Is Organic The Way to Go?
Crunchy. Juicy. Sweet. What is the difference between eating an apple from an orchard treated with sprays and eating one that is organically raised? Or is there any difference? Eating organic food has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the common belief that organic food tastes better and is better for you. Most people believe that eating organic is better but what does eating organic actually mean? According to the Helpguide article titled Organic Foods: What You Need to Know About Eating Organic, organic crops “must be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.” and organic livestock “meat, eggs, and dairy products must have access to the outdoors and be given organic feed. They may not be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal by-products.”
Conventionally grown crops start out their little plant lives being grown from chemically fertilized soil. As the plants grow they are sprayed regularly with pesticides to keep insects and other rodents from eating them. Then they are harvested and shipped off to be sold. Although the pesticide residue left on the conventionally grown crops is within the allowable safety limits, should we be eating foods just because a governmental agency believe that the contamination level isn’t high enough to harm us yet? And what about chemical accumulation over time? People who believe organic food is better argue that the pesticides are still dangerous and should be avoided. Every year a list of the most pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables comes out to help shoppers decide which foods would be better bought organic and others that you may as well buy conventionally grown. This list is titled EWG’s 2016 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Throughout the article different fruits and vegetables are listed with the amount and types of pesticide residues found on each one. Some, like leafy greens, were found to have more pesticide residue than other foods such as avocados which had hardly any trace amounts of pesticides. All of these amounts have been labeled as safe but some still argue that this may not be true and may even overload our immune system decreasing its natural ability to protect us.
Much like the controversy over pesticides and fertilizer, an argument exists about the impact of growth hormones and antibiotics being used while raising livestock. Conventionally grown livestock are raised eating mostly grain and hay, unlike organic meat which is usually fed mostly fresh grass. Additionally, conventionally grown livestock are fed a myriad of different antibiotics and growth hormones throughout their lives to make them bigger and to keep them from becoming ill and infecting the rest of the animals around them. According to an article published by the Natural Society titled Organic and Conventional Food Differences, The Certified Organic Seal, consuming meat that has been fed growth hormones can cause developmental problems, interference with the reproductive system , breast, prostate, and colon cancer.” Feeding large amounts of antibiotics to animals in factory farms can create strains of bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics. Medicating animals in this manner has already been banned in the European Union and Canada because of the unknown long term effects that the use of antibiotics on such a large scale could have. Not only do opponents of conventionally grown livestock argue that the growth hormones and antibiotics are found in conventionally grown meat, they also argue over the unhealthy habitats that these animals live in. Factory farms usually raise animals such as chickens which are often kept in rooms in a large numbers often with little room to move freely or they are kept in small cages unable to move because they have been injected with so many growth hormones that they can no longer move because they are too fat and the space they are given is too small. Whether or not it is healthy for humans to consume meat from stressed out and sick animals, and presumably it is, it is cruel and inhumane to force animals to live their entire existence is tortured conditions.
Taste is a matter of opinion, or so they say, yet it only takes biting into an organic banana or an organic tomato from a vine in one’s own yard to notice that there certainly is a difference in taste. Though anecdotal, one would be hard pressed to find someone who would argue that a store bought, conventionally produced piece of fruit or a vegetable is a more delicious choice. But there is some evidence that shows scientific proof of a taste difference. In an article written by the Organic Center titled Do Organic Fruits and Vegetables Taste Better Than Conventional Produce? They write “Many studies that have compared the taste and organoleptic quality of organic and conventional foods report no consistent or significant differences between organic and conventional fruits and vegetables. But among the well-designed studies that have found differences, the vast majority favor organic produce.” Both sides of this ongoing argument have valid points to be made and in the end it’s up to you to decide what you want to put in your body.