy organic food: Aside from niche supermarkets and farmer markets, the best place to find certified organic products would be over the internet. Most independent organic food vendors have a website set up where they showcase their organic food and dairy products. However, unless you know exactly what and who you are looking for, most consumers will rarely find a shop that is truly “certified organic“.
Conclusion: As you can see, organic food is the most prudent choice. Although organic products are more expensive on a nominal basis, they are also more nutritious and contain more vitamins and minerals that your body needs. The intangible savings of going organic are manifold – you will actually consume less since you are getting a more nutritious fulfilling product, you do not need to complement your diet with vitamins, and eating healthy means less time spent in bed being sick while ingesting costly medications. Remember that in order to be certified organic, products must be grown and manufactured in a manner that adheres to standards set by the country they are sold in. Only a few countries (Australia, Canada, Sweden, U.K., Norway, India, Japan, and the USA) currently have policies in place that producers must adhere to in order to get the certified organic seal.
The key is to try to buy local and buy in season. Shopping online at organic marketplaces such as ORGANIC SOUL remains the most logical choice to source for a variety organic products.