Buying organic was once a grocery shopping choice left to a few, forward-thinking folks with a hankering for healthy food and a willingness to go against the grain. They skipped past traditional grocery stores and went straight to little-known health-food outlets to buy their food, getting a healthy head start on the rest of us. Eventually, though, much of the rest of the world has caught up, buying more organic products than ever in search of better health and the introduction of fewer harmful substances and toxins to our bodies. Organic has gone mainstream. Per healthyeating.sfgate.com, citing statistics from the Organic Trade Association, organic food sales went from about $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion just 20 years later, in 2010. Worldwide, that figure was a whopping $80 billion (in U.S. dollars) in 2014, according to the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, per alternet.org.
What Is Organic Food and Its Source?Organic food is not a whole lot different from conventional food – in its pure state, it is essentially the same stuff, planted and grown by farmers, just without all the pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, etc. found in traditional foods at a somewhat lower cost in grocery stores. Organic farmers focus on using renewable resources while adhering to strict standards governing the conservation of soil and water, aimed at enhancing the quality of the environment for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are produced from animals that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones, as answers.yahoo.com describes it. Organic farmers are not self-governing, though – they just can't hang out a shingle declaring themselves organic without oversight. For their food products to be labeled organic, organic farmers are subject to inspections conducted by government-approved certifiers to verify all USDA organic standards are being adhered to. Likewise, companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to market must be certified.
What Differentiates Organic Food from Non-Organic?In brief, eating organic is eating clean. It's eating food that has been grown, treated, and handled au naturel, although we do pay for it with those higher prices – not exorbitantly higher, but enough to grab your notice when picking foods off the store shelves. Then again, eating non-organic food your entire life can come at a much-high cost – in terms of medical treatment and hospital charges over time, as explained below. Here, in summary, are 10 health benefits of eating organic foods:
- Animals or plants used for organic food production are not genetically modified. No gene splicing (putting animal genes into plants, and vice versa) or any other kind of gene manipulation. The result: cleaner, safer food for consumers.
- No pesticides. Pesticides are poison for unwanted insects, killing them, but a percentage of those same toxins can still end up in our bodies, regardless how much we clean them when they get to our kitchen. Sprays/pesticides aren't allowed for organic fruits and vegetables. Most pesticides and herbicides are formulated to attack the nervous system, per globalhealingcenter.com; therefore, if we eat foods grown by traditional agribusiness, we are eating neurotoxins and gradually poisoning our nervous system.
- No artificial hormone injections. These added hormones can manipulate our cellular structure, resulting in cell variations for the rest of our lives. Think about that next time you bite into non-organic beef in a hamburger.
- Better nutrient profile for us. Translated, consumption of organic food can be a plus for us in terms of heart health. With organic foods, we get foods that have a higher content of antioxidants, omega-3 fats, and other compounds that can help prevent inflammation to our heart, per dailyhealthlifestyles.com.
- Cleaner water. That is, a reduction in water pollution. Ample water is needed to grow crops and feed the animals, and water kept clean by organic farming methods is better for all of us.
- Longer-lasting milk. How often do we pull a container of milk from the fridge, only to find that the expiration date has come and gone? Bummer. Pour a glass and put it to your lips, but take your chances. Yuck; no thanks. But it was just a few days ago that we bought it. Maybe so, but time flies, right? Organic milk also has an expiration date, but it tends to stay fresh, without spoilage, much longer.
- No unhealthy preservatives. Pretty much all consumables contain some form of preservatives, but some are more harmful than others. The cumulative effects over time can be devastating to our health – as is the case with our kidneys, and other organs. Processed organic food skimps on the preservatives.
- Reduced antibiotics. This is huge. There is an antibiotic problem in the U.S. – superbugs, which are problematical bacteria that less and less are responding to antibiotic injections. When we need these drugs the most, they are being less effective doing their jobs. Here's the problem related to what we eat: many meat-producing animals are being injected with antibiotics so they don't die before processing. Use of antibiotics is prohibited with organic products.
- Fewer autoimmune disorders. Research is ongoing, but experts say that eating organic food can lower the risk of autoimmune conditions such as arthritis and inflammation, to include gut inflammation.
- Reduced occurrence of other conditions. This includes less adult obesity, type-2 diabetes, and adolescent allergies, per alternet.org.