By Ricardo He, 12th Grade
Organic foods have been increasing in demand as people seek healthier and more environmentally friendly options; even though they are more costly, people believe the nutrients gained from them offset the price difference between organic and non-organic foods.
What are organic foods?
Organic foods are foods that are produced using methods that do not involve any synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial substances. These foods are produced by farmers using practices that rely solely on the earth’s natural processes such as: using compost and/or organic matter to enrich the soil, rotating crops, and relying on predators to control pests that may harm these crops. The main goal of organic farming is to utilize environmentally friendly methods to grow food.
Are they worth it?
Maybe. The data on whether organic foods contain more nutrients than produced foods tend to be conflicting. Some studies suggest that organic foods can contain higher levels of certain nutrients compared to produced food. In vegetables and fruits, a study found that they can have higher levels of vitamins C and A, and in organic dairy products, it can have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and significantly lower levels of pesticide residue. On the other hand, other studies suggest that organic foods and produced foods have about the same amounts of nutrients.
A clear known difference between organic and non-organic foods is the pesticide residues in foods. Although some non-organic vegetables and fruits like avocados, cantaloupe, pineapple, broccoli, cabbage, and corn have such low levels of pesticide residues that there is pretty much no difference in buying the organic counterpart, other fruits and vegetables like strawberries, spinach, grapes, apples, tomatoes, and celery do see a significant difference in pesticide residue. So, if you’re very worried about eating foods that contain too much pesticide, you may want to buy the organic counterparts. Do note however, that fruits and vegetables’ levels of pesticide are regulated by different agencies around the world, and they make sure that the level of pesticide each food contains is safe for consumption.
- Organic food does not use pesticides: Organic produce is not grown entirely without pesticides, it is only grown without synthetic pesticides. Farmers may use natural-occurring pesticides in their crops as long as they are approved. Both natural-occurring and synthetic pesticides can be harmful to consumers if consumed in large enough quantities.
- Organic food tastes better than non-organic foods: Organic produce does not taste significantly better. Blind tests have revealed that people cannot consistently tell a difference on whether food is organic or not. Freshness, seasonality, and preparation of these foods are more likely to influence a produce’s taste rather than if it’s grown organically or not.
- Organic food is always better for the environment: Organic food is not always better for the environment, it can also have negative impacts such as an increase in water use and soil erosion.