Organic clothes, organic food, organic cleaning products – the word “ organic ” seems to be the hottest trend right now. However, before you jump on the organic bandwagon, it is important to identify the pros and cons of purchasing and consuming organic foods. It may be hard to identify the differences with an untrained eye. At the grocery store, both the non-organic and organic fruits and vegetables look fresh and healthy, so why do the organic foods cost as much as twice as much? The trend has moved beyond the produce aisle and into the shelves of the grocery store aisle, leading to the introduction of drinks, dried fruits, bread, yogurt, cheese and dozens of other food products.
Many Americans harbor increasing concerns about food safety and genetically modified food products. “ Organic ” when used on the label of a food product means that the food has been grown on land that has been chemical free for at least three years. Food crops labeled organic must also be grown without the use of pesticides or other chemicals. Finally, they must be processed and packaged without the use of artificial preservatives, colorings or any other additives.
There are many strong arguments in defending the purchase and consumption of organic food products. Organic farming does not pose the threat of pesticide and chemical run-off which could contamination watersheds and drinking water, while many traditional modern farming methods do just that. Organic farms also tend to maintain richer, more sustainable soil through the use of cover crops, crop rotations and composts. These organic farming methods have been shown to slow soil erosion and it vary the nutrient demands on the soil.
One study analyzing twelve foods concluded that organic foods hold more nutritional value and micronutrients than non-organic foods. The nutritional pros from organic foods include higher levels of vitamins A, B, C, E, vitamins, elements such as zinc and minerals such as calcium. Organic foods also do not carry the risk of some health complications linked to pesticides and antibiotics. Organic foods also contain lower levels of heavy metals and virtually no hydrogenated fat which has been linked to heart disease), whereas non-organic processed food can contain both.
Despite the increased nutritional value of organic foods, there are some cons to consuming organic foods. Manure used in organic compost may be more harmful than the health risks related to pesticides and chemicals used on non-organic farms. Manure often contains E. coli bacterium, which can spread harmful animal diseases to humans. Furthermore, organic foods are producible at the same rate as non-organic foods. Organic farming methods often produce lower yields than modern intensive methods. This is why food grown organically can often cost twice as much as food grown on non-organic farms. If large farms started replacing modern farming methods with organic methods, the world may see a food shortage emerge.