Lots of people who are interested in consuming healthier foods find organic options attractive. Advertisers have picked up on this, and “organic” is now a buzzword used on lots of packaging to trick consumers into thinking that the product is healthier. A recent study shows that organic foods are not necessarily any more nutritious than non-organic foods. If the nutritional content is comparable, then what is so attractive about organic food?
Commercially grown non-organic foods are frequently treated with pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. These pesticides, like organophosphates and carbamate pesticides, are designed to kill insects, but are known to have harmful effects on humans as well. While a small amount of pesticide chemical may not be particularly hazardous, these chemicals may build up in the body and become cause for concern. In one study of data collected by the Center for Disease Control, 100% of the 9282 individuals tested positive for pesticides in their blood and urine. The problem is that the average person has between 13 and 23 pesticides, and the mix of these toxic substances is a very real health concern. Because the main way that chemical pesticides work is to strike the nervous system of the insect, a major concern for humans is the harmful effects of pesticides on the human nervous system, skin, eyes, hormonal balance, and cancer.
Organic is More Important in Some Types of Food Than Others
Some types of food contain more pesticide residue than others. Foods like apples, strawberries, grapes, peaches, nectarines, celery, spinach, and peppers are known to be very heavily sprayed with pesticides and contain high amounts of pesticide residue. Other foods like asparagus, avocado, corn, grapefruit, and sweet potatoes are known be less toxic and therefore safer to buy and consume non-organic versions.
GMO vs. Organic
Genetically modified (GMO) food does not require special labeling, though there is a movement in several states to require it, but all organic food is required to be non-GMO. If GMO is a concern, then consumers should choose organic. Cereals, breads, chips, tortillas, and other items made from field corn are a concern because these are made with crops grown from GMO seeds and not labeled as GMOs.
Non-Organic vs. No Fresh Foods
Because organic food is so expensive, many wonder if it is better to skip fresh foods altogether. If you cannot afford organic foods, the theory goes, then maybe avoiding fresh foods will help prevent pesticide toxicity. Non-organic fruits and vegetables are far better than going without, however. It is very important to include fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet in order to get the right vitamins, minerals, and enzymes for good health. Washing fruits and vegetables is very important. One way to wash fruits and vegetables is to soak them in a quick detox bath in a sink full of cool water with hydrogen peroxide before rinsing thoroughly under running water.
Does Organic Make a Difference In Grains?
Organic does make a difference in grains. Because grains are so small and have textured husks, pesticides are very difficult to separate from whole grains. One study showed that 7% of bread products contained a proven cancer-causing pesticide. Refined grains, which have lower nutritional content, or organic grains will be healthier because of the pesticide factor. If you can find pesticide-free whole grains, those are best of all.
Is Organic Worth The Money?
Some wonder if organic products are worth the money or if these products simply take more of shoppers’ money in exchange for offering only an illusion of better health. While organic foods may not be proven to make people healthier, pesticides are proven to make people sick. It’s never a good idea to take chances with your health. If you can afford to buy organic, it can’t hurt.
This article was written by Charity Bailey, an environmental studies major and co-op volunteer. If you’re looking for a way to stay healthy –in ways other than eating nutritiously– and safe in times of medical emergency, Charity recommends Prime Urgent Care.