What really is an organic food? Simply stated, an organic food is a consuming product that restricts the use of fertilizers such as pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. In organic agriculture, animals that produce meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy products are not allowed to take growth hormones or antibiotics. The popularity of organic food is growing continuously, which causes the debate of organic food having an advantage over non-organic food to also become more widespread.
This debate also affects DCDS students, who tend to snack throughout the day. Whether it comes to eating cookies in advisory or getting a serving of fruit before sports practices, students are eating all the time.
“I don’t have a specific preference when it comes to choosing the food I eat,” junior Kevin Chang said. “There is not much of a difference between organic and non-organic food to me. As long as I am eating healthily and adding fruits and vegetables to my diet, I think I will be fine.”
Today, people focus on whether they should spend the extra money to buy organic food over its counterpart, cheaper non-organic food. Organic food is more expensive than non-organic options, mostly because the process of producing organic food is more costly than that of non-organic food. It demands more labor to grow food without the help of any or few fertilizers, because the yield is not always as favorable.
According to the L.A. Times, a study done by Consumer Reports showed that organic foods and beverages “run an average 47% more in price than conventional alternatives.” The same organic food was also shown to have a markup that was “more than 300%” in some cases, meaning that the consumer had to spend much more money in order to get an organic version of the product. This vast increase in price would be worth it if organic food was significantly healthier than its non-organic substitutes, but this turns out not to be the case.
Research done at the Mayo Clinic came to a conclusion that organically produced food is not “significantly different in nutrient content” when compared to food that was produced through traditional methods. According to organic.org, no definitive research can be made to claim that an organic food is more nutritious than non-organic food. They argue that “it is extremely difficult to conduct studies that would control the many variables that might affect nutrients.”
Most of the times, people tend to think that eating organic food will make them a healthier individual. Unfortunately, that is not always the truth.
“I prefer to eat organic food because I feel I am making healthier decisions by eating it,” Junior Ashwin Surapaneni said. “Even though I try to eat organic, there is not a significant nutritional benefit that comes with it.”
Some people argue that because organic foods contain fewer pesticides, they are better alternatives than non-organic foods. However, these positives do not justify the considerable price difference that consumers face when paying for organic foods or the less efficient way of producing the same amount of produce as with conventional methods.
Certain people also contend that organic foods do not contain GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, which are seen as harmful when consumed. Foods and produce that are GMOs or genetically engineered are inserted with bioengineered genes, making them resistant to herbicides and sometimes able to produce an insecticide. There has been evidence that GMOs are linked to increased food allergies and gastrointestinal problems in humans. However, research has proven GMOs do not cause any serious or long term health effects when consumed.
An associate professor of nutrition from Fresno State, Liza Herzig, explains that “the pesticide content will be higher with conventional produce, but it’s still at safe levels.” She claims that the minimal difference in pesticide content does not cause the need to buy organic foods over non-organic. Overall, she concludes that buying organic food does not necessarily mean there are more health and nutrition benefits.
Despite the differing views on the organic versus non-organic debate, students should choose to eat the kind of food that they think best suits their personal needs. Organic food may not be very different than non-organic food, but some students may see the extra health benefits, no matter how small, as being more important than the increase in price.