Organic Food Isn’t Any Better
I walk out the front door and over to my garden bed and pluck a delicious red strawberry. This particular strawberry has never experienced exposure to any chemicals or artificial plant growing stimulants. It is juicy and sweet and I feel healthy consuming it. I love to eat food from my garden. Yet most of the food that ends up on most of the dinner tables around the world is not grown in the backyard as it may have in the past. The population of the earth is growing and as the number of humans and other animals increases, so does the need for a larger quantity of food to support this larger population. Are we capable of feeding the world’s population organically?
And is organic food truly more nutritious? Does it have more vitamins and minerals? Are we really healthier if we eat organic? There are many questions that arise when it comes to our diet and what we should be putting in our bodies as well as the impact of what we buy on our planet earth.
A Study performed at Harvard University showed that there was little difference between organic and non-organic food. According to the article Organic Food No More Nutritious Than Conventionally Grown Food found that the only differences between organic and non-organically grown foods is higher levels of phosphorus in organic produce and that more omega-3 fatty acid was found in organic milk and poultry. Other than these small differences the two foods were nutritionally very much the same. In fact genetically modified foods are often larger because they are genetically designed so that the plant will produce a larger quantity of more luscious produce and nutrition is taken account in the design.
The same study mentioned earlier that was written about the nutritional differences between organic and non-organic foods done by Harvard University also found that there was a higher level of pesticide residue on non-organic food but that it was still under allowable safety limits. Though many people think that foods grown organically are grown without the use of pesticides, this is simply not the case. Organic foods are grown using organic pesticides, not chemically engineered pesticides. In the article, “Is Organic Food Actually Better? Here’s what the Science Says” the author, Mihai Andrei reminds us that “because organic food is completely non-GMO and therefore some plants are less resistant, in some cases, more pesticides have to be used (organic pesticides, but still pesticides) — and the difference between organic pesticides and regular pesticides is not that big.”
While a lot of energy is being put into research on how organic and non-organic food differ chemically, not a lot of thought usually goes into the global impact of the very different agricultural practices. In the article The Dilemma of Eating Locally and Hurting Others Globally written by Tom Murphy, Murphy discusses how changing what you buy effects the global marketplace. Murphy mentions how buying foods that are non-organic are often from other countries and by buying those foods you are helping to strengthen the world’s economy and help poorer farms in other parts of the world. Helping farmers around the world is important, but meeting the demands for food of a growing population is more urgent. The Farmers and Ranchers Alliance is predicting that “by 2050, we may need to grow twice as much food with the same resources to keep up with population growth — 2 billion more people.” These same farmers believe that using GMOs is one answer to this dilemma. So far, the use of GMOs has helped agriculture use less land than organically grown foods would have. “In the first 18 years of GMOs being available, without GM seeds, more land would have been needed to grow the same amount of crops.” This can make a significant difference for the preservation of forests in the future
Looking at what we can do to support our planet and still be able to feed ourselves is important for our future. People are purchasing organic foods more and more because they want to be healthy and be respectful of the environment. But eating organic foods, if not more nutritional, is not pesticide free and uses more precious land then perhaps there may be other things we can do to support the planet. Raising animals takes more land than growing plants for food. Animals also create more pollution while plants decrease levels of pollution. We could consume less meat and return lands now used for animals such as pigs and cows to land used for growing food. This truly would impact the future of our world.