Reading the label: organic food


Organic food sales have grown significantly in the past decade and this healthy trend is likely to continue.

Whether you want to buy organic for moral reasons, for love of the environment, or because you care about your health, you need to know how to tell the difference between products that are actually organic. And this, in turn, means that you need to look at their markings.

The goal of companies that farm exclusively with organic fertilizers is not only to produce products, but also to protect the environment and care for the health of animals on the farm. Farmers use farming practices that reduce pollution and soil erosion, increase biodiversity and environmental sustainability, and use less energy. With this method of production, the level of pesticides and mineral fertilizers in the products remains minimal.

Large-scale studies have not yet been completed, however, based on some research work, it can already be assumed that, from a nutritional point of view, food produced from products grown using only organic fertilizers may be more beneficial than that which was used in the production of inorganic fertilizers.

What food is considered «organic»?

  • In order for a food or drink to be labeled organic, it must be certified «organic» by an independent organization.
  • In order for a product to be labeled «organic», such as «Organic Tomato Soup», at least 95% of its ingredients must be grown using only organic fertilizers, and the product label must have indicates which ingredients do not meet this requirement, such inorganic ingredients may only be used if no organic equivalent exists.

Is organic food healthier than non-organic?

By buying organic food, you reduce your consumption of pesticide residues. To date, there are not many facts proving the connection between the consumption of food containing pesticides and certain diseases in humans, but many facts have been found proving the connection between the amount of pesticides in the diet of animals and their health problems. We don’t know what diseases we can get from eating pesticide residues throughout our lives, and what effect a combination of different pesticide residues can have. If you want to reduce your pesticide intake, switch to organic food. Just keep in mind that consuming regular fruits and vegetables has enormous health benefits, and the losses your body will suffer from cutting them out of your diet far outweigh the risks of possibly eating more pesticide residues.

Nutritional value of organic fruits and vegetables

organic food

Do organic fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients than non-organic ones? The question is indeed difficult. Some studies suggest that the content of vitamin C in organic potatoes and carrots and the antioxidant pigment beta-carotene (vitamin A) in oranges may be higher. Other studies show that organic apples are higher in calcium and magnesium. This issue requires more careful study, and scientists are currently working on it. In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter if organic potatoes contain a few milligrams more vitamin C or not. Rather, issues such as pesticide residues, environmental issues, and the personal morality of each individual as to whether or not to switch to organic foods are of greater importance in the decision to purchase a particular food product.

Does organic food taste better?

Sometimes, but not always. One food where I see a big difference between organic and non-organic is organic chicken; I also notice a difference in organic steaks and beef. Organic fruits and vegetables differ from non-organic fruits and vegetables mainly in the variety of seeds, however, it is not surprising that tomatoes that have grown in a garden at a natural rate (several long weeks), in nutrient-rich soil, and ripened under the sun, will be significantly tastier than tomatoes, grown in a greenhouse at such a speed that «you can’t keep up.»

Do «organic» farmers use antibiotics to treat pigs, chickens and cows?

The routine use of antibiotics, which occurs with standard agricultural practices to prevent disease and promote growth, is prohibited in organic agriculture. The danger of an epidemic in the livestock of «organic» animals is reduced due to the fact that they are kept in conditions of more space and live in free range. When treating «organic» animals with antibiotics, there are strict limits on the time that passes between taking drugs and milking cows or slaughtering animals for meat, while ensuring that there are no residual antibiotics in milk and meat.

Reading the Label: Nutritional Additives in Organic Foods

Reading the label: Frequently asked questions about organic products

Source: Adapted from How to Read Labels by Amanda Ursell

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