Organic or Non-organic?  What’s the difference?

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This is a question that I am frequently asked so here is a simple explanation. Consumers can often become confused about what is good for them, so here I will simply explain the reasons why organic is better than non-organic.

Non-organic food refers to food that has involved synthetic products, such as chemical fertilisers and pesticides, in its production and by choosing organic you are:

  • Eating food that is grown closer to nature. Organic foods are grown and processed using a particular set of farming practices that eliminate chemicals while helping the environment by conserving water and nurturing soil. As the saying goes, ‘as nature intended’
  • Avoiding the consumption of pesticides, herbicides and toxins. As well as all these nasties which can increase your toxic load, pesticides can also cause allergic reactions
  • Avoiding the consumption of growth hormones which can affect the body’s hormonal balance
  • Supporting farmers, producers and local communities
  • Supporting animal welfare
  • Supporting the seasonality and sustainability of produce

However, buying organic does come at a price. As a starting point here are some tips to help you:

  • Buy organic, grass fed meat rather than intensively reared meat which is full of growth hormones and antibiotics. Also, from an ethical stance, this is better for animal welfare and supports farming communities. Meat and dairy are the most important food items to eat organically as the pesticides the animals consume end up in the meat
  • Eat organic eggs - they are more nutritious and less likely to have been contaminated. After all, happy healthy hens make happy eggs
  • To reduce the costs of buying organically, go a Farmer’s market, buy locally, look out for deals and buy in bulk
  • Buy organic versions from the dirty dozen and use the clean fifteen. The sheet below refers to pesticide use and residues and therefore will help to minimise exposure to pesticides. The items on the dirty dozen list have the highest pesticide use and are the worst offenders because these foods don’t have any covering on the outside and are sprayed directly with pesticides. The clean 15 are the least contaminated foods as they have a thick covering, so are not as affected by the pesticides (1)
  •  Keep a copy of the dirty dozen and clean fifteen sheet with you when you go shopping to help guide you:
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Choosing between organic and non-organic food is up to your personal preference but I hope that this has given you an idea of how eating organically can help YOU, farmers, local communities and the environment.