Eat Better: The Health Benefits of Organic Foods
Organic foods have become easier and easier to obtain in recent years. Still, many consumers wonder if this type of food is
healthy enough to be worth the often extra cost. Many of the benefits of organic foods have come to consumers through word
of mouth and the promotions put on by advocates of organic eating. Fortunately, there has been research and several solid
arguments supporting the use of organic foods in everyday eating.
Several recent studies on farms which produce organic foods determined that organic farms don’t release synthetic pesticides
into the ground, the air and, most importantly, the water table. Some of the inorganic, chemical pesticides are known to be
harmful to wildlife and other animals. Organic farms also are superior to conventional farms when it comes to maintaining
surrounding natural ecosystems. This includes, maintaining healthy populations of natural plants, insects and indigenous
animals. They also rotate crops more often to maintain a healthy soil.
When researchers calculated the energy use per unit area or per unit of yield of organic food-producing farms, it was found
that organic farms used less energy and generated less packaging and chemical waste than conventional produce farms.
The yield in organic produce farms is about 20 percent less when those farms used half the fertilizer and 97 percent less
pesticide than conventional farming. Others feel that organically-used soil is of a higher quality and maintains higher
water retention than farms that raise produce conventionally. This factor may improve the yield of organic farms during
years when rainfall is less than average.
In one study on organic farming techniques, a comparison of an organic farm and a conventional farm during a drought
season, the yields of soybeans were between 50 and 90 percent better than the regular farms. Organic corn yields were
mixed but, on average, the farms were on par with conventional farms.
Consider the risk of pesticide exposure on farm workers. Farm workers on organic farms are spared the health risks of being
exposed to pesticides, which are great, even when used correctly. Pesticides made from organophosphates, in particular,
can cause serious acute health problems with over-exposure. Long term exposure, unfortunately, is associated with breathing
problems, memory problems, skin conditions, cancer, miscarriages and birth defects.
To make matters worse, those who eat food not grown in an organic fashion can be exposed to both pesticides and herbicides
that remain on the food. This is why all produce from conventional farms should be washed carefully. Exposure to certain
herbicides is known to cause birth defects, even in small doses. Sadly, one recent study showed that the greatest source
of pesticides in babies is through the dietary consumption of food not grown in an organic fashion.
On a happier note, another study found that a group of children who were switched from a regular diet to an organic diet
dramatically reduced their levels or organophosphate pesticide exposure. In addition, studies have shown that organic food
actually tastes better in taste tests than conventional food.
If you want to keep your family as healthy as possible, consider making the switch to organic foods. The benefits to the
environment and likely to your family’s health are considerable.