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We all like the idea of organic produce and meat. But do we really know what it's all about? I started realizing that I didn't really know the difference and wanted to! So what are the differences between organic and non organic? I have highlighted them below.
Organic produce tends to come in different shapes and sizes while non-organic options always look the same. The appearance considers shape, size, and even color. As far as produce goes, many non organic versions are dyed and picked to look identical so consumers don't think anything is off with the product.
For example, many non organic growers dye their fruits to have their typical colors. Many oranges actually turn green once they are fully ripe, so many growers dye the fruits orange for the sake of consumers. Organic growers are not permitted to dye their fruits, or any food, at all.
As you can guess, the methods used to dye or color produce is unnatural and can reduce nutrition in our natural products.
As far as meat goes, this means that everything the pig, cow, or chicken eats is non GMO, organic, and are antibiotic free unless medically necessary.
Although there are some nutritional differences in certain types of foods grown organically, others see no difference, or very little difference in nutrition. All of this is not yet clear, however. There have been manystudies considering the difference in nutrients between organically grown and non organically grown food, but the results are inconclusive. There are other facts to consider other than nutrition, because when we pick up fresh vegetables nutrition is generally in our thoughts anyway.
As far as meat, studies have shown that organic chicken contains38% more heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Other than this study, there are no major differences in nutrition, but the chicken may contain less salt and other additives.
One thing to remember about picking up organic rather than conventionally grown, is that they have significantly lower amounts of pesticide residue in organic variations. There are some pieces of produce that do not come become overly contaminated with pesticides due to a thick skin that is not usually eaten. For example, avocados.
It is something to consider because a study has shown that 73 percent of conventional produce sampled had residue from at least one pesticide, while only 23 percent of organic had pesticide residue.
Buying organic doesn't necessarily mean that you're supporting a more sustainable agricultural practice. Although some organic farms do practice soil regeneration and proper crop rotations - many of them don't. Monoculture is the growing of any one crop in a given area. When you drive past any large scale farms in the United States (and elsewhere in the world) and notice rows and rows of the same crop - that is monoculture. Monoculture has many environmental implications due to the fact that the soil the crops are being grown in, will continue to deteriorate and lose the nutrients necessary for crops to grow.
Many organic farms still use this large scale, monoculture approach.
They grow the same crops in the same ground season after season, without properly fertilizing the ground, which causes the soil to become nutrient deficient and lose it's ability to provide nutrients to any crops at all. A great example of the downfalls of monoculture is The Dust Bowl of the 1930's. Although monoculture makes it possible to produce massive amounts of a single crop in a single season, it's not a sustainable practice.
If you're choosing organic as a way to support a sustainable agricultural movement - I suggest looking into the farms you're buying your organic produce from. The best way to do this is to get involved with your Farmer's Markets and talk to the farmers directly. Ask them if they use sustainable practices and if they practice proper crop rotation. Ask them if they use compost and other forms of natural fertilizers to regenerate their soil. The best way to determine if an organic farm matches up with your values is to ask them if they practice sustainable and/or regenerative agricultural practices.
As far as nutrition goes, organic varieties may not be healthier. The upside to buying organic is that you lessen the chance of coming in contact with harmful pesticides. As you can imagine, pesticides are not natural, so being able to avoid them will be better for your health in the long run.
Check out these cool infographics from the Environmental Working group.