Organic Food: A Healthy Alternative
Organic Food: A Healthy Alternative
Susan Silberstein & Marilyn Joyce (Health and Nutrition Educator & Heath Counselor) gives expert video advice on: Are organic foods a healthier alternative to other foods?; How do I know if a food is organic? and more...
What is "organic" food?
Organic food is basically unadulterated food. We have an informal definition of organic food, which is kind of "natural", and we have a legal definition of organic food, certified organic. What's important in organic food is that there are no added hormones, like bovine growth hormones, which can contribute to disease, and that we don't use synthetic and chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and any other types of additives that are not natural in organic food. That's one concept. What is left out of the food that is called "organic". What's also important is what is left in organic food, because organically-grown produce is grown with composted soil, so the trace minerals are ploughed into the soil—and thereby get into the organic food supply. We often use crop rotation techniques in organic farming, so that organic farmers are seeing to it that the same plant isn't depleting the same nutrient from the same soil year after year. And research studies have shown that the vitamin C content, the mineral content, and other nutritional factors is much higher in the organic produce than in the non-organic plants and crops. And that's because plants take up about 67 different nutrients from their soil. Synthetic fertilizers only replace a few.
Are organic foods a healthier alternative to other foods?
Eating organic foods is considered a healthy choice because you're not dealing with pesticides, herbicides, genetic modification of the foods. It is pure food growing, in healthier soils. It's done in a way that where the crops are rotated, and this allows the soils to become replenished. So, the crops that are grown organically contain a higher degree or higher level of nutrition, nutrients especially the minerals. You see a really significant increase in most of the minerals and in fact say some of the Vitamin C, some of the B vitamins, iron. Very significant increases in the food grown organically.
How are organic foods good for the environment?
It's a system that replenishes the soil. It takes into account every aspect of growth of the animals that are raised on that property. Everything is utilized. The animals are utilized to fertilize the soil, the soil is replenished on an ongoing basis. The crops are rotated, the cattle are moved, or the animals are moved to different places in the ecosystem that's created. It's an entire ecosystem built for growth and sustainability, unlike what we have now, where the soils are depleted completely wherever there is regular commercial growing.
Do organic foods taste better than other foods?
Absolutely. When someone tastes an organic tomato next to a regular, commercially grown tomato, the first thing they say is, "Wow!" The difference is amazing. The organic tomato has a natural lusciousness, it's succulent, it's juicy, and it's sweeter. There's a sweeter taste to it. There's a crisper, more definable flavor to almost anything grown organically, versus that which is grown commercially. A very significant difference in taste.
Should I eat "farm-raised" fish?
Many people consume farm-raise fish because they wish to avoid the chemical pollutants that are in our oceans and our lakes. However, farm-raised fish is, surprisingly, not healthful. There are a couple of reasons for that. First of all, those fish are not given the feed that they'd get in their natural habitat, like the sea vegetables. And, therefore, the fatty acid profile of these fish is totally different from the fish in the wild. These fish are much higher in saturated fats which are implicated in the disease process and much lower in the Omega-3 fats that protect our immune systems. Secondly, farm-raised fish, like salmon, for example, are treated with carcinogenic dyes to make them color friendly because their color is not bright the way it is in nature when the feed is giving them their natural color.