Why eat organic?
Vicki Koenig, MS, RD, CDN
As a nutritionist and mom, I eat organically whenever possible. Here's why:
It’s good for you
- There’s evidence that many organic fruits and vegetables are more nutritious than their non-organic counterparts. Research has shown that an organic diet can dramatically reduce pesticide levels in kids’ bodies.
- On average, organic samples contained higher total antioxidants and beneficial phytonutrients like polyphenols and flavonoids than conventionally raised foods.
- Organic milk and meat are higher in omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) — heart-healthy fats that can help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. Increased grazing is suspected to increase CLA content of organically raised milk and meat; CLA levels have been shown to be higher in the breastmilk of women who consumed such foods.
It’s good for farmers
- Organic farmers and growers don’t handle toxic, persistent pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers that can pose a health hazard.
- Organic agriculture can be good for a farmer’s economic health. Many small family farmers do well in an agricultural economy otherwise dominated by giant factory farms.
It’s good for the animals and the environment
- Organic practices means livestock are kept strong, healthy and productive through good nutrition, less stress and humane living conditions, rather than through antibiotics or injections of artificial growth hormones.
- Our soil, rivers, drinking water and air also benefit from organic agriculture, because organic practices don’t contaminate them with toxic persistent chemicals.
- Organic means less dependence on fossil fuels. Organic farming practices can help reduce climate change. Converting all of America’s cropland to organic is estimated to have the same carbon-reducing effect as taking 217 million cars off the road!
The next time you buy organic, remember that you’re not just doing yourself and your family some good. You’re doing a whole world of good!
For more information:
- Arkury TA et al. “Pesticide Urinary Metabolite Levels of Children in Eastern North Carolina Farmworker Households.” Environ Health PerspectAug 2007;115(8).
- Benbrook C et al. “New Evidence Confirms the Nutritional Superiority of Plant-Based Organic Foods.” The Organic Center: State of ScienceReview, Mar 2008.
- LaSalle TJ and Hepperly P. “Regenerative Organic Farming: A Solution to Global Warming.” Rodale Institute, 2008.
- McCullum-Gomez C et al. “That First Step — Organic Food and a Healthier Future." The Organic Center: State of Science Review, Mar 2009. This “Critical Issue Report” describes six ways that organic food and farming can contribute to reversing current trends in overweight, obesity, and diabetes.