Nowadays, people are more discerning when it comes to the things they buy, from skincare products they use to the food they consume. They have become aware of the repercussions of their seemingly simple choices.
That’s why more and more of them are following an organic lifestyle. Most choose it for ethical and environmental reasons, while many others do so because they want to lead healthier lives.
This is especially true for consumers who buy organic foods whenever they can, as they believe they taste better, are safer for their family, and more environmentally friendly. In fact, about 68% of Americans think that organic fruits and vegetables are healthier than conventionally grown alternatives.
But what is organic food, and why does going organic matter? Let’s see.
Organic Food in a Nutshell
Generally speaking, organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed.
Organic food means it’s grown without the aid of synthetic chemicals like commercial pesticide, insecticide, and fertilizer, which tend to be harmful to both the health and environment. Genetically modified organisms are not used as well.
The same is expected from organic livestock raised for meat, eggs, and other dairy products. They are supposed to be given access to the outdoors and provided with organic feed. In most cases, they are not given antibiotics or growth hormones.
The popularity of organic produce is apparent when you visit grocery stores, with more and more shelves dedicated to organic products, from fruits and vegetables to dairy products.
Here are some of many benefits of choosing organic.
- Going organic is safer and friendlier to the environment. Advocates of organic agriculture believe that taking a proactive approach is better than treating problems after they emerge. That’s why they produce food in a way that establishes an ecological balance while preventing soil infertility and pest problems. This method often reduces the use of non-renewable energy. We can argue that supporting organic produce can help their cause, creating a sustainable practice with long-term gains.
- Organic produce doesn’t contain unhealthy fats like trans fat, which is formed during the industrial process of adding hydrogen to vegetable oil. This is done to extend the shelf life of foods, as hydrogenated oil prevents rapid spoilage. Hydrogenated fat, unfortunately, is closely linked to heart disease.
- Choosing organic dairy and meat products can also mean a great deal to animal welfare. With organic farming, animals are fed naturally and kept in free-range conditions.
- Most organic foods are packed with more nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and micronutrients compared to their non-organic counterparts. Fruits grown organically have 20 to 40% more antioxidants than conventional ones.
Things to Remember Before Going Organic
While there’s a myriad of benefits in organic foods, changing your diet and lifestyle might be more challenging than it sounds. You can indeed avoid the detrimental effects of harmful chemicals and help advance sustainability and biodiversity. But this is not all there is to it when it comes to going organic.
There are things you need to keep in mind if you want to do it right and avoid deceptive marketing and unscrupulous companies.
Organic Doesn’t Always Mean Healthy
Just because a product claims to be organic doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to be chemical-free. Many organic foods in the US have been found to have traces of chemicals, mainly due to uncontrolled contamination. It happens when the wind carries pesticides and chemicals in the direction of organic crops. It can also happen when contaminated water seeps in from nearby industrial farms.
Be Wary of Misleading Labels and Packaging
There are unethical businesses that label their products as organic to convince buyers. In most cases, they even fail to reveal real ingredients found in their products.
It should also be noted that inspection for many organic labels is not always foolproof. Some inspectors fail to test produce or the soil where it grows. There are cases where products claiming to be organic fall short of the standard, with some companies even going as far as paying to be certified.
Make Sure to Take Baby Steps
Going organic can’t happen overnight. This change requires time and a lot of adjustments. Many prefer to start by growing their own fruits and vegetables. After all, organic foods tend to be more expensive, with most of them costing 7.5% more than their conventional counterpart. By growing your own food, usually herbs and a few vegetables, you can save money and jumpstart your organic diet.
It’s also a good idea to visit your local organic farm for your daily food supply, helping your local farmers earn a living while sustaining a healthier eating habit.
Organic lifestyle choices are a popular and growing trend nowadays. If you’re considering switching to organic food in particular, it’s important to learn and understand what you are getting into. That way, you’ll be able to weigh up your options, make more informed decisions, and reap the benefits.