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Organic vs Non-Organic: What's the real difference?

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With organic foods being so popular, and more often than not costing more than their traditional counterparts, understanding exactly what the difference is between the two is good information to have. The reasons people choose to eat organic foods differ greatly, and what motivates one person to choose organic is of no interest to the next. What you eat is exceptionally personal, but why you choose to eat it is just as important.  In this post, I will outline the key differences between Organic and Non-Organic food and discuss the pros and cons of each.

What is the difference between non-organic and organic food?

 The key difference is the way the food is produced. If you take eggs, milk, fruit, and vegetables, for example, the organic version is produced without:

·       Genetically Modified Organisms

·       Growth Hormones

·       Irradiation

·       Antibiotics

·       Synthetic Pesticides, Fertilisers, or Herbicides

Essentially, if you buy organic food, you are purchasing food that has been created without any generic engineering, preservatives or radiation. In order for it to be officially certified as organic, then it will need to be made from at least 95% of ingredients that are classified as organic.

Pros and Cons of Organic Food

The Good Bits

 They leave a lower carbon footprint

It is a well-known fact that there is a range of pollutants that are derived from the agricultural sector that cause lasting and widespread damage to the environment. The groundwater in these agricultural areas is often highly polluted with various pesticides and fertilisers. This is not the case with Organic farming as it drastically reduces any water pollution risks and it can also prevent soil erosion through damage.

Higher Nutritional Value

Organic crops tend to have an elevated concentration of nutrients and antioxidants. These are essential to help protect you from conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, organic milk contains more than twice as much omega-3 that the standard variety.

Free from Additives, and Pesticides

With normal foods, there is a range of pesticides that are used to prevent any damage occurring from weeds, fungus, insects, and rodents. Some of these chemicals used are toxic, and there is a 25% likelihood that there will be residues left on non-organic products. Amongst those most likely to harbor leftover pesticides are leafy greens and peppers - while asparagus, avocados, and sweetcorn are those foods which are most likely not to be affected. While the long-term effects of exposure to pesticides are not known, there is an increasing amount of research that links concentrated exposure to pesticide residue with cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.  They are also particularly hazardous for pregnant woman and children.

Avoid GMOs

GMOs are not required to be labeled in all countries. With organic food, you can rest assured that you are eating completely free from GMO. Thanks to the strict rules that dictate what makes a food organic, many other things such as MSG and artificial sweeteners are also prohibited.

Organic Meat is Safer

Because organically farmed meat is raised without hormones, it is considered to be far safer to consume that non-organic meat. There are also no antibiotics or pesticides used which only adds to this assurance.

The Not So Good Bits

 Risk of Food-Born Illness

As is the case with all foods, there is a risk of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and other illnesses. Organic foods are just the same as their non-organic counterpart’s in this case.

The Cost

If you have ever bought organic food, then you will know that they can tend to cost a lot more. The high prices are due to the fact there are lower yields compared to other more conventionally farmed crops, and there is a relatively high demand. Because the production of organic foods is a lot more labor-intensive, this also attributes to the higher cost of organic produce.

Shorter Shelf-life

Both organic vegetables and fruit are prone to spoil quicker than non-organic varieties. The reason behind this is that they do not get treated with the same preservatives or waxes that are put into non-organic fruits and vegetables for the purpose of helping them to last longer.

 

Organic food doesn’t always equal healthy food. Just because a label says organic, it can still be an unhealthy product that contains high levels of sugar, additves, or salt. Whatever you eat, you need always to check the label thoroughly first. To some people, eating fresher food is tastier than not doing so, and this is why some people believe organic tastes better as well as being healthier overall. Whichever way you look at it, if you eat eggs, lean meats, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables are all highly nutritious, whether they are organic or not.