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Organic Food: The Truth

The organic food movement may have begun as a trend but has had far-reaching benefits for both farmers and consumers. The promotion of supply chain transparency and widely claimed health benefits have gone on to cause a chain reaction with nearly every edible item fighting in its bid to be termed organic. And while the qualities linked to it may have made it a hot commodity among consumers, in truth does not necessarily make it better.

As per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), produce is only termed ‘organic’ when it’s grown on soil that hasn’t been contaminated with synthetic fertilisers or pesticides for at least three years before harvest. However, the process of farming organic produce isn’t completely free from pesticides — it just uses naturally-derived variants like manure or compost instead and that isn’t entirely without risk either. Manure-based fertilisers used in organic farming usually have a high possibility of being contaminated by dangerous organisms like E. coli. Additionally, organic plants could produce more natural toxins which can be harmful to humans. While the produce may be deemed healthier due to the all natural processes involved, there aren’t any well-researched scientific studies that confirm significant health benefits by eating organic. In fact, many studies have demonstrated that organic produce does not have a nutritional advantage over the conventional and going organic is not associated with better health outcome either. 

Conventional produce isn’t really the enemy. Studies show that the amount of pesticides found on conventional fruits and vegetables is very small and well below the level that the Environmental Protection Agency has deemed unsafe. Organic produce is also more expensive than its conventional counterpart, making it relatively unaffordable for most households. Not to mention the fact that it’s also prone to greenwashing. However, that hasn’t stopped a lot of the items in grocery aisles from being labelled organic. From ice creams to popcorn, cookies and even lollipops, ’organic’ labels are covering all sorts of items these days and are an unnecessary expense. 

In conclusion, incorporating organic produce in your diet isn’t necessary in an uncompromising manner. So long as your conventional produce is well washed before consumption, there’s no reason to completely replace it with the seemingly healthier alternative. One could also benefit from growing a few  vegetables or herbs at home that would allow full control over how the produce is being grown. 

Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2020-03-02

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