Health and Safety Issues Relating to Organic Food

Health and Safety Issues Relating to Organic Food

This past year the news media has had stories regarding Salmonella outbreaks in peanut butter, mangoes, papayas and dog food.There were also outbreaks of e coli in lettuce and spinach. Food borne illnesses have affected 48 million people in the US according to the Center for Disease and Prevention. We have a broken industrial food system. The Center for Food Safety is responsible for assuring that people are healthy as well as their environment. The Center is working hard to promote organic and other sustainable forms of agriculture.The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the first U.S. food safety legislation since 1938.It is forcing the USDA to not only address food borne outbreaks, but to prevent them. One way to do this is by growing organic food. 

Is organic food safer and healthier than conventional food? The only way to judge whether or not organic food is safer or healthier is to compare how it is grown with how conventional food is grown. Conventional food practices incorporate chemical fertilizers to encourage plant growth; synthetic pesticides are used to counteract pests and disease; synthetic herbicides are used to fight weeds and animals are given antibiotics to fight disease and hormones to boost growth. Many studies indicate that chemicals and hormones added to soil and seeds can contribute to cancer. 

Organic farmers have to follow strict guidelines in order to be certified as organic. They must meet the USDA standards, which mean they have to be ninety-five percent within those standards to get the 100 percent seal of approval.The organic farmers have to track their time of growing and harvesting of their produce. Organic farmers cannot plant GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or animals cannot eat grains that are grown from GMOs. They also have to protect their crops from contact with GMOs.  

Organic farmers strive to limit pollution, conserve water, promote soil fertility and reduce soil erosion. They do not till their plots year after year in order not to disturb the soil. They use natural fertilizers like manure and home-made compost. They also practice crop rotation and hand weeding. Some hand-weed by a chop and drop method that acts as a mulch for the ground as well as adding more nutrients to the soil. Since harmful chemicals are not used in organic farming there is very little pollution to the soil, air and water. The practice of not using chemicals provides for future generations. Organic food is good for the environment.  

Some of the negative effects of eating organic fruits and vegetables is they do not always have eye appeal and may be smaller than conventionally grown food. They can still be susceptible to contamination.  You can soak conventional fruit and vegetables in sea salt water to remove any residue of pesticides. Sea salt is a natural disinfectant. The shelf life of organic foods is shorter since they are not treated with preservatives or waxes. If you buy organic food, buy it locally. 

No long term studies are available with regard to health outcomes between the two. Further studies are needed on health and safety processes when it comes to the food we eat. There are few studies regarding the nutritional value between organic and conventional food.