Are Organic Foods Always More Nutritious?

It’s common to assume that organic foods are more nutritious than other foods; after all, organic costs more and tends to be viewed more favorably by environmentally-conscious consumers. However, you may be surprised to learn that, while organic is not without some benefits, the label “organic” doesn’t automatically translate into more nutritional produce, meat, dairy and poultry. This becomes more apparent when you consider what the label “organic” actually means.

Understanding Organic

The main point to remember when considering organic products is that the label “organic” refers to the way in which the produce, meat, dairy or poultry was produced. The typical farm that produces items to sell in mass and/or via contract for labels uses a combination of any of the following: pesticides, chemical fertilizers and chemical weedkillers on produce and antibiotics, growth hormones and medications on animals. The “100% organic” products are produced without any of these. (However, do be aware that the label “organic” without the 100% specification means that a product must be at least 95% percent free of these treatments, which means it’s possible that a small amount of chemicals was involved in the process.)

Another way in which organic foods differs from food that’s not certified as organic is that the farmers embrace more natural practices, using only natural fertilizers, giving animals more room to live free range and keeping animals in cleaner and healthier conditions. The farmers also typically embrace more traditional techniques to produce healthier produce and animals, such as rotating crops on different fields and rotating fields for grazing.

No Difference in Nutrition

What “organic” does not denote is that the organic foods are any more or any less nutritious than other foods without the label. The label as awarded by the USDA in America does not specify that a product need be any more nutritious than its competitors. Some people worry that chemical treatment typically used in non-organic products may affect a food’s nutritional value, but there have been no conclusive scientific studies that accurately displayed this fact. Nor have any scientific studies been able to find any negative impact on the human body from ingesting foods that have been processed with these chemicals and treatments.

Why Buy Organic?

With no evidence of deficient nutrition in non-organic foods, then, why buy organic? The answer is: you don’t have to, if you’re concerned about nutritional value and your budget. It’s just as nutritious for you to eat healthy non-organic foods as it is to eat organic foods, and it will cost you much less.

However, you may still choose organic if you’re concerned about the long-term effects of chemical additives, although there hasn’t been any evidence that the effect is negative so far. You can also justify your purchase by choosing to support the farmers who go out of their way to produce food in a more natural way with less negative impact on the environment. Just remember that non-organic food may actually be produced naturally for the most part, but if they fail to produce food in a 95% natural manner, they can’t be awarded the label. 

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