26 Oct Organic
What does Organic REALLY mean? Should I be eating organic food? If it’s organic does it mean it is all good for me? There are some myths and misconceptions that need to be ironed out…
What is the Definition of Organic?
The basic principle of organic farming is to create the greatest amount of produce at the highest nutritional quality possible without the use of artificial fertilisers or synthetic chemicals. To be certified as Organic a food must meet certain production standards not just during farming but also during handling.
So the idea is to create products that grow by “working with nature” rather than against it and because Organic farming recognises that nature has been successful is producing and maintaining life for millions of years it makes sense to farm as close to nature intends as possible.
Many people believe that Organic food tastes better and research is starting to show that the nutritional quality, tastes and storability are being improved through Organic farming. But Organic food must be looked after at all stages of production, even once you have bought it… Care during transport to your home and storage at home before you eat it are important for all foods, especially Organically grown foods. This is because when chemicals are used, the life of the food is extended and appearance is preserved. If no chemicals are used, as in Organic food, it more easily damaged and the external appearance of the food may look spoiled even if the quality of the food is not.
What are the Benefits of eating Organic?
- Prevents premature aging;
- Provides greater level of anti-oxidants;
- Boosts your immune system;
- Tastes better than non-Organic food;
- Environmentally safe;
- Supports animal welfare;
- Improves heart health/reduces risk of heart disease;
- Reduces the presence of pesticides;
- Prevents cancer.
What is GM?
Defined as: (of an organism) containing genetic material that has been artificially altered so as to produce a desired characteristic.
GMO = Genetically Modified Organism
GMOs are created in a lab, by inserting a gene from one organism into another unrelated organism, producing plants and animals that would never occur in nature. No long-term safety studies have been done on humans, but animal studies link the consumption of GMOs to an increase in allergies, kidney and liver disease, ADHD, cancer, infertility, chronic immune disorders and more.
In genetic modification (or engineering) of food plants, scientists remove one or more genes from the DNA of another organism, such as a bacterium, virus, animal, or plant and “recombine” them into the DNA of the plant they want to alter. By adding these new genes, genetic engineers hope the plant will express the traits associated with the genes. For example, genetic engineers have transferred genes from a bacterium known as Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt into the DNA of corn. Bt genes express a protein that kills insects, and transferring the genes allows the corn to produce its own pesticide.
Is it bad for me?
One of the main problems with genetic engineering is that the process of inserting genes into the DNA of a food plant is random; scientists have no idea where the genes go. This can disrupt the functioning of other genes and create novel proteins that have never been in the food supply and could create toxins and allergens in foods.
So What Should I be Eating?
Just because a food is certified as organic does not mean it is “healthy” and does not mean we can eat as much as we like of that food! Moderation or portion control is always the key and some foods should be avoided all together (i.e. sugar).
Organic food is of higher nutritional quality and can have a superior taste to genetically modified foods but this doesn’t mean that non-Organic foods are bad for you, non-Organic fruit and vegetables will still give you vitamins and non-Organic meat will still give you protein. Just make sure you choose Organic foods when possible but so long as you don’t assume “Organic = Good” for all foods you’ll be fine. Some foods that are locally grown or pasture raised but cannot afford to pay the companies who certify Organic still produce fantastic quality foods that will still provide higher levels of nutrients than the food you get from the supermarkets that have been frozen for a couple of seasons. We recommend you do some research at your local butchers and fruit and veg shops and rather buy from these local farmers than shopping where the food is of lower quality.
So the moral of the story is Organic is not always best, but GMO foods should definitely be avoided. Stick to eating good quality food in the right amounts, sourced from local farmers and markets and you’ll be on the right track!
– Stace, “Make good choices”