Organics: Are They Worth All the Hype?

By: Neisha Hernandez, Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living Fall 2012

In recent years, it seems that a new wave has come into great popularity; organic foods. The appeal of organic foods is the supposed lack of chemical additives, the small-scale family-owned production, the environmental benefits, and the nutritional value which is perceived as greater than conventionally grown foods. The truth is, most people are unaware whether organic foods truly accomplish the task of being a healthier alternative to conventional foods.

Although organic may sound excellent in theory, consumers must become aware of several disadvantages that aren’t generally publicized. First, organic foods do not actually provide less pollution than conventionally grown foods; greenhouse gases emitted during transport of foods and the added methane produced by organic cow farms (organic cows produce considerably more than conventional cows) completely mitigates any benefits that organics may have in terms of emissions. Environmental downfalls also include the fact that organic farming is less sustainable than conventional farming. Organic fields must be given time to naturally regenerate nutrients whereas conventional fields can be chemically enriched. Since organic fields must be plowed more often and organic greenhouses require more energy (up to 100 times more than conventional methods), more resources are spent growing the organic foods than the conventional foods.
Lastly, organic food is said to be “healthier” for you. Promoters of organic foods argue that the pesticides in conventional foods are unhealthy; no reputable study has shown any health disadvantages from pesticide use, nor has any study shown that organic food carries more nutritional value than conventional food. Although research may provide us with some benefits of organic use, none have proved it any “healthier”. In conclusion, organic food certainly is on the rise in today’s culture, and while it is said to have many benefits, it may not be the way this country can afford to go – it costs more to grow and to buy, it is environmentally ineffective, and it really isn’t any healthier for you than conventional food. No reasonable expectation can be made about eradicating the ¬†use of organic foods but consumers must question whether it is a cost-effective and necessary part of their diet.

Johnston, Rob, P.h.D. . “The Great Organic Myth: Why Organic Foods are an Indulgence the World Can’t Afford.” The Indepentent. The Independent, 1 2008. Web. 19 Nov 2012. <http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/the-great-organic-myths-why-organic-foods-are-an-indulgence-the-world-cant-afford-818585.html>.

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