Whether purchasing meat, poultry, dairy or fresh produce, there are many benefits to choosing organic. Organic food is grown and raised without the use of harmful pesticides. Pesticide residues can be found on non-organic food and while the pesticides help to protect the food from damage because of insects and pests, the residues can be harmful to our health. The World Health Organisation states that consuming pesticide residues may contribute to adverse health effects including cancer and can negatively impact our reproductive, nervous, and immune systems.
Organic food has no pesticide residues, making it better for our health and the health of the environment.
What are the benefits of eating organic?
Food that has been grown organically has been shown to have a higher amount of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and healthy fats. Read more here. This is due to more sustainable farming practices, which help to increase the quality of the soil. Other benefits of eating organic include:
- Organic food is GMO-free, which means it has not been genetically modified.
- Organic fruit and vegetables are grown seasonally, which may contribute to the increased nutrient density.
- There are lower levels of heavy metals in organic food (heavy metals can be harmful to our health).
- There are no pesticide residues on or in organic food.
What products are worth investing in organic and what aren’t?
Despite all of the benefits of buying organic, it can be a lot more expensive, which isn’t always sustainable for many families. There are certain non-organic foods that contain higher amounts of pesticide residues than others. You may have heard these referred to as the “dirty dozen”. Foods that are best to buy organic include:
- Kale and collard greens
- Capsicum/bell pepper
- Green beans
Non-organic foods that have lower pesticide residues (the clean fifteen) include:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Honeydew melon
- Sweet potatoes
Are there any myths about organic food?
There are certainly some misconceptions about organic food. Here are some myths surrounding organic food that you might not have been aware of.
- Organic food is better for you – while organically grown foods have many health benefits, a processed product can still be certified organic but contain high amounts of sugar or refined carbohydrates. It’s still important to read the nutrient labels, even if it is organic!
- Organic and natural are the same thing – If a product says that it is “natural” that doesn’t mean that it is organic. Check for an ACO or NSDAA-certified organic label.
- Certified organic means a product is 100% organic – As per the Australian Certified Organic guidelines, a processed product needs to have 95% of the total weight of the ingredients to be certified organic for the product to be labeled “certified organic”.