Going Organic is a Healthier Way to Live, Or is It?

So there you are; grocery list in one hand, shopping cart in the other and thinking healthy on your mind. As you enter the produce aisle you are met with the overly bright lights and sound of thunder as it rains down on the beautifully presented “organic” section. An all too familiar dilemma is presented; to grab the “organic,” overpriced carton of grapes or to give into the “cheap” corporately grown grapes that are on sale. Most of people of modern society would grab the “budget friendly” grapes and move on with their lives but the “green activist” in the back of your head is saying to grab the more environmentally friendlier grapes. The stigma of shopping these days is to go organic and in doing so will label you a good parent or a healthy individual. But is going organic truly a better alternative than the traditionally mass-produced food?

In today’s consumer market most products have some type of “green” stamp on it promoting itself different than that of the mass-produced products. So with all these new “green” terms it seems as if it is more for marketing purposes rather than offering a healthier product to the consumer. The myth that I will debunk is if most products that are labeled “green,” “eco-friendly,” “earth-friendly,” and “organic” are really trustworthy to be healthier.

In the consumer market there are loose regulations on whether or not a product is a “organic.” Additionally the marketing of these products is constantly changing where the labeled phrase changes into a new phrase. When these types of products were first developed they appealed to the “green” consumer and offered an alternative to the original product. The phrase “organic” has been around for about two decades, where it is being pushed in most supermarkets all over the world.

The main focus of the consumer is two things: is this product healthy and is it budget-friendly. If we take a look at the prices of organic food it will always be more expensive than the corporate produced food. Additionally most people will argue that the organic food is going to be healthier, but some scientists will disagree by saying buying the cheap produce is just as good as the organic food. In a non-funded research study done by Annals of Internal Medicine found that “organic food are not more nutritious than conventional food, that organic food has more phosphorous.” (Watson) These researchers discovered a small difference in nutritional content with the organic food and the traditional foods, which makes sense because most of the traditional foods are genetically modified to possess the most nutrients.

Organic foods are claimed to be more nutritious but turn out to only have a small advantage in terms of food safety. Research shows that most organic foods are safer to eat since they are grown with fewer pesticides than traditional food. “Organic produce did have the slight edge in food safety, with 30% lower pesticide residues than conventional foods.” (Watson) Even though the numbers show a lower amount of pesticides are used on organic foods it still does not coincide with the government regulations that are put in place to monitor the amount used in organic and conventional farming. There is a stigma that the uses of pesticides are harmful to the human body but in the farming world there are organic pesticides that are derived from natural sources and then there are others that are synthetically engineered. One example of such organic pesticide is Rotenone that was used in organic farming for decades. It was derived naturally from subtropical plants and therefore considered safe to use. (Wilcox) Research showed that it was especially harmful to lab rats, which caused Parkinson’s disease in those specimens. “Research found that exposure to rotenone caused Parkinson’s Disease-like symptoms in rates, and had the potential to kill many species, including humans.” (Wilcox) Since 2005 it has been banned in the US, but the point is that something that is labeled natural does not make it safe to use.

For some health and environmentally conscious consumers organic seems to be a viable option to pursue but may not be a budget friendly route. The organic marketing campaign has been implemented in nearly every grocery store to promote a “healthier” lifestyle. But research shows that most organic produce has not proven to be healthier, although it can be shown to have less pesticide residual than conventional produce. As more research is done in investigating the pesticides that are used in production we will continue to see a shift in what is classified as healthier alternatives to use the growing processes.

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