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Monday, October 19 2009

Is Organic Food Really the Healthier Choice?

A Look at the Benefits and Concerns of Conventional Foods Versus Organic Products

In the 1990's
Since the advent of organic food, and its subsequent rise in popularity in the late 1990's, people have been skeptical about its purported superiority. Skeptics and makers of conventional foods claimed that the benefits of organic foods were based in theory, not fact. Others claimed the superiority of organic products over traditional products were baseless and unproven. The truth behind all of the controversy is that during the 1990's there had not been enough testing done to substantiate the purported benefits of organic products or confirm the drawbacks of traditionally produced food.

Organic Facts Today
Since the '90s there have been various studies done to show the improved nutritional value of organic agriculture by researching and analyzing the vitamin, nutrient and mineral content of both organically and traditionally grown produce. There are significantly higher levels of various beneficial components in organic products, including:

* Chromium: prevents hardening of the arteries and type 2 diabetes

* Calcium and Boron: build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis

* Lithium: a common chemical in antidepressants and mood stabilizers

* Salicylic Acid: an anti-inflammatory which can prevent heart disease

* Antioxidants: protects cells from damage

* Magnesium: helps prevent death during a heart attack

* Selenium: helps prevent heart disease and certain cancers

* Vitamin C: builds the immune system

And while these are just a few of the many nutrients which have been found in organic produce; they are by no means the only ones. This list could get longer as more research is done about the nutritional benefits of organic food.

As we consider the beneficial properties of organic food we may also ponder the harmful effects of traditionally grown foods in order to understand fully why organic food is superior. When many of the chemicals used in farming today were approved, they had not had been researched to determine their safety for the land or the environment. Subsequent research has found that most chemicals used in traditional farming also have negative effects on humans. Non-organic foods have been analyzed and have been found to contain harmful chemicals, heavy metals, solvents and various hormones. Some of the conditions linked with these substances include:

* cancer

* heart disease

* osteoporosis

* migraines

* hyperactivity

* decreased intelligence

* impaired hearing

* reduced growth during childhood

* anemia

* Alzheimer's

* multiple sclerosis

* rheumatoid arthritis

* early puberty

* increased antibiotic-resistant disease strains

Again, not unlike the list of benefits attributed to organic foods, this list of harmful side effects caused by chemicals used in traditional farming is only a partial list. As research continues into chemicals used in traditional farming and the effect they have on the human body, more conditions will likely be added to this list. To date, most of the research on chemicals has been done on the affects of them singly. As research grows surrounding the various combinations of chemicals found in many conventional foods, the likelihood that still more conditions will be added to the list of adverse affects is high.

While there are obviously many benefits to organic agriculture, it is not without its faults. It is well-known that organic products are more expensive; depending on where you buy organic food, it could cost twice as much as regular grocery store brands. There is also concern that natural fertilizers such as plant material and manure could contain harmful organisms, such as e coli. While contamination is rare, it can prove harmful if proper food handling is not used.

Even with the drawbacks, organic foods are proving to be much safer for consumption than conventionally grown foods. Along with the health benefits, organic agricultural practices also benefit the environment, keeping it viable for years to come. Go Organic...It's good for the community, good for the environment and good for you!

Marty Rich has been a professional chef for more than 27 years. He is dedicated to helping everyday people, like you and me, learn to create easy, simple meals with the freshest of ingredients. For more information on organic living please visit

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:32 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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