Definition of Organic
If you are to understand what organic means, you will have to understand what goes into growing and processing the foods. Different countries have different regulations. In the US, for example, there are certain conditions you must adhere to for organic farming. Such include not using GMOs, synthetic pesticides, and the type of fertilizers you apply; whether petroleum or sludge-based.
The same applies to livestock which you keep for eggs, meat, or dairy products. You have to ensure that the livestock have access to the outdoors and that you only feed them organic foods. You do not have permission to give them antibiotics, animal by-products, or hormones.
The Difference between Organic and Non-Organic Food
There are some specific differences between organic and non-organic products. We can summarize them as below.
1. Use of Fertilizers
Organic farming requires the use of natural fertilizers like compost and manure. Inorganic ones allow for the use of chemicals or synthetic products, including fertilizers and pesticides.
2. Weed Control
If you are practicing organic farming, you will control the weeds using natural methods. Such include crop rotation, mulching, hand-weeding, and tilling.
Inorganic farming allows you to use chemicals like herbicides to control the weeds.
3. Pest Control
Organically grown crops require that you do not use any synthetic pesticides to control insects, fungi, or birds. You can use traps, or pesticides that only contain natural ingredients.
When doing inorganic farming, you have the option of using pesticides to help control anything that may attack the plants.
4. Feeds for Livestock
If you are raising livestock for organic produce, you can only use GMO-free or organic foods.
Inorganic farming, on the other hand, allows you to expedite the growth process using synthetic hormones. You also have the option of using GMO seeds.
5. Disease Prevention
You must take the necessary steps to prevent diseases using natural methods. Such include rotational grazing, healthy diets, and clean housing.
If you are raising livestock for conventional produce, then you can use medications and antibiotics to prevent any diseases.
6. Access to the Outdoors
Under organic farming, you have to allow the livestock to access the outdoors. The same does not apply to inorganic agriculture, where you have the option of raising them indoors. It does not, however, preclude you from giving them access to the outdoors when you feel the need.
Understanding Some of the Key Elements
We have mentioned specific elements like GMO and the use of pesticides with regard to organic and inorganic farming. We will explore what some of these terms mean in some more detail below.
What Are GMOs?
There still exists a lot of controversy regarding the use of GMOs, and the impact on the environment and health. GMOs have the benefit of increasing the resistance of food crops to insecticides and pesticides. You will find them present in many food crops, including squash, papaya, among others. Breakfast cereals and processed foods also have quite a bit of them. If the ingredient list has soy lecithin or corn syrup, then the chances are very high that they have GMOs.
The Question Then Remains, Are GMOs Safe?
Reports from biotech companies and the US Food and Drug Administration say that GMOs are safe. There is no actual research indicating otherwise. However, research does exist that shows that animals that consume GMOs in excessive amounts do experience some health problems. There have been cases of slowed brain growth, and a thickening of the digestive tract. However, it is essential to note that the studies have been on animals are not human beings.
Some people do experience specific allergies when they eat food that has GMOs. Others may also experience gastrointestinal problems. Some think that if you interfere with the DNA makeup of an animal or plant, it may increase the risk of getting cancer. Researchers are still working at trying to determine whether this is true or not.
Use of Pesticides
The main advantage of eating organic foods is that you will find Lower levels of pesticides. The reality is that many organic farms still use a certain amount of pesticides, but only those they derive naturally. The advantage is that such pesticides are less toxic, but you need to be aware that they are not 100% free of health risks. You may not get the full impact of the negative aspects of synthetic pesticides. However, you will still be ingesting substances that may not necessarily have a positive effect on your body.
Dangers of the Use of Pesticides
There are numerous researches on pesticides and the negative impact they may have on one’s health. Such include;-
1. Increase in the risk of getting cancer
Research indicates that even negligible levels of pesticides can result in cancer. There are various kinds you can get, including brain tumors, prostate cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma.
2. Impact on children
Pesticides will have a very negative effect on the immune system of children and fetuses. Since the bodies are still in the developmental stages, there could be growth delays, behavioral disorders, and motor dysfunction, among others.
Pregnant women are especially vulnerable because they will pass on whatever they ingest to the fetus, or baby through breast milk.
It is vital to note that no matter how thoroughly you wash your food, it will not totally eliminate the pesticides. You may, therefore, want to opt for organic foods to minimize the risks. Make sure that when you are shopping for food, you pay attention to the ingredient list. You can also buy food from the farms directly so that you get fresh produce. Organic food may be a bit more expensive, so you need to do your price comparison to find the best value.
We have talked about organic and inorganic foods above and the key differences. Organic foods are safer because of the use of natural processes to produce them.
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