The majority of people choose organics because they want to avoid pesticides in their food. But there are a number of other benefits you may not have considered yet. Organic production is a management approach that promotes biodiversity, enhances the soil, avoids synthetic chemicals and is good for your health and the environment.
Assurance – As of June 2009, any food labeled organic has to be certified and meet strict standards. With organics you know what you are eating.
Healthier foods, healthier people – Growing organically relies on keeping the soil healthy and fertile. Such systems have the spin off benefit of more nutrients in your food. You also get to avoid pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, hormones and overuse of antibiotics. Fertile soil and vital systems creates healthier plants and animals which creates a healthier you!
Environment – Pollutants in our rivers or in the soil that leach down to the water table can play havoc with our health, our environment and for wildlife. Organic production works hand in hand with the environment and protects the water and air.
Biodiversity – Organic systems help to enhance biodiversity from the ground up. A living system in the soil means more bacteria, fungi, and other soil organisms thrive. By not polluting the air and water, and by protecting trees, bush and wild spaces on organic farms, a greater diversity of plants and animals is sustained. Plus organic systems tend towards preserving native and endangered species.
Sustainability – eliminating pesticides and persistent fertilizers was thought to be an inefficient system since yields would be decreased. However, long term studies have shown the exact opposite with organic production matching that of conventional production on average. A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) study has also found that organic agriculture is the best way forward for feeding the world population! 3
And it tastes great! Fertile soils make for healthy plants which just taste better.
ORGANIC & OTHER FOOD DEFINITIONS
But what does organic really mean?
The term organic refers to an ecological method of agricultural production that respects the natural environment. Organics focuses on enhancing the health and vitality of the soil, preserving biodiversity, promoting animal welfare and preserving the ecological integrity of our environment. No synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides or genetically modified organisms are permitted in organics. Organic foodstuffs along with livestock feed are inter-provincially regulated in Canada under the Canadian Organic Regulation and must meet all requirements as set out in the Canadian Organic Standard.
University research has shown more antioxidants (those beneficial compounds that help fight cancer) in some organic fruits than in conventionally grown varieties.1 Also the research from many sources cite the toxic levels of pesticides in our food and the deleterious long term effects. Children are especially vulnerable. A study in Environmental Health Perspectives found that children who consumed organic fresh fruit and vegetables had lower concentrations of pesticides than children who ate a conventional diet.2
1. New Evidence Confirms the Nutritional Superiority of Plant-Based Organic Foods,” www.organic-center.org/reportfiles/5367_Nutrient_ Content_SSR_FINAL_V2.pdf
2. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 25 (1), 2006
3. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization www.i-sis.org.uk/FAOPromotesOrganicAgriculture.php