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Why Eat Organic?

03.31.22

You’ve likely seen labels touting food products as organic in your local grocery aisle. You may have even heard your friends or family talking about incorporating more organic food into their diets. Perhaps, like them, you’ve seen stories online about how organic food is supposed to be better for you. But, is it true? Why eat organic, anyway?

The truth is that there really are plenty of great reasons to eat organic food. Organic food is free of some of the potentially harmful things that touch conventionally-grown foods, including most synthetic pesticides. Plus, it’s a more sustainable option, improving soil for future farming.

If you’re still asking yourself, “Why eat organic foods?,” then we encourage you to keep reading. We’ll discuss the benefits of choosing organic and the importance of organic foods, so you can make the most informed choice for yourself and your family.

Defining “Organic”

First, it’s important to understand what organic is and what it isn’t. There are plenty of confusing labels and conflicting information out there. Truly organic food, including produce, meat products, and multi-ingredient products, must be certified according to USDA standards and carry the USDA seal of approval.

According to the USDA, products can only claim to be organic if the products are made using 95% organic ingredients, excluding salt and water. Products such as raw produce can also be labeled as 100% organic. For products that have been certified, you’ll see the green and white USDA seal.

Organic vs. Conventionally-Grown Food

We can truly see a full picture of what organic food is when compared to conventionally-grown food. Here are some key differences:

  • Organic food and ingredients are grown on soil that isn’t treated with most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Organic meat is sourced from animals that are raised in living conditions that accommodate their natural behaviors. For example, they are allowed to graze, are fed 100% organic feed, and are not exposed to or given any antibiotics or growth hormones.
  • Organic multi-ingredient foods don’t contain artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors.
  • Organic food isn’t grown with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as they are prohibited.

These standards don’t apply to conventionally grown and manufactured food. For example, other foods may be farmed on soil where farmers use synthetic fertilizers for better yield. The best way to avoid these methods is to choose organic.

Organic vs. Natural Food

You may also see the term “natural” when perusing the grocery aisles. This term doesn’t necessarily mean the food is organic. Typically, “natural” means that the product doesn’t contain additives such as artificial colors, flavors, or synthetic materials.

However, neither the FDA nor the USDA have regulations for foods labeled as natural. This means heavily processed ingredients, inorganic farming practices, and other methods may have been used to create a “natural” product.

The Benefits of Eating Organic

You deserve to fuel your body with food products that are safe, ethical, and nourishing. Choosing organic is a great way to ensure your food has met the strictest of standards on its way to your local grocery store. Let’s dive into some of the benefits of eating organically.

Organic Foods Contain Few (if any) Synthetic Pesticides

Organic farmers must typically avoid using synthetic pesticides when it comes to organic foods. According to the USDA organic standards, pests, weeds, and diseases must be controlled through management practices involving physical, mechanical, and biological controls.

This means farmers must avoid synthetic pesticides unless it’s impossible to do so. For example, farmers may use mulch to avoid weeds taking over their crops or they may introduce pest predators to help with pest control.

If a synthetic pesticide is required due to pest or weed resilience or serious disease, farmers must choose from an approved list of pesticides.

Organic Farming Methods are Better for the Soil

Soil is critical to our survival. For example, without soil, we cannot grow food. In addition, many small critters such as earthworms call our soil home. These small organisms help protect the soil structure, assist with carbon transformation, and aid in regulating pests and diseases.

Unfortunately, conventional farming methods that use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides harm the soil and the little things that call it home. This can lead to soil degradation which means less fertile land—a resource required for growing any crop.

Organic farming methods improve soil fertility and health by avoiding synthetic materials. This also helps protect the microorganisms that improve the nutrients found in our soil.

Organic Foods are Free of GMOs and GEIs

A GMO is a genetically modified organism. In other words, according to the Non-GMO Project, a GMO is a plant, animal, or organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a lab. Some products are modified to resist certain chemicals. Others are modified to prevent the product from going bad.

Regardless of the reason, not enough studies have been completed to truly understand the health risks of GMOs. Many consumers are choosing to avoid GMOs simply due to the unknown effects. Luckily, the use of GMOs in organic food products is prohibited by the USDA.

Organic Livestock are Raised More Humanely and Without Antibiotics or Growth Hormones

The USDA requires that animals raised for the production of organic meat and products be treated with care. Animals must be allowed year-round access to the outdoors with adequate shade, shelter, fresh air, clean water, and direct sunlight. These measures are put into place to protect each animal’s wellbeing and to accommodate their natural behaviors.

They must also be fed 100% organic feed and managed without antibiotics or added growth hormones. Just as with GMOs, not enough long-term studies have been completed to truly understand the effects of antibiotics or growth hormones on humans. So, many simply choose to avoid them by consuming organic meat and animal products.

Organic Foods Don’t Contain Additives or Preservatives

Additives such as artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives are often used to improve flavor or protect food from spoiling. Unfortunately, these additives can be harmful.

For example, food dyes such as Blue 1 and Yellow 6 have been associated with allergic reactions. And sodium nitrite, an additive often used inside processed meats to preserve them, has been associated with a higher risk of stomach cancer.

While these additives are typically found in highly processed foods, you won’t find them inside organic foods. The USDA specifically prohibits their use in organic foods and products.

Organic Farms are More Pollinator-Friendly

Those little buzzy bees are some of the most important creatures on our planet. These little pollinators help seed plants reproduce, aid in critical biodiversity, and prevent dangerous soil erosion.

Unfortunately, our pollinators are in trouble. The improper use of pesticides and habitat loss is leading to a severe loss of pollinating species. And without pollinators, the availability and diversity of produce would decline drastically.

Organic farms help protect pollinators by avoiding the dangerous synthetic pesticides and chemicals that harm their habitats. Plus, organic farms must be managed in a way that protects our natural resources. As a result, diverse species of plants can thrive, giving pollinators the resources they need to thrive too.

Organic Farms Reduce Water Pollution

We need water to survive and so does the wildlife that calls our waters home. Unfortunately, pesticides and other toxic chemicals used in conventional agriculture are known to pollute water via “run-off” when it rains. Run-off occurs when water runs from the fields and into nearby streams, ponds, and lakes.

Another issue is the use of agricultural fertilizers that can cause algae to grow uncontrollably, leading to “dead zones” or areas where fish and other wildlife can’t get the oxygen they need to survive.

Organic farming can help by eliminating the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Studies have shown that organic farming practices can improve water quality thus resulting in better water for all.

Organic Meat and Dairy Contain More Omega-3s

Omega-3s help support our health in various ways. They’re known to fight back against mental disorders, promote brain health during pregnancy, promote heart health, and so much more.

Organic meat and dairy products have been shown to contain more of these powerhouse fatty acids. In fact, in one study, organic milk and meat were found to contain 50% more Omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally-made products.

Organic: More than Just a Label

When it comes to protecting your health and environment, knowing where your food comes from is critical. It’s important to understand food labels, so you can make the best choice for yourself and your family.

Organic is so much more than a label. Organic foods have been farmed, sourced, and developed with care for you, your family, and our environment. At Pacific Foods, we create deliciously organic soups, stocks, and beverages you can feel good about. Shop our products today to find Pacific Foods near you.