Over the last two decades’ organic food has exploded in popularity. Organic products manufacturers in India have seen a steady rise in the demand for organically grown products in international as well as domestic markets. People choose to eat organic for many reasons including reducing pesticide intake, health benefits as well as due to concerns over the environment and animal wellbeing.
What does organic really mean?
Organic food refers to the way that food is produced. Organic foods are produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers, growth regulators, artificial chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, or livestock feed additives. Organically grown crops use natural fertilizers such as manure to help improve plant growth.
Organic foods contain fewer pesticides
One of the key reasons why many people decide to move to organic is to avoid artificial chemicals and pesticides. Pesticides are any substance used to kill, repel or control certain forms of plant or animal life that are deemed “pests”.
Conventionally produced plants contain a variety of pesticides including herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, disinfectants, and compounds used to control rodents.
Naturally, due to organic food not using pesticides, eating this way will naturally reduce exposure. Studies show that pesticide residue is four times more likely to be found in non-organic crops.
In addition, one study found that levels of the toxic metal cadmium were 48% lower in organic produce. Some experts are concerned that cadmium can accumulate over time in the body, potentially causing harm.
More long-term studies are needed to determine the full health effects that pesticide residues can have on our health.
Organic food is often fresher
After food is harvested, it begins to lose nutrients. This is normal for both conventional and organic food. As organic food does not contain any preservatives, it doesn’t last as long as conventional food. Because of this, organic food is often sold very soon after it is picked, making it the fresher choice. Aim to purchase organic produce from markets close to the farms where it is cultivated.
Organic food may contain additional health benefits
Emerging research has studied the link between human health and eating organic produce. Observational studies in children and infants have linked organic foods to a lower risk of allergies and eczema in children and infants. Animal studies have also found that eating an organic diet may benefit reproduction, the immune system, and reduce the risk of weight gain. However, more research is needed in this area.
Organic farming is better for the environment
Organic farming practices have shown to have a variety of sustainable benefits including:
- Improved soil quality
- Reduced energy use
- Increased crop biodiversity
- Reduced water pollution
- Reduced worker and environmental exposure to pesticides
- Reduced antibiotic resistance (via animal agriculture)
How to know if you’re buying organic
When trying to determine whether a product is organic, it is important to look out for claims such as:
- 100% organic
- Made using organic ingredients
- Certified organic
Organic food may contain more nutrients
Studies that compare the nutrient content of organic and non-organic foods provide mixed results. This is likely the result of the variety of production methods and natural variation in food handling.
Several studies have indicated that organic foods contain higher levels of antioxidants and micronutrients including vitamin C, zinc, and iron.
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are compounds that can cause harm if their levels become too high in the body. They’re linked to illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
One study found that organically grown berries and corn contained 58% more antioxidants and up to 52% higher amounts of vitamin C.
Another study found that the extra antioxidants contained within organic fruits, vegetables, turmeric fingers, and grains are comparable to eating additional 1-2 portions of fruit and vegetables daily.