Sustainable Living

Is Opting For Organic Food Really Better? Organic vs Chemically Treated Produce

Photo by Mohammad Saifullah on Unsplash

Let’s face it, everywhere you go, you are most likely to be faced with many ways to improve your diet and be healthier. Whether you are sitting in the doctors waiting room, hitting the gym or out shopping for food and groceries, there are always leaflets, catalogues and advertisements encouraging people to eat healthily and adopt healthier habits, therefore, there is a huge supply and demand in this type of industry. For instance, the global health and wellness food market are estimated to be worth a whopping 280 billion dollars by 2022 with health foods being the largest share in the market. However, this is where organic food comes in. Organic food is a prominent factor influencing the health food sector in the health and wellness food market, but what makes organic food so appealing? So how has organic food played such an influential factor in a multi-billion dollar market? Plus, what makes it so appealing to the general public?

What Makes Organic Food so Appealing to the General Public?

Processed foods are generally known as foods that are chemically treated. A large majority of grown produce such as fruits and vegetables that are sold in local supermarkets are chemically treated fall under this category. However, due to the bad press that chemically treated and processed food has received, it has cultivated a “Natural is best!” mentality when it comes to food. This is what makes organic food appealing to the general public, people often view purchasing organic food as the cream of the crop of natural foods (almost literally!). Plus, consuming food in its most natural form and reaping all of the health benefits sounds ideal right? But is this really true?

How is Organic Produce Grown?

So, what makes organic food any different than chemically processed produce? “Organic” often refers to crops that are grown without chemical pesticides, GMO’s or synthetic fertilizers. Also, organic food is often grown using only natural fertilizers and even pesticides. So yes, organic food is also grown with pesticides and are not 100% pesticide free! However, on the bright side, organic food is grown with fewer pesticides than conventionally processed produce. In addition to this, other factors are taken into account when it comes to producing organic food such as the use of non-renewable oil-based fertilizers, less water pollution and the focus on biodiversity.

Organic Produce

As discussed in the media, there are many pros when it comes to organic farming and produces. However, there are also some cons and misconceptions. Here are pros and cons to help you decide on whether shopping for organic produce is worth the extra cost!

Pros

  • Harmless Pesticides

Produce is grown without harmful chemicals found in pesticides, therefore, resulting in less residue and pesticide poisoning.

  • Better for the Environment

The organic farming process fights the effects of global warming. It has previously been shown that organic farming reduces CO2 emissions which in turn, reduces the effects of global warming and harm to this planet.

  • A Much Healthier Food Option

Organically produced fruit and vegetables are found to be rich in antioxidants. For example, on average to contain around 18-69% more antioxidants compared to conventionally produced food. In addition to this, organic food is also found to contain more mineral content in comparison.

  • A Much Longer Shelf Life

Due to organic produce having very high levels of antioxidants, this results in organic produce having a longer shelf life. How this works is that the antioxidants found prevent susceptibility to mould growth and decay, furthermore not only making organic food healthier, but longer lasting too!

  • Better Taste

Another benefit of the high levels of antioxidants found in organic produce is the much better taste in contrast to conventionally produced food. It has been found that the antioxidants also affect the aroma and taste. For instance, people have often claimed that fruits and vegetables generally taste sweeter in contrast to non-organic produce.

Cons

  • More Expensive

Yes, it is a no brainer! Organic food often costs a lot more compared to non-organic products. Plus, this may be an issue for a lot of consumers and will be hard on your wallets.

  • Not 100% Pesticide-Free

As you know now if you want to completely avoid the use of pesticides, organic is not the way to go as pesticides are also used in organic food production. Although the chemical properties may differ from conventional pesticide use, it is still a necessary process in organic farming.  

  • Fewer Products to go Around

Organic farmers often harvest smaller crops and less harvest in contrast to conventionally produced food on a mass scale. This can cause various issues such as price inflation, this occurs due to the livelihood that farmers have to make on limited production. Also, this can cause environmental strain.

  • Some Products are Harmful to the Environment

Previous studies have shown that some organic products are more likely to damage the environment during production. For instance products such as organic pork, cereals and milk require more land per unit of produce due to greenhouse gas emissions. This may be a problem as organic farmers space resources are limited furthermore, in some cases, organic farming is not as environmentally friendly as people think.

 

Chemically Treated Produce

Since most of the products in the supermarkets that we shop from are chemically treated, there are many pros when it comes to this method of production. However, since the rise of organic farming, this shows that there are also cons when it comes to conventionally produced food which has been chemically treated.

Pros

  • 100% Safe From all Pests, Insects and Bacteria that May Kill Crops

Due to the toxic nature of chemical pesticides used, all produce is free from any potentially dangerous and harmful pests which can kill crops and reduce food quality.

  • Environmentally Friendly too!

Yes, conventionally produced food can be environmentally friendly too. Due to mass production over large pieces of land, these large amounts of land compensate for the greenhouse emissions given off during production. Furthermore, large amounts of land also reduce CO2 emissions.  

  • Cost Effective & Good Value for Money

In contrast to organically produced food, chemically treated and conventionally produced food is cheap, affordable and great value for money.

Cons

  • Contains Harmful Chemicals from Pesticides

This can result in pesticide poisoning from pesticide residue due to the toxic nature of the chemicals found in pesticides.

  • Lower Quality & Taste

Due to the fact that organic farming takes specific skills and are grown in a certain way, compared to mass-produced food, conventionally grown food will be grown with less care and special attention. Also, this will result in lower antioxidant levels, therefore, affecting taste and aroma.

  • Environmentally Damaging

Mass food production can also be environmentally damaging. For example, in many cases, the CO2 and greenhouse emissions are given off during mass produced food also outweighs the benefits from the amount of land it is grown on. Also, this is more likely to happen during mass production since too many products are grown and produced to be able to balance out the efficiency through using more land.

The Final Verdict: What Should you opt for?

In conclusion, there are many pros and cons with organic and chemically treated/conventionally produced food. However, in terms of global warming and efficiency with both types of food production, it all depends on efficiency. e.g. organic production can be harmful if there is not enough land to counteract and balance emissions given off during food production. However, since this is an issue with both types of food production, a good balance between both types is ideal for the environment.

Whether you want to turn to organic or conventionally produced food is subjective and dependant on your priorities. For instance, if you are looking for something that is cost-effective and 100% free from pests, conventionally grown produce is a great option to opt for. Whereas if you are looking for quality and less harmful chemicals used, organic produce is ideal. However, a good balance between both types is ideal for the environment as they counteract each other’s pros and cons and create a more stable equilibrium for this planet. If we all exclusively stuck to organic farming, food would run out fast due to limited crops and the environmental strain. It would be just as detrimental to our planet as choosing to stick exclusively to chemical treating and mass production. So, if you are still indecisive, do not fret! Indecisiveness is not such a bad thing after all and variety really is the spice of life. If you really are environmentally conscious, opting for both methods is a great start.

About the author

Amy Jane

I am a Psychology graduate, copywriter and travel blogger. I am very passionate about culture, politics and travel. I also would describe myself as a humanitarian as I am passionate about the quality of life of today's society!

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