At, we understand the importance of making healthier choices. This includes what we put into our bodies, especially food. As organic foods become increasingly available through both local growers and grocery stores, more consumers than ever before have the opportunity to purchase organically grown meats, grains, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. This availability, however, continues to raise questions among the consumers who are just learning about organic foods, especially when proponents of conventional agriculture continue to argue that there is no nutritional difference or benefits derived from choosing organically grown foods.
The Differences Between Organic & Conventional Agriculture
Prior to World War II, most of the food available in the United States would be considered organic, by today’s standards. Soils were amended with compost and manure, and the poultry squad likely did insect control in the garden. During the war, however, scientists discovered that nerve gas was not only a weapon of war, but also a potent insecticide, and our food supply was changed forever.
Over the next decades, science would play an increasing role in agriculture, as pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers and hormones were used to improve crop yields and create a more uniform crop with improved shipping characteristics.
The Birth of GMO
As the research continued and agriculture became increasingly market-driven, it was only a matter of time until scientists also discovered that they could alter the genetics of plants and animals to make them grow faster or have more uniform traits.
This was done by extracting the genes of one species and forcing them into those of another, unrelated species. This allowed the scientists to choose and exploit traits, such as growth rates or insect resistance for the benefit of the marketplace. In many cases plant genes became part of animal genes, and vice versa. Known today as, or genetically modified organisms, nearly all conventional farming utilizes these altered genetics in both crop and livestock production.
Why Choose Organic?
Years of chemical research and genetic modifications have created foods that look good in the supermarket, so why should consumers choose to shop for, especially when buying meat and produce?
- Lower risk of contamination – Conventional meats are often produced by feeding cows, pigs, chickens and other animals a diet that includes antibiotics to keep them from getting sick and growth hormones to get them to market weight as fast as possible. Likewise, conventionally grown produce is treated with herbicides to make cultivation easier, while pesticides handle insect control. These additives are now being linked to health and development issues, such as ADHD, IQ issues and cancer.
- Improved nutrition – Meats that are are often allowed to forage in pastures, eating a variety of nutrient rich grasses and plants, much as wild animals do. This leads to higher levels of healthy fats, such as the omega-3s in the form of leaner, tastier protein.
- Less distance from farm to plate – Since organic foods are not treated with chemicals to retard spoilage or harvested before they ripen, consumers benefit from the fact that they are produced nearer their markets.
Banned in Many Countries
As concerns about the safety of genetically modified foods grow, many other countries have already placed a ban to keep them out of their countries. At this time, Australia, France, Germany and more than twenty other countries have taken this step.
The Consumer’s Choice
To get maximum health benefits and taste from organic foods for your family, consider finding local sources for meats, vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy products, when possible. For products that you cannot source locally, shop your grocery store’s organic section.