Some people assert that “organic” foods are a marketing ploy--they cost more but there is no other difference between these and conventionally-grown plants.
A report released by Newcastle University in the United Kingdom--the largest of its kind--reviewed 343 studies and concluded that, in short, organics are more nutritious than non-organic grains, fruits, and vegetables--and are therefore better for you.
The researchers discovered that the quality of studies has hugely appreciated over the years, resulting in more reliable reports of food safety and nutrition. The timing of this comprehensive review is therefore significant.
It’s Not a Ploy.
Organic crops are those that do not use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides; are not genetically modified; promote and enhance biodiversity; maintain ecological balance; practice conservation of resources; and more, with strict government regulations in the United States.
“Organic” has become the word used to mean the traditional methods of farming and way of raising animals before the advent of corporate control over the food supply.
Now there is concentrated evidence as the result of independent review that the old-fashioned way produces better food. The difference is quantifiable--there are:
“…statistically significant and meaningful differences in composition between organic and non-organic crops/crop-based foods. Most importantly, the concentrations of a range of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were found to be substantially higher in organic crops/crop-based foods, with those of phenolic acids, flavanones, stilbenes, flavones, flavonols and anthocyanins being an estimated 19…% and 51…% higher, respectively. Many of these compounds have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including CVD [cardiovascular disease] and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers, in dietary intervention and epidemiological studies.”
Organic Foods Produce More Antioxidants.
A plant on a conventionally managed field will typically have access to high levels of synthetic nitrogen and will marshal the extra resources into producing sugars and starches. As a result, the harvested portion of the plant will often contain lower concentrations of other nutrients, including health-promoting antioxidants.
Without relying on pesticides, plants grown organically have to protect themselves naturally and they do so by increasing antioxidant levels that bugs don’t like (but we do).
In people, phytochemicals such as phenols and polyphenols can help prevent diseases triggered or promoted by oxidative damage, like coronary heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.
The study estimates that organics contain twenty to forty percent more antioxidants than non-organics.
Organically Grown Plants are Less Toxic.
There are fewer pesticide residues in organic foods (and remember, any pesticides used must also be organic and not synthetic)--by a factor of one quarter. So when you eat a conventional apple, you are also eating four times the chemicals used to kill other living things with it than in an organic apple.
Heavy metal, man. There is significantly more cadmium in conventionally-grown crops than in organics. It most likely has to do with the use of synthetic fertilizers and cadmium absorption by plant roots. The effect on humans:
“Cadmium (Cd), a by-product of zinc production, is one of the most toxic elements to which man can be exposed at work or in the environment.”
Safer to Eat.
Another study that compared organic versus non-organic plant-derived foods concluded:
“Due to the fact that there is a lower level of contamination in organic crops, the risk of diseases caused by contaminated food is significantly reduced.”
GMOs Haven’t Produced the Greater Crop Yields that were Promised.
Much of the biggest crops in North America (soy, corn) is genetically modified, which introduces a whole other level of concern.
These crops are not only raised in a “conventional” manner (the use of that word is a misnomer--organic farming practices employ methods used for tens of thousands of years; the use of synthetics and genetic modification are new means of food production), they are “improved” through biologic manipulation.
Genetically modified foods go against the grain, so to speak--why fool with Mother Nature? One of the strongest arguments that proponents use is that the Earth’s population is increasing and we need to grow more food for all these people. Long-term science, however, doesn’t bear this out:
“Recent studies have shown that organic and similar farming methods that minimize the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers can more than double crop yields at little cost to poor farmers in such developing regions as Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Supporting The Organic Industry.
Organics cost more at the store--that’s a big issue. Consider this: with denser nutrition, you need less in volume for more in content.
Additionally--and more practically--the United States enjoys a market economy. Theoretically, consumers have the power to demand what they want and manufacturers will create the products to meet that demand.
The more organics people buy, the more profitable it will be for farmers to grow them. A greater supply will drive down the price. And drive up our health.