Health & Fitness

Organic Food: It is Worth the Switch?

The interest in adopting a healthier lifestyle has doubled over the past decade. You have probably heard of (or even tried) every new healthy diet, power food, and supplement that the media dubbed as “the secret” for attaining good health, a great figure and a long life. In recent years, however, organic produce and food products have come into the spotlight and nutrition gurus will tell you that organic is the way to go if you want to be truly healthy and boost your immune system. Trying to understand the labels, differences and benefits can seem a bit overwhelming for most, and some people might even remain skeptical, especially that organic food tends to carry a substantially higher price tag, particularly in the Middle East. So what is organic food and what are the benefits of choosing it?
 
Keep it Natural
The term “organic” refers to the method of growing and processing agricultural and animal products. When you purchase an organic product it will come with a certification stamped on its packaging that authenticates that it was grown in soil, has not been mixed with conventional products and crops, does not include genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and is free from any artificial pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Livestock raised for human consumption must be allowed to roam freely in the outdoors, grow without being given hormones and antibiotics, and be given organic feed. 
 
Is Your Food Killing You?
With growing awareness about the health hazards of mass-produced conventional products and processed and packaged food that line supermarket shelves and with the emerging studies and research, the dangers of consuming conventionally grown produce and animal products, food coloring, preservatives and GMOs can no longer be ignored. 
 
Conventionally grown crops, livestock, poultry and even fish contain alarmingly high levels of pesticide residue, hormones, antibiotics, chemicals and preservatives. Artificial pesticides are a group of chemicals that act as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. While they are meant to destroy fungi, weeds and insects that might damage crops, they do remain in produce, and washing and sterilizing the fruits and vegetables you buy is not enough to get rid of them.
 
There is no end to the harm these pesticides can cause, particularly to fetuses and children. A pregnant woman can pass on these residues that she ingests in her food to her unborn baby. Children too can be affected when they are exposed to these synthetic chemicals at such a young age while their bodies are in the process of development and growth, as they become vulnerable to all kinds of developmental defects, disorders and motor dysfunction. Accumulated exposure to pesticide residue over a number of years can leave the body with a weakened immune system and various health problems ranging from headaches and fatigue, to infertility, birth defects and different types of cancer. 
 
In addition to chemicals and pesticides, GMOs pose an equally worrying threat. When plants and animals have their DNA altered and engineered with the use of DNA from bacteria and viruses, plants and animals, they create a horrific concoction of genes from different species that don’t occur in nature. This is done to help them endure the application of poisonous pesticides that would otherwise destroy crops along with the other plants and organisms it is meant to offer protection from. 
 
GMOs were meant to be a genius method of increasing agricultural yield and tolerance, as well as enhance its nutritional value. While the biotech industry makes promises that sound too good to be true, mounting evidence proves that they are indeed, too good to be true. GMOs can potentially damage the body by causing a variety of health problems, most notable of which is cancer and tumors. GMOs are also harmful to the environment; the use of highly toxic pesticides and herbicides and the use of “super weeds” and “super bugs” that are immune to currently used chemicals can only be killed by a product with even more increased toxicity. These toxic chemicals are also responsible for the eradication of useful flora and fauna and are linked to the mass death of bees, the possible extinction of which would be an utter disaster in itself. 
 
Developed countries around the world that include Australia, Japan, and all of Europe have posed considerable restrictions and even total bans on the production and sale of GMOs. Countries like the United States are still fighting for GMO labeling rights.
 
Organic Goodness
In comparison to the horrendous health risks that conventionally grown foods carry, organic products, while slightly more costly, carry benefits that outweigh the higher margin in price. Organic food is fresher and retains a far more delicious and authentic flavor than its bioengineered counterpart. It is more nutritious and carries high concentrations of vitamins and nutrients. It can bring relief to people suffering from allergies to chemicals found in commercial products and it is better for the environment. 
 
Organic farmers use manure, compost, hand weeding, mulching, and tilling, as well as insect traps, birds and good insects to keep crops in good condition and do not resort to toxic pesticides for that. Organically produced meat and animal products do not contain dangerous hormones and antibiotics that can help create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Allowing animals to graze in the outdoors and not including other animal by-products in their feed reduces the incidence of deadly diseases like Mad Cow disease. 
 
Understanding Labels
Research the most common ingredients on food labels and make it a habit to read them before you buy anything. When shopping for organic products you will most likely encounter these categories:
 
100% organic: All ingredients and processing aids are certified organic.
Organic: Contains up to 95% organic ingredients.
Made with organic: Product contains less than 70% organic material.
Organic ingredients: Below 70% organic; the product can’t claim on its packaging that it’s organic.
 
Different countries have different logos, seals or labels, so check for yours and verify its authenticity. Some products carry labels that say “natural”, “free range” or “hormone free”, do not confuse these with organic, because organic farming has a set of standards to abide by in order to be granted certification. 
 
Incorporating as many organic products as possible in your daily diet could be your ticket to good health, provided that you maintain a good exercise regimen, eat healthily, rest well and manage your stress. Reduce your weekly consumption of meat and your intake of harmful chemicals by thoroughly washing and peeling non-organic produce, and try to balance it out with organic products whenever possible. 
 
Everything comes at a price and good health certainly does too. While some may argue that organic food is too much of a burden on their budget, what is to be said about the price of disease, hospitalization and medication? Eat well and live long!
 
 
TIPS
  • Cut cost when shopping for organic products by shopping at farmers’ markets and small grocery stores. 
  • If possible, grow your own fruits and vegetables in your garden or back yard so you know exactly what you are putting into your body.
  • If organic produce is hard to find and you have to resort to conventional produce, soak your fruits and vegetables in water and add some vinegar and a teaspoon of sea salt, then rinse. This will help remove some of the pesticide residue.
Bulgari