There are a lot of questions surrounding the topic of organic food and farming practices. Most people know organic food to be anything grown without the use of harmful pesticides or chemicals, but what else is there to this exceedingly popular movement? Here are 10 facts you may not know about organic food, and the farming practices that take them from the soil to your plate!
1. Organic food is not limited to fruit and veggies.
When most people think organic, the image of fresh, leafy greens and bright, sweet fruits usually comes to mind, but organic foods do not stop there. Pretty much anything that is not processed can fall under the organic label, including meat, eggs and dairy, assuming the animal this food has come from was not treated with growth hormones or antibiotics during farming.
2. You know what you are eating.
In order for a food to be labeled as organic, it must meet specific guidelines to assure that it was “grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms or ionizing radiation.” When you bite into the surface of your organically grown treat, you know you will not be subjected to any of the aforementioned substances.
3. Organic farming yields a lower environmental impact.
Those agricultural chemicals and pesticides used to treat non-organic foods have to go somewhere, and often run-off into the water supplies and fertile ground on or nearby the farms this food was grown on. When you do not rely on chemicals to grow your food, there is not anything left to poison the environment around you.
4. Rich in phenolic compounds.
When it comes to organic food, everyone wants to know one thing: is it any healthier? Studies have shown that organically grown produce contains 18-69% more antioxidant compounds, and higher levels of both zinc and Vitamin C than its traditionally grown counterpart.
5. It tastes great!
Of course, taste is subjective, but there is a reason some of the world’s top chefs, foodies and pretty much anyone with functioning taste buds prefer organic bites over the other variety – the taste! The natural methods used to grow organically release nitrogen at a slower rate, which usually makes for a sweeter and richer flavor once the harvest is ripe for picking.
6. When you buy organic, you support smaller, family farms.
As organic food is usually grown in smaller batches, it typically comes from smaller farms. If you happen to shop at your local farmer’s market, you know your food was grown right down the road from your own home. Not only are you helping your neighbors sustain their small businesses, but you are also helping promote farming that is harmonious with the surrounding environment.
7. There is only one “organic,” despite the different labels.
There are a lot of labels on so-called healthy foods, but unless your tag reads “100% organic,” you are not getting the real deal. Even foods labeled simply as “organic” may only meet 95% of USDA guidelines. So if you want to get the real thing, make sure you read those stickers.
8. It is better for the animals.
When you use your purchasing power to buy an organic item, you can rest assured that you are not contributing to the mistreatment of animals raised in factory farms. The National Organic Program rules state that any animal used to produce organic meat or dairy must have access to outdoor areas, offering them a higher quality of life.
9. Organic farming makes for healthier farmers.
The harmful pesticides and chemicals used in non-organic farming methods have been linked to health risks among those handling the cultivation of these crops. Organic farming methods are healthier and better for everyone involved.
10. Organic farming is sustainable.
By using age-old composting practices that keep the soil fertile and healthy, pour no pollutants into nearby air and water sources, and promote a biodiverse environment, organic farming is the natural way to create the foods we eat. When you go organic, you know the impact you are making on the Earth is a good one.