10 Benefits of Organic Food
Over the past several years, there has been a lot of research on the benefits to eating organic and local food and I want to share 10 benefits of eating organic food.
I have also highlighted these benefits in my book Farm Fresh Nutrition so I want to share with you in this post how you can eat more local food.
This is a self-service farm stand at Flying Cloud Farms.
Here are 10 Benefits of Organic Foods
- Buying Organic helps protect smaller, local farmers because large conventional farms often find organic farming non-profitable. Supporting farmers in our community has benefits beyond these 10 Benefits of Organic Foods.
- Eating organic foods means less exposure to genetically modified foods since organic foods cannot be genetically modified.
- No non-synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge or irradiation can be used so pesticide residue and other chemicals that can cause harm is more likely to be minimized.
- Organic food is grown with a goal of conserving biodiversity which means farmers who grow organic food may grow more heirloom species and farmers who raise animals to grow heritage breeds which keeps our foods more genetically diverse.
- Because fruits, vegetables, grains and bean seeds grown may be more genetically diverse, this gives them a high likelihood of being more nutritious because they are not grown for their ability to be picked green, ability to be the exact same size and ability to ripen artificially. In several studies, the number of antioxidants in organic food is higher than conventional food.
- Besides being more nutritious, these heirloom varieties are tastier than the conventional varieties that are bred for conformity not flavor.
- Pastured raised animals grown by organic methods are grass-fed and humanely raised without hormones or antibiotics added to food. Chickens are fed organic food. When animals are fed grass instead of grain, their meat has higher amounts of conjugated linoleic acid which may help promote health in humans.
- Organic farms help protect the environment because they don’t use the pesticides that may stay in the water and soil that may pollute and take years to go away.
- Antibiotics used in animals that are grown for food is the biggest cause of antibiotic resistance. Making it more likely for super bugs to thrive.
- More research is needed to determine if organics help prevent disease, but it does not hurt to try to eat more of them. Here is some interesting reading on American Institute for Cancer Research.
Good Resources on Organic Food
We hear about organic food but what does it really mean? Here is the definition of organic:
This is a great article about organic foods according to the Mayo Clinic:
The downside to organic is the lack of availability and the cost of food makes it so not everyone can afford these foods as easily. Large corporate farms tend to have the farm subsidies instead of small farmers, this makes it an uneven playing field for what the food actually costs.
Ways to Advocate for Organic Food Grown Locally
- Familiarize yourself with your region’s growing seasons. What grows where and when? http://www.thevegetablegarden.info/planting-schedules
2. Purchase more food from local farmers by joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with a local farm or shop
a local farmer’s market. Check out places to find local food in Western North Carolina and elsewhere in the resource
section on this website.
3. Ask restaurants and grocery stores to carry foods grown in your community.
4. Grow your own food. Whether you have a yard or a flowerpot, there’s something special about eating food you’ve grown yourself. Here is some great information on how to get your garden growing!
5. Contact policymakers and let them know that you value a clean, local food supply. Stay current on this issue.
Find out about advocacy groups.
Ways to Keep Your Plate Green
- Heirloom Seeds:
Foods grown organically from heirloom seed keep our bodies and our earth healthy! Heirloom seeds have been passed down from generations and are open pollinated. Growing a variety of heirloom seed protects our gene pool of plants and nutrition.
You can purchase heirloom seeds from nursery or seed stores. When you go to the farmer’s market, ask if bedding plants and produce are grown from heirloom seeds. Some grocery stores now sell some local fruits and vegetables from heirloom seeds. Do your research!
2. Follow Scientific and Government Organizations:
Several scientific organizations have voiced concerns about the chemicals used on fruit, vegetables, and animal food and
their effect on the health of humans and wildlife. Here are just a few:
The Environmental Protection Agency http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/
National Cancer Institute Cancer Prevention Overview – NCI
U. S. Fish and Wildlife http://www.fws.gov/contaminants/issues/pesticides.cfm
USDA Organic symbol The USDA Organic label helps consumers know which agricultural products are grown using sustainable methods, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering cannot be used with foods that use this label.
Find out more about the National Organic Program http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop
Due to cost and time, local farmers may not be certified USDA organic but may still use organic growing practices. Ask the farmers in your region how they grow their food and encourage them to use organic methods. Ask farmers who grow your food what growing methods that they use.
The Dirty Dozen list created by the Environmental Working Group to help consumers know which fruits and vegetables contain the most pesticides and these items should be purchased organically when possible. Their list of the Safe 15 lets you know which foods are acceptable to purchase conventionally. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
Eat More Organic Food
For me, the benefits to eating more organic food are strong enough that I will make purchases that include these. Using the dirty dozen and safe 15, I have a guideline to prioritize my purchases when I cannot completely purchase or find organic.
I can grow foods that tend to be grown with the most pesticides or buy them from a farmer who grows them organically.
As an Asheville Nutritionist and registered dietitian, I feel that a big part of being healthy is knowing where your food comes from. You can find out more about me and some of my Fresh Approach to Eating Programs here.
Here are some additional links on supporting local farmers and sustainable eating:
local farmers market near me (vineripenutrition.com)
Artisans Farmers Market (vineripenutrition.com)
Farm to Table Nutrition Education/Vine Ripe Nutrition
Benefits to Eating Local (vineripenutrition.com)