Organic food is in. Yet, organic food is not necessarily all it’s cut out to be.
Let’s start with the basics. What does organic mean? The Oxford English Dictionary defines organic as “(of food, farming methods) produced or practiced without using artificial chemicals.” In the US, for a food to be labeled as organic it must be grown without using synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.
Yet, there are 20 chemicals which are approved by the US Organic Standards when it comes to farming and producing organic foods. These chemicals found in organic and non-organic food aren’t bad for humans–at least not all of them. The World Health Organization (WHO) has noted that the pesticides authorized in international food trade are not damaging to humans on a genetic level.
Furthermore, even though organic food is hyped up to be healthier and better for the environment, this isn’t really the case. Nutrition wise, organic and non-organic food all provide the same amount of nutrients (granted that the food is fresh). As for the environment, organic food requires more acreage to produce than its “normal” counterpart; so, it could potentially lead to the destruction of undeveloped land.
Still, there are several advantages to consuming organic foods–even if they are pricier (which is not always the case). Here are a few benefits of organic food:
– Organic food tends to be fresher given that it doesn’t contain pesticides or chemicals that are often used to give food an extended shelf life.
– Organically raised animals aren’t given antibiotics or hormones and they are given more space to move around and access the outdoors, which helps them in keeping them healthy.
– Some organically-grown products can be more nutritious. This is the case of meat and milk, which have about 50% more omega-3 fatty acids.
– Some people argue that organic food tastes better.
– Buying locally-grown organic foods can help the local economy.
Not all foods are created equal and not all foods are worth buying organic. According to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that analyzes the results of government pesticide testing in the U.S., some conventionally grown foods require low levels of pesticides and chemicals that there’s not much difference in buying conventionally grown vs organic.
If you’re in doubt, here’s a quick list on items that the organization does recommend buying organic:
– Sweet Bell Peppers
– Cherry Tomatoes
– Kale/Collard Greens
– Summer Squash
– Nectarines (imported)
– Hot Peppers
At Shift, we do our best to support the local economy, which is why sometimes you’ll find locally-grown organic snacks in our locations.