Studies have shown that people consider foods with a certified organic stamp to be tastier and healthier than regular foods, even if there is no nutritional difference between both products. A common misconception is that organic foods are automatically healthier than other foods, which is not always the case.
So what makes organic better? Or is it not better? Are you just as confused as me? Let me break it down with you!
Certified organic foods are foods that are produced by methods complying with the standards and regulations of organic farming. These standards may vary from country to country but it generally means that the use of fertilizers and pesticides is restricted in the farming methods. If compliant with the regulation, these foods are awarded a certified organic stamp by authorities on a European or national level.
The concept of not using any chemicals automatically makes food sound more appealing, natural and healthy. But what does this mean exactly and what are the actual benefits of consuming organic products?
Organic farming is a holistic farm practice that works with nature instead of against it. Organic farming standards allow for the use of naturally-occurring substances while prohibiting or limiting synthetic substances, like pesticides and antibiotics. This affects our health and our environment as a whole.
1. Better Tasting Food
You are not imagining it, organic food does taste better. The natural growing process of fruits and vegetables benefit the taste. Organic produce tends to have lower nitrate content than non-organic varieties, leading to fruits that taste better and sweeter.
2. More Natural and Nutrient Dense Food
Organic foods don’t contain preservatives, antibiotics or chemicals from pesticides which makes them more natural. The absence of these chemicals leads to food that is higher in antioxidants and minerals.
3. Promotes Biodiversity
Letting crops grow naturally and rotating them helps to build soil fertility which promotes greater health across all living species and benefits our ecosystem.
4. Reduction of Pollution
Synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides harm the farm, the workers, the produce and surrounding areas. Organic farming on the other hand does not use these methods and therefore keeps the area clean. The carbon footprint of organic farms are much lower, hence slowing down global warming.
5. Healthier Soil
Organic farming improves the soil and reduces the risk of groundwater pollution. A healthier soil in turn produces vegetables and fruits higher in minerals and micronutrients.
Should we all be solely consuming organic foods from now on? The advantages of organic farming show benefits for our health and especially our environment. However, organic food may in some cases be more expensive so it may be difficult to convert to an organic lifestyle entirely.
My number 1 tip: buy your produce from local farmers, they oftentimes use organic farming methods but don’t have the resources to get a certified organic label. Make small changes where possible. It is important to say that eating non-organic food will not necessarily negatively impact your health.
Does organic naturally mean healthier?
This question is very loaded and difficult to answer, but basically the answer is no. Organic processed foods may contain just as many saturated fats and processed sugars as their non-organic counterparts. Do not always be fooled by an organic food label, but rather be mindful of the actual ingredients. Try to focus on foods that are as natural as possible, meaning “the way nature has created them for us”, rather than obsessing over an organic food label.
Picture by Eva Donckers for Julia June.