Eating healthy is essential to maintaining good health, and organic food has become increasingly popular in recent years. The term “organic” refers to food that is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic farming is based on the principles of sustainability, environmental protection, and animal welfare.
Health benefits of organic food
- Nutrient-dense. Organic food is more nutrient-dense than conventionally grown food. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that organic crops have higher levels of nutrients like vitamin C, iron, and magnesium compared to conventionally grown crops.
- Lower levels of pesticides. Organic food is grown without synthetic pesticides, which can have harmful effects on human health. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that conventionally grown produce can contain high levels of pesticides, even after washing.
- No GMOs. Organic food is not genetically modified. GMOs have been linked to a range of health issues, including allergies, digestive problems, and cancer. Avoiding GMOs is one of the key reasons people choose organic food.
- Better for your gut health. Organic food contains higher levels of beneficial bacteria that can improve gut health. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that organic apples contain more beneficial bacteria than conventionally grown apples.
- Reduced exposure to antibiotics. Organic meat and dairy products come from animals that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones. This means that people who eat organic food are not exposed to these potentially harmful substances.
Environmental benefits of organic food
- Reduced chemical use. Organic farming reduces the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, which can have harmful effects on the environment. These chemicals can leach into soil and water, contaminating ecosystems.
- Soil health. Organic farming practices focus on improving soil health, which is essential for plant growth and environmental sustainability. Organic farming methods such as crop rotation, cover cropping, and composting can improve soil fertility and reduce erosion.
- Biodiversity. Organic farming practices support biodiversity by promoting the growth of diverse plant and animal species. This helps to maintain healthy ecosystems and prevent the loss of species.
- Reduced energy use. Organic farming uses less energy than conventional farming because it relies on natural processes like composting and crop rotation. This reduces the carbon footprint of farming and helps to mitigate climate change.
- Water conservation. Organic farming uses less water than conventional farming because it relies on soil health to retain moisture. This reduces the demand for irrigation and helps to conserve water resources.
Tips for Going Organic
- Start small. Going organic can be overwhelming, so start with a few items and gradually increase your organic purchases over time.
- Shop locally. Local farmers’ markets and organic food co-ops are great places to find organic produce and meat.
- Prioritise. If buying everything organic is not feasible for your budget, prioritize the items that are most important to you, such as produce with high levels of pesticides or meat from animals that are given antibiotics.
- Grow your own. If you have space, consider growing your own organic produce. This is a great way to save money and ensure the quality of your food.
- Read labels. Look for the USDA organic seal on packaged foods to ensure they are truly organic. Be wary of products that claim to be “natural” or “green” but do not have a certification.
Organic food offers numerous benefits for both our health and the environment. By choosing organic food, we can reduce our exposure to harmful chemicals, support biodiversity, promote sustainability, and improve our overall well-being. While it may be challenging to transition to an entirely organic diet, starting small and gradually incorporating organic foods into our diets is a great way to make a positive impact on our health and the environment.
Tim Williamson, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.