We think of organic food as healthy, but is organic really healthy? It offers certain advantages for sure, but if we believe it to be universally “healthy”, we’re being a bit naive. Much of food labeled “organic” is still processed food, so here are several reasons why organic foods may not necessarily be a guaranteed healthy choice.
First of all, what’s the definition of organic?
Organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. It usually means the food or the ingredients in the food have been grown without synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge (yes really! gross, but true!!), genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or ionizing radiation. In spite of these facts, all this doesn’t automatically make the food nutritionally superior.
What about nutritional value?
Some studies have found certain organic foods may have higher levels of certain nutrients compared to their conventionally grown counterparts, but for the most part, the evidence is mixed. Some organic foods are nutritionally comparable to their non-organic counterparts.
What about caloric and sugar content?
For the simple reason a food is labeled “organic” doesn’t mean it’s low in calories, sugars, or unhealthy fats. Organic candy, cookies, or chips can still contribute to weight gain and other health issues if they’re consumed frequently and/or in excess quantities.
What about natural toxins and pesticides?
Organic farming does use pesticides, but they are natural or non-synthetic “pesticides”. Some naturally derived pesticides can still be harmful in large amounts or if not used correctly. In addition, certain plants produce their own toxins as a defense mechanism, and the levels of these natural toxins can sometimes be higher in organic produce, although they are typically within safe limits for our consumption.
What about the processing and additives in organic food products?
Organic processed foods can still contain unhealthy additives. Ingredients like sodium and sugar can still be present in high amounts. Just because these additives come from organic sources doesn’t make them healthier. I have a friend who reminds me even a little organic poison would still be poison…
There’s some disagreement about this topic. Some studies have suggested organic produce might have a higher risk of microbial contamination given the use of natural fertilizers like manure. However, other studies dispute this, and the overall risk varies based on many factors. It’s always a good idea to wash fresh produce thoroughly, whether it’s organic or conventionally grown.
For some, the cost of organic foods can be prohibitive, and may lead you to consume fewer fruits, vegetables, or other essentials if you believe only organic will do. In these instances, consuming conventionally grown produce is far better than not consuming them at all. Fresh produce on your plate is always the best choice for your health!
While organic farming has environmental benefits such as reduced pesticide residues in water and improved soil health, it isn’t always the most efficient in terms of yield per acre. This can result in greater land use and other environmental trade-offs.
Taste and Quality
Organic doesn’t necessarily mean better taste or quality. Quality can vary based on many factors, including variety, freshness, how the product was stored, and more. Another factor to consider is that organic produce may not always look perfect. It may have a bump or a defect that doesn’t affect the flavor, quality or nutritional value. It just may not look like a polished, waxed perfectly red apple for instance.
Each individual’s dietary needs and health conditions vary. While one person might benefit from certain organic products, another might not notice any significant health difference.
One factor that doesn’t change with organic food is the need to consume it in moderate portions. One of the best and easiest ways to begin on the road to better health is to monitor your portion sizes. Just taking a bit less of everything can make a big difference and isn’t that hard to do. I like to use a smaller plate to help me with this. It’s surprising how visually satisfying smaller amounts of food can be when they’re crowded onto a bread plate instead of spread-out on a huge dinner plate. If you doubt me, I challenge you to give it a try. Here’s a plate size I like: https://amzn.to/3hxwu6l
While there are many benefits to choosing organic foods, it’s essential to consider your overall dietary picture. A diet rich in whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in moderate amounts is most important for health regardless of whether these foods are organic or conventionally grown. Making food choices should be based on an understanding of health, nutrition, cost, and your individual needs. Focusing on moderate amounts of fresh whole food and cranking back on the snacks and processed foods will go a long way toward normalizing your glucose and cholesterol levels as well as helping you win any weight loss battles you may be waging!
I always love to hear from you, and you can reach out to me with questions at cheryl@thinstronghealthy dot com
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC
I’m author, health coach, and entrepreneur Cheryl A Major, and I would love to connect with you! If you’re new to the world of creating better health, both mental and physical for yourself, please check out my training on how to get gluten out of your diet. Becoming Gluten Free Me is where to check it out. Learn how gluten affects us and how to go about reducing or eliminating it from your diet. You don’t have to suffer with Celiac Disease to benefit from getting gluten out of your life!
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