Is organic food just a fad?

A decade ago, if someone had suggested consuming organic food we would have just ignored their advice. The organic movement has been around for some time now and organic products have been making their presence felt increasingly over the last few years and our perspective has also undergone a transformation.

Because of a consistently advancing way of life, a developing fondness for quality, and the increasing incidence of lifestyle disorders, consumers are more keen on preventing ailments instead of going in for a therapeutic approach.

Opting for organic foods is an effectual choice for personal and planetary health. Organic foods are now making deep inroads into the diet, where there is a shift from butter cookies to fibre-rich cookies, vegetable oil to heart-healthy oil and from conventional foods to organic foods.

Here are reasons why one should switch to organic foods:

Organic for good health

We have to make a choice in switching to food that keeps us healthy and avoiding those that do not. It is now imperative to review the nutritional benefits of organic food products. Studies show that organically grown food has higher amounts of vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and antioxidants which have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and certain cancers. Data also shows that organic milk contains far more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk.

Going organic is not just another diet

Is ‘organic’ just another marketing trick or another fad diet? Can we not relate consumption of organic food with a drop in the size of our waistline? Let us be clear on one aspect that “organic” is not a form of diet. Consuming organic foods goes beyond being a mere fad.

By going organic, we take a step towards decreasing the intake of food tainted with synthetic chemicals, natural toxins and meat injected with hormones or antibiotics.

Organic food is a healthy decision for all of us, particularly for infants. Because of their developing immune system, babies are more vulnerable to harmful effects of toxins and chemicals in food.

Leaving chemicals off our plates

Traditionally, India was completely organic in its farming methods, until we were taken over by western influences. When there is a greater demand in the market for more colourful, juicier and tastier fruits and vegetables, farmers are under pressure and they rely on fertilisers to make their crops appear superior. Crops also need a lot of care and attention in the farm-to-table stage for large-scale production.

Chemical pesticides and herbicides have been linked to birth defects, diabetes, obesity, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and other health problems. Furthermore, it has been found that pesticide residues are four times higher in conventional crops than organic crops across the region.

We cannot limit our exposure to the toxins in the environment. But we do have a say in the food we eat. Each time we choose organic products, we choose to leave chemicals off your plate.

Quality comes at a price

Organic practices are costlier than conventional methods, which include rigorous production standards, certification costs, and handling costs. The cost of conventional food is artificially lowered by production-oriented subsidies drawn from taxpayer money.

Price should not be a limiting factor while shopping for organic products if we recognise their benefits. The love and care that goes into growing organic food are well worth the investment.

The goodness quotient

The willingness to adapt to organic food culture is a conscious choice, where it is beneficial to maintain long-term effect on the sustainability of agro-ecosystem and biodiversity. Nevertheless, in reality, is this reason good enough to change our dietary habits to organic? Give it a thought!

The authenticity of organic foods

‘Organic’ is a term that is used without much thought, rather as an advertising trick. With the present rate of food products being advertised as organic, these regulations should be mandated on each organic product to ensure its authenticity.

Organic foods will have to comply with the provisions under the National Programme for Organic Production.

Understanding labels

* ‘100% Organic’: 100% of ingredients are organic, with 100% organic processing.

* ‘Organic’: 95% or more of ingredients are organic, some chemical additives approved by USDA may be used in processing.

* ‘Made with Organic Ingredients’: Raw or processed products containing 70% to 90% certified organic ingredients. The standard labelling statement and cannot be used outside the ingredients panel on the label..

* ‘Multi-ingredient products with below 70% organic ingredients’: Raw or processed products containing below 70% certified organic ingredients may only contain indications that an ingredient is organic on the ingredient list, but cannot be labelled ‘organic’.

Organic foods extend beyond fruits, vegetables, and animal by-products. We now find a range of organic baby foods, organic staples, organic breakfast cereals, organic soups and many more. All of these options have become popular because of the health and environment aspect along with improved flavour. 

(The author is a nutritionist at Pristine Organics)

 

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