BENEFITS OF ‘ORGANIC’
Now this is not as easy and straight forward as it seems. Although there is widespread public belief that Organic Food is safer, more nutritious and better tasting, it is still difficult to confirm these claims scientifically. However, these beliefs are still promoted by the organic food industry.
Consumers purchase and consume Organic Foods for various reasons such as concerns about the effects of conventional farming practices on the environment, human health and animal welfare.
- Contains fewer pesticides: Organic foods are free from the chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides widely used in conventional agriculture whose residues often remain on (and in) the food we eat.
- Better for the environment:Organic farming practices reduce greenhouse emissions from agriculture, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, reduce pollution and use less energy.
- Improved Animal Welfare: Animals grown organically are usually offered the highest standards of welfare and are reared without the routine use of drugs, antibiotics, growth hormones, animal byproducts and wormers. It is also claimed that being free range helps to keep them healthy.
- Biodiversity friendly: Farming without pesticides is better for nearby birds and animals as well as people who live close to farms. Organic farms are often havens for wildlife and provide homes for bees, birds and butterflies – there is up to 50% more wildlife on organic farms!
- Richer in certain nutrients: Perhaps the most popularly claimed benefit of organic food is the health-giving properties and higher nutritional value. But this is still not proven for many organic food products. However, a 2016 European study show that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50 percent higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally raised versions.
- Building Ecosystems: Organic Farming practices like crop rotation and mixed cropping treat farmland as an ecosystem which means more biodiversity, so whole ecosystems can thrive on land use to grow food.
- GMO-free: Organic foods are free of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) i.e. organisms whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to beresistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide.
- Often fresher: This applies when organic products are sold near the areas where they are produced as they do not contain preservatives.
On the other hand…
- Higher prices: Organic food is often more expensive than its conventionally-grown counterpart.
- Availability: Organic food and animal products of all kinds may not always be available or clearly labelled as such in certain places.
- Difficulty in confirming clamed benefits scientifically: Such as in terms of safety or health benefits.
- Varying National Standards: organic does not mean the same thing everywhere. You have to do your research to know what organic means in your area or when buying imported organic products.
- Limited quantity: The quantity of Organic Food currently being produced in many places still cannot meet increasing food and nutritional demands.
- Increased CO2 emissions: Studies have found that commercial organic farms can produce more CO2 emissions than conventional farms, because their yield is lower, meaning more energy is put into producing the same amount of food.
MY TAKE: The total benefits of Organic Farming and Food on the environment, human health and animal welfare makes it worthwhile.
To be continued…