Many who are concerned about health and fitness automatically believe that organic foods are the best choice. The driving force behind that belief is that buying organic is healthier due to such factors as such products are more nutritious, less polluted with pesticides, and have better flavor. What is organic food? By definition, the term “organic” refers to something that consists solely of natural products, without additives or chemicals. However, the term has come to be like a magician’s magic word that automatically means eating healthy. In some cases, that may be the case but, as we shall see, it is not necessarily so.
Organic Food: A Growing Trend
The Organic Trade Association reported a 7.7% organic food sales increase from 2009. Americans spent $28.6 billion on such items with the perception that they are healthier and more nutritious. This seemingly large amount spent on organic foods is still only 4% of the total in food expenditure in the U.S. According to the Journal of Consumer Behavior, the bulk of those purchasing organic produce are mothers who desire that their children eat healthy. This trend will probably continue as long as organic products are thought to be better than standard produce.
What Research Reveals
A 2007 Harris poll shows that a majority (76%) of Americans believe organic foods to be more nutritious. However, a study by Danish researchers released in 2010 revealed that carrots, onions, and potatoes grown organically contained the same levels of the disease preventing nutrients of phenolic acids and flavonoids as those traditionally grown. 86% of people polled at the same time relayed that they thought organic food also tastes better. Even though a blind taste-test showed that people chose organic orange juice over its conventional counterpart, there were no differences found in the taste of conventional and organic milk.
Organic Food Origins
You definitely have to chalk up a benefit for organic produce when it comes to being free from harmful pesticides and chemicals. Besides good common sense, the Environmental Protection Agency warns that many pesticides used on traditional products can increase the risk of cancer, nerve damage, and birth defects, although they insist that the products in question are essentially safe. However, how do you know that those products labeled as “organic” are actually organic? Keep in mind that products labeled organic bring a considerable increase in price over conventional food products to those growing and supplying them. Also, in a worldwide market, organic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s grown locally. If you take a close look at certain organic products, you will discover that they are a “Product of Mexico” or some other country. A European study found that many organic foods traveled approximately 150,000 miles to supply England. Even if these products are actually organic, they are affecting the environment via a substantial carbon footprint.
Verify the Source
If you are set on eating healthy organic food then research your products and don’t just rely on the “organic” label. The absolute best bet is to get organic produce from a local farmer that has ties to your community and a reputation for providing chemically free products. If you are purchasing produce from a supermarket or other large establishment, ask to see packaging labels. If you have any doubts, research the supplying companies. Many of the large corporations are jumping on the organic food bandwagon due to the high profit margins so be sure you’re getting what you expect. Organic foods can be a source of a good, wholesome diet as long as they are what they say they are. Check them out and eat healthy!