Is there a difference between organic and non-organic foods?
To label a food as organic, it must meet the guidelines set by the USDA which are:
- Not using prohibited substances (most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides) for three years prior to harvest
- Not using genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- Raising animals in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (like grazing on pasture), feeding them 100% organic food, and not administering antibiotics or hormones
- Omitting artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors from multi-ingredient, processed foods with some exceptions, like baking soda in baked goods
Organic agricultural production still uses pesticides and herbicides that USDA’s organic certification standards have okayed. Just because something is labeled “organic” does not mean that no pesticides or herbicides were used. It simply means that the ones applied met the USDA’s production standards for the term.
Is Organic really better for us?
Despite headlines that claim benefits of Orgain, the agricultural practice used to produce food does not determine how nutritious it is for you, nor does it directly impact your state of health. The nutrients within the food are what predominantly affect your health — not the growing methods used to make it. Also, organic products will cost more than their non-organic counterparts, which needs to be taken into consideration as we don’t want to forget about our budget.
Another question is whether or not genetically modifying crops are harmful to health. Just looking at it would make you think yes, but to date, there’s no substantial data to imply that GMO crops available on the consumer market pose a substantial risk.
Is Organic healthier?
No. Growing methods do not universally make foods better or worse for you nutritionally. This is especially true when you consider eating a balanced diet overall, which is the best for everyone to get all the nutrients that your body needs. USDA Organic beef is grass-fed, which would mean that you’ll find slightly more omega-3 fatty acids in it compared to non-organic raised cattle. If your diet is varied, eating seafood regularly will give you the omega-3 fatty acids.
Some studies imply a correlation between buying organic food and better health, but there are other factors to consider, including lifestyle and socioeconomic status. Since there’s no specific, isolated link between the two, we can’t use the term “organic” to imply “healthy” though is often is marketed that way.
Let’s now look at your health and GMOs. The National Academy of Sciences report states “that although genetically modified crops may vary in nutritional composition, the variation is no more than what would occur naturally among non-GMO crops.” The report looked at data from large-scale studies since GMOs first entered our food supply in the ’90s, but did not find chronic disease incidence increase or change in dietary patterns.
Probably the biggest issue with GMOs when looked at from a nutritional standpoint is the products are usually found in highly processed foods and beverages. The most predominant GMO crops are corn and soybeans which can go in packaged foods loaded with added sugar, corn syrup, and saturated fat.
While we still don’t know everything about GMO’s and all the other minutia that goes into the label, “Organic”, it is always most important to know what foods are more nutritious and eat those. Utilize a varied diet and give your body what it needs to perform to its optimal level as that will never be on a label.
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