Early in the 20th century, technological advances combined with food shortages experienced during World War II resulted in intensive farming techniques being widely integrated into North America.
Intensive farming is not concerned with animal welfare, the environment, or the nutritional content of the food that is produced; it is based on maximizing productivity and profits and minimizing costs.
As a result of these farming practices, the food that is produced is often lower in nutrients and covered in toxic pesticide residue. In response to this, many environmentally concerned individuals and/or people who are in pursuit of good health are now turning to organic produce.
In fact, organic farming is one of the fastest-growing agricultural segments in the US. Below are 10 benefits of choosing organic over conventionally farmed food products.
The Healthy Food Choice?
Benefit # 1: Organic Foods Are Pesticide and Herbicide Free
Perhaps the most prominent and most important benefit of organic foods is that they are grown naturally and are pesticide and herbicide-free. Pesticides have been linked to a wide range of diseases and health disorders. The continuous consumption of pesticide-laden food results in a build-up of toxic pesticides inside the body, and it has been directly linked to nerve damage, disrupted hormones, and cancer, and pregnant women who consume these pesticides increase their chances of giving birth to infants with congenital disabilities.
Unfortunately, pesticides are invisible to the naked eye, and washing your produce is rarely enough to remove the pesticide residue, so your best option is to choose organically grown food.
Benefit # 2: Organic Animal Products Healthier…and More Humane
Most conventional meat is produced in factory farms, where the animals are cooped up in inhumane and unsanitary conditions, and many of these animals never even get to see the light of day. These living conditions encourage sickness, and to prevent the animals from getting sick and to fatten them up quicker, the farmers often add tremendous amounts of antibiotics to the animals’ feed.
The overuse of antibiotics in agriculture has resulted in antibiotic resistance problems in food. Furthermore, the antibiotics ultimately end up on your plate when you eat the meat of factory-farmed animals, and the intake of antibiotics reduces your friendly gut flora, which is essential for good health. Finally, conventional meat and dairy products are laced with steroids and growth hormones, damaging your gut flora and taking away from your good health.
Benefit # 3: Organic Assures the “Functionality” of Functional Food
Functional food is any healthy food item that serves a specific function when it comes to promoting good health due to its nutritional content. For instance, salmon and walnuts both fall into the functional food category because they contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to support cardiovascular health.
Although many healthy food items, including most fruits and vegetables, fall into the functional food category, the use of pesticides and herbicides, genetic engineering, and other factory farming techniques can transform these otherwise extremely healthy food items into a product that is lower in nutrients (some functional nutrients are lost altogether), and that can actually harm your health.
Benefit # 4: Organic Is Better for the Environment
It would take more than a novel to cover all the damage that intensive factory farming causes to the environment. In short, factory farming results in the following: damaged and less varied wildlife, less crop diversity, damaged and nutrient-depleted soils, higher risk for famine during droughts, and polluted groundwater, not to mention the fact that it contributes to global warming.
Benefit # 5: It Tastes Better
As if all of the above benefits were not enough, organic food simply tastes better. According to one poll, 71.5 percent of the population preferred the taste of organic fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy over conventionally grown produce.
Many studies have found that organic farming yields foods with great flavor intensity. The exact reason is unknown; however, scientists speculate it is due to the increased antioxidants in organic foods and the lower crop yields that are grown in healthier soil.
Benefit # 6: It is Fresher
There are a few things to consider when comparing organic and non-organic produce. Organic produce is grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Organic farmers also abstain from using genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their crops.
The organic label on produce thus ensures that the food you’re eating is free of these chemical inputs. In terms of freshness, organic produce is often picked at the peak of ripeness and brought straight to market. This minimizes handling and prevents damage that can occur during long-distance transport.
Benefit # 7: More Healthy Fats
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated healthy fat, and they have been linked to a number of health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved cardiovascular health.
A recent study has found that organic meat and milk products can have up to 50% more omega-3 fatty acids than their conventionally-produced counterparts. The study’s authors believe that the difference in omega-3 content may be due to how organic livestock is raised, with a grass-fed diet and more time spent outdoors.
They argue that switching from conventional to organic products would be an easy way for consumers to increase their omega-3 intake without increasing overall calories or saturated fat.
Benefit #8: Improved Heart Condition
Organic grasses contain high levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a heart-healthy fatty acid with potential cardiovascular benefits. Animals that are allowed to graze freely on organic grasses tend to produce meat and milk products higher in CLA than those confined to feedlots and fed processed grains.
Consequently, consuming products from free-range animals may help boost cardiovascular protection. Therefore, if you’re looking for foods rich in CLA, seek organic grass-fed meat and milk products.
Benefit #9: Stronger Immune System
Traditional farming practices often involve harmful chemicals and pesticides that can harm the environment. On the other hand, organic farming practices aim to enhance production and farm output more sustainably. For example, organic farmers may focus on producing more cereals, meat, and fruits through natural methods such as crop rotation and organic fertilizer.
While the long-term effects of organic farming are not yet known, it is believed that this type of farming is less likely to cause allergies and may even help improve the immune system. Ultimately, organic farming provides a more sustainable option for food production that can have numerous benefits for both the environment and human health.
Benefit #10: Organic Products Are Poison-Free
Organic farming is a type of agriculture that relies on natural processes rather than synthetic materials and chemicals. This approach to farming is beneficial in many ways, both for the environment and human health. For example, organic farms are free of dangerous chemicals that can contaminate food products and harm human health.
In addition, organic farming practices help to preserve the environment by promoting biodiversity and reducing soil erosion. As more consumers become aware of the benefits of organic food, demand for these products is likely to continue to grow.