Should You Switch to Organic Food?
I am sure every one of us has heard the spiel of organic food promoters and how it is better for us. Is it true what they say? Are pesticides that bad? Well let’s start with some basic information and hopefully you can use to make an informed decision today.
What is meant by organic food exactly?
It is food that produced in such a manner so as not to contain potentially harmful synthetic chemicals, such as certain pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, or antibiotics.
Is conventional food really harmful?
There is no “one size fits all” answer. Many of the studies have varying and sometimes opposing results. Also there are many organizations with their own agenda that may provide their official statement on the matter which may not take into account all facts. Therefore many experts are in disagreement as to whether or not conventional food is harmful and organic is safer. According to MayoClinic.org, based on 50 years worth of scientific articles there is no difference in health risk or amount of nutrients between organic and conventional food. Yet in 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an important report that said that children have “unique susceptibilities to [pesticide residues’] potential toxicity.” The pediatricians’ organization cited research that linked pesticide exposures in early life and “pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.”
Another example of conflicting guidance, in a 2012 document published by The American Cancer Society “Whether organic foods carry a lower risk of cancer because they are less likely to be contaminated by compounds that might cause cancer is largely unknown. “ Although the President’s Cancer Panel recently recommended that consumers eat produce without pesticides to reduce their risk of getting cancer and other diseases. The point here being is that there is a good amount of conflicting opinions, test results, and guidance out there. Part of the issue here has to do with lack of long-term studies that take many years to complete. We should not wait for the findings that may take another 10 to 20 years however. We as concerned consumers need to make an educated decision now so as to avoid adverse health effects later in our lives.
Cost versus benefits:
It is a fact that by eating more organic food that you reduce the amount of pesticides you ingest, so if you believe there could be even the slightest ill health effect from pesticides well then this is a benefit. Some claim organic food is not only safer, but also more nutritious and tasty which are more in the way of perceived benefits. Aside from personal benefits, organic farming methods encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution.
The downside of organic produce is the higher cost; it usually spoils faster, and may look less appealing to the cosmetically enhanced, genetically modified conventional food.
Other things to consider:
There are certain foods that are more problematic when it comes to pesticides. According to the Environmental Working Group, certain foods like berries, apples, peaches, celery, and lettuce are more contaminated then other types of produce. The main reason being is that these all have edible, as well as soft, porous skin that facilitates absorption of pesticides and herbicides. Therefore if you decide to try organic, these may be the foods you start with. Safer foods would be things like pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, and corn on the cob, food where you peel away the outer layer before eating. So if you’re looking to save money you could buy these as non-organic. One thing to keep in mind however is that not all pesticides can be washed away as some amount gets into the water and soil and then is absorbed internally through the plants roots.
It is one thing to put yourself at risk, but if you’re a parent or expecting mother then maybe you do not want to take a chance with your children’s health. Some doctors warn that children’s developing brains are most vulnerable to pesticides. Whereas the US government states low amounts of pesticides are not harmful, some studies have shown a correlation between cancer, birth defects, ADHD, effects on nervous system and immune system.
So the jury may still be out as to benefits of Organic Food, but there is enough information out there that you as a consumer should take into consideration. Therefore since this ultimately affects not only our health but the health of our loved ones, it behooves us all to educate ourselves properly, so we can make an informed decision. The truth may lie somewhere in the middle. It may not be necessary to go strictly 100% organic on everything we buy, however you may want to think about buying some organic fruits and vegetables that are considered higher risk.