Before getting into the cliché myths about organic foods, one must truly understand what organic produce actually is. According to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), “organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”
With the NOP definition of organic foods in mind, the myths are easier to “make and break.” Some of them are true, but certainly not all.
Organic foods are better (health-wise) than non-organic foods
It has been scientifically proven that organic foods tend to be more nutritional than produce that’s grown with pesticides and fertilizers. The reason: In the absence of pesticides and fertilizers, plants boost their production of the phytochemicals (vitamins and antioxidants) that strengthen their resistance to bugs and weeds. According to the National Academy of Sciences, conventional foods are typically safe for healthy adults, but they’ve been known to be relatively toxic to young children, fetuses, and pregnant women; it is advised for them to consume more organic produce than non-organic.
On the other hand, products can still be unhealthy when they’re organic. Buying “organic candies,” “organic cookies,” or even “organic sodas” don’t lower the health risks. Cane-sugar is still sugar, and consuming too much of it is a health-risk. People should consume with caution.
The first myth is not “wrong,” but it’s also not “right.” It all depends on a person’s perspective. Eating organic foods does seem to be healthier, in a way, but consuming too much of a product is still a problem. People need to eat responsibly.
Organic foods are always better for the environment
Without the pesticides, fertilizers, and harmful chemicals, organic produce doesn’t contaminate soil and groundwater. With the positive, there’s also a downside. Organic foods don’t have the “extra help” (meaning the chemicals) to grow, so farming them is less productive than conventional farming. The lack of high-productivity requires the organic-farmers to use more land to plant their crops. Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Food Issues estimates that modern high-yield farming has saved 15 million square miles of wildlife habitat, and that if the world switched to organic farming, we’d need to cut down 10 million square miles of forest.
The myth isn’t true. They help in the avoiding-chemicals-sense, but not when it comes to farming on smaller acreage. Plus, with less productivity than conventional farming, there wouldn’t be as much food. The hungry could become hungrier.
Organic foods taste better than non-organic foods
With personal opinions in mind, this myth is not true. The quality of the taste depends on the person; some people believe that organic foods taste better, but others don’t. Aside from opinions, organic produce has become the choice-ingredient for many gourmet chefs across the nation. They believe that it has “superior taste and quality,” so using it has become more traditional throughout the years.
People should choose their own diet-habits. What they eat can rely on many factors (i.e. their income, culture, religious-beliefs, and allergies), so it’s better if they choose what’s right for them. People who buy organic foods should be aware that products with organic ingredients tend to be pricier. Also, not all “organic” foods are completely made with organic materials. Many labels include the percentage of organic ingredients
100% Organic: Made with 100% organic ingredients
Organic: Made with at least 95% organic ingredients
Made With Organic Ingredients: Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.
With that in mind, consumers should read food-labels carefully before making a purchase on the product.