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Organicfood is healthier
Thedebate over whether the organic foods and the traditionally grownfoods or conventional foods are healthier has been there for over adecade now. There as many proponents of this debate as there areopponents. Whereas organic foods were once found in health foodstores, it is evident that there are now found in almost everysupermarket. It is not a surprise to find a traditionally grown applein a market and an organic one. More often than not, the choice ofwhich food to buy is hard. This is due to the similarity that isevident on both types of foods. For instance, when looking at anorganic and a conventional apple, it is clear that both are shiny,firm and red (CDPR 22). Additionally, both fruits are free ofcholesterol and sodium. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for abuyer to differentiate between the nutritional values of the twotypes of fruits. There has been enormous research regarding thistopic across universities and colleges across the United States, aswell in the United Kingdom. Numerous researchers have come concludethat the organic foods are healthier than the conventional foods.However, for one to consider the results of such research as true, itis essential to consider the various differences between the organicfoods and the traditionally grown foods.
Tostart with, it is essential to define what organic means organic isa term that has been used to mean the specific method that a farmeruses to grow and process farm products such as fruits, vegetables,meat and grains. This is a method of farming that has been concludedthat it encourages soil, as well as water conservation. Additionally,organic farming, which leads to the production of organic foods,ensures that there is reduced pollution to both water and soil. Thevarious strategies that organic farming utilizes include but are notlimited to the use of natural fertilizers, crop rotation and mulchingto controlling weeds. It is paramount to state that the farmers whogrow organic foods are controlled by the U.S. Department ofAgriculture. This is a body that ensures that the food which aregrown and processed organically meet various standards that areconsidered as safe for human consumption (Foodday 6). The U.S.Department of Agriculture ensures that the organic foods, whether100% organic or foods which contain certain percentages of organicfood, have sufficient nutritional value and are healthy for humanconsumption. It is important to state the department does notnecessarily seek to balance the nutritional value of organic foods tothat of the conventionally grown foods.
Non-organicfoods on the other hand make use of man-made fertilizers, growthhormones and antibiotics. Additionally, non-organic foods and dailyanimals are normally fed with genetically modified foods. However,there are some farmers who use both man-made fertilizers, as well asthe natural fertilizers (Foodday 5). This makes it hard to tellwhether the organic foods contain more nutrients than the non-organicones. Additionally, the non-organic foods are sprayed with pesticidesto control pests whereas the organic farmers do not use anypesticides.
Invarious supermarkets, it is possible to find organic foods labeled as100% natural. It is essential to realize that the two terms that isorganic and natural do not mean the same. They are two differentterms with totally different meanings. Organic foods must be assessedand ascertained by the US department of Agriculture.
Consideringthe results of the various researches that have been conducted withregard to the nutritional value of organic foods, there are two mainpoints that are eminent. Organic foods are said to contain lesspesticides than the conventionally grown foods. It is evident thatthere are pesticide residues that remain in certain foods such asfruits and vegetables. Researchers argue that an organic foodcontains smaller amounts of these pesticides than non-organic foods.This can be traced back to the fact that the farmers who grow organicfoods do not use any pesticides to control the pests (Foodday 5). Asa consequence, there are little or no residues in the organicallygrown fruits such as fruits, grains, as well as vegetables. It isevident that high levels of pesticide residues can be harmful to aperson’s health. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that thefoods meant for human consumption have a reduced exposure topesticides. Growing organic foods without any exposure to pesticidesis one of the ways of ensuring that pesticide residues aresignificantly reduced. Consumer Union carried out a conclusive studywhich showed that organic grown foods contain one third of as manypesticides as the conventionally grown foods. The research sampledover 94000 foods samples from 20 different crops to conduct thisresearch. Additionally, the research also found out that the organicfoods contained not more than one pesticide residue. This can beattributed to the regulation that prohibits organic farmers fromusing any pesticide including herbicides to control the growth of thefoods (McWilliams 17). Therefore, if one is looking for foods withlower pesticide residues, organic foods are the ideal foods.
Thefact that there are small levels of pesticide residues in organicfoods does not mean that the conventional foods contain dangerousamounts of pesticide residues that can be harmful to people’shealth. The Environmental Protection Agency has approved thepesticide levels in conventional foods. However, scientificresearchers such as professor Reganold states that it is not wellknown as to whether these pesticide levels can be harmful to people’shealth over a long period of time. This is one of the reasons whymany people prefer organic foods over conventional foods.
Anotherargument that favors organic foods over the conventional or thetraditionally grown foods is the fact that they contain morenutrients than the latter. Although this idea was initiallyconsidered as flawed, it was later confirmed that the organic foodsindeed contain high levels of some nutrients than the conventionalfoods. Carlo Leifert, a researcher at Newcastle University in theUnited Kingdom found out that organic foods contain extremely usefulantioxidants which have nutritional value more than the traditionallygrown foods (Singer and Jim 37). They include phenolic acids,flavanones and flavonols which contain essential nutrients in thebody. This study, which was published in the BritishJournal of Nutrition,also stated that organic foods contain extremely little amounts ofcadmium metal, which can be harmful to the body if they accumulate.
