Organic foods are gaining popularity day by day in the contemporary Indian market. But do organic foods deserve so much attention and money? Recently, I happened to read a few articles which said that organic foods are no healthier than foods produced through intensive farming. One of those journals pointed out that there is little scientific evidence that organic vegetables contain more of polyphenols than regular produce even though they claim to do so.
The American public supports organic foods not only for a healthier generation but also for a better environment. It has also become a habit to an average American to enjoy its taste and quality while having the pleasure of supporting the local farmers. Some of us simply buy this pocket thinning stuff in hope of keeping our bloodstream pure from common pesticides or for a higher level of nutrition. And yet, there are others like me who would buy organic foods to assess their richer taste and quality with an air of cynicism. Organic farming claims to produce foods without using potentially harmful fertilizers, hormones, food additives and other artificial products which are generally used by traditional farmers. Naturopaths advocate the use of organic foods to minimise the risk of blood contamination and chronic illnesses. Experts say that organic foods contain 60% more of essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes compared to the traditional products.
Organic farming is not confined to eatables alone. There are organic health care products, cosmetics and many other articles now familiar to our generation. However luscious it may promise to make you, a commercial beauty bar definitely contains harsh substances like dyes, synthetic fragrances and preservatives. These ingredients prove to be more damaging than pampering to those especially with sensitive skin. They also have a toxic effect on our natural environment. An organic soap, on the other hand, is made of purely natural and organically cultivated contents. They are not tested on animals either. In all, organic product consumers believe that they receive better health, better sensory quality and also contribute to animal welfare and environmental safety.
The Advantages of Organic Foods VS the Disadvantages
Yes! There are some disadvantages to organic foods too! Let’s talk about the advantages first.
An organic product limits the use of fertilizers, chemicals and genetically modified organisms. Organic farming uses environment friendly manure like stale coffee or coffee grounds and animal manure and prevents health and environmental hazards.
- A reservoir of nutrients. Many organic foods retain micronutrients like chromium, antioxidants like selenium and essentials like calcium, boron, lithium, magnesium and more. This simply means better health and reduced risk of all kinds of illnesses.
- More of antioxidants than regular produce.
- Longer shelf life.
- And gives the feel good factor, above everything else!
- The cost. Organic foods are quite expensive than the conventional products because of the extended period of time needed for their production.
- In organic food production the use of manure is not well regulated. Organic farming makes use of animal manure or in plain terms, animal faeces which contain certain pathogens in them. Don’t overlook the organisms that feed on faecal matter too! In intensive farming, farmers use strong fertilizers and chemicals to deter the growth of fatal organisms that destroy their produce. Without the use of these chemicals the produces risk the presence of strains of bacterium like E. coli and Salmonella and the fungi Aspergillus flavus. These organisms are not only infectious but can also be carcinogenic.
- Risk of food poisoning due to contaminants from the soil. The soil used for cultivation can be abundant with little critters which you might carry home with your organic foods. For instance, Shigella is a group of bacteria that can be found in soil, contaminated water and other surfaces polluted by the faeces of infected people. It causes Shigellosis, a food borne acute intestinal illness more commonly known as bacillary dysentery.
So the bottom line is: ‘Organic’ does not necessarily mean healthy and safe!
-Aparna K V