There is much debate around whether or not organic food is better. For us, there is no question about this and we’re going to explain why. Organic food is perceived as being more expensive, however, this isn’t always the case. There are plenty of affordable ways to eat organic foods, including growing your own and buying from local farms.
Learn why organic food is better for your health and which fruits and vegetables you should definitely buy organic. Find out how to go organic in a simple and cost-effective way.
What is organic food?
Organic food is grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, irradiation or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). GMOs are organisms which have been artificially made in labs and have had their DNA altered. Organic meat, dairy and eggs come from livestock which are free to roam either inside or outdoors, and who are fed organic food. They are not given growth regulators, antibiotics or feed additives. Regulations vary from country to country, but on the whole, organic food is grown with natural fertilisers such as manure and compost and weeds are controlled through natural means like hand weeding and crop rotation.
Benefits of organic food
- Fresh, organic foods are more nutritious and contain higher amounts of antioxidants than non-organic crops. An example of this is organic tomatoes which have up to 50% more vitamin C and 130% more phytonutrients than non-organic tomatoes. Organic milk and meat contain up to 50% more omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic meat and milk.
- Organic food is free of toxins and harmful chemicals which are poisonous for the body. When you reduce your toxic load, you’re helping to slow down the ageing process and prevent chronic disease.
- It tastes and smells better. As organic fruits and vegetables are not exposed to toxic pesticides, the soil in which they are grown tends to be better nourished, yielding more nutritious and flavoursome crops.
- Easier to digest as the enzymes in organic produce are still alive; unlike in conventional produce where enzymes are destroyed by chemical fertilisers.
- You feel more satiated and fuller when you eat organic food due to its higher nutritional value. Conventional produce is irradiated, a process which reduces up to 90% of the food’s nutrients. You can test this theory out – eat some organic lettuce direct from a farm and then the next day, try a non-organic lettuce from the supermarket. See which one makes you feel more satisfied (and which one tastes better).
- Your body absorbs more nutrients when you eat organic food. When fuelled with quality food, instead of empty calories, you tend to eat less as your cells have all the nutrients they need. Going organic could potentially reduce your food bill.
- Organic agriculture is eco-friendly and more sustainable as plant life, animals and humans are not negatively impacted by toxic farming production methods.
- Prevents over-farming and over-harvesting which causes soils and crops to become nutrient deficient.
The clean fifteen
The clean fifteen refers to a list of the 15 cleanest conventionally-farmed crops; those least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues. If you can’t go completely organic, these are the crops you should buy conventionally.
- Sweet peas
- Aubergines (eggplant)
- Honeydew melon
The dirty dozen
The dirty dozen is a list of 12 crops that are exposed to the highest amounts of pesticides. These are the crops you should definitely buy organic.
- Sweet peppers
How to go organic
Going organic is simple and easy, especially now that the supply of organic foods is more abundant than it used to be.
Here are some tips on going organic:
- Buy seasonal, direct from local farmers or trusted suppliers. Produce is picked when it’s fully ripened so it’s tastier and more nutritious.
- Shop at farmers markets and farm shops as the produce is fresher; it hasn’t been sitting in supermarket storage for months on end. Buying organic produce from markets is often much cheaper than getting it from the supermarket.
- Grow your own herbs, fruits and vegetables in your garden. Even with limited outside space you can grow some of your own produce. Window sills and balcony containers are ideal for herbs, tomatoes, lettuce and strawberries.
- Explore organic box schemes. Crops are in season and picked the day before packing to ensure freshness and quality.
- Remember that free range, natural and farm fresh doesn’t mean organic.
- Be aware that organic supermarket produce is often irradiated and treated to extend shelf life which can affect the taste and nutrient quality of the food.
- Focus on the ‘clean fifteen’ fruits and vegetables if organic is not available.
- Always read labels, even with organic food. Processed organic foods may still be too high in sugar, fat, salt or refined carbohydrates. Even though a food product is organic, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.
Quality over quantity
The quality of your food should always proceed quantity. Organic food is by far a superior quality to conventionally-produced food; it’s more nutritious, flavoursome, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly. By consuming less toxins in your food, you’re helping to slow down the ageing process and improve your overall health. Grow your own produce, shop at local farmers markets or try out organic box schemes. Remember to always read labels and be wary of supermarket organic foods which are often irradiated and treated to prolong shelf life.