Over the last decade, organic foods have increased in popularity in the United States. In 2019, 5% of food sales were organic, and it has grown every year since then. It is tempting to believe that organic food is healthier, but is it really true?
To get the label organic, a food product must be produced on a farm that has not used synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizer for three years before harvesting the food. There also needs to be a significant buffer zone between other farmlands to decrease contamination from other places. These foods must also be free from genetic engineering, radiation, or sewage sludge. Finally, if there is livestock on the property, the animals must be fed an organic diet, live on organic land, and be raised without routine antibiotics or hormones.
It is important to note that free-range labels do not mean organic. It simply means that animals were not kept in small enclosures. The label natural on food means that there are no artificial flavorings or colored ingredients, but it also does not mean it is organic or free of pesticides.
Calorie for calorie and nutrients for nutrients, organic foods are the same as non-organic foods. However, it doesn’t mean they are not healthier. Ultimately, consuming products free from pesticides, herbicides, and antibiotics is better for the body. While there is no concrete information that provides proof that organic food is better, we do know that pesticides can lead to neurodevelopmental issues and are strongly associated with cancer.
When purchasing foods, you don’t have to buy everything organic. There is a list of foods that are naturally low in pesticides and foods that you should likely buy organic. Especially when it comes to meat products, buying products free of pesticides and added hormones can have great long-term benefits to your health.