What is Organic Food?
The world is becoming increasingly fascinated by organic foods! Many theories have been developed and countless lectures have been delivered on the benefits of organic foods to the body. The world is on the verge of “going green” once more and some scientists are increasingly of the view that organic foods are the answer to the age-long problems of cancer and body toxicity. So what is organic food?
The term organic simply refers to “natural”. It is applied to agricultural practices where the farmers make use of the naturally available materials for their farming only. This form of farming is regulated by several bodies. The products harvested from the process of organic farming are known and referred to as “organic foods”.
Organic foods, as the name implies, are foods produced by methods which strictly comply with the standards of organic farming (the use of natural products only for the production of crops, meat, and other dairy products). These standards may vary from one country to the other, however, in general, organic farming is carried out with three primary aims.
The aims of carrying out organic farming are listed thus;
- To conserve biodiversity: it is widely believed that the use conventional methods of agriculture such as those involving the use of pesticides and herbicides can temper with the growth and proliferation of certain species of animals and may lead to the extinction of several plants. It is believed that organic farming can help in conserving biodiversity since plants are allowed to enjoy a natural succession.
- Promotion of ecological balance: the use of chemicals has really dealt a great blow to the ecological balance in the natural communities.
- Cycling of available resources: it is widely believed that practicing organic farming can assist in the natural cycling of the available nutrients and resources such as nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon cycles.
The organizations regulating organic farming may limit the use of certain fertilizers and chemicals in farming. In organic farming, the use of synthetic food additives, industrial solvents or irradiation is in the preservation of food is highly discouraged.
In order to market food as “organic” within a given locality, producers are required by the law to become certified. When certification is needed, the production of organic food must be in agreement with the standards set by the regulating bodies, otherwise, no product certification will be issued.
At the time of writing this article, there is no scientific evidence from any medical literature that is in support of the claims that consuming organic foods is healthier than inorganic foods. Although some slight differences may occur between them such as in the aspect of nutrients and anti-nutrient contents, the general nature of their production and handling makes them very difficult to be generalized.
Take a look at the organic products ChelseaMarket.ca has to offer. These include fruits, snacks, meats, sugar, teas, oils, and much more.
Differences Between Organic and Inorganic Foods
Knowing the differences between organic and inorganic foods is important. While organic foods are produced naturally without the use of additives in the form of fertilizers and pesticides, their inorganic food counterparts are those which are produced using every other agricultural practice known to man. This may include the use of Genetically Modified Feeds and growth enhancers such as hormones and the use of synthetic fertilizers. The table below summarizes the major differences between organic and inorganic foods:
|They are not linked to the occurrence of any health hazard||They have been implicated as one of the causes of cancer and other health-related diseases such as food poisoning.|
The management system of livestock
|The livestock must have access to the outdoors. The management of organic livestock is generally extensive and strict rules must be followed exactly.||The livestock may or may not have access to the outdoors. In most cases, they are grown in a controlled environment and the method of management is largely intensive and semi-intensive.|
|They are richer in nutrients. A study carried out in 2016 revealed that the levels of certain nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids were up to 50 percent higher in organic foods.||They provide fewer nutrients.|
|The control of pests takes place through biological methods such as the use of natural enemies and naturally derived pesticides.||Pests can be controlled with the use of pesticides of any kind.|
Prevention of diseases
|The prevention of diseases is carried out with natural products such as through the use of clean housing and rotational grazing with healthy diets.||The use of antibiotics and other forms of medications can be used to vaccinate the livestock against diseases.|
|These are foods produced organically without the use of additives such as fertilizers and pesticides. All materials used for their production are strictly natural or from plant and animal sources.||These are foods produced without any form of restriction in the use of additives such as pesticides, fertilizers and growth enhancers. All materials used for their production are strictly synthetic.|
|They are strictly guided by some regulations which must be complied with. These regulations are set up by regulatory bodies which oversee the affairs of the farming methods.||They are not guided by regulatory bodies and hence may not require any form of certification before production can take place.|
Type of animal feeds
|The meat, dairy, eggs and livestock products are given all organic, hormone and GMO-free feed. This means the animals don't consume genetically modified or enhanced feeds for fast growth.||They can be given any form of feed to enhance their growth and production rate.|
Type of fertilizers used
|They are mostly grown using fertilizers from natural sources such as compost and manure||They can be grown using the chemical or synthetic fertilizers. There are no restrictions on the type of fertilizers to be used.|
|The control of weed is carried out through natural processes such as tiling, mulching, hand weeding and crop rotation.||The weeds can be controlled with the use of chemical herbicides.|
|The yield is moderate||The yield is high.|
The Increased Popularity Rate of Organic Foods
One of the major problems facing the world now involves issues relating to environmental pollution, destruction of the ecological balance in the environment and the conservation of many endangered species. Any aspects of human lives that will lead to the correction of these serious issues are highly desirable. This is the root cause why many producers have started organic farming.
