Many of us prefer to eat organic produce as we consider it to be better for us both nutritionally and healthwise. Organic fruit and vegetables are not cheap to buy with some supermarkets hiking up their prices for the limited choice they offer in this category. Thank goodness for the online suppliers who really believe in their organic produce and also deliver our orders to our doors. So, what are the facts regarding organic food? Does it really matter whether we choose to eat it or not? Is it better for us? Here we endeavour to answer all these questions and more.
What is Organic Food?
Organic food is produce that is grown using environmentally friendly and animal friendly farming methods. Organic farming methods are legally defined therefore stringent rules are placed to ensure that food labelled organic really is. When it comes to farming artificial fertilisers are banned with farmers using compost, manure and clover plus rotating their crops in order to make the soil fertile.
Organic animals are treated very well and can roam freely in large open spaces, while their welfare and treatment is of the highest standard. The principles of organic farming and any other organically labelled products are internationally set and recognised.
Organic food is free from any artificial additives and is also GM free, while organic farming is better for the environment as it reduces pollution and greenhouse gases by restricting the use of artificial fertilisers and chemicals.
What is G M Food?
Genetically modified foods are produced from organisms that have had changes introduced into their DNA using genetic engineering. Sales of GM crops have been happening since 1994, while GM plants are generated in a laboratory by altering their genetic makeup.
Plants are engineered to resist insect infestations, fungal resistance, viral resistance, changed nutritional content, improved storage and taste. Some fruits, vegetables and cereals that have been modified include papaya, new leaf potatoes, some US courgettes, corn, soybeans, that go into so many other products such as salad cream, vegetable oil and corn starch.
Organic Versus GM Produce
Depending on which side of the fence you sit on this subject determines whether you agree that organic produce is better for us as opposed to Genetically Modified foods or GM as they are commonly known. There are facts to support both arguements with the GM lobby stating that genetically modified foods are safe for us to eat but are they right?
People who wish to eradicate GM from their diet must eat organic produce. The UK does not grow GM foods but we do import over one million tons of GM crops from abroad each year. The dispute as to whether GM is good or bad for us rumbles on today.
Many agree that products containing GM ingredients should be labelled so that consumers can make an informed choice. There are regulation differences between the USA and Europe for instance meaning we can never be sure as to whether we are consuming GM foods or not.
GM foods could however answer the question as to how can we feed the billowing world population? Food supply is a major headache for all of us, while the backers of GM state that GM crops are pest resistant therefore we will not suffer blights that destroy our crops. Less use of herbicides is another factor, GM crops are disease resistant, have a greater tolerance to cold therefore wont be destroyed by frost, can be grown in otherwise unsuitable areas freeing up land and lastly can solve the world’s malnutrition problems.
Organic farming backers have many specific concerns regarding GM crops which are, environmental hazards, gene transfer to untargetted species, human health risks and economic concerns. Proceed with care seems to be the organic message as we do not really know the long term affects of GM.
Organic farming protects the soil by prohibiting synthetic fertilisers, while organic food has no additives such as Aspartame or Hydrogenated Oil in it. There is no firm evidence that organic food has a higher nutrient value in fact some studies claim that GM foods have a higher nutritional content, in other words the jury’s out! Those who like to be sure that their food is naturally grown and produced in a way that is good for the environment and doesn’t have anything artificial or harmful added to it do however prefer to eat organic.
It is difficult to say whether it matters or not if we eat organically grown produce or GM produce. Evidence for and against is conflicting with both sides stating theirs is best. We won’t know until many years down the line as to whether GM foods and crops are harmful to us in any way or not.
People who feel more comfortable with natural foods that have not been altered or interfered with will most likely opt for organically grown produce. As we have stated the UK does not grow GM crops just now although we do use approved fertilisers and insect sprays on crops therefore if it is chemical free food you wish for then organic is the road to go down.
Organic food does seem to be more expensive at the moment and with a recession on we are all tightening our belts. We wait for the day when buying organic is the cheaper choice! How long that will be? We have no idea, watch this space!