We hear a lot about the way food is produced and how this influences its nutritional value. I thought it would be useful to explore the real benefits of organic food. Obviously, making a conscious choice to eat more healthily and to include more fruit, vegetables, good fats and whole grains in your diet is a great start. However, it is important to be aware that it is not just the food itself but the way in which it has been grown or nurtured that will have the biggest effect on your health and the environment.
Firstly, lets understand what organically produced actually means. It refers to the specific way in which agricultural products are grown and treated. Organic crops are grown in soil, which is kept as fertile as possible by practices such as crop rotation and inter cropping to maintain high nutrient levels. The key difference between organic farming and conventional methods is that organic farming prohibits the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers (such as those containing petroleum products or sewage). Organic farming also bans the use of any genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). A GMO is a plant or an animal that has had their DNA changed. The health implications for people consuming food containing GMO’s is unknown.
7 KEY HEALTH BENEFITS OF ORGANIC FOOD:
1. Not treated with pesticides, herbicides and insecticides – these leave residues that stay on and within the food that we eat. These are poisonous to the body and have been linked with a number of diseases and health defects. Instead, organically produced food is treated with natural fertilisers such as manure and weeds and insects are controlled naturally. This is undoubtedly one of the most important benefits of organic food.
2. Does not contain any GMO’s – GMO’s are totally man made and bio engineered. Many genetically modified plants contain their own herbicide, which can cause allergies, GM foods have also been linked to fertility problems and cancers.
3. No antibiotics or growth hormones used in milk & meat production – enough said!
4. No artificial colours, flavours, additives or preservatives.
5. Higher nutrient content of vitamins & minerals – there has been considerable debate on this topic as some studies have concluded that organic food contains no more nutrients than conventionally produced food. However, these studies did not take into account the effect of pesticides on human health or the environmental impact of organic vs. conventional farming. Organic food is farmed to extremely strict guidelines and is produced as nature intended. This means that it tastes fresher and full of flavour and it contains higher levels of nutrients without the damaging chemicals found in conventional farming. Another example of the many benefits of organic food.
6. Better standards of animal welfare – organic livestock is farmed as closely to the animal’s natural habitat as possible. In other words, the animals are given plenty of space outdoors to roam and graze freely. The grass they feed on is itself nutrient rich and the animals are given time to grow and mature at their own pace. There is definitely truth in the idea that the meat from an animal that has lived a happy and natural life will taste better than one that has been kept indoors and had a short, stressful life with no care.
7. Better for the environment – organic farming lessens pollution, uses less water, minimises soil erosion, increases the fertility of the soil and uses less energy. It maintains good, healthy soil for the future and is also better for the farmers as they are not exposed to dangerous synthetic chemicals in standard pesticides and fertlisers.
The negative impact of pesticides on human health is overwhelming. Children are particularly susceptible because their bodies and immune systems are still developing. Pregnant women should also be aware that pesticides can pass across the placenta to their unborn child and in their breastmilk. Pesticides, once in the body, are difficult to eradicate and they have been linked to a number of health problems. These include disrupting hormones, which can cause infertility and several different types of cancer.
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I think it is fairly clear that there are numerous benefits of organic food. These are not only purer methods of production that will help you to keep fit and healthy but farming practices which work in harmony with the environment. That is important for generations to come.
The books below are among the best we have ever found on organic food – they really are fascinating and a “must have” for any organic food fan! Click the image below to buy directly from Amazon.
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