Most of us have a vague idea that organic produce is better than conventionally farmed food. But we’re all still trying to figure out precisely what’s so great about it, so we usually just skip the organic produce aisle altogether – It’s easier that way. And the truth is, even science is divided on this topic. One expert will claim that organic food can solve global food shortages and result in healthier, more vibrant people, while another declares that organic farming is too time-consuming to be worth the effort.
Let’s finally get some answers, shall we? We’ve asked our resident biologist to scour the scientific literature and see what she could teach us about organic farming.
So, keep reading to discover how switching to organic may benefit your health and do a world of good to the planet.
What does organic really mean?
Organic farming grows crops and raises livestock while avoiding synthetic chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, genetic engineering (GMOs), and irradiation1. Often considered a more “holistic” approach to farming, organic farming may be better for your health and the environment in many ways.
How does organic produce benefit your health?
According to science, switching to organic produce may offer considerable benefits to your health, such as:
- Less pesticide exposure. Pesticides are associated with many forms of human disease and are best avoided1,2.
- Lower nitrate intake. Nitrates have been associated with gastrointestinal cancer and, in infants, methemoglobinemia1,2.
- Higher vitamin levels. Many studies have shown organic leafy vegetables to have a higher concentration of Vitamin C when compared to conventionally grown vegetables1,2.
- Increased antioxidant ingestion. Some studies have found higher phenol levels in organic produce, which are powerful health-promoting antioxidants1,2.
- Supports cancer cell inhibition. Studies have found that organic foods’ increased nutrients and antioxidants inhibit cancer cell proliferation2.
- Lowered risk of contracting allergies. Studies have found that allergies may be less prevalent in those who consume more organic vegetables2.
Are organic farming practices better for the environment?
Organic farming indeed has a more negligible environmental impact than conventional approaches1,3. This is because organic farms don’t use or release toxic pesticides into the environment, which have the potential to harm soil, water, and wildlife1. On top of that, organic farms use less energy, produce less waste, and sustain diverse ecosystems in and around the farm1,3,4.
So, is organic food really worth it?
Ultimately, the choice to buy organic produce is yours! Despite the many proven health benefits of organic fruits and vegetables, regular fruits and vegetables will do the trick if you can’t spring for organic. Regardless, every time you decide to eat real foods, that is a massive win for your wellness, organic or not!
Today’s Daily Action
An incredible way to get completely organic food (for cheap) is to grow it yourself! Consider buying a few organic seeds for plants and herbs and plant them in pots to create a small kitchen garden for yourself. Not only will they taste delicious once grown, but the added greenery is guaranteed to boost your mood!
- Forman, J. et al. Organic Foods: Health and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages. Pediatrics 130, e1406–e1415 (2012).
- Huber, M., Rembiałkowska, E., Średnicka, D., Bügel, S. & van de Vijver, L. P. L. Organic food and impact on human health: Assessing the status quo and prospects of research. NJAS: Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 58, 103–109 (2011).
- Siegrist, S., Schaub, D., Pfiffner, L. & Mäder, P. Does organic agriculture reduce soil erodibility? The results of a long-term field study on loess in Switzerland. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 69, 253–264 (1998).
- Hole, D. G. et al. Does organic farming benefit biodiversity? Biological Conservation 122, 113–130 (2005).