Is Organic Food Better Than Conventional Food?

The other day, it was my turn to prepare dinner, so I asked my wife to go over to the local market and buy some organic vegetables.

She came back rather upset. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “I don’t think I like that produce guy. I went and looked around for your organic vegetables and I couldn’t find any. So I asked him where the organic vegetables were.”

“He didn’t know what I was talking about, so I said, ‘These vegetables are for my husband. Have they been sprayed with any poisonous chemicals?'”

“And he said, ‘No, ma’am. You’ll have to do that yourself.'”

There you go. Internet is a wonderful place to find jokes and find information about organic and non-organic or conventional food.

What is organic food?

Food grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers is called organic food. Most conventional farming relies heavily on artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides. According to a report in the Environmental Magazine, of the 300 pesticides approved by the federal government, 73 (including some of the most frequently used) are “probable” or “possible” carcinogens (substances which cause cancer).

How do we know if organic foods sold in the stores are genuine?

Not every farmer can claim their produce as organic unless it meets certain government standards before they are certified as organic products. Most developed countries now have rules and regulations in place to enhance the quality and sustainability of the environment and to ensure safety of the consumers.

In Canada, as of June 30, 2009, the Organic Products Regulations require mandatory certification on agricultural products represented as organic in international and inter-provincial trade.

The number of farmers growing organic food is increasing each year. The Canadian Organic Growers (http://www.cog.ca/) has a diverse membership that includes farmers, gardeners, processors, retailers, educators, policy-makers and consumers. Not all the members run certified organic operations, but they share a vision for a sustainable bio-regionally-based organic food system.

In 2007, the Associated Press reported that five per cent of the overall U.S. gardening population grows organically. The number of organic gardeners will increase from five million to 8.1 million in next few years. Eighty-five per cent of organic food sold in Canada comes from the U.S. But no food, organic or conventional, can be sold in Canada unless it meets Canadian food safety standards.

Organic food costs little more than non-organic food. What the consumer wants to know is: Does it taste better? And is organic food actually healthier? Is it worth paying little more?

Taste is like beauty, it is very personal and individual. So you will have to decide for yourself if you think organic food tastes better.

Is organic food healthier than conventionally grown food?

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review) came to the conclusion that there is no evidence of a difference in nutrient quality between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs. The small differences in nutrient content detected are biologically plausible and mostly relate to differences in production methods. The study was published in 2009.

Is it worth paying little more? Again it is a personal choice. If you think it tastes better and would prefer to eat food not contaminated by pesticides and fertilizers containing potentially harmful chemicals then it is worth it. Remember, Health Canada’s job is to make sure that organic and conventionally grown foods are safe to consume before they are sold in Canada.

Finally, do not forget to wash your fruits and vegetables before you eat them. And wash your hands too!

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