Organic food is known as the choice of ‘health conscious’ people, but also comes with a bigger price tag and the reputation for being expensive and only affordable to those with money. Many clients say to me that they can not taste the difference, this may be true for some but the benefits to your body go much further than tastebuds alone.
Marketing giants do a wonderful job of selling you products that appeal to your budget savvy side. Yet the health benefits of organic and indeed the detrimental effect of non organic food production techniques are not talked about.
In order to produce larger crop yields and thus create a bigger profit margin, non organic produce is sprayed with herbicides and pesticides. These are used to repel weeds and insects respectively. These are effective, but pose a huge risk to our health when we ingest them. Pesticides such as chlormequat have been shown to retard embryo growth rats and compromised fertility in mamals, and glyphosate, a chemical that has had a lot of negative press surrounding it, found in round up has been shown to have a plethora of negative health effects as far reaching as being an endocrine disruptor; impairing male reproductive development, damaging the microvilli of our gut, to causing a decrease in IQ. If this was not bad enough it also supresses CYP enzyme expression, the enzymes that the liver uses to detoxify, effectively making it more difficult for our bodies to get rid of the toxins.
Organically produced crops have been shown to have higher levels of certain vital nutrients. Vitamin C, magnesium, phosphourus & iron are found to be higher as are phytochemicals anthocyanins, phenols, flavinoids, and carotenoids (these are chemicals produced by plants that are of great benifit to our human biology when eaten). There are many forms, some are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, or liver supporting. It stands to reason that organic produce is higher in phytonutrients as one of the reasons they are produced is to protect the plant from insect attacks. Crops sprayed with insect repellent do not need to manufacture such high levels of these natural chemicals as the threat of insects have been eliminated.
Non organic meat, fish, egg and dairy produce is a minefield of chemicals and synthetic hormones. When we consume animal products much like consuming the residues of toxins fund on crops we ingest everything that that animal has eaten and been injected with. Non-organic livestock, as well as being subjected to horrific living conditions are also routinely given antibiotics, synthetic amino acids and growth promoters. We then eat these chemicals allowing them to cause changes in our biology.
In the UK currently we do not sell GMO produce largely due to the general public rejecting the notion. If we do sell it, the EU have imposed strict laws that necessitate the clear labeling of such foods. However there is a loop hole in this, and that is non organic meat. Livestock can be fed grain based diets, which buck the natural diets of these animals and does not provide the same nutritional benefit for them, and in turn, us, as grass pasture feed. These grains, that make up a majority of the diets are often GMO crops which do not have to be stated on food packaging. Many farmers say that the cost of feed is pushing them to have to use GMO crops even if they do not want to. The EU imports 30 million tonnes of GMO crops, per year (60% of animal feed) that is mainly used to feed intensively reared pigs, poultry, farmed fish, beef and dairy cattle. The UK imports approximately 300,000 tonnes of GM maize, ‘The Soil Association estimates that in 2015/16 approximately 2.3 million tonnes of soya was imported into the UK, and almost none of it was non-GM’. The UK is calling for the EU’s GM rules to be eased, we may well see a change in availability and use of GM crops once we leave the EU. GMO consumption has been linked with a vast array of disease and disorders from neurodegenerative disease to kidney failure, diabetes and hypertension.
Organic meat and dairy has been shown to have 50% more omega 3 fatty acids which is hugely significant in today’s society as the modern westernized diets have vastly too high quantities of pro-inflammatory omega 6 and vastly too low quantities of anti-inflammatory omega 3.
Dairy is a concern, just like conventionally bred cattle for meat, dairy cattle are also given synthetic bovine growth hormone (rBST) to boost production of milk whilst negating the costs for extra food supply, and reoproduction hormones (prostaglandin, progesterone and gonadotropin releasing hormone – GnRH) to improve fertilization statistics during artificial isemination.
Organic dairy has also been shown to have a healthier fat composition to non organic, with higher levels of total PUFA, n-3 PUFA, (poly-unsaturated fatty acids: can decrease LDL and total cholesterol levels) EPA, DPA & DHA, (omega 3, anti-inflammatory) and higher levels of a-tocopherol (vitamin E), ALA (alpha lipoic acid: an antioxidant), and iron.
Organic produce, as well as having a vastly superior ethical profile, providing the animals and the environment with a better option of care, also has health benefits to you.
Choosing to consume organic produce is a definite win win situation.