I don’t do a lot of grocery shopping. I’m a young bachelor, living mostly off cereal and grilled-cheese sandwiches. But, every now and then, I go to the grocery store, pick up some fresh fruit and veggies (while patting myself on the back for being “healthy”).
Well, apparently, a lot has changed since I was a little boy, racing around the market with my mom’s shopping kart. Back then, most grocery stores had a small section of organic fruits and veggies. Today, there are massive organic section in every produce store, including fruits, veggies, eggs and dairy products. Heck, there are even whole stores dedicated to the organic lifestyle!
This got me curious. What exactly is organic and is it really healthier than regular fruits and vegetables?
The new standard
Since 2002, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has placed strict national standards for anything grown, processed and labeled as organic. These strict regulations help standardize organic food and give precise limits as to what you can and cannot put in the crops, produce or animals labeled as organic. The restrictions include no pesticides, sewage sludge, radiation or engineering of natural produce, among many others. In addition, organic animals must be fed organic food, as well as a restriction on growth hormones and antibiotics. Personally, I had no idea that all those pesticides and sewage was in our “regular” fruit and veggies, but if I’ve eaten them until now and survived, does organic really matter?
Ok. So we obviously can’t deny the fact that there are strict standards for organic produce, as clearly pesticides and sewage aren’t exactly the nutrients I’m looking for. But people keep on telling me that organic is healthier, has more nutrients, vitamins, minerals and even tastes better.
While organic food is undoubtedly safer than standard grown food, with 2/3 less pesticides and residues, regular grown food is considered safe by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). So the reduced pesticides and radiation is nice, but apparently not necessary or critical.
But besides pesticides, organic food is proven to have less hormones that may cause hormonal imbalance. Basically, the cows that provide us with meat and dairy products are injected with various hormones. Organic animals are not. And these hormones can possibly cause an imbalance. Not definitely, not even likely, but possibly.
The final proven benefit of organic food is antibiotics. And no, we don’t want antibiotics in our meat or dairy. These antibiotics are meant to suppress viruses, but the viruses can evolve and mutate, becoming dangerous to animals and humans alike.
So… Myth or Must?
So what’s the deal with organic? Is it just a myth or an actual must?
It may taste better. It may be slightly safer. It may even be more humane. But is it a must when it comes to my health? Probably not. There isn’t any evidence to prove that organic has more vitamins or minerals, or that conventional-grown foods are harmful to us. So, the verdict is out. As far as I’m concerned, organic is nothing but a myth, and an expensive one at that.