Organic food is increasing in popularity as people pay more attention to food safety and quality.
But what does organic really mean?
Organic refers to how foods are grown and processed, natural health expert Joseph Mercola explains. Organic foods must be produced without antibiotics, artificial ingredients, chemical preservatives and toxins, genetic engineering, irradiation, synthetic fertilizers, synthetic hormones or pesticides.
The U.S Department of Agriculture established the guidelines for organic foods in 2002. The USDA classifies foods as: 100 Percent Organic – all ingredients are organic; Organic – 95 percent or more of the total ingredients are organic; and Made with Organic Ingredients – at least 70 percent of the ingredients are organic.
Why should you eat organic food? Dr. Mercola gives you the top 5 reasons:
1. Organic food is safer than conventionally grown food. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 30 percent of fungicides, 60 percent of herbicides and 30 percent of insecticides can be carcinogenic. Pesticides may also be neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors and immune system suppressors. Additionally, they can harm the male reproductive system and cause miscarriages in women. Going organic reduces the risk of food allergies that many people experience when eating genetically modified food.
2. Organic produce tastes better and is nutritionally superior to conventional produce. A four-year, $25-million European Union study suggests that organic milk, vegetables and fruits contain up to 60 percent more antioxidants and beneficial fatty acids, Dr. Mercola points out. Organic food was also found to have higher levels of vital minerals like iron and zinc.
3. Organic food appears to promote weight loss. Going organic reduces your exposure to chemical residues which bind to fat that may stay in your body for a lifetime. Some 350 chemicals are known to accumulate in body fat.
4. Organic food is earth friendly. Celebrate Earth Day 2010 by going organic. Organic farming uses less energy, conserves more water, causes less soil erosion, maintains soil quality, conserves more biological resources, and helps prevent harmful chemicals from getting into the air, ground, and water than conventional farming.
5. Organic farming is efficient. Contrary to arguments that only conventional farming practices can secure the world’s food supply, studies show that organic agriculture is just as productive. It also encourages innovative research.