Does Organic Really Matter?

Carrots with dirt on them in a white mesh bag

With the organic market expanding and Amazon purchasing Whole Foods, the benefits of organic vs non-organic (or “conventional” as Whole Foods says) are again under the microscope. This debate ultimately comes down to one question – Does what happens on the fields stay on the fields or does it linger and affect our bodies? More and more studies are revealing the potential detrimental effects of using chemical on our food sources.

Yet, the question remains, does eating organic really matter? At Newbridge, we believe it does.

Four Benefits of an Organic Lifestyle:

Reduced Chemical Exposure

Even though specific chemicals have been labeled as safe for farming practices, there is a growing concern about repeat and habitual exposures to these chemicals. Studies have linked specific herbicides and insecticides with developmental delays, autism, ADHD, thyroid disease, and overall less-than-optimal gut-function. Also, conventional produce is more likely to contain heavy metals – specifically cadmium [1].

“Several studies support the claim that organic diets can dramatically reduce pesticide exposure. One such study compared pesticide metabolite levels in 18 children who got at least 75% of their juice and produce servings from organic sources with those in 21 children who got at least 75% of their juice and produce from conventionally grown food. Levels of organophosphorus pesticide metabolites in the urine collected were six to nine times higher in the children who ate conventionally grown foods than in those who ate organic diets. More recent studies have corroborated these claims [2].”

Avoid Hormones and Antibiotics in Animal Products

It is estimated that approximately 70 percent of the antibiotics manufactured in the United States are given to animals for non-therapeutic purposes. From there, antibiotics, drugs, and growth hormones are passed directly from the animal and into their consumable meat and dairy products. Organic beef, chicken, and other poultry must have been given 100% organic feed and never have received antibiotics or hormones to be labeled organic. For organic milk and eggs, the aforementioned standards are the same but only required for the previous 12 months. The primary concerns with growth hormones being given to animals are the subsequent effects of early onset puberty, growth tumors, cancer, and genetic alterations [3, 2].

Higher Antioxidant Levels

Antioxidants are a naturally occurring product in plant-based produce and are vital in protecting the body against oxidants which can damage cells. Recent studies have revealed that with some produce (not all), there can be up to 20 percent more antioxidants in organic produce as compared to non-organic. Also, it has been noted that antioxidants stemming from organic products tend to be more impactful than non-organic produce. This is likely due to the lack of foreign chemicals present which have the potential to interfere with the processing of crucial minerals and vitamins that the body needs [1, 4].

Tastes Better!

While not strictly a health benefit, organic foods tend to taste better – having richer and fuller flavors. Organic produce often has a better chance of being grown locally, so it spends more time naturally ripening instead of being frozen and shipped from far away places [4].

Better For the Environment.

Agricultural chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers can be damaging to the environment by interrupting the way in which the ecological systems interact with each other.

What Does an Organic Label Mean?

The USDA provides four main categories for classifying food as organic…

    • 100% Organic: All ingredients must have been organically produced.
    • Organic: At least 95% of ingredients must have been organically produced.
    • Made of Organic Ingredients: 70% or more are organic ingredients.
    • Have some organic ingredients: Less than 70% of ingredients were organically produced. [4]

Three Easy Steps to go Organic:

Establish Priorities

Eating strictly organic can be costly and not always in the budget… no matter how important it is. Check out the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen to help you decide what is most important to purchase organically. In general, try to prioritize oils, dairy and meat products, coffee, and everything on the Dirty Dozen.

Clean Out Your Pantry

After setting your priorities, go through your pantry, reading labels, and pull out anything that contains non-organic ingredients that are not in alignment with your priorities.

Restock in Bulk

Restock your cupboards and fridge in bulk to save a few dollars – Explore both local options and online stores like Thrive Market.

Resources

1. 4 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Eating Organic
2. Why Eat Organic Foods – Richmond Functional Medicine
3. Top 10 Reasons to Go Organic – Prevention
4. 9 Amazing Benefits of Eating Organic – Organic Facts

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