All you need to know about organic foods

Before you decide to “go organic”, find out for yourself what organic food is and tips you should keep in mind before you buy it.

The organic food movement that began a few years ago is showing no signs of waning. All around the globe, people are adopting the organic lifestyle more and more. It’s time then, to take a look at what this movement is really all about.

What is organic food?

In simple words, organic foods are those that are produced, processed and packaged without the use of any chemicals, pesticides, non-organic fertilizers, insecticides, antibiotics or artificial hormones. They are also free of the artificial preservatives that are usually added to increase the shelf life of the product. It is claimed that organically grown foods are safer and more nutritious than other foods and are generally considered superior in purity and taste.

Organic foods include vegetarian products, as well as poultry and meat. Non-vegetarian organic food requires that the animals being reared be fed only organic feed. The use of antibiotics and growth hormones for their mass production is also prohibited.

To qualify for an “organic” stamp on its label, food products need to come from only certified farms and processing plants. This means that they are inspected by certified government officials to ensure that organic farms are up to United States Department of Agriculture Organic standards.

Advantages of going organic:

  • Contains at least 50% more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients than intensively farmed food
  • Good for health as they contain no chemicals in the form of pesticides, fertilizers, and insecticides
  • Tastes better as these are pure and natural with no additives in the form of sweeteners, fats, colouring, flavours, and preservatives.
  • The phenolic content (compounds found in plants known to be excellent antioxidants) present in organic foods prevent the onslaught of cancer and many other diseases
  • Organic farming methods are more humane in approach and do not subscribe to concepts like battery chickens, pigs kept in farrowing pens and cows that have been milked to exhaustion
  • Organic farming practices protect the topsoil from erosion
  • On the whole, these farms are more environment friendly

Downsides of going organic:

  • Organic food is expensive
  • It’s not readily and easily available everywhere
  • Lacks variety
  • Has a short shelf life

Tips for buyers:

  • Before buying, look for the label/logo of the certification body that has monitored and approved the production and processing of the food item as “organic”
  • Keep yourself informed and updated about the organizations that are authorised to sell organic food in your area
  • Pay extra attention to the “expiry date” as there are no preservatives added to the food

The Crucial Organic Food List:

The food items listed below are considered most vulnerable to the side effects of too many pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, etc. Though the given list is not exhaustive, it indicates the top food items where home washing and cooking practices don’t result in the reduction of the chemical or hormonal residues:

  • Dairy products such as milk, butter and cheese
  • Beef, chicken and pork
  • Strawberries, cherries and raspberries
  • Apples, grapes and pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach and salad greens
  • Coffee
  • Stone fruits: Peaches, nectarines and apricots
  • Celery
  • Peppers (capsicums), green and red

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