The fact that the world is now becoming more and more concerned with the conservation of biodiversity, cycling of nutrients and preservation of the ecological balance in the environment is an indication that many people have adopted organic farming. Data gathered from the U.S Department of Agriculture revealed that there was a soaring increase in the sale of organic foods from $3 billion in 1997 (when organic farming was in its early years) to more than $32 billion in 2018. It is also widely believed that the growth and acceptance rate of organic foods increases at the rate of 20% per annum and the experts are of the view that organic food may soon account for 2.5% - 3.5% of the entire food in North America by 2020. Data generated from other countries of the world, particularly the EU Block has revealed that the world is embracing the art and act of organic farming and the consumption of these organic foods are similarly on the rise.
A further, more careful review of this data reveals some of the reasons why the organic foods are gaining more and popularity in the world today;
- Conservation of the Environment:
Our environment has been polluted by man’s activity (which comes in the form of applying chemical fertilizers, use of pesticides and herbicides on the farm as a control measure for pests and weeds.) These farming additives used in inorganic farming have been identified as the cause of cancer and toxicity in the body which can lead to death. The wash-off of chemical fertilizers into our drinking water reserves can lead to algal bloom and this can become a major source of polluting the environment.
Organic farming serves as one of the very best solutions to these problems since all the materials used are eco-friendly and biodegradable (i.e. can be degraded by bacteria and fungi). Organic farming is not just about the production of foods; it also conserves the environment. The farming practices involved in organic farming are much better for the environment. It reduces pollution, conserves water, reduces soil erosion, increases the soil fertility and uses less energy. As well, farming carried out without the use of pesticides is better for animals that are being raised in nearby farms.
- Cycling of Nutrients:
Nutrients are not in unending supply! Engaging in organic farming can enhance the rate at which nutrients such as carbon and nitrogen can be recycled in nature. These gases and nutrients are vital for the sustenance of life on planet earth.
- Less Toxicity
This is one of the major reasons why organic food is gaining acceptance in the world at large. The farming methods used in the production of these foods are very safe since all materials used are from a natural source. Health-wise, it has been shown that the use of inorganic farming additives can lead to the accumulation of toxins in the body. A toxin is a substance which is toxic to the body and can interfere with its proper functioning. Consuming organic food has never been linked to such toxins.
- Preserving Biodiversity
The rate at which pesticides, herbicides and other chemical are being used in inorganic farming can lead to the extinction of some rare species of plant and animals. Organic farming and their products are aimed at preserving the biodiversity in the environment. By practicing crop rotation, the land can enjoy a natural succession so as to preserve some rare species of plants and animals.
Why People Choose Organic Foods Over Inorganic Foods
The rate at which people are purchasing organic foods is increasing exponentially. Their perceived benefits are on the rise and with time, they may well become the majority of total foods purchased. There are many reasons why this is so:
- Presence of Fewer Chemicals
Since inorganic foods are produced through the use of pesticides and other forms of chemicals which are believed to enhance the growth of the food products, there is a great probability of these chemicals finding their way into the plant or foods. They then can be ingested while consuming the food. People tend to choose organic foods over their inorganic counterparts since these organic foods are contain little or no chemicals from the application of additives. Organically raised animals are not fed with growth hormones, antibiotics or fed with byproducts. (When animals are fed with byproducts, it increases their risks of contracting some diseases such as mad cow disease and the use of antibiotics can lead to the creation of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.) Organically raised animals are allowed to move around in more open spaces and to have access to the outdoors which can help in keeping them healthy.
A lot of people prefer to eat organic foods because they believe that organic foods simply taste better and look fresher! The use of fertilizers and chemicals to control the pest can make the food tasteless, prone to spoilage and other factors which may render the food invalid. The main difference between organic and inorganic food is in the taste. Organic food is often fresher since it contains fewer preservatives which makes them last longer. As well, organic foods are often sold near the farms where they are produced, reducing the impact on the ecosphere.
Organic foods are more nutritious than the other varieties. In addition, organic foods tend to act as antioxidants and can be used in the treatment of cancer, chronic illnesses, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases. As well, it is widely believed by nutritionists, registered dieticians and many other holistic natural practitioners that organic foods contain less amount of cadmium, a metal which can cause toxicity in the body.
The farming practices involving the production of organic foods are relatively cost-effective since many of the production costs involved in producing organic foods require raw materials and other supplies that often are readily available and can be sourced locally. In addition, the ever-growing demand for organic foods is helping farmers to achieve production efficiencies that previously were unattainable. Overall, as organic foods become more “mainstream”, their volumes will continue to grow and the costs of production will continue to shrink.
Greg Sprout | Founder
Greg owns ChelseaMarket.ca with his wife, Phyllis. They have been in the food industry for more than 30 years operating manufacturing, wholesale and retail businesses. He has a passion for fine foods and wines and is a fervent supporter of entrepreneurial ventures.