In our previous blog, we understood that organic is not nutritionally better than the non-organic. But, many health professionals and fitness experts are recommending organic food products. There is more than one reason to go organic today..Reasons for which we may prefer organic
Free of harmful chemicals– Anything that is good for humans is equally tempting for other living beings such as mold, pests and insects. But, these will survive only past an unclean environment or if foods are stored for longer. Synthetic pesticides are used to control this problem increasing shelf-life but reducing safety as pesticide residues remain.
Organic farming promotes use of alternative ways such as use of insect traps, careful crop selection (disease-resistant varieties), predator insects or beneficial microorganisms instead to control crop-damaging pests.
However, residues on most products — both organic and nonorganic — don’t exceed government safety thresholds.
Less artificial– Organic regulations ban or severely restrict the use of food additives, processing aids (substances used during processing, but not added directly to food) and fortifying agents commonly used in non-organic foods, including preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavorings, and monosodium glutamate.
Environment-friendly– Conventional farming methods looking to gain commercial benefits have largely destroyed our lands and its tenacity. On the other hand, use of crop-rotation, allowing free-grazing, etc help in improving soil quality and conserving water.
Organic foods have two main disadvantages:
High cost – A regular banana costs 5 rupees versus an organic banana which may caor around 20 rupees. Unfortunately perishable healthy foods are more expensive than a packet of chips or glucose biscuits thanks to the public health system and food industry.
Inconsistency in quality– Chances of the organic banana getting spoilt is more than the artificially ripened or pesticide sprayed banana. It offers consistency in taste and texture for the price paid while the naturally grown food will perish when it feels unworthy of consumption.
This brings us back to the grow local eat seasonal funda. The cost involved in growing organic foods is much higher since it is labour intensive, it often involves careful attempts to preserve quality of the very gullible fresh virgin produce. But this problem can be somewhat overcome by growing foods that are suitable to the indigenous soil and water conditions. Growing what the local geographical conditions are conducive for eliminates the time, energy and resources required in its journey from farm to table.For example, the cost of procuring the locally grown oranges in summer will be much lower than the kiwi from China or New Zealand.
But here more than the farmers, the onus lies on the consumer to accept and embrace what is being offered.This demand and supply chain is very vital to economy. If we learn to accept that only certain foods need to be consumed in the given season and place, then we can support the sustainable agriculture. Looking for strawberries, kiwis or grapes throughout the year is detrimental to the ecosystem.
Some foods that definitely need to be organic
According to us, buying organic makes most sense when the question is about products such as milk, eggs and meat.
Milk– the demand for milk has increased more than ever before owing to increasing population as well as milk based products in the market. The fact that cows and buffalos are often tortured, kept lactating by injecting hormones and physically restricted to meet the growing needs is now known to all. Organic milk is likely to be obtained from free grazing cattle who is kept in better conditions and produce milk in a natural way. This type of milk can surely benefit both physical and mental health of the person consuming it.
Eggs & poultry- Similar to the plight of cows, chickens are also kept in very despicable conditions to ensure supply of eggs and poultry to the expanding population. However, an organic farm will allow chickens to move around freely and lay eggs at their own pace and convenience .
Meat- Beef, pork, lamb, and all other kinds of meat obtained by torturing the animals will neither be tasty nor healthy. While it is still questionable whether these should be consumed by humans at all, at least we urge that the animals are treated and kept in peaceful, hygienic and safe environment until they are alive. And so, those raised at the organic farm should be preferred.
We suggest that one should go ORGANIC considering it to be more of a social responsibility unless the high costs is a concern. Gradually, organic products must become a habit for consumers and a compulsion for the manufacturer. This will help to bring down the burden on economy as well as ecosystem.
Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.