Are we really healthier when we consume organic food from organic farming practices? The short answer is yes. The longer answer will take hours to explain but we’ll try to give you as much information as we can in this short overview.
The consumption of organically grown food is the best way to reduce our exposure to contaminants that are found in food products grown using conventional agricultural methods.
Although many people only imagine pesticides as the contaminant we are talking about when it comes to conventional farming practices, pesticides, though harmful, are not the only chemical and toxin we should be avoiding. Heavy metals such as lead and mercury and solvents like benzene and toluene are also contained in food produced by conventional agricultural practices.
Even if you don’t prefer to consume organic food, it is important that you minimize your exposure to these harmful toxins because they pose a lot of adverse effects on your health.
Heavy metals, for example, can damage nerve function and contribute to diseases such as multiple sclerosis and anemia (because of the interference with hemoglobin production). Solvents can also damage white blood cell function and lower the immune system’s ability to resist infections.
A study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture showed that in 94,000 food samples, there is at least one pesticide residue on 75% of the fruits and vegetables grown in conventional farms.
With organic fruits and vegetables, there’s only one pesticide on 25% of the products. The pesticide found in organically-grown vegetables is actually the residue of DDT or its metabolites.
DDT is a pesticide that has been banned to use on food for 40 years but it is persistent and can appear in the environment years later. When DDT was excluded, the amount of pesticide in organically-grown food products went down to 13%.
Studies have been consistent in showing that there is a lower level of contaminants in organically grown food than in its counterpart in conventional farming practices.
Aside from the fact that the consumption of organically-grown foods will lessen your exposure to these harmful toxins, chemicals, and substances, they also contain a high level of nutrients that include vitamins and minerals.
Organically grown fruits and vegetables contain about 15% higher level of nutrients than conventionally grown food products. But there are some cases where conventionally-grown food products contain a higher level of protein, vitamin C, and the majority of the minerals.
This does not mean that conventionally grown food products are healthier and safer. Soil quality varies from region to region, as well as the ability of plants to absorb the nutrients in the soil. The relationship is very complex and organic farming methods are very conservative and cannot override the nutrient content of food products.