The reasons to eat organic food derive from the healthier farming and food processing practices in the USDA organic system. It's the methods used to grow crops, raise animals, and handle and process the food that make organic food healthier.
Here are twelve reasons to eat organic food:
1. Organic food is overall higher-quality food.
The quality of grains and produce depends on:
The quality of animal products (meat, milk, and eggs) depends on:
Organic farming practices create higher-quality soil that produces more nutritious crops. Organically grown crops are more nutrient dense and contain more antioxidants. This is one of the best reasons to eat organic food.
Organic crops and produce have an estimated 25% more of many nutrients and 25% more antioxidants.
A long-term farming trial conducted by the University of California--Davis produced organically grown tomatoes that had almost twice the amount of healthy flavonoids than the trial's conventionally grown tomatoes. And with increasing years of organic cultivation, the more these nutrients increased.
The healthier diet of pasture-fed animals causes their meat and milk to contain healthier fats than conventional meat and milk.
At the very least, however, organic raising of non-pastured animals prevents the feeding and application of toxins that concentrate in the animals' fat. We then consume those toxins and their metabolites in meat and milk. Organic husbandry eliminates pesticides, artificial and added hormones, and antibiotics.
3. The taste of organic food, especially fruits and vegetables, is usually strikingly better than the taste of conventional food.
This is one of the most common reasons to eat organic food.
4. Organic food has little or no pesticide residue.
It's possible to avoid pesticides in food by eating organic food. Most conventional produce contains pesticide residues; few organic fruits and vegetables do. One well-designed study showed that evidence of pesticide exposure was undetectable when the children in the study ate organic food.
5. Organic food is not genetically modified.
Many people don't realize that genetically modified food products are in the supermarket now. Most conventional processed food contains genetically modified ingredients that are not identified as such on the label. Organic food is never genetically modified, and organic processed food never contains genetically engineered ingredients.
6. The food additives in organic processed food are generally fewer and less unhealthy than those in conventional processed food.
7. Organically raised animals are better fed than conventionally raised animals.
Conventional animal feed is 70%-90% corn and soybean meal (mostly genetically modified). The remaining part of the feed can contain any of the following:
Organically raised animals are given organic feed and pasture. They are never fed drugs, animal by-products, manure, plastic, or other non-food materials. The effects on the milk and meat create strong reasons to eat organic food.
8. Organic animal feed prevents the spread of mad cow disease.
Mad cow disease--bovine spongiform ecephalopathy (BSE)--infected people in the United Kingdom who ate contaminated beef products. The disease was spread between cows by adding rendered cow protein to animal feed.
The FDA has banned rendered cow protein as an additive to animal feed intended for cows, but rendered animal by-products are so common in animal feed that the rule has been poorly enforced. In addition, rendered cows can be fed to chickens; then, rendered chickens and their manure can be fed back to cows, potentially spreading the BSE agent.
Organically raised animals are never fed animal by-products.
9. Organic practices prevent the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Antibiotics in animal feed are believed to be the source of antibiotic-resistant disease: antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meat; in the manure and dust from animal facilities; and carried by workers.
Organically raised animals are never fed antibiotics.
10. Organic poultry are never fed arsenic.
We eat arsenic in chicken due to the use of roxarsone, an arsenic-containing drug added to chicken feed. 70% of U.S. chickens are given roxarsone. Arsenic can be found in conventional chicken meat, in chicken manure, and in crops grown with the manure. Arsenic spread throughout the food supply is another of the many reasons to eat organic food.
11. Organically raised animals are never given hormones.
Conventional dairy cows that are injected with the genetically engineered hormone rBGH produce increased pus and hormones in milk.
To avoid added and synthetic hormones in meat, it is necessary to buy organic or from a farmer known to you, as almost all conventional beef cattle and pigs in the U.S. are implanted with steroid growth hormones.
12. The treatment of organically raised animals includes healthier living conditions and access to pasture.
The vast majority of conventionally raised animals are kept in unhealthy "factory farm" conditions. A concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) may have 100,000 cows in a feedlot or 60,000 chickens in a coop.
Simply for health reasons, I think most people would not eat conventional meat if they were aware of the condition of these animals.
These and more reasons to eat organic food strongly indicate that organic food is healthier food.