It has been nearly a decade since the federal government implemented the National Organic Program to begin certifying food as “organic.” Since then, Americans have taken to the idea with considerable interest.
Organic foods were once only found in health food stores, but are now available in your local grocery stores. In fact, these products have become so popular that stores such as Sprouts and Whole Foods Market are dedicated to selling organic products and have grown in popularity, appearing in cities all over the country.
As organic foods have become more popular over the years, so has the debate about their advantages and disadvantages.
Most of the time, the public perception is that organic foods are the healthier choice. Livestrong says that proponents claim that organic foods are more nutritious than non-organic foods.
Livestrong reports that “research conducted by Charles Benbrook, chief scientist at the Organic Center in Oregon, found that organic food tends to have higher levels of antioxidants, vitamin C and trace minerals.” However, apart from this discovery, there is little evidence that exists to support the claim that eating organic is healthier.
Organic food is not significantly more nutritional and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirms by not stating that it is.
Organic foods reportedly spoil faster because they do not include chemical preservatives. Produce and poultry are also smaller in size compared to non-organic products because the farmers can not use synthetic fertilizers to make them bulkier.
Candace Sobrino, a worker at Sprouts Farmers Market, said from what she knows that the main benefits of organic food is the way that they are grown.
After doing research, the key feature of organic products truly is the way they are grown and processed. The USDA has put in place specific requirements that must be met and maintained in order for products to be labeled as “organic.”
Those requirements include being grown in safe soil, not having synthetic pesticides or genetic modifications, and can only be maintained with natural fertilizers and compost.
In addition, organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and be given organic feed. They can not be given antibiotics or growth hormones.
Not only is produce and meat able to be labeled organic, but even cereals, sauces and snack foods can be considered organic.
“Going organic” helps the environment because it removes chemicals, saves the soil from harmful farming methods, and reduces pollution. Therefore, those that do care about the well being of the environment may be inclined to pay extra on their groceries for organic products.
“If I had the choice I would definitely make the choice of eating organic food but being on a college budget I have to go with the cheapest,” said Joanne Calculitan, a senior kinesiology major.
The price of the average environmentally friendly food is usually more costly. According to a USA Today article, data fromJoanne the USDA concluded, “it generally cost at least 25 percent more in Boston and San Francisco wholesale markets and sometimes was double the price.”
Proponents say that if one were to stop eating out and commit to buying organic products, the price would not seem significantly expensive. In addition, they find that paying a higher price to protect the environment seems worth it.
In a WebMD article, American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Keecha Harris, Ph.D, states, “There is no evidence that organic foods are superior over traditional foods” and that “food does not have to be organic to be safe and environmentally friendly.”
As of now, little evidence exists that organic foods are healthier. Research only shows that the products may have more of an impact on the environment than health and that more than anything it is a personal choice to believe in its benefits.