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Organic Foods Are Healthier

Organic food has numerous advantages over conventionally produced food – health, ecological, and of course ethical. With the mainstream media constantly claiming the opposite and presenting the practices of conventional farming as necessary, you too might believe that organic isn’t really better.

Is organic healthier or not?

Popular headlines at regular intervals read something like “organic food hardly any healthier than normal products”, “organic doesn’t mean healthier”, “organic isn’t healthier than non-organic” and so on.

Studies are also published from time to time that seems to serve nothing other than the purpose of bio-defamation, such as B. A meta-study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine in early September 2012, was apparently misunderstood by the mainstream media – or perhaps misinterpreted on purpose.

The Stanford bio study

In this analysis, scientists from Stanford University in California evaluated research results from 240 studies in which organic foods were compared with non-organic foods.

A few of these studies also addressed the question of whether or not the consumption of organic food could affect human health.

Organic is best for children

It has now been found that the risk of exposure to pesticides is significantly lower if you give preference to organic food. It shows that children who eat organic food are less exposed to pesticides than children who eat conventional food.

At the same time, however, it was said that even with the consumption of non-organic food there is hardly any risk of exceeding the permitted limit values ​​for pesticide intake.

Digression: limit values ​​for pesticides are hard to be taken seriously

At this point, we would like to point out that the setting of limit values ​​gives the responsible authorities plenty of creative freedom and that the limit values ​​are often adapted to the pesticide contamination in vegetables and not – as one might have dared to hope – vice versa.

For example, between 2004 and 2006 alone, the German federal government raised almost 300 limit values ​​for plant protection products, some of which were proven to be harmful to health or water.

In addition, according to Greenpeace, there are no limit values ​​at all for around a fifth of the approved pesticides, but only so-called maximum quantity proposals, which, however, would not have any serious consequences if exceeded, so that these chemicals are understandably given little attention in studies.

But that’s not all: Illegal pesticides, which are not permitted at all, can also be found time and again in fruit and vegetables. However, since you can only find what you are looking for, illegal pesticides are neither searched for nor found in official studies.

In this context, it is also interesting to note that some chemicals can mutually reinforce each other’s harmful effects. Unfortunately, these synergistic effects have hardly been investigated and therefore unfortunately find no place in meta-analyses like the one from Stanford.

Organic animal husbandry is safer

Apart from pesticide measurements, the said Stanford meta-analysis also examined studies dealing with animal husbandry.

It was found that conventional animal husbandry poses a greater risk of bacterial resistance to antibiotics than organic animal husbandry and that conventionally produced meat is more likely to be contaminated with these superbugs than meat from organic animals.

Further evaluations – in which no differences between organic and non-organic were revealed in the studies examined – concerned the nutrient content and bacterial load of the food as well as the influence of the origin of the food on allergic symptoms.

Organic foods are better

So the actual result of this meta-analysis was very different from what media reports generally would have us believe. Organic foods ARE better than conventional foods.

But why then are the headlines, which are always more reminiscent of an anti-organic campaign than the simple study result, namely that organic is simply better?

Of course, it could be because some scientists – like those at Stanford – occasionally pointed out that we don’t even know whether better foods are also healthier (even if such a conclusion would be obvious) since the relevant studies are lacking.

The anti-bio campaign

The anti-organic headlines that keep popping up could have other reasons too. Thus, the Stanford study seemed to be a welcome opportunity to make the public believe that it is not worth buying organic food, since it supposedly has no higher health value than conventional food anyway.

Then one might hope that the increased import or cultivation of genetically modified seeds, the increase in limit values for sprays, or the retention of factory livestock stalls without grazing will no longer meet with the usual resistance from the population.

The idle discussions on transparency in food declarations should then also become superfluous in the future. After all, why should anyone still attach importance to an organic label or a reference to the absence of genetic engineering if none of this promises any better quality anyway?

Down with organic – at any price

And if the population still buys organic food and simply does not want to give up their desire for a clean environment and unpolluted food, then you quickly pull the last trump card out of your pocket – and it has always worked well:

According to various media reports, anyone who buys organic products has to fear that the salad will come from a farmer with right-wing extremist ideas. Yes, organic customers are even advised to ask the shopkeeper about the political leanings of the respective producer before buying organic food.

After all, one can certainly demand this additional effort from an organic customer who is already trying to cultivate an environmentally and socially compatible lifestyle and diet.

On the other hand, anyone who buys from FIDL and WALDI does not need to worry about the attitude of the suppliers, since the overall concept of these business and marketing models is already so inimical to the environment, animals, and people that a possible right settlement of the suppliers will not make matters worse could.

So is all of this – including the Stanford study and its media hype – just an attempt to make people more sympathetic to the methods of agro-industry (monoculture, high use of machinery and energy) and the products of multinational mega-corporations (GM seeds, chemicals)?

Organic food is richer in vital substances

This suspicion is all the more substantiated the deeper you delve into the subject.

For example, it is incomprehensible that the Stanford scientists did not want to have found any significant differences in the nutrient and vital substance content between organic food and non-organic food.

Even a first glance at the specialist literature and the study databases reveals plenty of evidence for the significantly higher nutrient and vital substance content in organic food.

Organic milk is better

A meta-analysis of studies from the last three years shows that organic dairy products have a significantly higher protein content and just as significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and a better omega-3-omega-6 ratio than conventional dairy products.

