02Jun

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links, we might get a small commission, without any extra cost to you.

INTRODUCTION

Have you been stuffing products labelled ‘Organic’ in your kitchen? Why is there a lot of upheaval in the food industry over consumption and health hazards of conventionally grown food products? Why is everyone talking about Organic food? Let’s find out the answers to all of the above questions and explore common mistakes made by buyers in selecting an Organic food.

CONVENTIONALLY GROWN FOOD: IS IT SAFE?

During the 1960’s, world saw green revolution which involved use of artificial pesticides, chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones to yield faster growth of crops and reduce infestation.

That was an essential step all over the world due to shortage of food. More and more countries adopted this practice, which we now call conventional farming to maximize agricultural production and deal with hunger and famines.

Although conventional farming saved us from dying due to hunger, it led to another major problem. Since these crops or livestock were produced from artificial methods defying the laws of nature, they started posing health hazards not only to the consumers but mainly to the farmers.

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF CONVENTIONALLY GROWN CROPS AND LIVESTOCK?

People working in fields are at higher risk of pesticide toxicity. Many studies have found that the pesticides used causes acute poisoning and neurological problems in the people handling the pesticides.

Another study concluded that those exposed occupationally to pesticides are at an increased risk of diseases such as Parkinson’s, Type II diabetes, Cancer, etc.

There has not been enough research to back the health hazards of pesticides on those consuming these crops, however the few studies that have been conducted highlight health problems like hormonal imbalance and allergies.

Moreover, livestock are not allowed to freely roam around, the are crowded in a confined space and are given antibiotics, non organic feed and supplements to bulk them up. Upon consumption of such animal or animal products, we become antibiotic resistant.

WHAT ABOUT GM CROPS?

Genetically modified crops are produced with the help of biotechnology. The DNA of the seed is altered using genetic engineering. Mostly, the crops are made resistant to insects, weeds thus limiting usage of pesticides.

Research has not yet proved any health risk or hazards associated with GM crops but experts say they might cause antibiotic resistance, allergies and environmental issues.

GM foods are banned in India but there have been cases of illegal cultivation. Since 2007, there have been unauthorized imports of GM Canola and Soybean Oils.

Now coming to the main question, what is this hype about Organic food products?

ORGANIC PRODUCTS: NEW FAD?

Organic foods are the products obtained from Organic farming which is the type of farming that uses natural methods like animal manure, vegetable extracts, natural rocks, hummus to grow crops and livestock.

This method totally prohibits use of chemical fertilizers and hence involves a lot of effort from farm workers. Weeds are controlled by crop rotation. Livestock are allowed to roam around and given organic feed.

QUICK COMPARISON: ORGANIC FOOD vs CONVENTIONAL FOOD

Organic FoodConventional Food
Produced by using natural methodsProduced by using artificial methods
Livestock are reared in a
healthy way and allowed to roam around
Livestock are reared
indoors in a small space by injecting antibiotics
Safe and HealthyComes with health problems
Environment friendlyCauses environmental pollution

HEALTH BENEFITS OF ORGANIC FOOD

Following are some of the health benefits of organic food backed by research:

1. Organic fruits and vegetables have more antioxidants as compared to conventional varieties. Since they are rich in antioxidants, they help in fighting free radicals effectively which are the Cancer causing culprits.

A study done by French Researchers in 2018, concluded that consumption of organic products regularly over a period of time reduced risk of Cancer. All the more reason to include it in your diet.

Organic Foods

2. A group of researchers studied the effect of Organic food on Body Mass Index (BMI) and surprisingly the increase in BMI was found to be less in organic food consumers. Hence, those suffering from weight issues, should definitely make the switch, as it will not only help in keeping your weight in check but also reduce your risk of developing obesity related diseases.

3. People consuming organic food are less prone to chronic diseases like Hypertension, Type II diabetes, PCOD and Cardiovascular diseases.

4. Currently, due to consumption of conventional foods laden with pesticides, the incidence of allergies has increased. Organic variety of food reduces risk of allergy as you are not exposed to the harmful pesticides.

5. Omega 3 fatty acid content of organically produced food is also high. Omega 3 come with a myriad of health benefits, some of which are preventing heart diseases like hypertension, inflammatory diseases like Arthritis.

6. Conventional food consumption especially cereals has exposed us to Cadmium which causes respiratory problems. Organic cereals have lower cadmium contents, thus less toxic.

IS THERE ANY DOWNSIDE TO ORGANIC FOODS?

The only problem with organic products is their price. So, if a little pinch on the pocket is fine with you then go ahead and opt for this healthier alternative.

HOW TO CHOOSE ORGANIC FOOD LIKE A PRO?

Many people are going the Organic way but sadly the rage has hit the junk food market as well.

Just because the packet says organic doesn’t make junk food item healthy. They would still contain sugar, salt and fats. It’s just a tactic used by sellers to con you. Junk food be it organic or artificial will still remain unhealthy. Oops!

So next time you go for grocery shopping, check if the label says 100% Organic, then only buy it. National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) is the governing body in India. A food item gets certified as ‘100% Organic’ only if it passes the standards set by NPOP, so you see you can’t go wrong there.

Organic foods

MUST BUY ORGANIC FOOD LIST

Organic products are darn costly, but then how can we include it in our diet without sulking over cost? You can make the switch by using the EWG Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list of foods as a reference.

What is EWG Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list?

Environmental Working Group (EWG), tests different foods for their pesticide residue and releases 2 lists of fruits and veggies, one is Dirty Dozen where the food items has traces of harmful pesticides even after washing or peeling and other is Clean 15, which has lower pesticide residues.

What you can do is buy Organic variety of the foods listed in Dirty Dozen list and continue buying the conventional variety of foods mentioned in Clean 15 list. Also, always buy Organic variety of poultry, meat and milk products since as mentioned earlier animals in conventional method are injected with antibiotics, growth hormones, etc.

EWG’s Dirty Dozen List for 2020
(Must buy Organic)
EWG’s Clean Fifteen List for 2020
(Fine even if Conventional)
StrawberrySweet corn
PotatoesPineapple
Nectarines (Peach like fruit, available
in malls)
Avocados
SpinachSweet peas (frozen)
KaleEggplant (Brinjal)
ApplesAsparagus (Shatavari)
GrapesCauliflower
CherriesCantaloupes (Kharbooja)
TomatoesBroccoli
PearsMushrooms
Celery (Ajwain)Cabbage
Onions
Papaya
Kiwi
Source: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php

What about grains and nuts?

As much as possible, all grains should be organic, but if you have budget constraints, then only include organic varieties of wheat and rice. Among nuts, peanuts, cashews and pistachios should always be organic.

CONCLUSION

Well, to summarize, Organic food are much healthier as compared to Conventional foods. It’s not the new fad. Only glitch is, because of the price, they are not much preferred by most people. But if we buy smartly, we would still be able to include them in our diet. Healthy food choices should be our way of life. Make the switch now!

REFERENCES:

  1. Debra A. Miller, Organic Foods, Greenhaven Publishing LLC, 2007
  2. Axel Mie, Helle Raun Andersen, Stefan Gunnarsson, et al, Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review, Environ Health. 2017; 16: 111. Published online 2017 Oct 27. doi: 10.1186/s12940-017-0315-4, PMCID: PMC5658984
  3. Julia Baudry, Karen E.Assmann, Mathilde Touvier, et al, Association of Frequency of Organic Food Consumption With Cancer Risk, JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(12):1597-1606. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.4357

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *