Why do organics matter?
[excerpted from Delicious Living
recognition of National Organics Month (September), we focus on organic foods.
Most of the news is exciting. Several studies have verified what organic
farmers, retailers and shoppers have always known: Organics contribute to
healthier people and to a healthier planet.
Consequently, the new USDA national standard for organic certification
couldn't come at a better time. Uniting the industry under a single
certified-organic label will provide you, the consumer, with assurance that your
choice is a smart one. You will know that when buying organics, you're giving
yourself and your family toxin-free, healthy food…
Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C.,
researched produce items to determine which are more and less likely to carry
high pesticide content.
following produce items, with strawberries and bell peppers topping the list,
are found to retain the most pesticide residue and therefore make the wisest
2. Bell peppers
11. Imported grapes
and sweet potatoes are two crops most likely to be genetically modified. And
unfortunately, to date there is still no legislation requiring that foods
containing GMOs be labeled. Only organic certification ensures your foods are
natural and free of genetic modification.
pesticide content and GMO risk, there is no question that organic foods are
healthier for your body and the environment. When wondering if you should pay
the extra for organic foods, consider the alternatives: What is the cost of good
health? What is the cost of clean air, soil and water? The organic choice
Organic Farming yields bounty and taste
six-year apple-farming study provides quantitative data showing organic
farming methods to be superior to both conventional and integrated methods
(Nature, 2001, vol. 410, pp. 927-930).
scientist, I wanted to find out which of the three systems [organic,
conventional or a combination of both, called integrated] is more sustainable,"
says John Reganold, co-author of the study, "meaning it must produce adequate
food of high quality, be environmentally sound, conserve resources, be socially
responsible and make a profit."
1994 to 1999, Reganold and his colleagues tracked soil quality, yield and crop
quality, environmental impact, energy efficiency, and profitability for three
apple production systems, using organic, conventional and integrated methods, in
Washington state. Results showed that all three systems produced comparable
yields; however, the organic and integrated systems showed higher soil
quality and lower environmental impact, and the organic system produced sweeter
apples, higher profit and greater energy efficiency.
this as a wake-up call," says Reganold. "When you put all the factors together,
organic [farming] is a slam-dunk winner, with integrated next. It doesn't
take a brain surgeon to see that these are two systems that [farmers] might want
critics note, the current financial premium afforded organic growers unfairly
affects profitability; however, this government-sponsored benefit kicks in only
after three years of applying organic techniques, making the transition a
financial burden to small and midsize farmers. "The challenge facing
policymakers is to incorporate the value of ecosystem processes into the
traditional marketplace," the study concludes, "thereby supporting food
producers in their attempts to employ both economically and environmentally
Organics prove more nutritious
farming proponents have long suspected that organically grown foods contain
higher levels of important vitamins and minerals as compared to conventionally
farmed produce. Now research backs this claim (Journal of Alternative and
Complementary Medicine, 2001, vol. 7, no.2).
doctoral dissertation at Baltimore's John's Hopkins University, Virginia
Worthington, PhD, reviewed 41 studies comparing the levels of 36 vitamins and
minerals in organically and conventionally grown produce. Organics rated
higher in most nutrients measured and, as a bonus, contained 15 percent less
of potentially harmful nitrates from nitrogen fertilizers. The greatest
nutritional differences were found in magnesium (organics had 29 percent more),
vitamin C (27 percent more), and iron (21 percent more).
the USDA recommendation of five daily servings of fruits and vegetables,
Worthington calculated that organic-produce eaters would consume an average of
89 mg vitamin C daily compared with 70 mg for conventional-food eaters; 3.7 mg
iron compared with 3.0 mg; and 80 mg magnesium compared with 68.6 mg. This
suggests that going organic might make the difference between a
nutrient-deficient diet and an adequate diet.