What are Organic Foods and what’s in it for me?
Any food substance grown using only naturally occurring substance – manures, insecticides etc. – are called organic foods.
Inorganic foods on the other hand are grown using synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides/insecticides, hormones, antibiotics, or even may be Genetically Modified (GM) versions.
Organic foods are argued to be better for the environment and for those who consume it; then why are inorganic foods grown at all? Sometimes you’ll find that there is a certain price difference between the two; why do you think is this difference? Let’s help you understand.
Why Inorganic Foods?
• Mass Production: First of all, there is a huge need of food across the world, hence to produce at a massive scale, farmers have to make sure that their soil is ready for such mass production throughout the year. If you need the soil to be re-usable as soon as the previous crop is harvested, you have to treat the soil with synthetic fertilizers and add those additional nutrients chemically.
• Longer Shelf-Life: Now think quality; “what shows is what sells”. Wouldn’t we all want a bigger, redder, juicer apple? Wouldn’t the farmer also like the idea of an apple-tree that doesn’t get infected; What about an apple tree that is rugged and doesn’t require much of nutrients from the soil? That’s where the genetically modified crop comes in. It’s sturdy and hence the shelf-life increases too. My apples now won’t go rotten fast, and I can sell them for longer periods after picking.
Side-effects of Inorganic Foods:
Soils treated with chemical fertilizers become exceedingly dependent on these for nutrients and loose their ability to replenish. This generally leads to the soil not being reusable and left barren after a few back-to-back harvests.
This destroys the habitat of many micro-organisms that live in that soil or the animals and cattle that could’ve otherwise grazed on it.
The water that runs-off from such chemically treated fields and soils eventually adds to the groundwater or merges with a nearby waterbody – a stream, a river, or the ocean.
The waterbody thus infected is now polluted with these chemicals. Not only the water is now unfit for consumption, the marine-life is also adversely affected.
Think biomagnification, and consuming seafood from such polluted waters.
Why Organic Foods?
• Replenished Soil:
Using organic manure doesn’t deprive the soil of its ability to replenish naturally.
Manure is all natural and merely acts as an addition rather than a substitute for natural nutrients.
• Safer Waterbodies:
Organic farming hence is generally more environment friendly since the natural substances used in cultivation are readily decomposed and don’t add up as a pollutant in the environment.
• Healthy Farmers: Spraying chemical pesticides also harms the person who sprays it. Natural products do no such kind of collateral harm to the farmer.
What’s in it for me?
• Lesser Health Problems: The quantity of dangerous heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead etc. were found to be comparatively more in inorganically grown crops. These heavy metals are known to cause many problems to human health like skin problems, respiratory problems, weaker immunity, and at times even cancer.
• Lesser Chances of Heart Diseases: Organic poultry is known to have more of healthy omega-3 fatty acids than its inorganic counterpart grown on antibiotics, hormones etc. Omega-3 Fatty Acids reduce risk of heart diseases.
• Reduced Chances of Cancer: Organic crops also have lower levels of nitrates. High levels on nitrates are associated with higher risk of certain types of cancer.
• Stay Young & Beautiful: Organic foods are said to be loaded with good nutrients like antioxidants, zinc, iron, and certain vitamins. These nutrients help prevent or reduce damage to cells of our body.
In a nutshell, organic foods do seem to have an upper hand over their inorganic counterparts. They may come at a premium though, but then, isn’t it justified?