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Is organic food really healthier?

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

Walk through any grocery store today, and you'll likely see more shelf space devoted to organics—foods that are grown without most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and animal products that are free of antibiotics and hormones. Demand for organic food is up, with sales reaching $35.9 billion in 2014


Is there a benefit?

While organic foods have fewer synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and are free of hormones and antibiotics, they don't appear to have a nutritional advantage over their conventional counterparts. "There've been a number of studies examining the macro- and micronutrient content, but whether organically or conventionally grown, the foods are really similar for vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates


What is organic farming?

The word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to meet the following goals:

  • Enhance soil and water quality

  • Reduce pollution

  • Provide safe, healthy livestock habitats

  • Enable natural livestock behavior

  • Promote a self-sustaining cycle of resources on a farm


Materials or practices not permitted in organic farming include:

  • Synthetic fertilizers to add nutrients to the soil

  • Sewage sludge as fertilizer

  • Most synthetic pesticides for pest control

  • Irradiation to preserve food or to eliminate disease or pests

  • Genetic engineering, used to improve disease or pest resistance or to improve crop yields

  • Antibiotics or growth hormones for livestock

Organic crop farming materials or practices may include:

  • Plant waste left on fields (green manure), livestock manure or compost to improve soil quality

  • Plant rotation to preserve soil quality and to interrupt cycles of pests or disease

  • Cover crops that prevent erosion when parcels of land are not in use and to plow into soil for improving soil quality

  • Mulch to control weeds

  • Predatory insects or insect traps to control pests

  • Certain natural pesticides and a few synthetic pesticides approved for organic farming, used rarely and only as a last resort in coordination with a USDA organic certifying agent

Organic farming practices for livestock include:

  • Healthy living conditions and access to the outdoors

  • Pasture feeding for at least 30 percent of livestock's nutritional needs during grazing season

  • Organic foods for animals

  • Vaccinations



 

#organicfood #health

 

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