Should I buy organic food where I can? 

Should I buy organic food where I can?

A:

The short answer is yes. Organic food is farmed without the use of most chemicals such as chemical fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides. Therefore, it avoids residues of these chemicals getting into our bodies when we consume the food. Non-organic foods generally contain higher amounts of these chemicals which may be damaging to both health and the environment. These chemicals need to be processed and excreted by the body, and this can put additional strain on the liver and digestive system. Check out the “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen” – a list showing which foods have the least and most contamination, respectively.  

Plants naturally produce their own innate protection, kind of like natural pesticides. These are known as phytochemicals or phytonutrients, and are beneficial to our health when we consume them as they act as antioxidants. If artificial pesticides are used during farming, this removes the need for the plant to produce their own, and therefore non-organic plants tend to have lower levels of these healthful phytonutrients.

However, it should be noted that organic food has its own issues. It is important to consider the origin of food, as transportation and storage can reduce nutrient content of the food and add to its carbon footprint. Therefore, the best option is to buy local and seasonal food, as well as organic, if possible. There are some excellent British farms which offer weekly organic produce deliveries. These are a great option as they are local, seasonal, organic, and they pay concern to the local environment as well as the carbon footprint.  Also, be aware that just because something is organic does not instantly mean that it is healthy. Organic food can still be heavily processed and have large amounts of sugar added to it.  

Choosing organic is important and beneficial to health, but it is a good idea to weigh this up against the overall benefits. If organic produce is not affordable for you, perhaps try opting for greater quantities of cleaner foods such as those on the “clean 15” list, or just choose organic for the most heavily contaminated foods such as those on the “dirty dozen” list. 

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19 April 2021
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