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The organic food trend

April 12th, 2011

As you may know, organic food has become a craze in our culture. Organic food has gotten a lot of attention in recent years – for good reason. Some studies, such as the 97 studies reviewed by the Nutrition Research Center, have shown that food that has been produced organically often has higher amounts of nutrients. Other studies, such as reported in Science Daily, have found little difference between organic food and non-organic foods. Mayo Clinic states that the answer remains unclear.

Just how does a product become classified as “organic?” Organic products have some strict agricultural requirements that must be met. To meet organic requirements for crops, products be grown in safe soil and have no modifications. Farmers cannot use any synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers to help the crops grow or sustain. For organic livestock, the animals must have access to the outdoors and be fed with organic feed. As with the crops, the animals cannot be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal-by-products. Bear in mind, however, that “organic” means that the product only has to be 95% organic, whereas “100% organic” requires all products to be made by natural means alone.

I’m a budget-conscious shopper, but there are certain items that I prefer to spend the extra money and buy organic. For example, I buy organic milk, which is at least double the price of non-organic milk. I choose to spend more on this because organic milk is one of the foods that has been found to have significant health benefits. In 2008, Newcastle University released a study that found that organic milk had higher amounts of beneficial fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. In fact, one beneficial fatty acid was found to be 60% higher in organic milk than in non-organic milk. I also find that I prefer the taste of organic milk.

Not all products, however, are worth buying organic. You may have heard of the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen.” According to the Environmental Working Group, there are certain foods that contain higher amounts of pesticides than others. Certainly it is worth taking the time to investigate which foods would be better for you to purchase organically and which foods are not worth the extra effort. Check out the list here: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/the-dirty-dozen-and-clean-15-of-produce/616/

What’s your take on organic foods?