What is the big question among health-minded consumers? How Important IS that Label? People do not want to spend extra on food due to a different label. Is buying food marked “organic” a healthy trend or the healthier choice?
The best option is to find out the differences between the product labels. In simple terms, the differences between organic food and conventionally farmed food is in the farming methods.
The Organic Food Label
The organic label can be in the form of a number. Produce labels that begin with #9, as well the packaging stating the food as organic or farm-raised without pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones. Organic food must be free of chemical ripening, food irradiation, and genetically modified ingredients. Livestock must be pasture raised, free of hormones and antibiotics to be labeled organic.
Organic food must resist the use of chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and sewage sludge fertilizers in their farming methods.
In 1940, Lord Northbourne in his book, Look at the Land, coined the term organic farming to describe organic farming as a holistic, ecologically approach to producing food.
The Conventional Food Label
Conventional produce labels will begin with the #4. A majority of the products sold in grocery stores are considered conventional food. Conventional food uses seeds that have been genetically altered using a variety of breeding methods.
What is conventional farming? It is farming methods that allows the farmers to use synthetic chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth, allows insecticides to control pests, and herbicides for weed control. Farmers that produce conventional food use antibiotics and hormones when raising their livestock for market.
Analysis of Farming Methods
Now that we know what the differences are in the farming methods, do these methods effect my food and my health? Over the years this has been the biggest debate among consumers and merchants.
In early 2017, the British Journal of Nutrition published the results of a huge meta-analysis study. These results showed favor that organic products can boost key nutrients in our food. Additional data was also pooled by over 200 studies conducted by United States scientists.
Organic crops, including beets, broccoli, lettuce, apples, and blueberries, have substantially higher concentrations of a range of antioxidants and beneficial compounds.
Have you ever noticed that organic fruit tends to be truer in color and taste? Organic crops have 50% more flavonols, which is a compound that give blueberries their rich blue and purple hues, compared to conventional crops.
You are not alone in your pursuit to serve and consume nutrient dense foods. When organic food is consumed, these compounds give us numerous health benefits, including anti-inflammatory effects. For those of us trying to reduce inflammation in our bodies, this information is vital.
Benefits of Organic Crops
Factors that result in organic crops having more vital compounds and thus nutrients are:
- Organic crops have to produce their own compounds to fend off insects and other environmental factors. This stress is what contributes to the production of more compounds.
- Organic crops grow slower, allowing for the plants to produce more compounds called secondary plant metabolites.
- Organic crops have lower levels of chemical pesticide residues.
One fruit that is among the “Top 10 foods to buy organic” is the apple. Organic apples are different in size, taste and nutrient value then the conventional grown apples. The apple peel alone contains 80% of the nutrients. It is also the apple peel that absorbs the heavy pesticides and insecticides used in growing the apple. Conventional apples contain 47 different pesticide residues; the top three are diphenylamine, thiabendazole, pyrimethanil. These particular pesticides have toxic levels for children and destroy the honey bee. The effects these chemicals have on our health ranges from known carcinogens to neurotoxins and development or reproductive toxins.
Conclusion: How Important Is That’s Label?
When it comes to our health, we need to give pause before we chose organically grown food or conventional grown food. In pausing we can make decisions on what is important to our body.
It is very difficult to measure the exact nutrition level of food, however it is grown. In my research, studies did not mention if the vitamin levels were different in organically grown food versus conventional grown food. The studies did show that key nutrients were more abundant in organically grown food.
Organically grown food has more antioxidants due to the beneficial compounds being present. Our bodies need more nutrients in the form of antioxidants to combat the free radical damage that contributes to disease and pre-mature aging.
When it comes to labels, I chose to purchase organic foods, when they are available, even if it means sacrificing a few other luxuries in life. I can maximize my antioxidants and micro-nutrients from consuming organic food. Another important factor is when organic produce and meat are purchaed we are supporting sustainable organic farming.
What foods have you chosen to purchase organic over conventional grown food? I would enjoy hearing from you!