Thesame research has also suggested that the intake of organicallyproduced foods boasts the level of antioxidants in the body withalmost 40%. These are nutrients that are extremely important in thebody. The same research has indicated that the antioxidants arenecessary in the prevention of chronic diseases. These chronicdiseases include diseases such as cancer. However, it is worth tonote that the researchers asserted that there is no empiricalevidence that shows the health impacts of lacking such antioxidantsor rather failing to take organic foods (Harvard Healthwatch 7). Thefindings of the study are pooled from over 300 peer reviewed studiesand therefore the results are considered as being robust.
In2009, a study that was conducted for the UK Food Standards Agencyreviewed numerous previous studies that sought to find out thedifference in nutritional value between the organic foods and thetraditionally produced foods. It is paramount to state that the studyfound little or no difference in the nutritional content or in thehealth benefits of organic foods over traditionally produced foods(McWilliams 25). Additionally, this study was backed up by over 200studies in 2012 which were published in the Annalsof Internal Medicineand found out the same results. However, various food and nutritionscientists have argued that the findings of these studies wereflawed. One of them is Alan Dangour, a food and nutrition scientistwho suggests that the organic foods contain a higher nutrient levelthan the conventionally produced foods.
Avisit to a vegetable or a fruits store, as well as a supermarket willindicate that the price of organic foods is essentially high thanthat of the conventional foods. It is even evident that the organicfoods are clearly labeled “organic”. The first thought of theincreased price would be value for a customer’s money. However,this is not always the case. Whereas there has been numerous studiessuggesting that organic foods are more nutritious than thetraditionally produced foods, it is clear that recent studies arerefuting this claim (Letter et al., 87). For instance, with regard tothe level of antioxidants, modern researchers have argued that thismaybe due to the efforts by the plant to fight back attacks by pests.It is worth noting that the plants have the ability to produceantioxidants which help fight back any attacks. These attacks aremostly imminent when the plant has not been sprayed by chemicals toprotect it from attacks. The presence of the antioxidants may not beas a result of the organic farming, but as a result of the defensemechanism by the crops to fight back the attacks by pests anddiseases.
Therehas also been criticism in terms of the ignorance of the varioustypes of crops and other farm produce. Opponents of the idea oforganic foods being more healthy assert that it is essential to notethat the various foods are grown in different parts of the world andtherefore this could affects the mineral and nutrient composition ofthe farm produce. It is vital to note that the vegetables and fruitsare grown in different soils which have varying nutrient and mineralcompositions (Mayo Clinic 42). The crop varieties and the climate ofdifferent places may also affect the nutrient component of certainfoods. However, the proponents of the nutritional value of organicfoods argue that the combination of a variety of studies shouldbalance out these differences. A deeper look into the issue willsuggest that these factors are paramount and should indeed beconsidered.
Whereasthere are some people who point to the healthy status of the organicfoods, there are equally other shoppers who go for the organic foodsdue to the fact that they aid in the preservation of the environment.Growing of organic foods means that there are little chemicals thatare added into the soil (Singer and Jim 23). This helps in thepreservation of the environment hence many shoppers are in support oforganic farming. This indicates that the main reason behind the highdemand for the organic products may not be necessarily for theirnutritional value, but it is because of their role in preserving theenvironment.
Itis apparently clear that the organic foods such as vegetables,cereals and fruits do not contain higher nutrients than theconventional foods. The same research which supported the assumptionthat organic foods contain high amounts of nutrients found thatorganic cereals contained fewer proteins than conventional foods.This is a clear indication that the study is not conclusive. Whereassome scientists suggest that the organic foods are healthier, it isabundantly clear that the research is far from over.
Theabove research has clearly demonstrated that the organic foods can behealthier than the conventional foods. However, this assumption hasnumerous critics. The researches that suggest that the organic foodsare healthier are gathered from previous studies and therefore theirresults are robust. There cannot be a conclusive proof that organicfoods are healthier than the conventionally grown foods and dailyproducts (Letter et al., 66). Various shoppers will go for theexpensive organic products for various reasons. However, it isevidently clear that the assumption that the organic foods arehealthier has taken root especially in Europe. But the evidence isclear that the organic foods may contain slightly more nutrients thanthe conventionally grown foods.
Letter,David. Seidel, Richards. And Liebhardt, Williamson. The performanceof organic and conventional cropping systems in an extreme climateyear. AmericanJournal of Alternative Agriculture,18, pp 146-154. 2003. Print.
HarvardHealthwatch. Isorganic better.2003. Print. Accessed on 6thMay 2015 from: http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/student/health/pdf/Is%20ORGANIC%20better- Harvard%20Health.pdf
CDPR.Summary of results from the California Pesticide Illness SurveillanceProgram–2004. Dept.of Pesticide Regulation, California Environmental Protection Agency,Sacramento. 2005. Print.
Foodday.Eatreal organic.Accessed on 6thMay 2015 from: http://www.wellness.uci.edu/HlthEdFoodDay.pdf.Print. 2011.
Singer,Peter and Jim, Mason. TheWay We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter.Rodale, 2006. Print.
McWilliams,James E. JustFood.New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2009. Print.
MayoClinic. "Organic foods: Are they safer? More nutritious?"MayoClinic.com. Mayo Foundation for Medical Ed. and Research,20 Dec. 2008. Web. 12 Nov. 2009