Why eat organic food?

Laura Mappas
Friday, January 23, 2009
Organic food. Image: Getty

Hollywood's A-listers are doing their bit for the environment and keeping their insides healthy at the same time. You can too — just walk by that bursting battery chicken and opt for the organic variety instead.

What does organic mean?
Organic means that no artificial chemical fertilisers, pesticides or growth hormones, and no genetically-engineered substances, have been used in producing the end product. In essence, you get fruit, vegetables and meat that have been naturally produced.

Organic farmers use crop rotation instead of synthetic fertilisers to keep the soil healthy. They also use natural pest-control systems instead of nasty pesticides and give animals more space to live and roam, rather than cramming them into tiny cages — animals from organic farms are given higher welfare standards. All in all, organic means healthier insides, a cleaner environment and more humane conditions for farmed animals.

Why eat organic?
Well, for starters the chemical-free bit is appealing. Eating naturally-grown fresh fruit and vegies straight from the farmer's market is even more appealing. Need more convincing? Studies have shown that fresh organic produce contains more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other micro-nutrients than conventional farming produce, which means it's better for you. A new study by researchers at the University of Washington in the US have now also revealed that children who eat more organic food are exposed to six to nine times fewer toxic pesticides than those kids fed a conventional diet.

What the greenies say
Not only is organic food good for your body, but it's also good for the environment. Organic farming encourages biodiversity, and without the use of herbicides and pesticides, wildlife is given a new lease of life. Plus, there are no polluting chemicals.

Organic farming also has a lower carbon footprint than conventional farming due to the fact that it doesn't use insecticides, herbicides, fungicides or artificial fertilisers, which means no fossil fuels.

Who's doing it?
The who's who of Hollywood are lining up for fresh organic food. In fact, according to industry polls, eating organic is one of the latest food trends. Just ask Jennifer Garner who grows her own vegies, or Ellen DeGeneres who has even gone so far as to launch an organic dog food range (which might seem a bit strange, but it's environmentally friendly, nonetheless).

How much will it set you back?
Unfortunately, going organic is not the wallet-friendly option. This is because organic crops are more vulnerable to pests and disease, which means more expense for the farmer and ultimately, more expense for the consumer. Organic farming is also more labour intensive, while organic feed is more expensive, again hitting consumers' hip pockets.

But regardless of the hefty price tag, many health-conscious consumers are still willing to pay the price for superior produce — and to support organic farming techniques that are better for the environment.

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