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The organic industry is a fast-growing and very rich industry.  But is it actually better for your health to eat organic?

It used to be rare and hard to find organic foods.  You needed to go to a specialized store for your specialized products.  Slowly, organics started to be available in local grocery stores; tucked away in their own “health food” section.  Today, it’s quite easy to find organic foods and organic produce. With this prevalence comes the question, is it actually better for your health?

Let’s start with a quick explanation of what qualifies a food as “organic”.

“USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.  As with all organic foods, none of it is grown or handled using genetically modified organisms, which the organic standards expressly prohibit.”1

ORGANIC PRODUCE – How can it claim to be better?

With a higher price tag, it’s not difficult to see why we want to know if there are actual scientific health claims that eating organic fruits and vegetables will be better for our body.  

Produce can be called organic if it has been grown in soil that has had no synthetic fertilizers and pesticides applied for three years prior to harvest.  Studies have shown that just this alone can increase the nutrient content and supportive nature of the produce.

Pesticides are very toxic to the body.  They must be processed by the liver to not be “poisonous” to our system and then must be filtered out ASAP by our other detoxifying organs.  The less load we put on these organs, the more they can focus on their other tasks like scanning for cancer cells and reducing inflammation. Other side effects of pesticide use have been shown to create developmental delays in children, decreased sperm count in men and increase the risk of ADHD in children and adults.

Studies are also showing that plants grown without pesticide have higher phytonutrient levels.  These phytonutrients are vital in keeping the plant alive which, in turn, helps to keep us alive.  For example, organic crops had about 50 percent more anthocyanins and flavonols compared with conventional crops.  This phytonutrient protects our cells from damage and fight off disease. Depending on the fruit or vegetable, the increase of phytonutrient levels creates a 20 to 40 percent healthier food.

 

ORGANIC MEAT – What’s the beef about this?

As for organic meat, regulations require that animals be raised according to their natural behaviors (like the ability to graze on pasture).  They must be fed 100% organic feed and forage, and are not to be administered antibiotics or hormones. Often, this leads producers to provide a much healthier lifestyle to their animals, which is directly transferred to us.

Organic dairy and meat contain about 50 percent more beneficial omega 3 fatty acids than conventional dairy and meat.  This essential fat is vital to reducing inflammation in the body and supporting brain health. Organic dairy and meat have been proven to contain less saturated fat; another benefit to improve health.

ORGANIC PRODUCTS – Is an organic cracker better for your health?

When it comes to processed, multi-ingredient foods, the USDA organic standards prohibit organically processed foods from containing artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors and require that their ingredients are organic.  When packaged products indicate they are “made with organic ingredients” this means they contain at least 70% organically produced ingredients. The remaining non-organic ingredients are non-GMO but can include substances that would not otherwise be allowed in 100% organic products.

This is where we must encourage you to eat non-label foods.  At LFLC, we believe in shopping the perimeter of the store and avoiding processed foods.  If you are to eat “boxed” foods, there may be some added benefit to it being organic. Food coloring and artificial preservatives have been linked to behavioral imbalances in children.  Some food coloring has also been identified as carcinogenic.

However, buying organic can sometimes be almost 40 percent more expensive than conventional food.  What can you do if your budget does not allow for organic food?

The standard American diet is pretty low in fruit and vegetable intake.  Before jumping into the world of organics, perhaps you want to consider increasing your daily servings of vegetables and work your way up to getting nine servings per day.  Once you’re more focused on eating nutrient dense foods, you can bring your diet to the next level of buying organic. If you are budgeting, there is a resource at www.ewg.org which lists which foods are safe to eat and which contain the highest levels of pesticides.  You can find the Dirty Dozen list HERE.  We would recommend that you use your organic budget to purchase these fruits and vegetables organic if available to you at your local market.

Ultimately, organic foods do provide a “safer” product for your body.  Yes, they are more expensive. They are also more nutritious. If they aren’t currently in your budget, bring your attention to increasing your vegetable and fruit intake.  This will give your body necessary nutrients to support your detoxifying organs so that they may do the heavy work of cleaning out your system and creating health.

 

REFERENCE

1 – https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/03/22/organic-101-what-usda-organic-label-means


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