Should I be buying organic?
Organic vs non-organic food- what should you be choosing? Organic food is often portrayed as the ‘healthier option’ and maybe be even prompted as a better option during cancer. So, is organic foods, really THE option you should be choosing?? Read on to find out more.
What is organic food?
So, what exactly is organic food?
In the UK you can only legally, describe food as ‘organic’, if 95% of the product’s agricultural ingredients are organic and the other ingredients are within the organic regulations. Organic farmers must use a farming progress that ‘minimises the damage to the environment and wildlife using natural methods in producing food and for pest control 2.
If you want to check whether your food is organic look for these labels:
Food producers need to register with one of these approved organisations to show they are following the legal standards.
Does this mean organic foods do not contain pesticides?
Pesticides, or 'plant protection products' (PPP) are used to control pests, weeds and diseases. Types include insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, molluscicides, and plant growth regulators.
They are used to control pests, weeds or disease (like moulds/fungi which is harmful to health) to protect plants so they can grow.
There is a common myth that organic foods do not use pesticides however some pesticides are allowed in organic farming reference 3.
Pesticides for all foods, in the UK are closely regulated by Defra (Department
for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) and they are not a risk to human health. The levels remaining in food are also closely monitored so they remain low and not a risk to health. There no evidence that with pesticides cause cancer.
Washing your fruit and veg before eating will lower your exposure to pesticides on the surface of food and also wash off any remaining soil.
Is organic food healthier?
Actually, research studies show there are very few differences between organic and non-organic foods 4 and any difference they did observe were likely due to seasonal differences. Other studies have showed organic meats and milks had slightly more omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic products which is mostly due to the fact the Cows are grass fed 5.
Disadvantages to organic food
One of the biggest disadvantages is the cost to the consumer, Organic foods tends to be more expensive to produce which is why it will cost you more. Organic farming also uses more land so may add to deforestation and have other impact on the environment 6.
Should I choose organic food for cancer prevention?
There was a large study of 41,000 people conducted recently which followed Danish people aged 50-65 years old over 15-year period. The study members were asked to recall their diet including if they ate organic foods (vegetables, fruits, dairy products, eggs, meat, and bread and cereal products).
The study divided people according to how much organic food they ate- ‘never, low, medium, and high intake’ groups and then they recorded whether they had a cancer diagnosis during the 15 year period. The study looked for links between a cancer diagnosis and organic food intake and didn’t see a difference in the overall risk of cancer between each of the groups 7.
Take home message
So, should you choose organic?
You shouldn’t feel like you HAVE to choose organic as there is very little difference in the nutrient content of organic foods and there is no added benefit for cancer prevention. The most important choice is to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet but this can be organic, non-organic, fresh, frozen or tinned!
Thinking of getting some advice on your diet, why not book a free call?