The purchasing of organic food has become significantly more mainstream over the past decade since the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) set into effect the National Organic Standards. Since that time, there has been a great deal of misconceptions and misunderstanding regarding organic food. This is most notably true when discussing the benefits “going organic” has on your health. Can organic food really improve your wellness? Let me separate the organic facts from fiction.
What is Organic Food?
To brandish the USDA organic seal, a food item must be grown and processed following USDA’s strict criteria. A food can be certified 100% organic if there is no use of:
- Conventional pesticides
- Petroleum-based fertilizers
- Genetic modification
- Sewage sludge
Furthermore, animals raised organically must consume 100 percent organic feed and not be subject to antibiotics or growth hormones. These guidelines definitively state what constitutes as organic so that when you buy something with that label, you are getting what you pay for.
Although organic food still only represents a small fraction of the entire food supply sold across America, around 5 million acres of U.S. farmland have gone organic, and that number is on the rise.
But is organic food better for you? Does an organic eggplant taste better? There are two major misconceptions when it comes to organic foods improving your wellness. Let us take a moment to clear them up.
Organic Foods Have No Pesticide Residue
Strictly speaking, this isn’t always the case. Many botanical (derived from plants) and some synthetic pesticides are approved for the production of organic foods, and some of their residue may still be on the product when you purchase it. However, the USDA notes that organic foods have significantly less pesticide residue than conventional foods.
With that in mind, regardless of which kind of produce you buy, you should always wash everything before you consume it, especially when giving it to children.
Organic Foods Have More Nutritional Content Than Conventional Foods
Many people have the misconception that eating organic food will be better for them nutritionally; however, research has found that foods both conventional and organic offer the same nutrition, with the exception being organic milk.
An 18-month long study across the United States found that the way in which organic milk is produced actually does improves its nutritional content. Organic milk contains more omega 3, CLA, multivitamins, and antioxidants than its conventional counterpart.
The Bottom Line
The term organic simply refers to how food is produced; it in no way means the food is of better quality or nutritional value. At the end of the day, if you really want to improve your wellness, the most important thing is getting enough fruits and vegetables into your diet, regardless of how they were grown.
Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.