Learn About the Benefits of Organic Food
Today, all types of food are produced under organic protocols: meat, eggs, honey, olives, sugar, tea, coffee, legumes, fruits, vegetables, wine, oils and dairy products, to mention a few. There are also the by-products and the different versions such as frozen, canned products and sweets. In other words, the entire agricultural production can be considered organic in addition to its pertinent agri-business.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), food – typically fruits and vegetables- is considered organic when no chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides are used at any stage of production or in soils where grown.
Alimentación Sana mentions that for some, organic food means that it is rich in nutrients and for others it means grater sanitary controls. Some even understand that it refers to products manufactured without causing pollution or through means that generate less damage to air, land and water.
In fact, the positive features attributed to organic products are difficult to establish without regulations or general consensus. For instance, in order for milk to be considered organic the cow should in theory be 100% grain-fed, should not have been treated genetically and should have been kept on unfertilized soil. In addition to not having received antibiotics or hormones.
However, depending on the destination market, it is possible to obtain organic certification without meeting such strict regulations. It is important to keep in mind that there are some minimum differences in regulations and certifications in markets such as the United States, Europe or Japan.
What makes organic food different?
Essentially, the amount of nutrients in organic food is similar to that in conventional produce. The nutritional value, especially in vegetables, is similar. Nevertheless, organic meat has proved to be leaner due to its reduced amount of intramuscular fat. The greatest benefit of organic food, however, is that it contains a considerable lower amount of chemical residue levels, or is completely free from same.
FAO mentions that in general no additives, preservatives (save for natural), pesticides or fertilizers are allowed. Additionally, food should contain a reduced amount of veterinary drug residues or none at all, no hormones or heavy metals (present in soils and waters) and cannot be irradiated. Alimentación Sana describes how conventional food is irradiated to kill germs and facilitate its preservation. This happens with meat, frozen products, canned products, and fruits and vegetables.
Although there is proof that this radiation is not highly dangerous, it is difficult to know the long-term effects since this technique is relatively new. Studies show that animals bred naturally (fed on fresh pastures, fodder and organic grain) and stress-free have special characteristics. For example, the meat has a greater amount of vitamin E (antioxidant), less intramuscular fat (since it is not left motionless at a feedlot), and produces less cholesterol for consumers.
Organic meat also reduces or eliminates the risk of biological contamination, such as mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), aphthous fever, Escherichia coli contamination (in industrial or home-made hamburgers), or salmonella (in eggs and poultry) since certifications strictly control the history of the animal from birth to the end of the marketing chain in its different cuts and by-products through traceability.
Deutsche Welle argues that the discussion should not be about organic vs. conventional. In today’s globalized world it is very difficult to stop the use of transgenic or agrichemical products. The important thing is for the population to be informed about the characteristics and differences in production methods and, to the extent possible, to be able to choose the quality of the food that is wishes to consum