According to a recent report from the Organic Trade Association, more than 75 percent of Americans choose organic foods, at least occasionally, and 30 percent have recently begun purchasing organic products.
Here’s the truth about the terminology, and the nutritional and health benefits of reaching for organic options more frequently.
Fact: Organic Foods May Be Better for Your Physique
Organic foods contain more antioxidants, which are not only disease-protective, but recent studies show that people who consume more antioxidants have lower body mass indices, smaller waist circumferences, and lower body-fat percentages than those with lower intakes. *Pesticides have been linked to obesity in children.
Fact: Organic Foods Provide More Nutrients
Organic foods contain more minerals and antioxidants which are “good” fats and far few nitrates, which have been linked to health problems such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s – organic meats are leaner and contain more healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Fact: Organic Food Tastes Better
43% of organic food buyers cite better taste as a major reason for purchasing organic fruits and vegetables. The term “organoleptic” refers to the sensory properties of a particular food—its taste, appearance, color, aroma, size, firmness, mouth feel and even sound (i.e-“snap” of a string bean or “crack” of biting in to a crisp apple)
Fact: Organic Benefits Go Beyond Nutrition
By law, organically produced foods cannot be given antibiotics. That is key, because these substances contaminate ground and water systems, triggering an unhealthy domino effect that can impact you if you become ill or injured. The Food and Drug Administration now says that more than 70 percent of bacteria that cause infections in hospitals are resistant to at least one of the drugs most commonly used to treat infections.
Fact: Organic Farmers Build Healthy Soil
Soil is the foundation of the food chain. The primary focus of organic farming is to use practices that build healthy soils. Organic agricultural respects the balance demanded of a healthy ecosystem: wildlife is encouraged by including forage crops in rotation and by retaining fence rows, wetlands, and other natural areas.
Fact: Organic Producers are Leaders in Innovative Research
Organic farmers have led the way, largely at their own expense, with innovative on-farm research aimed at reducing pesticide use and minimizing agriculture’s impact on the environment.
Fact: Organic farming helps keep rural communities healthy
USDA reported that in 1997, half of U.S. farm production came from only 2% of farms. Organic agriculture can be a lifeline for small farms because it offers an alternative market where sellers can command fair prices for crops.
More Health Benefits of Organic Foods:
• More Nutrients: Studies show that organic foods may have increased levels of nutrients like antioxidants than conventionally grown foods
• Fertility Health: Pesticides found in conventionally grown foods have been shown to reduce fertility
• Immune System Protection: The chemicals in non-organic foods may also harm your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness and some forms of cancer
• Hormones and weight gain: New research has shown that some agricultural chemicals could actually be making you fat by interfering with your hormone levels.
•Unknown effects of GMOs: Many people are concerned about genetically modified foods, especially since many of them have never been tested on humans. Organic foods are never genetically modified.
Four Areas Where it Pays to Go Organic:
• Organic beef comes from livestock that eats an organic diet, and in June, new FDA regulations will mandate that they spend at least 30 percent of their lives grazing on pasture grasses. That’s important, because studies show grass-fed meat has 60% more omega-3s, 200% more vitamin E, and 2 to 3 times as much of a cancer-fighting fat called CLA that might even help you lose weight.
• Likewise, organic chicken is healthier than non-organic chicken. One study found that it has 28 percent more omega-3 fatty acids.
• Studies show that organic milk has 50% more vitamin E, 75% more beta-carotene, and 70% more omega-3 fatty acids than regular. It also has more than double the amount of certain antioxidants that have been shown to keep your eyes healthy as you age.
• Organic milk is also free of commonly used growth hormones, which increases infertility in cows and has been linked to prostate and breast cancers in humans.
• It costs about a dollar more per half-gallon, but it’s worth it. Plus you can generally cut costs by getting coupons online. Stonyfieldfarm.com, for instance, offers printable coupons on their site.
• Organic chickens, like cows, spend a portion of their life grazing. That means that, along with their organic feed, they have access to the chicken’s food of choice, which is a cocktail of worms and grubs. And when animals eat their favorite foods, humans benefit. According to a study from Penn State, eggs from grazing chickens have twice as much vitamin E, 40 percent more vitamin A, and 3 times as many omega-3s. Plus they taste better!
Compared to mass-produced conventional eggs, organic usually costs a couple extra bucks per carton. But again, that’s a small price for the health of your body and planet.
Best Organic Packaged Foods
Choosing organic doesn’t mean missing out on your favorite foods. Companies have made giant strides in recent years to produce organic versions of some of favorite meals, snacks, and beverages.
Kashi Whole Wheat Biscuits, Cinnamon Harvest
• Eat healthy and save money! This box is actually about 50 cents cheaper than Post Shredded Wheat
• One serving has nearly 20% of your daily fiber intake. Plus studies show that the cinnamon in here can help keep your blood sugar stable.
Amy’s Roasted Vegetable Tamale
• Amy’s meals are delicious and make it possible to fit organic foods into your diet even when you’re too busy to cook. • They’re not always 100% organic, but Amy’s makes an effort to keep it as close as possible. This one is 92% organic. Plus it’s under 300 calories and carries 8 grams of stomach-filling fiber.
• The tamales contain organic tomatoes, which have 97% more of a class of antioxidants called flavanoids than conventional tomatoes.
Annie’s Naturals Organic Dijon Mustard
• You don’t need to sacrifice taste when you’re putting together an organic sandwich – this Annie’s organic mustard tastes just as good as Grey Poupon.
• Plus unlike a lot of the so-called “gourmet” mustards on the market, it has zero added sugars, so it’s virtually calorie free.
Applegate Farms Organic Mild Cheddar Cheese
• Choosing organic cheese is probably even more important than choosing organic milk, because cheese has a higher concentration of fat, which carries the heaviest dose of the hormones and antibiotics used in non-organic livestock. • This cheese is available in good supermarkets across the country, perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches.
Newman’s Own Organics Champion Chip Double Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies
• These cookies definitely don’t taste like health food and are made entirely from organic ingredients.
• Another reason I love Newman’s: Most store-bought cookies are made with partially hydrogenated oils and contain small doses of trans fat. Newman’s uses palm fruit oil instead, which is lower in saturated fat than butter.
Best Alcoholic Beverage
Samuel Smith Organic Ale
• Organic wine has been around for a while now, but organic beer is gaining ground. This is a full-bodied British brew made with organic barley, hops, and yeast.
• Studies show that a beer or two a day can actually help reduce your blood pressure. And dark beers like ales contain higher levels of antioxidants than lagers.