What Does Organic Food Mean for You and Your Health?

In recent years, people around the world have become more concerned with the substances that enter their bodies. From pharmaceuticals to foods, consumer awareness of potentially harmful additives has given rise to new ways of thinking about the things we ingest. Organic foods represent a huge market as people clamor to eat healthier than ever before?

What does the word “organic” mean, and how can organic foods benefit you and your health? In this article, we’ll look at organic foods, addressing some of the many ways that these foods can support a healthier, happier lifestyle.

The Origin of Organic Foods

The word “organic” goes back centuries in the world of chemistry. In chemical terms, organic simply refers to a molecule containing carbon atoms.

The term “organic farming” was created by Lord Northbourne in his book Look to the Land, and was used to flesh out the concept of a farming system where ecological balance was key. In the 1940s, Rodale Press brought the term “organic” to public awareness; referring to foods that were free of artificial pesticides and fertilizers. The word was central to Rodale’s magazine title Organic Farming and Gardening, which went on to become the most widely-read gardening magazine in the world. Organic foods are regulated by several national and international organizations; to use the word “organic” in packaging, growers must obtain specialized certification and adhere to established farming practices that eliminate chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Is Organic Food Better than Traditionally-Grown Foods?

There is limited scientific evidence that organic foods provide significant health benefits to those foods that are grown/produced by more traditional methods. However, it has been demonstrated that organic farming practices impact the environment in a positive, not negative, manner. By eliminating chemical pesticides and dangerous artificial fertilizers, waste runoff entering waterways is no longer a concern.

In the human body, continued exposure to chemical pesticide residues can have long-term effects. Organic foods eliminate worries about ingesting chemical residues, and in a number of studies, organic foods had far lower concentrations of substances like heavy metals and other environmental toxins.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that organic produce tastes better and has more beneficial nutrients that foods produced in chemical-intensive growing practices. Studies have also given scientific credence to some of these claims; a literature review in 2011 found that many organic foods had higher levels of micronutrients than conventionally-produced foodstuffs.

Demand for Organic Foods

Since the early 2000s, sales of organic vegetables, fruits, meats, and prepared food products have increased exponentially. Global sales of organic foods rose by 170% during the period beween 2002 and 2011. Today, the organic foods market is worth $80 billion or more, according to industry analyses.

Organic foods will continue to be popular with those people who wish to lead healthier lives. By reducing the environmental impact associated with the foods we eat, we are helping to save the planet for future generations. And, by reducing exposure to potentially harmful synthetic chemicals and residues, we can help ensure that our bodies get the health benefits of natural foods without the danger of toxins.  

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