Guest Column | October 25, 2021

The Complicated Truth About Organic Food

By Tania Holembovska

Organic food-iStock-871231060

Organic food is a popular trend among health food advocates. These are products grown without the use of fertilizers, including chemicals. At first glance, it seems like the perfect way to get healthy food, but it's not that simple. Research shows that organic foods are more harmful to the environment than conventionally grown foods. There are increasing reports that they are as damaging to the climate as biofuels or ethanol from corn, sugarcane, and wheat. In this regard, scientists call farm coops for a compromise between healthy eating and environmental protection. Let's try to understand what precisely organic foods are and why they are not as safe as they seem at first.

Organic Farming Is Not Just A Trend

For millennia of our history, organic farming has been the norm. But in the 20th century, everything changed: the invention of genetically modified organisms and synthetic pesticides completely changed the way of farming. At the same time, the introduction of GMOs in food has constantly caused discussion and concern about how harmful such food is to our health. As a result, governments and industry organizations regularly adopt standards to address this problem. In the context of this discussion, the trend for organic products emerged. At the same time, you shouldn't blindly trust brands. Today, there are strict standards that manufacturers must follow, so check for appropriate certifications and only buy products from trusted companies.

Organic Foods Are Not That Environmentally Friendly

The main advantage of organic food is that it does not contain chemical pesticides. However, it is a misconception to think that they contain no pesticides at all. It is not the case; it is just that organic pesticides are used to produce such products. Moreover, several studies have shown that the latter can cause even more significant harm to the environment.

First, some types of organic products emit more greenhouse gases. Secondly, much larger land areas should be allocated for production since their yield is lower than traditional agricultural products. Moreover, some organic pesticides are no less harmful to the human body since they contain the same substances as chemical ones.

Organic Differs From Non-GMO Foods

Yes, there is no mistake here. Non-GMO foods are not necessarily organic, and genetic modification involves removing some genes from the body's DNA and adding others to give the body new properties. Since there is no external difference between such products and conventional ones, they are marked with "Non-GMO" for convenience.

Moreover, such products may contain flavors, preservatives, dyes, and even hormones and synthetic fertilizers and, accordingly, may not be organic. Therefore, you should check the entire list of ingredients to ensure that the product is the one you want.

Organic Means Expensive

It is a known fact that organic products are more expensive than conventional products. And although the difference in cost is gradually decreasing, it is justified for several reasons. Firstly, certification of such products is more expensive, in particular, in the USA its price ranges from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Secondly, organic farming is costly compared to traditional agriculture:

  • Crop rotation;
  • High standards of animal husbandry;
  • A particular requirement for pesticides.

You can also add the processing of much larger land areas and dependence on weather and climatic conditions, so the yield is not stable. For example, in the UK, it is 55 percent lower than traditional farming. Other reasons include distribution costs and limited supply amid strong demand.

One way to save money is to buy organic products from major brands such as retailers. They are cheaper to recoup such products, and therefore they can charge lower prices than small companies or farmers.

Organic Foods Do Not Taste Better, But Different

One misconception is that all organic food tastes better than ordinary food, which may often not be the case. Indeed, since organic food contains antioxidants and nutrients, it has a more distinctive flavor. But the production of such food is more complicated, and, accordingly, some factors can reduce its taste.

So the taste of organic food is influenced by soil, climate, weather conditions, and specific farming practices. Depending on the region, requirements can vary dramatically, which inevitably affects the taste of a product. Therefore, it is best to rely on your personal opinion and experience rather than trust controversial statements.

Organic Has Nothing To Do With Natural

Organic products differ from natural products in terms of legislation and food standards. They must meet specific criteria:

  • no exceptional methods were used (for example, ionizing radiation or genetic engineering);
  • only approved substances were applied;
  • has a corresponding certificate.

If there are no approved rules or standards for some issues, organic products are subject to less rigorous testing. It means that the quality and naturalness of a product remain on the conscience of a manufacturer. Remember that sometimes it can mislead a buyer. For example, a cherry-flavored protein bar may not contain actual cherry fragments.

In Conclusion

Thus, organic food has both positive and negative sides. Some products are more beneficial to the body than those produced with chemicals or even GMOs. But this does not apply to all products. At the same time, organic food production is damaging the environment and, ultimately, us.

The palatability of organic food varies from many factors. Moreover, production remains expensive despite the final product, so there is a risk of paying a lot of money for an unpalatable product. Also, as with other foods, it is necessary to check organic food for quality below.

Overall, we must strive to find a balance between healthy and quality nutrition and the preservation of the environment. And for this, it is not at all necessary to give up the achievements of science. Moreover, in conditions when the population of the Earth is constantly growing, the farming methods according to the rules of previous generations are unable to solve the food problem. It is especially true in developing countries, where organic production can be associated with too high budgetary costs.

Tania Holembovska is a motivated and avid content writer at Tania believes in the power of geospatial data and custom algorithms.