Last post I discussed what it means when a food is labeled ‘organic’. Today we’ll discuss the health benefits of organic foods. Other benefits of organic farming include stewardship of natural and human resources.
Natural resources include land and water. Stewardship of human resources means being socially considerate of the working and living condition of laborers, needs of rural communities and health of consumers.
I find that the organic food often tastes better too!
Health Benefits of Organic Food
Here are some of the potential health benefits of organic foods:
- foods that are higher in nutrients
- foods with lower pesticide residues
- foods with lower amounts of food additives
The challenge with some of these claims is that there is little data on organic foods vs. conventional foods. Some of the potential benefits are just theoretical. It will take more time and research to investigate whether the potential benefits are proven.
There hasn’t been any direct studies on humans to show that organic foods can prevent cancer or other diseases. However, having more and higher quality nutrients in your food means that you get more cancer fighting phytochemicals to help your body stay healthy.
You do need to inspect your food closely though. Since organic farming doesn’t include as many pesticides, there is more of a chance that you’ll run across a bug in your produce!
Another important environmental and health choice is choosing to buy local foods. Local foods tend to be higher in nutrients because they are usually picked fresh and sold to you soon after picking.
This is different from the food at the grocery store which may be picked before it’s ripe so that it can make the long trip to the distribution center and then on to your grocery store.
If you buy local food at a farmer’s market, it is cheaper than buying it at the grocery store. Remember to ask the farmer if they use organic farm practices.
Organic vs. Local: Which to Buy
I rank organic food vs. local food in this order:
1. Local, organic food
2. Local, conventional food
3. Not local organic food
4. Not local conventional food
I don’t always choose my #1 ranked choice, I take the cost difference as well as the particular product in mind. There are certain foods that I tend to buy organic, and certain foods that I don’t. Next post I will discuss the “dirty dozen” and the “cleanest 12”.
Some say that it costs too much to eat organic foods. Honestly, people spend 5 times more on junk food and fast food than on fruits and vegetables. I don’t think it’s the organic fruits and vegetables that are busting the budget!
Until next time, visit your local farmer’s market!