Is organic food better?
Why is organic food better?
Picture this; you’re in the produce aisle at your favourite grocery store, glancing at the price signs “$3 a pound more for organic cauliflower!?!” You find yourself questioning; Is organic food better? It must be if it’s more expensive, or maybe they’re just trying to rip us off!
The question ‘is organic food better’ is vague. Better for your wallet? Likely not. Better for the planet, better for your body? Yes!
But what about your grandma’s rebuttal: “Back in my day, there was no such thing as organic! We ate plain old vegetables and we turned out fine!”. This is a valid point, but what G-ma and most people don’t know, is that back in the day most food was organic! GMO seeds, pesticides, herbicides, mono-cropping and other fast farming methods are fairly new innovations that were positioned as a way to feed more people.
However, as we know more isn’t always better.
Is organic food better than conventional?
Organic food is better than conventional for many reasons. Organic food is better for you, your body, the environment and the planet as a whole. One of the biggest problems with conventionally grown produce is the use of pesticides which are bad for you and the planet.
Engineering crops to grow at rapid rates while spraying them with pesticides may sound scary, and maybe that’s because it is scary! This is exactly what happens with conventionally grown produce. Conventional farming methods also encourage mono-cropping methods which occur when entire farms or large fields are dedicated to growing one single food. IE. Wheat, corn, soy, cotton and rice are most commonly grown this way.1 Not only does this make crops more susceptible to pests which means we are now more dependant on pesticides, but this also quickly strips soils of their natural vitamin and mineral content as well as their microbial and biodiversity.2 This means they don’t have time to replenish their nutrient stores, due to the high consistency of single crops being produced over and over and over again.
Example: Potatoes need different vitamins and minerals to grow than carrots. But, if you’re only planting potatoes, the soil will be drained of the nutrients that the crops need, pretty quickly. This leads to a less nutritious crop. Which is why experts say our food is nowhere near as nutritionally dense as it once was, just 50 years ago.3
Pesticides contain harmful chemicals that are absorbed by crops which are then passed onto bugs, bees, wildlife, bodies of water and us! In turn, harming everything. One way or another, it only makes sense the pesticides will make their way into our bodies. “For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are traces of 29 different pesticides in the average American’s body.”4
Wouldn’t you prefer to keep pesticides out of your body?
Another reason why organic food is better than conventional is the link between pesticides and bees. Or rather, the link between bee decline. Experts agree that pesticides are responsible for our declining bee population, which has resulted in Colony Collapse Disorder.5,6 Certain pesticides actually kill off queen bees and make worker bees defenceless against disease.7 Read our article Bees and pesticides for more information.
Government regulatory bodies claim that pesticides are safe and necessary. Yet, experts agree we simply do not know enough about pesticides to be making these claims.4 Who’s really benefiting from the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides? A question to get curious about as to whose pockets are financially benefiting from the sales of these chemicals.
Is organic food more nutritious?
Does organic food have more nutritional value? Yes, organic food has more nutritional value than conventionally grown food.14 Organically grown fruits and veggies contain more health-promoting compounds than those that have been conventionally grown.8 On average organically grown produce contains more antioxidants, anthocyanins and flavonols. These are all healing compounds associated with health and preventative wellness.8
Does organic food taste better?
According to one study, 43% of organic consumers buy organically grown produce because they think it tastes better!16 For example, you might notice organic apples are crunchier, taste fresher and perhaps hold more flavour. This is likely due to the presence of extra nutrients and water that can make the taste and overall health of the apple superior.17 When produce grows in proper, supported conditions, you’re left with a much more nutritious and healthier crop!
Why is organic food so expensive?
Because of higher production costs, the price of organic produce can be anywhere from 10-40% higher than conventional produce.9 Sadly, if you don’t pay for your health now, you might pay for it later.
However, we understand not everyone has the same access to organic food. You can read our tips for eating organic on a budget, here. Including our list of the foods with the most pesticides (the dirty dozen) so you can effectively avoid as many pesticides as possible, while on a budget.
