Why Organic Matters?

Normally, organic products might cost more (ranging from 10% to 50%) than conventional products in the same category. What is the reason behind the cost difference and are organic products better for you?

THE FUNDAMENTALS

According to USDA, the labelling term organic indicates that good has been produced through approved methods fostering cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Compared to conventional products, the level of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, genetic engineering, or other toxic components would be much lower or even zero (USDA, Victoria State Government, Rodale Institute). In a nutshell, it will be beneficial not only for consumers but also for the planet as a whole.

WHY IT MATTERS?

Chemicals in synthetic pesticides or artificial fertilizers might be severely harmful in case of repeated exposure. Here are just a few evidences from a lots of researches mentioned in a Time article:

  • The commonly used herbicide Roundup has been classified as a “probable human carcinogen” and the insecticide chlorpyrifos has been associated with developmental delays in infants
  • Pesticide residues—at levels commonly found in the urine of kids in the U.S.—may contribute to ADHD prevalence. For adults, they are also linked to reduced sperm quality in men
  • Organically grown crops were not only less likely to contain detectable levels of pesticides, but also 48% less likely to test positive for cadmium, a toxic heavy metal that accumulates in the liver and kidneys
  • Conventional livestock can be fed antibiotics to protect against illness, making it easier for farmers to raise animals in crowded or unsanitary conditions. And this drug residue is believed to contribute to widespread antibiotic resistance
  • Synthetic hormones, which are not allowed in organic meat and dairy, have been linked to an increased risk of cancer

Equally important, a healthy planet raises healthy people and vice versa. Rodale Institute and Mayo Clinic points out that conventional agriculture’s toxic chemicals and wastes contribute to water and air pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, global warming, and biodiversity threatening.

OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS

Even though the evidence of organic products being more nutritious than the traditional ones are not strong enough to make concrete claims, there are still some supporting points:

  • When it comes to meat and milk, organic products can have about 50% more omega-3 fatty acids; besides, organic onions had about a 20% higher antioxidant content than conventionally grown counterparts (Time)
  • Some organic food has: lower nitrate levels, higher vitamin C levels, higher levels of some minerals (such as phosphorus, magnesium and iron) (Victoria State Government)
  • The best evidence of a significant increase in organic products is in certain types of flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties (Mayo Clinic)

THE ORGANIC SEAL

If there is an USDA organic seal on the label, the product is certified organic and has 95 percent or more organic content.

USDA seal

THE BOTTOM LINE

Therefore, the differences in pricing would compensate for the safety and wellness of consumers. However, there are certain people who cannot afford organic products or it might be impossible to follow a strictly organic diet. Addressing the concern, experts have expressed some thoughts about what the priorities are.

Rolf Halden–professor and director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University–says that vulnerable groups—including pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people suffering from allergies—may benefit the most from choosing organically produced foods.

“If you can afford all organic, that’s fantastic, but it’s not feasible for most people. If it’s not, the most important groups to buy organic, in my opinion, include foods you eat daily (such as eggs, dairy, and meat) and produce on the Dirty Dozen list—those with the highest pesticide residues.”

-Registered dietitian Cynthia Sass

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