ORGANIC VS. NON-ORGANIC
It never really occurred to me that I should be investigating the source of my food as much as I concentrate on the type of food I eat. I make sure I eat as well as I can and give my body the correct balance of nutrients, however the entire organic vs. non-organic debate hasn't been something that had mattered to me much until recently.
So for a few months now I have been really reading up on the differences between the two, the effects of pesticides, and what in the world a 'GMO' is.
WHAT MAKES A CROP ORGANIC?
The Soil Association describes an organic food product as GM free (Genetically Modified Organism), pesticide free, free from antibiotics, better for animal welfare and wildlife, and better for climate change. Of course we all know from comparing products in the supermarkets that organic produce is sometimes significantly more expensive, so when we are trying to cut back on our shopping costs is organic worth it?
Recent research has shown that eating organic foods as children can reduce the risk of food allergies later in life, which is amazing. However I have found myself that particularly with fruit and vegetables, the organic variety although they feel safer to eat still have to be washed more thoroughly as I often find small insects still living on my food. So I wanted to look once and for all at whether to 'go organic'.
When considering which meat and dairy to buy it really comes down to animal welfare. Going organic is best in my opinion purely due to this. A women's health article recently published the shocking truth behind the dairy industry that we were all curious about - cow's are bred at a shocking rate and in horrendous conditions and male calves are disposed of as unusable. If you read my 'dairy debate' post you will read more about why I have gone dairy free altogether, but if you are buying milk, butter, cheese or yoghurt products my advice would definitely be to go organic.
Meat is a whole new subject. Red meat in particular can be laden with hormones and antibiotics and most people are completely unaware of the possible side effects eating red meat can be having on their bodies. You can read more about hormones in my 'dairy debate' post here, whereas antibiotics such as penicillin are frequently administered to cows to prevent them falling ill, it also has a strange side effect of making them gain weight and grow faster, to the great pleasure of the dairy industry. Antibiotic is Greek for 'against life' - they are manufactured and designed to kill living bacteria that make you ill, however antibiotics are not sophisticated enough to hunt out only the bad guy and kill any bacteria in it's path including your good bacteria.
This is why when us humans take antibiotics, we can be in receipt of side effects when good bacteria has been killed off, such as thrush/yeast infections and diarrhoea. And we are still at risk of taking antibiotics through eating red meat due to their presence during the rearing process. Because of this, ensure you source your meat and dairy from local farmers/sources you can trust where possible and know that your food has been created free-range and in the animals best interest as well as yours.
Sources at women's health recently found that when it comes to fruit and vegetables the risk factors are pesticides and chemical fertilisers, and that conventional veg can be sprayed with up to four times the level of pesticides than organic - and residue is leftover even after washing. Lettuce and peaches were shown to have unacceptable levels of pesticide residue and other produce to watch out for included spinach, apples, cucumbers, bread and rice. Whereas foods such as mushrooms, potatoes, beetroot, cauliflower and avocado had much lower levels.
It's great to know this and in my opinion we need to be hearing much more about this type of information from farmers, supermarkets, brands and manufacturing companies in order for us to make our own informed choice. We assess how much sugar and salt is in our food but what about the labelling of chemicals used on our food?
I would love to hear in the comments what your thoughts are!
If you are concerned about pesticide residue on your food, a product I love is WelleCo's fruit and veggie wash https://www.welleco.com/collections/accessories/products/fruit-veggie-wash