Dr Jess says: Organic food doesn’t just taste better, it is much better for you too! Here are my top 5 reasons to eat organic that I hope will convince you that, where possible, you should eat organic food because it is healthier, tastier and all round better for ourselves and our environment.
Top 5 Reasons To Eat Organic Food
1. They’re higher in essential nutrients
Organic food is up to 60% higher in antioxidants (natural compounds that boost our health, prevent disease and help us deal with toxins). Organic milk and meat is 50% higher in beneficial omega 3 fatty acids. Organic milk is 40% higher in conjugated linoleic acid (a natural anti-inflammatory) (1).
2. They’re 4x lower in toxic pesticides
Pesticides include glycophosphate which is classed as a probable carcinogen (substance that causes cancer) and pesticides in our food have been shown to affect brain development in children and developing babies (2).
Several studies have confirmed the impact of pesticides (from eating food contaminated with pesticides regularly) upon on nervous systems and even IQ (3). Worryingly we have little information on the long term health impact of consuming pesticides. If all farming was organic, pesticide use would drop by 98% (4).
3. They’re much lower in cadmium
Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal that is associated with kidney disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Pollution, sewage sludge and poor farming contribute to much higher levels in our food (5). Organic food is much lower in cadmium.
4. They’re free from Genetic Modification (GMO), artificial hormones and antibiotics
Genetically modified food is shown to be higher in herbicides and their long term health effects have never been studied.
GMOs are likely to produce unpredictable and hard to detect side-effects as we have never encountered these foods before and safety assessments have to date been inadequate. This is not to mention that they are very harmful to biodiversity and the natural environment.
Artificial hormones are poorly studied but as we know from the mechanism of hormonal cancers and thyroid disease, high levels of hormones can be dangerous to our health.
Antibiotics are a much wider problem, by routinely giving animals unnecessary antibiotics they are increasing the problem of antibiotic resistance, creating terrifying superbugs which do not respond to antibiotic treatment and can therefore create life threatening infections.
5. They’re much better for the environment
Organic farming works with nature, not against it. Organic farms have healthier soil and over 75% more plant species. By farming organically and biodynamically (a higher level of organic farming which reuses waste and works in harmony with nature) we can reduce carbon in the atmosphere and offset many of the damaging greenhouse emissions from farming (4). With current emissions and carbon levels in our atmosphere, the future is very uncertain and a worrying prospect for our children, without dramatic changes in agriculture.
How To Eat Organic On A Budget
Organic food can be more expensive but our health should be a priority and there are many ways to keep costs down, including:
1. Look for local organic box schemes or co-operatives
These are often much cheaper than organic produce from supermarkets. We shop at Unicorn Grocery our local co-operative and visit an organic farm to buy our meat direct from the farm shop to both support our local organic growers and farms, and to get better prices.
2. Where possible make meat, dairy and eggs organic or highest possible welfare
Washing fruit and vegetables well can help reduce the pesticides but for your animal products, stressed and battery farmed animals fed antibiotics, pesticides, other animal byproducts in their feed and sewage sludge are clearly not going to produce a healthy meat, milk or eggs.
If you can’t afford organic then visit local farmers, find local egg suppliers (many people now keep chickens, including us!) or ask your butcher where their meat comes from.
Try to trace your food supply to find farms with high animal welfare and those who don’t like to use pesticides and hormones. Organic certification can be expensive, as such there are many farms that farm organically without certification and they can be much cheaper.
3. Know the fruits and vegetables that are lowest in pesticides (and therefore less important to be organic)…
4. And prioritise organic (or grow your own where possible as the ones below are shown to have the highest pesticide levels.)
- Kale & Spinach
And these are the ones with the lowest pesticide levels…
- Corn cob
- Sweet Potato
5. Use cheaper cuts of meat and bulk make food:
When we first started eating organic – whilst struggling to pay off student debts and mortgages – we used a slow cooker so that we could use cheap cuts of lamb, beef and chicken, which make great soups and stews. We learned to bulk make these and freeze portions, which has an added bonus of providing healthy ‘ready meals’ to put in the oven for a quick and super nutritious meal. Organic meat bones and chicken carcasses are very cheap and make great bone broths (stock) for soups.