Benefits of Organic Food
What is organic food? Features and health benefits
Over the last twenty years, organic food has grown in popularity to become a way of life for many people. Organic food is grown or produced naturally with no artificial chemicals, hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified organisms.
The most popular organic foods today are fruit, vegetables, cereals, dairy products and meat. However, nowadays, there are processed organic foods such as beverages, biscuits and breakfast cereals. Then: what is organic food exactly?
Organic, biological or eco-friendly food? Differences with traditional food
Terms such as eco-friendly, organic or biological are so similar that they can be considered synonyms because they all refer to the natural production of food of both plant and animal origin. The differences, while minimal, lie in nuances:
- Eco-friendly food means that the food comes from an environmentally friendly production system, that the natural resources available are used in the production process and that minimal waste is generated.
- Biological food means that the food, animal or vegetable, has no genetically altered components.
- Organic food means food is free of pesticides and artificial additives, such as glutamate, sweeteners, preservatives or flavour enhancers.
Organic crop and livestock farming are based on using disease-resistant species native to, or easily adapted to, the growing or rearing environment. Organic fruit and vegetables are grown with natural fertilisers and limited use of synthetic pesticides.
Advantages of organic food
Some consumers choose organic food because they consider it safer, healthier and tastier than other commercially available foods. For others, the advantage of organic food is the environmental friendliness of the production process. Among all the advantages of organic food, the following stand out:
- In organic food, exposure to residues is minimised. Certain chemicals from industrial agriculture and animal husbandry are removed during preparation before consumption (cooking, washing, peeling, etc.), but others remain and can be harmful to health in the long run. Genetically modified organisms may also generate an allergic response in some people.
- Healthier food. The absence of chemicals makes it easier for the body to assimilate organic food. Its higher level of vitamins and minerals provides a complete nutritional intake than food from conventional farms.
- Quality assured European legislation guarantees the supervision of the entire production chain of organic products: from processing down to labelling.
- Respect for the environment. Organic farming improves soil quality through crop rotation. It facilitates groundwater conservation, reduces pollution and is more environmentally friendly.
- Respect for animals. The animals are reared without stress, at their natural pace, in semi-freedom in open spaces. No antibiotics or hormones are used in organic farming.
- Better taste. Organic food has higher organoleptic qualities and gastronomic value than similar products from industrial farming.
Organic food and diet
Organic food is suitable for people of all ages, and healthy eating should not be confused with dieting to lose weight. The bedrock of organic food is the natural processing of animal and plant foods: a vegan can eat organic vegetables, and someone who eats animal protein also has organic meat. In both cases, the body receives the nutritional benefits of including these foods in their respective diets.