BY SABRINA WONG
In supermarkets all across the world, certain fruits, vegetables and even types of meat are separated into two categories: organic and inorganic. Specific brands are also sometimes favored due to their products’ labels. But does consuming food with a sticker slapped on the outside packaging really have that many benefits compared to eating conventionally grown goods?
“Organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products. These practices are designed to ensure that organic foods meet unique standards. Some of these include reducing pollution, enabling natural livestock behavior and prohibiting the use of synthetic fertilizers on crops as well as antibiotics and growth hormones in livestock.
All organic goods must pass the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certification program before the producer is granted permission to use an official USDA Organic seal. This program establishes specific government guidelines that all organics are required to pass.
Researchers at Stanford University have discovered that the nutritional differences between organically and conventionally grown foods are very minimal.
For the longest time, organic foods have been rumored to be more beneficial than regular foods in terms of being safer and more nutritious. While studies on organics have shown some safety advantages, the nutrition aspect isn’t all that different.
Researchers at Stanford University have discovered that the nutritional differences between organically and conventionally grown foods are very minimal. Organics have slightly higher phosphorus levels and have higher omega-3 fatty acid contents in organic milk and chicken— but that’s about it.
If there are rarely any significant advantages to eating organic goods, then why would one decide to spend an outrageous amount of money purchasing them? In fact, the most noticeable difference between the two options is not the actual product itself, but their costs.
In a comparison of over 100 product pairings by Consumer Reports, it was noted that on average, organic foods were 47 percent more expensive than their counterparts. Additionally, organic zucchini costs 303 percent more than nonorganic zucchini through Fresh Direct, an online grocer. These ridiculous costs are due to supply and demand limitations, greater labor inputs and higher standards for animal welfare among other reasons.
Organic foods also spoil at a much faster rate compared to conventional foods. Since they are not treated with as many harsh chemicals during production, they may be more vulnerable to the elements and to bacteria build-up. In the long run, this means organic produce generally retains a shorter lifespan than conventionally grown crops.
Organic farmers are permitted to use pesticides as well.
While there certainly are less harmful pesticides in organic foods, this doesn’t mean that they are completely free of pesticides. Fruits and vegetables labeled as organic are supported by their own set of additives that assist their growth. Organic farmers are permitted to use pesticides as well, as long as they are different from the ones used by conventional farmers.
And even with the amount of chemicals present in conventional foods, there are plenty of actions that one can take to help out with the issue. Even just a simple rinse under water has proven to reduce dirt, germs and pesticide residues remaining on outside surfaces. If one wants to go the extra mile in cleaning their produce, scrubbing or peeling off the skin of some foods can also help.
Spending the extra dollars on what seems to be “organic” isn’t really worth it. When the difference in nutrition of these products is so minuscule and the spoil rate is much higher compared to conventionally grown items, the organic label doesn’t hold too many favorable advantages.
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