By Myreille Simard
Organic food is an interesting option for those who are more and more concerned with their health as well as the environment. But many people wonder whether it’s really worth paying more for these products. Is organic food simply a passing trend, or has it become a necessity to ensure good health? Here are the advantages and disadvantages of this type of food.
What is organic food?
For a food to be considered organic, it has to have been grown or produced in “natural” conditions; this means without pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers or growth hormones (for animals). To ensure the products you buy are certified organic, look for the “Canada Organic” label. The ingredients used in the products with this label must be at least 95% organic and grown with natural fertilizers.
Why eat organic?
Of course, to preserve the environment and the planet, but also to reduce the number of pesticides you consume. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, being exposed to pesticides can be associated to the development of certain types of cancer in the long term. Unfortunately, most plant harvesting and animal breeding implicates the use of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemical substances that can be bad for your health. Basically, everything on your plate contains chemicals, unless you choose to eat organic. Certain foods even contain an amount that is greater than what is allowed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Organic foods worth buying
Meat. 55% of the pesticides and chemical substances found in our foods come from meat. The closer a specific food is to the end of the food chain, the more chances it has of accumulating pesticides, and thus becoming more contaminated. Animals that eat grass, vegetables or grain containing pesticides will have accumulated more of them in their system than the actual grass, vegetables or grain itself. Certified organic meat comes from animals that have been fed only organic foods, and no growth hormones.
Dairy products. 23% of the pesticides we consume come from dairy products. Organic milk is worth buying since it comes from a cow that was bred according to organic standards and fed grass that wasn’t sprayed with pesticides. The milk is therefore free of any chemical substances.
Certain fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables are covered with pesticides to keep insects away from the harvest. That is why it is worth buying organic produce most of the time; here is a list of the fruits and vegetables that are the most likely to be contaminated by pesticides, and of those that are the least.
“Organic” foods not worth buying
Non-certified foods. A product that says “organic” on the label, but without certification, probably costs more than its non-organic equivalent, but is also likely to contain more pesticides or chemical substances than what is allowed by organic certification programs. When purchasing a product, make sure it has the logo of at least one organic certification such as Verified Organic, Ecocert Canada, or others, depending on your region. To check the legitimacy of each organization, visit their website to find out about their verification standards. Another good way to make sure a given product is organic is to find it in the ‘Natural Foods’ section of the grocery store—but make sure it has a certification on the label, just in case,
Foods from other countries. When you buy an organic food product, make sure it comes from your region. If it doesn’t, consider the long distance it had to travel from the United States or another country, as well as the pollution that is associated with importing goods—not so eco-friendly after all.
Article originally published by Divine.ca: