Austin Personal Trainer Ross' Blog

A Precision Health & Fitness blog

Are Organic Foods Better than Non-Organic Foods?

Posted by Ross Harrison, CSCS, NSCA-CPT on July 18, 2010

     Not too long ago, if you wanted to find a decent selection of organic products, you had to go to a specialty health food store. Now you can find organic produce, meats, dairy products and more at almost any grocery store. There is no question that organic foods have increased in popularity in recent years, but many people still have questions about organic products. Perhaps the most common question is, are organic foods really better than non-organic foods?

     This question has been debated a lot in recent years, with some people heavily promoting organic foods, while others claim they are no better than the regular foods you eat. Both sides have some evidence to support their opinion, but some of this evidence is a little misleading. The first important thing to note about this debate is nobody is saying that organic foods are less healthy or in any way inferior to regular foods. The people defending non-organic foods are just trying to say organic foods have no additional benefits.

      The main evidence against the need for organic foods comes from nutrient comparisons that have been made between organic and non-organic foods. Lab tests have found that organic foods may not contain significantly more nutrients than other foods and defenders of non-organic foods have taken this to mean that organic foods are not any better or healthier than non-organic foods. If the amount of nutrients in a food was the only thing that mattered, then this would be a compelling argument against the need for organic foods, but the amount of nutrients is just one component of food.

     Probably the best quality of organic foods has nothing to do with how many nutrients they have, but rather what they don’t have. Non-organic foods often have undesirable things added to them during their growing and/or processing phases. For example, fruits and vegetables are often treated with pesticides or other unhealthy substances. Foods can contain pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or worse, and this information will not be shown anywhere on the food label. However, organic products have to follow strict regulations, which include not using unhealthy substances like pesticides at any point from start to finished product.

     By not having these unhealthy ingredients, organic foods are unquestionably healthier than their non-organic counterparts, even if the foods have the same amount of nutrients. Basically every food has some things that are good for you and some things that are bad for you and products that have a lot of healthy features with few unhealthy ones are the healthiest foods and vice versa. Therefore, even if a food has a decent amount of nutrients, it can still be unhealthy if it also contains a lot of things that are bad for you.

     For example, cold water salmon is incredibly healthy, because it contains quality protein and high levels of EPA and DHA, which are the healthiest Omega-3 fats. However, if you take salmon and deep fry it, you end up adding unhealthy substances, which lowers the overall healthiness of the food. While this has nothing to do with whether or not the food is organic, you can make the analogy that the organic food is the original salmon and the non-organic food is what you get after frying it.

     To be fair, the difference in healthiness between an organic and non-organic food is not as big as the difference between fresh and fried salmon, but the analogy is accurate in the sense that both non-organic foods and fried salmon have a higher amount of ingredients that are bad for your health. Unfortunately, it is very hard to determine the actual impact on your health, because the extra substances found in non-organic products may not visibly affect your body until years or even decades down the road. This makes it difficult to figure out the true benefit you get from eating organic foods.

     Another issue is that the benefits of eating organic foods vary from product to product and some non-organic foods are not much different than their organic counterpart, while there is a big difference between others. The problem is you have no way of knowing how the non-organic foods are made, so you will not know what unhealthy substances they contain. One of the reasons people like to buy organic is because they don’t have to worry about all the unknown extras that might be in their food.

     There is one more benefit to organic foods that is not talked about as much, which is that organic foods typically have more taste than non-organic foods, especially when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables. Regular produce can taste almost like a watered down version of organic produce and this is certainly something people take into account when deciding whether or not to buy organic foods.

     While it is not possible to say exactly how much better organic foods are than non-organic ones, it is hard to argue that they are not at least somewhat healthier than regular foods. If organic foods did not cost more than other foods, there probably wouldn’t be any interest in this issue, because everyone would choose to eat organic products. At the heart of the matter is really the question of whether or not organic foods are worth the extra cost, but that is an issue for another time.

2 Responses to “Are Organic Foods Better than Non-Organic Foods?”

  1. I think ԝhat you said made a ton oof sensе.
    Ηowever, what about thiѕ? suppose you composed a catchier
    post title? I mean, I don’t want to tell yoou how to run your website, but what if
    you addded a title that ɡrabbed folk’s attention? I mean Are Oгganic Foods Bettеr
    than Non-Organic Foods? Austin Peгsonal Traineer Ross’ Blog
    is ҟinda boring. You mighyt peek at Yahoo’s home page and see how they create article headlines tо
    ɡrab viewers interestеd. You might add a video or a
    related picture or two too get readers interested about everything’ve got to say.
    In mmy opinion, it could brig ƴour blog a little livelier.

    • Honestly, I agree with you that my titles are on the boring side and catchier titles would attract more attention. However, over my years in health and fitness, I have become so disgusted with the way information is marketed, with so many sources being all style and little substance just designed to get attention, that I can’t bring myself to use those tactics.

      I realize this is a mistake on my part and your suggestion is a good one, but I don’t think I want to make myself sound like the top marketers out there. I have heard presentations, seen videos, listened to audio, etc. about how to get more views/clients, but most of them just make me want to distance myself from anyone who manipulates their readers, promises false hope/expectations, etc. which often occurs in articles with catchy titles.

      My more straightforward and boring style has allowed me to connect with some great people who have similar ethics and views on presenting health and fitness information, so it makes me hesitant to change my style. That may change in the future if/when I get back to writing more, but for now I am basically content with the way information is presented on my blog.

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