50 years ago non-organic food didn’t even exist, until the 1950s all of the food we ate was completely organic. Over the last century we have developed the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides and genetically modified organisms (GMOS) to help farmers become more conventional. Modern farming methods mean our diets have changed significantly but our bodies and genetics have not. The term ‘organic’ is becoming more and more popular as people are becoming aware of the negative effects of non-organic food on both our health, as well as the environment. Slowly but surely people are choosing to switch to an organic diet, so I thought I would share with you what I believe the most important info regarding organic food.
What does ‘organic’ mean?
The term ‘organic’ refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. The regulations vary from country to country but in the UK, organic crops must be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and genetically modified organisms (GMOS). To ensure that livestock raised for meat, eggs and dairy products is organic they must have access to the outdoors and be given organic feed. They are not allowed to be given any antibiotics or growth hormones.
Organic vs. Non-Organic
|Organic produce:||Conventionally-grown produce:|
|Grown with natural fertilizers (manure, compost).||Grown with synthetic or chemical fertilizers.|
|Weeds are controlled naturally (crop rotation, hand weeding, mulching, and tilling).||Weeds are controlled with chemical herbicides.|
|Pests are controlled using natural methods (birds, insects, traps) and naturally-derived pesticides.||Pests are controlled with synthetic pesticides|
|Organic meat, dairy, eggs:||Conventionally-raised meat, dairy, eggs|
|Livestock are given all organic, hormone- and GMO-free feed.||Livestock are given growth hormones for faster growth, as well as non-organic, GMO feed.|
|Disease is prevented with natural methods such as clean housing, rotational grazing, and healthy diet.||Antibiotics and medications are used to prevent livestock disease.|
|Livestock must have access to the outdoors.||Livestock may or may not have access to the outdoors.|
Benefits of Organic Food
- Eating organic helps reduce your bodies toxic load
You can’t expect to fuel your body and achieve optimal health by eating foods full of toxic chemicals. Non-organic foods contain harmful pesticides which are widely used in conventional agriculture by spraying them on the foods, which then remain on and in the foods we eat. These chemicals are toxic by nature because they are designed to kill things so if you’ve been eating a conventional diet for years then your body may be full of these toxic residues. These toxins are linked to cancers, developmental problems in children and birth defects. In contrast, organic farmers aim for zero pesticide use and only contain pesticides through accidental contamination. A 2019 study found that after switching to an organic diet, pesticide level in participant’s urine dropped by 60%. There is the proof that switching to organic is less toxic! This is essential for people recovering from chronic illness because often our detox pathways are compromised so toxins build up quicker than in people who are healthy so it’s essential for those who are poorly to eat an organic diet to help them recover.
2. Organic food is more nutritious
A 2006 study found that organic products are much higher in micro-nutrients than non-organic conventionally grown products. Micro-nutrients are one of the major groups of nutrients your body needs for energy production, immune function, growth and bone health. A more recent study found that organic foods are richer in nutrients and antioxidants, which are known to prevent cancer. “The organic produce … contained more compounds known as phenols, believed to help prevent cancer, than conventional produce,” reported The New York Times. Not only can eating organic help your health by increasing nutrient uptake which is SO important if you’re suffering from chronic illness but it can also help prevent future disease such as cancer!
3. Organic food is GMO free
Genetically modified organisms (GMOS) are plants whose DNA has been altered in ways by cross breeding that cannot happen in nature or in traditional cross breeding to help the plant become resistant to pests and harsh weather conditions. The most common GMO foods are soya, corn and beetroots so be aware and try to shop organic when you can. GMO corn is combined with a bacteria to produce it’s own insecticide which then kills insects by destroying the lining of their digestive tract when they ingest the food. This is not specific to insects and has been found to damage the intestines of humans causing leaky gut syndrome which leads to food allergies (a lot of my clients with chronic fatigue suffer from leaky gut and food allergies). A healthy gut is essential for overall good health so protecting our gut by eating organic food is SO important!
4. Organic food tastes better
Organic food is often fresher because it hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals to make it last longer which means it tastes better. This can’t be proven by science as taste is subjective but I’ve been eating an organic diet for 10 years now and for me there is no contest, organic food tastes so much better! Lot’s of restaurants use organic food not necessarily for health benefits but because chefs have known for years that organic food simply tastes better so if it’s not for health reasons, convert so you can enjoy the pleasures of tasty food even more!
5. Organic farming is better for the planet
There has been a huge movement recently towards making lifestyle choices that are better for the environmental and there’s also an environmental incentive to shop organic. Organic farming practices uses less energy, help to conserve water, reduce soil erosion and increase soil fertility. By eating organic you are helping to encourage and protect wildlife because over the last 50 years the UK has witnessed a steep decline in wildlife, a huge part of the reason for this is the 31,000 tonnes of chemicals that are sprayed on Britain each year, which destroys soil fertility, harming the bees and other wildlife who pollinate flowers and plants. Research has shown that on organic farms there is 50% more wildlife! Clearly, shopping and eating organic is a great way to help protect and preserve our environment.
How to Keep Costs Down
There are many benefits of eating organic and there are ways of doing it cost effectively. Organic food has become a regular on supermarket shelves in recent times but people always ask if the cost is worth it because it’s often more expensive than regular products. Sometimes I think there is a misconception that to shop organic it has to be at more expensive. Supermarkets like Waitrose or Ocado but cheaper supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl stock lots of organic foods as well. Other options are Able and Cole, Riverford (for veg boxes delivered to your door). You can pretty much find it in all supermarkets these days! The best advice I have is to switch to organic fruit and vegetables first, then to organic meat to make sure there are no antibiotics and growth hormones in your food and eventually if you can to everything else! We love Unicorn grocer in Chorlton, Manchester where everything is organic, it is vegan so there’s no meat or eggs or dairy. It’s a 45min drive for us so we go every 2-3 months and stock up.
All fruit and veg at Unicorn Grocery is organic
You can take your own jars to refill for cheaper! This is also better for the environment because it helps reduce single plastic waste!
Anywhere with a cute little play area and free organic apples for kids is good with me
I also have my own little helpers to help me unpack at home
Again, like I’ve said in my previous blog posts this isn’t about being perfect because perfect doesn’t exist! We try to eat organic at home and find the odd organic café here or there but it is actually really difficult to find organic food when you eat out so you just have to try to eat organic where you can.
A top tip is just start with the “dirty dozen” these are foods which are sprayed the most which I always buy organic:
Clean 15 (AKA don’t use a lot of pesticides):
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Honeydew melons
Another one of my top tips is not to feel too overwhelmed or pressured to switch to completely organic so try to swap the foods you eat a few at a time, we don’t eat 100% organic because it’s so difficult too. I feel really passionate about this topic because the more informed we are of what we are putting into our bodies, the more control we have over our choices and the more impact our lifestyle decisions will ultimately have on our health and the environment. Eating organic really is one of the basics of good health so it’s really important that we try to eat this way when we can! I hope you have found this helpful, would love to hear what you think over on my Instagram or Facebook page @hellohealing.