There have been numerous studies into the advantages of organic food, with varying results. Some studies have shown there to be no nutritional advantage from organic produce, whilst others have shown the opposite to be true. This is yet another area where the food industry cannot agree.
New Research Shows That Pesticides (Some Linked To Cancer, Birth Defects And Infertility) Persist After Washing Your Fruit and Veg.
What Is Organic Food In A Nutshell?
To grow and label food as organic, there are set rules that farmers have to adhere to. Each country has their own and here in the UK the terms are set by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). Organic produce is not allowed to come from GMO crops.
Organic farmers are only allowed to use limited synthetic substances to maintain their crops - such as herbicides, insecticides and other chemicals. They mainly use natural substances such as mulch to manage weeds. Mulch can be anything from old newspapers and cardboard to straw, leaves, grass and food waste.
It may surprise you that organic farming does allow some synthetic chemicals and also non synthetic chemicals from natural sources. The jury is still out on whether the natural sources are any better than their synthetic counterparts - so it is up to the individual as to whether they think the advantages of organic food is worth the extra cost to their pocket.
This Is What DEFRA Has To Say:
Organic food production is strictly regulated in the UK and in other EU Member States by Council Regulation (EC) 834/2007 and Commission Regulation (EC) 889/2008. These Regulations set out the inputs and practices which may be used in organic farming and growing, and the inspection system which must be put in place to ensure this. The Regulation also applies to processing, processing aids and ingredients in organic foods. All fruit and vegetables labelled and sold as organic must therefore originate from growers, processors and importers who are registered with an approved control body and subject to regular inspections.
The principles of organic production set out in Regulation 834/2007 require the control of pests to rely primarily on the protection by natural enemies, the choice of species and varieties, crop rotation, cultivation techniques and thermal processes. However, the Regulations do allow a restricted number of plant protection products to be used on plants in the case of an established threat to a crop.
The Dirty Dozen:
These are the foods that the Environmental Working Group recommends you always ensure are organic. The dirty dozen were found to have the highest levels of chemicals after they had been washed. Many of the "clean" fruits and vegetables they have listed have thick protective skins or shells that protect the flesh from the chemicals - and others like onions do not need pesticides because they don't attract insects.
Which Is The Healthiest?
Scientists differ in their views as to whether organically grown fruit and vegetables actually contain more nutrients - but the evidence is slowly stacking up in favour of organic produce. But never mind the nutrients - what about the chemicals? Over the years, the toxins in "conventional" fruits, and the chemical fertilizers and pesticides used to grow and "protect" them have been strongly linked to many medical illnesses including cancer. The advantages of organic food is that they may not have this problem. As stated above - it seems more research needs to be done into natural pesticides.
We all know that vegetables and fruits are highly helpful in preventing cancers and cardiovascular diseases - which is totally ironic when you think about the possible carcinogenic chemicals found in non organic produce! www.whatsonmyfood.org is a great resource center with up to date information on this subject. Another great resource is the Pesticide Action Network UK.
You would expect them to be wouldn't you but it isn't so. Supermarkets still buy much of their organic produce from abroad. So the question can sometimes be - do you choose local - which is obviously far more environmentally friendly - or organic which isn't always the case? If you are concerned about the nutritional advantages of organic food, the best you can do is to buy them locally or get them delivered from an organic farmer.
Organic Fruit And Vegetables For Vegans:
*Some vegans don't buy organic fruit and vegetables because the natural organic farming methods often involve animal waste on a large scale. The only way you are going to avoid this is to grow your own. You can deter insects naturally by planning a companion garden. The idea of this is to plant herbs, flowers and vegetables that create their own natural eco system.
*If we are going to say that organic fruit and veg isn't suitable for vegans because of the farming methods involved - then where do we stop? Even if you grow your own, those veggies are still being grown in soil that contains animal waste. Of course, as always, it is up to the individual.
Click here to print off fruit and veggie chart.
Even though there is - as is usual - a clash of opinions when it comes to the advantages of organic food - to be on the safer side of the fence, if you can afford them - buy them!