Organic Foods – are they better?

In Blog, Health, Nutrition, Podcasts by Wendy Christien

The word “Organic” refers to how agricultural products are grown and processed as well as how animals are reared and fed.  

For produce to be organic there must be no synthetic use of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, or GMO’s.

Livestock that is reared to produce organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products must live in such a way that accommodates their natural behaviors and feeding patterns. This means that they need to graze on pastures and be free to forage and eat organic foods. They should also not be given antibiotics, or growth hormones.

The table below shows the differences between organic produce and produce that is not organic.

Organic Produce

Non-Organic Produce

Grown with natural fertilizers (manure/compost)

Grown with synthetic or chemical fertilizers

Weeds controlled naturally by crop rotation, hand weeding, mulching or with organic herbicides

Weeds are controlled with chemical herbicides

Natural pest-control such as birds, insects and traps or natural pesticides

Synthetic pesticides are used

Organic Meat, Dairy, Eggs

Non-Organic Meat, Dairy, eggs

Livestock receive organic, hormone and GMO-free feed

Livestock receive growth hormones and non-organic feed. Often have feed with GMO’s

Natural disease prevention methods such as clean housing, rotational grazing, and healthy feed

Livestock receive antibiotics and medication to prevent disease

Livestock are free to roam and forage outdoors

Livestock are caged and may not have access to the outdoors

Benefits of organic food

Organic foods often have higher amounts of antioxidants, fatty acids, and nutrients than non-organic foods. We can feel better mentally and physically when eating organic foods and those individuals who are sensitive to chemicals, preservatives and certain foods may find that their symptoms are reduced or disappear completely when eating organic foods.

Since they don’t contain preservatives and chemicals, organic foods have a shorter shelf life, but they are usually harvested when ripe so are full of flavor.

Why are GMO’s so bad?

GMO’s are engineered to create resistance to herbicides and to allow plants to produce their own insecticides. Large corn crops globally have been genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup and to produce a toxic insecticide.

Soyabeans, baby marrows, squash and canola commonly contain GMO’s as do many breakfast cereals and processed foods. Anything that contains corn syrup or soy lecithin is likely to contain GMO’s.

There’s a debate as to whether GMO’s are safe or not but there has been a definite increase in food sensitivities and digestive problems since the advent of GMO’s.

Pesticides are difficult to eliminate from fresh fruits and veggies because simply rinsing them doesn’t get rid of them. Peeling produce can help, but it reduces the nutrient value because many of the nutrients are in or just under the skin. Thoroughly washing or soaking fruits and veggies in vinegar, salt or baking soda helps to eliminate the vast majority of pesticides.

Organic food is usually more expensive and is not as readily available.

Fruits and vegetables that ideally should be organic include: 

  • Apples, grapes, nectarines, peaches, strawberries,
  • Sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumbers, celery, spinach, kale
  • Potatoes, squash

Fruits and vegetables that are referred to as the “Clean 15” don’t need to be organic. These include: 

  • Asparagus, avocado, mushrooms
  • Cabbage, eggplant, onion
  • Kiwi fruit, mango, papaya, pineapple, grapefruit, melons
  • Sweet potatoes, peas

If you can afford to buy organic meats, poultry and dairy products then do so.

Many animals are fed grains, corn, antibiotics, animal byproducts, growth hormones and pesticides which affect the health of the animal as well as those who consume them. Ideally, you would want to buy pasture raised or 100% grass fed products or those that have organic certification.

Look for farmers markets to buy produce or buy in bulk and share with friends to keep the costs down. Also, buying fruits and vegetables in season reduces their cost.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 12 August 2021 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am