Why does organic food cost more?
The prices might look outrageous at the store level, and we know those dollars can add up. But it might help to understand why organic food costs more. Growing organic food is simply more expensive because more labour is needed to ensure there’s a big crop. It’s a lot easier to spray chemicals on plants than to use complimentary pests and flowers to do this work for you. It simply just costs more, which is why so many farms are forced to use conventional practices.10
Additionally, certification is expensive, penalties for small breaches are costly and post handling of the produce is significantly more expensive because they have to inspect and package the organic food separately from conventionally grown crops.10
As more people become aware of conventional farming practices, the demand for organic food grows.1 Now organic food is more widely available, people understand that ‘organic’ really just means natural. Instead of associating it with an overpriced, unnecessary luxury, folks are more likely to purchase organic food because they’ve researched or read about pesticides and know about the health issues they can cause.15
Organic food examples
Organically certified foods can apply to packaged and fresh foods including nuts and seeds. Everything from granola bars to apples can be certified organic in Canada.11
But how does one eat more organic foods? You might not have access to a ton of different organic options depending on where you live, or maybe organic food is very seasonally dependent.
We all know we need more organic fruits and veggies to support our health. Which is why we crafted the PureFood A to Z. It’s our ‘more than a multivitamin’ powder because it delivers 20+ different vitamins and minerals from 23 organic fruits, veggies and superfoods.
Not only are you getting the 24 different vitamins and minerals listed on the nutrition label, but you’re also getting all of the enzymes, antioxidants, phytonutrients and other healthy compounds that naturally exist in the organic foods we use to support your health.
Organic foods on average tend to be more nutritious and are filled with more healing compounds such as flavonols. [A] Flavanols as one study puts it “possess anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic activity, cardiovascular disease prevention, and diabetes alleviation properties, all of which are more or less associated with their potent antioxidant property.” 12
Organic food contains more health-promoting compounds because they are under more stress and must produce these immune boosting and pathogen-fighting compounds for survival purposes.5 Conventionally grown produce is sprayed with pesticides and herbicides which do the work for them; rendering them inferior. In essence, you can think of pesticides as antibiotics for food.
This is why we only use organically grown foods in our powders.
Alternatives to pesticides
Before the creation and massive push for chemical pesticides in the 20th century, human beings coexisted with insects using companion planting methods as some plants naturally produce non-toxic chemicals that work to ward pests off (chrysanthemums is one example). Additionally, utilizing beneficial insects to attack invasive pests, trap planting, crop rotation and diversified planting are all safe alternatives to pesticides.13
Is organic food better?
Going back to answering our original question: Is organic food better? – Yes, organic food is better than conventionally grown food for these reasons:
- The farming practices are safe for us and the planet (no harmful chemical sprays).
- The soil tends to be richer in vitamins and minerals due to the lack of chemical sprays, mono-cropping and other harmful conventional practices.
- Organic food is more nutritious.
- Organic food contains more health-promoting compounds.
- Organic agriculture workers are not forced to be around harmful sprays that cause health issues.
- Organic farming could be the solution for the decline in bee populations and Colony Collapse Disorder.
Buying organic food whenever possible will help send the message that you believe in a future without toxic pesticides, harmful mono-cropping methods or nutritionally deprived soils and food.
1 – https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/demand-organic-food-growing-faster-domestic-supply
2 – file:///Users/madison/Downloads/sustainability-04-02970.pdf
4 – https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health/natural-health/pesticides/index.htm
5 – https://www.nrdc.org/experts/jennifer-sass/defenseless-bees
6 – https://www.thebalance.com/bee-colony-collapse-disorder-facts-and-economic-impact-3305815
8 – https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/02/18/467136329/is-organic-more-nutritious-new-study-adds-to-the-evidence
10 – http://www.fao.org/organicag/oa-faq/oa-faq5/en/
16 – https://www.organic-center.org/reportfiles/Taste2Pager.pdf