Any time you enter a grocery store, you see all of the regular fruits and vegetables, and then you likely see a separate section for organic produce. It’s often more expensive, but the produce may look more appealing.
Take an organic head of lettuce and a conventional head of lettuce, and you probably don’t see much of a difference. Many consumers are making a switch to organic produce, though. As the organic food industry continues to grow, more people are becoming aware of the benefits, both environmentally and health-wise. In fact, more people buy organic food for health-related reasons rather than sustainable ones.
While you may think there are no differences health-wise between organic and conventional foods, you’ll be surprised at these five ways organic food impacts your health.
What Makes Food Organic?
Before diving into the ways organic food impacts your health, it’s important to understand what makes a food organic in the first place. When you see a food labeled “organic,” it has a wealth of meaning behind it. With this knowledge, you can make smart decisions while you shop.
The way foods are grown and processed is what makes them organic. Organic producers must follow federal guidelines that factor in soil quality, pest and weed management, livestock practices and use of any additives to the foods. Organically-grown foods are often better for the environment because of these practices.
Organic produce is grown with natural fertilizers like compost or manure. Weed and pest control derives from natural methods like crop rotation, companion planting and mulching. Livestock are fed with organic materials and aren’t allowed to have any hormone or GMO enhancers. Plus, the animals have to have access to the outdoors.
All of these reasons make what you know as organic foods. Below, you’ll find the health benefits associated with consuming organic food.
1. Reduces Public Health Problems
In conventional farming, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and weed control release harmful toxins in the air. The toxins pose the most significant risk to the farmers themselves since they’re directly involved in the usage of those chemicals.
Once those chemicals enter the air, though, they can pose a health risk to the public. Children and older adults are most vulnerable to these pesticides and fertilizers. Organic food products don’t allow the use of these harmful chemicals, making them safer for you and everyone else.
2. Provides You With More Antioxidants
Food that is grown organically often has more antioxidants. Antioxidants are essential to your health. They slow the damage to cells that free radicals can cause. These molecules can cause serious health concerns.
Organic foods don’t include chemicals that react with vitamins and minerals in your body. On the other hand, conventional foods contain chemicals that can reduce the positive impacts of antioxidants.
3. Offers Higher Concentrations of Healthy Fats
If you are a meat and dairy lover, you might want to make the switch to organically produced meat and dairy. Why? Organic products can have up to 50% more healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids. This fat is unsaturated, unlike most fats in conventional products.
Livestock raised organically spend more time outside, which means their diets include more grasses. This is healthier overall for both the livestock and the consumer. Plus, the meat quality is generally better if organic. Besides healthy fats, organic milk also includes more Calcium, which is excellent for dental health and strong bones.
4. Includes Fewer Harmful Pesticides
Pesticides are designed to kill pests, but they can also kill people. Chemical pesticides have been linked as a cause for diseases like cancer, headaches, birth defects and a weakened immune system. Since organic farming steers clear of harmful pesticides, there is a lower risk of these health concerns.
As you increase your consumption of organic produce, there will be less of a demand for conventional products. That means fewer harmful pesticides will be used.
5. Lessens Chance of Food Illness
You’re probably aware of the number of times a food product is recalled because of some sort of contamination. This could be bacterial exposure to E.Coli or other substances that make the food unsafe to eat. If you’re unaware of the recall and consume the product, you could get food poisoning or another food-borne illness.
Another way people get a food-borne illness through conventional products is by a practice called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Animals are given drugs, vaccines or other substances that enhance their productivity, but can cause an infection that ends up in your food. Organic practices do not allow CAFOs.
Organic Foods — Better for the Environment and Better for Your Health
With all of these ways in which organic food impacts your health, it’s hard not to be convinced to purchase organically-produced items. If you can, it might be in your best interest to head to that organic section in your grocery store.
Your overall health will benefit greatly from organic foods. The environment will thank you, too!