Why spend extra for "USDA organic"? The reasons to eat organic food are the benefits of superior quality food..
Food quality comes from the methods used to grow crops, raise animals, and handle and process the food.
The quality of grains and produce depends on:
The quality of animal products (meat, milk, and eggs) depends on:
Organic methods of farming and ranching produce grains, fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, and eggs that are far superior in quality compared to conventional foods.
What are organic foods? - "USDA Organic" means the food was grown or raised with specified methods. It's not a marketing term!
Deciding which foods to buy organic - A guide to prioritizing when it's not possible to buy everything organic.
Organic farming practices create higher-quality soil; that soil that produces crops that are more nutrient dense and contain more antioxidants.
Organic crops and produce have an estimated 25% more of many nutrients and 25% more antioxidants.
A ten-year farming trial conducted by the University of California--Davis (published in 2007 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry) produced organically grown tomatoes that had almost twice the amount of certain antioxidant flavonoids than the trial's conventionally grown tomatoes. And with increasing years of organic cultivation, the more these nutrients increased!
Similarly, the healthier diet of pasture-fed animals causes their meat and milk to contain healthier fats than conventional meat and milk does. Either pasture or organic feed prevents toxins from accumulating in their fat, as you will see below.
The taste of organic food, especially fruits and vegetables, is typically strikingly better than the taste of conventional food.
This is one of the most common reasons to eat organic food.
The Organic Center reports that "better taste" is a reason given by 43% of those who buy organic fruits and vegetables.
In their 2006 report on taste, the Organic Center reviewed human taste test studies comparing conventional and organic fruits and vegetables. These studies are difficult to design and interpret. However, the Organic Center found that when studies found a difference in taste, it was almost always in favor of organic fruits and vegetables.
Better taste may be caused by: more and better phytochemicals and antioxidants; slower maturing from organic practices; differences in soil conditions and fertilizers.
In my experience, a significant percentage of organic produce has spectacular flavor, while a significant percentage of conventional produce has virtually no taste at all.
In one accidental taste taste, I ate an organic apple immediately followed by a conventional apple. I never bought a conventional apple again.
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.
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.
The food additives in organic processed food are generally fewer and less unhealthy than those in conventional processed food.
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.
Organically raised animals are better fed than conventionally raised animals.
Conventional animal feed is 70%-90% corn and soybean meal (nearly all genetically modified). The remaining part of the feed can contain any of the following:
The effects on the milk, meat, and eggs of these aniamsl create strong reasons to eat organic food.
Organically raised animals are given organic feed and pasture. They are never fed drugs, animal by-products, manure, plastic, or other non-food materials.
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.
Organically raised animals are never given hormones.
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.
Organically raised animals are never fed antibiotics.
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.
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.
These and more reasons to eat organic food show that organic food is healthier food.