You often hear people say that organic food is better for you than non-organic food. But what does that really mean? Is organic food more nutritious? Is it safer? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of organic vs non-organic foods.
Some people believe organic food is more nutritious than non-organic food. This report shares that “some studies have shown small to moderate increases in some nutrients in organic produce. Organic produce may have more of certain antioxidants and types of flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties.”
But often, these differences are not significant enough to make a real difference in terms of health. So if you’re eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vibrant vegetables, whether they’re organic or not, you’re likely getting the nutrition you need.
Benefits of Buying Organic
That being said, there are significant benefits to choosing organic vs. non-organic foods in many cases. Depending on what’s most important to you, these benefits might be enough to convince you to start buying organic when you can.
One of the main reasons people choose organic foods is to avoid more harmful pesticides. Pesticides are chemicals that kill pests, such as insects, fungi, and weeds. They can be harmful to human health, especially if they’re ingested.
Organic farmers use natural methods (including natural pesticides) to control pests, as well as predators or traps. This means there are often fewer harmful pesticides present in organic foods.
Better for the environment
Organic farming practices are generally better for the environment than conventional farming practices. For example, organic farmers often use crop rotation, which helps improve soil health. They also tend to use less water and energy than conventional farmers.
Support small farms
When you buy organic food, you’re often supporting small farms rather than large, commercial farms. Buying local and organic can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and support your community.
How to Tell if Food is Organic
Not all food labeled “organic” is created equally. To be sure you’re getting true organic food, look for the USDA Organic seal. This means the product is 95-100% organic.
You can also look for the following labels:
- 100% organic: Made entirely of organic ingredients
- Organic: At least 95% of ingredients are organic
- Made with organic ingredients: At least 70% of ingredients are organic
If a product doesn’t have any of these labels, it doesn’t mean it’s not organic. It just means the producer didn’t pay to get it certified. So, if you’re unsure, it’s always best to ask the producer directly.
Food Safety Tips
Whether you choose organic or non-organic foods, it’s important to practice safe food handling and preparation techniques.
Here are a few tips to help you keep your food safe:
- Wash your hands well with soap and water before and after handling food.
- Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables, even if you’re going to peel them.
- Cook meat, poultry, and seafood to the correct internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to be sure.
- Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours of buying or preparing them.
- Freeze meat, poultry, and seafood if you won’t be using them within two days.
- Follow “use by” dates on food packaging.
- Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, and seafood apart from other foods.
There you have it! Your guide to organic vs. non-organic foods. Remember, the best way to make sure you’re getting the nutrition you need is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, organic or not. And always practice safe food handling and preparation techniques.