The Pros and Cons of Going Organic
Organic produce, meats and other products have become highly popular over the past decade. But, is there really a difference between organic and non-organic items? Even if there is a difference between the two, price can be the biggest factor in the decision to purchase organic or not. There are many concerns about whether processed foods with genetically modified ingredients are healthy and many shoppers may wonder if purchasing organic items will benefit their families.
Organic foods must be grown, processed and packaged on land and in facilities without harmful chemicals for at least three years. Crops are grown without using pesticides or chemicals and organic processed foods are created without using artificial colorings, preservatives, irradiation or additives. The United States Department of Agriculture regulates organic foods and products to make sure these products conform to organic regulations. Learn about the pros and cons of purchasing organic foods and products in Colorado.
The Benefits of Consuming and Using Organic Products in Colorado
Organic foods have been shown to improve health through different methods in some studies. Organic food and products reduce a consumer’s exposure to toxins used in standard farming practices and in processing practices. Organic foods have less heavy metals, toxins and solvents, and contain higher amounts of proteins, minerals and other nutrients.
Organic produce has an advantage over non-organic produce because it includes 30 percent less pesticides. However, the overall level of pesticides in organic and non-organic produce are both within the ranges allowed for safety purposes. Some doctors argue that although the pesticide levels are within a range considered safe by the government, it does not necessarily mean these levels are safe for everyone. In addition, organic chicken and pork have about a 30 percent less chance of having antibiotic-resistant bacteria that non-organic chicken and pork contains.
In addition to having low pesticide and unhealthy bacteria amounts, organic produce and meats have a better flavor and slightly better nutritional values. Some organic foods, such as milk, fruits and vegetables are more nutritious than their non-organic counterparts. There are higher amounts of antioxidants, healthy chemicals and minerals in organic vegetables, fruits and dairy products. For example, an organic blueberry, strawberry or apple has up to 40 percent more antioxidants than its non-organic counterpart.
Lastly, the environmental impact from organic farming and processing practices is beneficial to everyone. Besides having low contaminants and higher amounts of nutrition, organic farming is sustainable and has positive environmental impacts. The major advantages to organic farming are higher soil quality, low energy usage and biodiversity. The average organic farmer provides more natural habitats for wildlife, creates soil with lower pesticide amounts, and avoids killing off beneficial plants and insects due to the absence of harmful pesticides. Biodiversity is an important part of a healthy environment because it encourages more species and genes, which balances the growing crops and provides better quality crops.
Another important benefit of purchasing organic foods and products to support organic farmers is the improvement of soil quality. Organic farming has more soil with organic matters, like nitrogen and other organic compounds. These are present due to the lack of non-organic fertilizer, which is detrimental to the natural structure of soil. Therefore, the soil is healthier and safer.
The final benefit to purchasing organic produce, meats and other products is the support for organic farms that produce less carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide emissions from organic farms are about 40 percent less than conventional farms. This is due to lower energy inputs and less fossil fuels being used. Organic farmers tend to be smaller, which means the average amount of energy used in them is less per area.
Cons of Going Organic in Colorado
One of the main drawbacks of going organic is price. If a shopper wants to go organic, he or she should prioritize which organic items to purchase. Choosing organic foods that have smaller amounts of chemical residue than conventional foods will lessen the exposure to harmful chemicals and choosing conventional foods that are not normally exposed to chemicals will lower the cost of going organic. Another way to avoid having to overspend on organic foods is to purchase the foods when they are in season. Buying conventional produce with skin that will be dsicarded, such as avocados, citrus, onions and bananas helps offset the cost of purchasing organic fruits and vegetables when the skin is consumed, such as cucumbers, apples and peaches.
Since organic foods are not mass-produced and traditional organic farming tends to produce lower yields than the modern farming methods, another con of going organic is that organiz choices are not always available to purchase. This is why organic foods tends to cost more than conventional foods. Even if organic foods are available, some people tend to avoid organic vegetables and fruits because they are not as visually appealing. These cons can be offset by storing organic foods purchased during the growing seasons. However, this can be difficult for shoppers who do not live near farms or local farmer’s markets.
Lastly, some shoppers may be worried about the contamination of bacteria with organic foods because these products are not sterilized like conventional foods. The prevalence of E. Coli was one percent higher in organic foods than non-organic foods. Therefore, organic foods still need to be washed and prepared like conventional foods.