The Benefits of Organic Food

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There has been a massive increase in the availability of organic foods in the UK, in recent years. This is a product of demand and of profit-squeezing in the agricultural industry. UK farmers are beleaguered and have been deserted by the government that pushed them into modern intensive chemical methods in the first place. They must now diversify and find added value for their produce, if they are to survive. The organic movement is gaining ground, as a result.

The Soil Association and the Biodynamic Agriculture Association (Demeter) control the standards of UK-produced organic food (see Links). More ‘pragmatic’ standards also exist.

Is it a good thing? The food is more expensive but is it of extra benefit?

The ‘organic' method of farming employs few or no chemicals in production. Pollutants are therefore reduced. The chance of taking in toxic cocktails of agro-chemicals is therefore virtually nil, if buying organic food (this is especially important in the case of carrots).

Nutritional benefits are higher (flavonoids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals).

The diets of animals on organic farms are ‘cleaner’, thus reducing contamination of food products derived from those animals.

The welfare of animals is often higher in organic production. Standards generally require greater space allowances and quality of environment is improved. The welfare of conventional laying hens is of especial concern, with the words ‘free range’ being almost meaningless. The two organic standards mentioned below have very high welfare standards, of the type you would wish for hens that lay your eggs.

Natural medicine, used on organic farms, does not encourage antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria. In conventional farming, antibiotics are frequently used and antibiotic-resistant organisms therefore enter the human food chain.

The animals are naturally healthier on organic farms. The risk of food poisoning is therefore reduced.

The pollution of our land and waterways is drastically reduced by organic husbandry.

Organic food would probably not be more expensive than conventional food, if the bill for cleaning agro-chemicals from our drinking water were to be added to the price of conventionally-produced food, instead of to our water bills. It is anyway arguably cheaper ‘per nutrient'.

Wildlife and ecosystems have a better deal under organic husbandry. Ecology and the environment benefit, with increased biodiversity.

The ground begins to function properly, after a while under organic husbandry. The result is that trace minerals and other nutrients begin to regain balance, thus making the food grown on the ground theoretically healthier and more nutritious.

Organic farming rejects the use of GM crops.

Buying organic does two basic things, apart from helping our own health (esp. heart disease and cancer) or that of our animals. It funds the development of more sustainable methods in agriculture and it deprives the agro-chemical industry of its rewards for plundering, polluting and destroying our environment and ecology.

Opinions of Christopher

In 2007, some striking research has emerged to demonstrate what we have long believed and what many consumers instinctively knew. Here is a selection of references and opinion:

Needless to say, I've blogged a bit on this: (and see new blog)

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