Not long ago, if you wanted to find a decent selection of organic products, you had to go to a store specializing in natural foods. Now you can find organic products, meats, dairy products and more at almost any grocery store. There is no doubt that organic foods have increased in popularity in recent years, but many people still have questions about these products. Perhaps the most common question is, are organic foods really better than regular foods?
This question has been debated a lot in recent years, with some people largely promoting organic foods, while others claim that they are no better than the regular foods you eat. Both sides have some evidence to back up their opinion, but some of this evidence is a bit misleading. The first thing to keep in mind in this debate is that no one is saying that organic foods are less healthy or in any way inferior to normal foods. People who advocate regular food are trying to say that they have no additional benefits.
The main evidence against the need for organic foods comes from nutrient comparisons that have been made between organic and regular foods. Laboratory tests have found that organic foods may not contain significantly more nutrients than other foods, and advocates of regular foods have taken this to mean that organic foods are no better or healthier than other foods. If the amount of nutrients in a food was the only thing that mattered, then this would be a convincing argument against the need for organic foods, but the amount of nutrients is only one component of the food.
Probably the best quality of organic food has nothing to do with the amount of nutrients they have, but with what they don’t have. Regular foods often have undesirable things added during their growth and/or processing phases. For example, fruits and vegetables are often treated with pesticides or other unhealthy substances. Foods may contain pesticides, hormones, antibiotics or worse, and this information will not be shown anywhere on the food label. However, organic products have to follow strict regulations, which include not using unhealthy substances such as pesticides at any time from start to finish.
Without these unhealthy ingredients, organic foods are unquestionably healthier than their regular counterparts, even if the foods have the same amount of nutrients. Basically every food has some things that are good for you and some things that are bad for you and products that have many healthful characteristics with few unhealthy ones are the healthiest foods and vice versa. Therefore, even if a food has a decent amount of nutrients, it can be unhealthy if it also contains many things that are bad for you.
For example, cold water salmon is incredibly healthy because it contains quality protein and high levels of EPA and DHA, which are the healthiest Omega-3 fats. However, if you take salmon and fry it in a deep fryer, you end up adding unhealthy substances, which reduces the overall healthiness of the food. While this has nothing to do with whether or not the food is organic, it can make the analogy that organic food is the original salmon and regular food is what you get after frying it.
To be fair, the difference in health between an organic and a regular food is not as big as the difference between fresh and fried salmon, but the analogy is exact in the sense that both regular foods and fried salmon have a greater amount of ingredients that are bad for your health. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to determine the real impact on your health, because the additional substances found in traditional products may not visibly affect your body until years or even decades later. This makes it difficult to figure out the true benefit of eating organic foods.
Another issue is that the benefits of eating organic foods vary from one product to another and some regular foods are not very different from their organic counterparts, while there is a big difference between the others. The problem is that you have no way of knowing how regular foods are made, so you will not know what unhealthy substances they contain. One of the reasons people like to buy organic is because they don’t have to worry about all the unknown extras that may be in their food.
There is one more benefit of organic foods that is not so much talked about, which is that organic foods typically have more flavor than traditional foods, especially when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables. Regular products can taste almost like a diluted version of organic products and this is something that people take into account when deciding whether or not to buy organic food.
Although it is not possible to say exactly how much better organic foods are than regular ones, it is difficult to argue that they are not at least somewhat healthier than traditional foods. If they didn’t cost more than other foods, there probably wouldn’t be any interest in this topic, because everyone would choose to eat organic products. Of course, they cost more, so the central question of the question is whether or not organic foods are worth the extra cost, but that’s a problem for another time.