In the past, if you wanted to buy an apple, all you needed was to look for an apple with a shiny, firm, and red skin. Today, however, you may have two apples with one marketed as being “organic”. For those who are not familiar with the term, this can be very confusing.
Both apples will look exactly the same. By all chances, they will also taste the same. This is not only in the case of apples. Almost all food products today are classified either as conventional or organic. So which one is healthier? Let’s find out.
Deciphering the “Organic”
When people say “organic”, they often mean food products that are the result of “organic” farming and livestock-growing practices. This means food growers and livestock owners do not use anything synthetic or man-made in their processes.
They don’t use commercial fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals. Instead, they rely on more natural and organic methods. For pest control, for example, organic food producers rely on insects and other animals that prey on pests.
In other words, food production occurs in a manner that is reminiscent of old traditions when man-made technologies were still non-existent.
Because organic food products do not use artificial chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers, they can have a better safety profile. Studies show that organic produce contained as much as 30 per cent lower pesticide residues compared to conventional foods.
Organic livestock like pigs and chickens also contain 35 percent lower antibiotic-resistant bacteria than those that were grown the conventional way. What this means is that both conventional and organic foods will still contain “unsafe” substances.
The good news is that, both types of food will have these levels within the allowable limits. But, if that is the case, would you rather get the food with the higher “unsafe” level?
Or would it make more sense to pick the one with much lower level of pesticide residues or antibiotic-resistant bacteria?
The most important selling point of organic food is its nutrient value. Proponents of organic food say that these items provide better nutrient profiles than conventional food.
Unfortunately, there are already many studies that show there is no significant difference in the nutrient profile between these two types of food. Well, except for two things.
First, organic food products contain more phosphorus than conventional food items. This is an element that’s important in bone and muscle health as well as the normal functioning of the kidneys and metabolism.
Second, organic animal food products contain higher omega-3 essential fatty acids than their conventional counterparts.
As such, if you are deficient in phosphorus or you need to beef up in your omega-3s, then going organic is an excellent choice. Otherwise, it may not provide you with a definite advantage over conventional foods.
Organic foods are safer alternatives to conventional food products. In some respects, they can also provide more omega-3 fatty acids and phosphorus. The question most people have now is if this is enough to justify the premium on these food items.