Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Organic Food Nutrition Essay
Most grocery stores now sell food products labeled Ã¢â¬Å"organicÃ¢â¬ due to the increase of demand. Organic food became popular in the 1990Ã¢â¬â¢s and has since remained a trend. Although there are more and more supermarkets stocking organic food products on their shelves, non-organic food products seem to outnumber the amount of organic food products. Organic food products are labeled with a green and brown sticker that says USDA ORGANIC. When most Americans see this label they think that what they are buying is better than the average product. But do they have any proof that organic is better? For some reason all a product needs is a little sticker that says organic, and people automatically believe that it is healthier. No one ever stops to ask what this sticker means. Instead they just trust that organic is healthier than the produce that is being sprayed with chemicals. The rise of organic food has created an illusion that organic food is healthier and has nutritional benefits that exceed those of conventional food products. What is organic food? To understand this illusion that the government creates, the definition of organic must be addressed. According to Robert Paarlberg, the author of Food Politics, Ã¢â¬Å"organic foods are produced without any human-made (i. e. , synthetic) fertilizers or pesticidesÃ¢â¬ instead Ã¢â¬Å"organic farmers use composted animal manure and plant cover crops they can later turn into soilÃ¢â¬ (Paarlberg, 139). This definition suggests that organic farming is not necessarily free of toxic chemicals, but that the chemicals used on organic farms are natural chemicals, or in other words, chemicals that appear in nature. Another definition of organic food is that it is Ã¢â¬Å"produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generationsÃ¢â¬ (Preface, 1). Most people who grow or buy organic products link it to being green and environmentally friendly. If organic farmers are not using fertilizers or pesticides then less toxic fumes are going into the air. Therefore, by buying organic products they are doing their part in creating a better place to live. Others, however, buy organic food because they think that organic is more nutritious. Healthier or Not? There is no evidence that organic food products are healthier than conventionally grown food. According to Samuel Fromartz, the author of Organic, Inc. , Ã¢â¬Å"ninety percent of Ã¢â¬ËfrequentÃ¢â¬â¢ organic buyers think that theyÃ¢â¬â¢re buying better Ã¢â¬Ëhealth and nutritionÃ¢â¬â¢Ã¢â¬ (Organic, 1). Ninety percent of people believe this because this is what they are told from others around them. Like most things organic food has its limitations as well. In the book Controversies in Food and Nutrition, the authors state that organic foods Ã¢â¬Å"are not necessarily healthful or safe. A high-fat food that is made form organic products remains high in fatÃ¢â¬ (Goldstein &ump; Goldstein, 197). Being organic does not make a difference in how much fat a product contains. Although organic might mean that there are no non-natural chemicals used in the production it does not mean that it is healthy. Goldstein quotes Galleghar, the author of a magazine article in KiplingerÃ¢â¬â¢s Personal Finance Magazine, Ã¢â¬Å"you can buy organic chocolate bars, ice cream and cookies-all made with ingredients that are pesticide-, chemical-, antibiotic- and hormone-free- but theyÃ¢â¬â¢ll be laden with fat, sugar and caloriesÃ¢â¬ (Galleghar, 81-82). Galleghar argues a strong point, because organic defines how the ingredient was grown or produced, not the amount of fat, sugar, or calories it has. Thus, organic food is not healthier than non-organic food. Organic food does not provide any remarkable nutritional benefit when compared to non-organic food. In the opinion of Dr. Alan Dangour, a doctor interviewed by Karen McVeigh, Ã¢â¬Å"Ã¢â¬ËthereÃ¢â¬â¢s no good evidence that consumption of organic food is beneficial to health based on the nutrient contentÃ¢â¬â¢Ã¢â¬ , he also states Ã¢â¬Å"that while small differences were found between organic and conventionally produced food, they were Ã¢â¬Ëunlikely to be of any public health relevanceÃ¢â¬â¢Ã¢â¬ (McVeigh, 7). These quotations suggest that although there may be a slight difference between organic and conventional food products, it is not of any importance to society, therefore the government does not publish this information. The United States Department of Agriculture claims Ã¢â¬Å"organic produce will contain much lower levels of agrochemical residues than conventionally produced foodÃ¢â¬ (www. nal. usda. gov). Lower levels of agrochemical residue sounds like a good thing. However, how much of a difference do these lower levels make? The website also states that Ã¢â¬Å"measured residues on most products, both organic and non-organic, do not exceed government-defined thresholds for safe consumptionÃ¢â¬ (www. nal. usda. gov). Despite the fact that the residue on organic food may be less than the residue on nonorganic food neither of them exceed government regulations. However, the USDA might be conservative in their estimates of how much is safe due to pressures from the pesticide industry. The USDA seems to say that the only important aspect about the food we eat is that it has passed government regulations, therefore, we should not worry about the issue of safety any more. Local Farms? Another effect organic food has on society is the belief that organic food comes from small, local farms. In the article Paradise Sold: What Are You Buying When You Buy Organic? published in The New Yorker, Steven Shapin a Professor of science at Harvard states that, Ã¢â¬Å"much of the organic produce on the market comes from large farms turning a huge profit from the organic labelÃ¢â¬ (Shapin, 1). Because of the increase in demand for organic food, big farming corporations grow organic produce in order to create more capital for themselves. It is important to know that organic does not mean local, and local food does not mean organic. For example, supermarkets like Whole Foods, or Trader JoeÃ¢â¬â¢s are very big businesses. In order to stock the shelves of a place like Whole foods a small local farm would not be able to carry out the job, instead big organic retailers need big organic suppliers such as Earthbound Farm. Earthbound is one of the nationÃ¢â¬â¢s largest growers of organic produce. Their greens Ã¢â¬Å"are produced on giant farms in six different counties in California, two in Arizona, on in Colorado, and in three Mexican statesÃ¢â¬ (Organic, 1). When a company produce comes from more than one place the piece of produce can no longer be considered local. Thus, the illusion that organic food comes from neighborhood farms is entirely false. Escherichia coli Much like conventional food, organically grown foods can carry bacteria. Author Robert Paarlberg writes, Ã¢â¬Å"in 2006, bagged fresh spinach from a California farm in its final year of converting to organic certification was the source of E. coli infections in the United States that killed at least three and sickened hundredsÃ¢â¬ (Paarlberg, 145). Although organic food may have a special sticker, which makes consumers think that the product is safer to eat, there are examples of organic food not being safe to consume. Myrna and Mark Goldstein, the authors of Controversies in Food and Nutrition seem to agree with the above claim because they state that, Ã¢â¬Å"the manure that organic farmers may use could contain bacteria. Ã¢â¬ËThe only real difference between organic and nonorganic food is in the growing- and thatÃ¢â¬â¢s not a big enough difference to protect your health from bacteriaÃ¢â¬â¢Ã¢â¬ (Goldstein, 198). Due to the fact that the growing process is the only difference between organic and nonorganic foods, the risk for E. coli is not any different between the two products. Knowing the truth about where our food comes from is important because the food that goes into our bodies affects our health and well-being. The illusion created by the organic sticker only creates false hope that organic food is healthier and has nutritional benefits that exceed those of conventional food products. While many people continue to assume that the organic seal means that the produce is healthier and safer, one should remember that the seal only indicates how the product was produced.