Now that we know, for example, that a favorable omega-3-omega-6 ratio has extremely positive effects on health, e.g. B. can have chronic inflammatory processes, one can confidently assume that the consumption of organic milk products (if you tolerate milk products) is always more advantageous than that of conventional milk.

Organic chickens are healthier

Stanford fretted because there was no clear study on “Are Organic People Healthier?” are. But at least there is a study on the question “Are organic chickens healthier?”

This shows that organic chickens have a stronger immune system and can cope after an infection with a significantly shorter recovery phase until they are healthy again than is the case with conventionally reared chickens.

Organic vegetables are better

It’s not much different with vegetables. Organic vegetables are also – of course – better than conventional vegetables. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that organically grown vegetables, fruits, and grains contain significantly more vitamin C, magnesium, and phosphorus and significantly fewer nitrates than conventionally grown vegetables.

It also seemed as if organic plant-based products contained less protein but were of higher quality. Likewise, organic products were less contaminated with heavy metals than conventional products.

Two other studies showed similar results, namely that organic spinach has fewer nitrates, but just like organic tomatoes, it provides more vitamin C and more flavonoids.

Here, too, we know that a diet containing nitrate-contaminated foods can lead to health problems, especially in children. We would therefore like to describe a low-nitrate diet made from organic food as significantly healthier.

If it also contains more vitamin C, magnesium, and phytochemicals such as flavonoids, all the better. Incidentally, the latter was not even considered at Stanford, although they are extremely important in today’s health care and cancer prevention.

Organic protects better against cancer

And while we’re on the subject of cancer, you might be interested in this blackcurrant investigation.

Here it was discovered that the organic berries did not produce the same high yields as conventionally treated currants. However, the organic currants had a higher vitamin C content and were apparently able to block cancer cells better than conventional currants.

From this, the researchers at the Danish Aarhus University concluded that organic currants have a higher health value for the consumer.

Organic is better for the intestinal flora

Organic fruit and vegetables have another decisive advantage up their sleeve. In 2019, researchers from Graz University of Technology compared organic apples to conventional apples and found that the organic variety has a much more balanced and diverse bacterial community.

There were many more health-promoting bacteria in the organic apples examined. Most apple samples from conventional cultivation – but not a single organic apple sample – showed bacteria of the genus Shigella, which includes some known pathogens. The opposite was the case with the prebiotically active lactobacilli. The scientists came to the conclusion that organically grown apples keep the human intestinal flora in balance and put pathogenic bacteria in their place.

In addition, according to the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office in Stuttgart, organic fruit and vegetables – unlike conventional fruit and vegetables – are only extremely rarely objectionable because the maximum level of pesticides is exceeded. And this is also why organic is better for intestinal health. In 2018, scientists from the Université Clermont Auvergne were able to provide evidence that pesticides in food impair the functions of the intestinal flora and trigger inflammation in the intestine.

Organic is much more

In the case of organically produced food, however, it is not just what is important in terms of important nutrients and vital substances in the lettuce, potato, or meat or what is specifically missing in terms of harmful substances and pharmaceutical residues. The origin of the seed in question is also very important. Despite increasing threshold values, organic farming is still trying to remain free of genetic engineering.

In addition, food is known to be further processed. However, unlike conventional foods, processed organic foods are free of artificial food additives (e.g. artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, etc.).

Furthermore, organic foods are usually processed very carefully and gently and often even using particularly energy-saving technologies. All of these factors fell by the wayside at Stanford, and yet, with such a patchy collection of information, they dared to claim that organic foods weren’t all that different from conventional ones.

Who funded the Stanford study?

Aside from that, the funding source of the Stanford analysis is said to be “none”. The scientists concerned evaluated more than 200 studies without being paid for them.

That seems a bit unusual and could lead to certain assumptions, for example, that the sponsor does not want to be named, since otherwise the goal of the analysis – namely disinformation instead of information – could perhaps become too obvious.

Organic makes you feel better!

Luckily, don’t let the mainstream media fool you. And so you might feel like the participants in the following study:

You can feel the higher quality of organic food firsthand – even if there are no clear studies on it yet.

With the help of a questionnaire, 566 participants were asked about their personal health experiences as a result of switching to organic food. 70 percent of participants reported noticeable health effects.

Of these, 70 percent reported a better general condition, a higher energy level, and better resistance to diseases (just like the organic chickens!).

30 percent reported better mental health, 24 percent improved stomach and bowel function, 19 percent better skin, healthier hair and/or nails, and 14 percent fewer allergic symptoms.

Can organic feed the world?

So organic is better and organic makes you feel better. Ok, you will say, but if everyone wanted to buy organic food, then large parts of humanity are certain to die of starvation.

You will add that finally, due to lower yields and at the same time higher land requirements, organic farming will definitely not be able to feed the entire world population.

Luckily, it can – and in the long run, be better than conventional agriculture.

Even if we are being led to believe on almost every side that conventional agriculture, with its multitude of chemicals and genetically modified seeds, is the only way to feed the world’s population, this is definitely not the case.

Conventional farming may be ONE way. A path, however, which – for everyone to see – will sooner rather than later end in ecological collapse and thus in the less than glorious finale of mankind.

Organic is not the same as organic

Another way is organic farming – and here we are talking about real organic farming (implemented according to the rules of organic farming associations, such as Bioland, Demeter, etc.) and not pseudo-organic farming, which just jumped on the promising organic bandwagon in the hope of higher profits, only fulfilled the minimum legal requirements and – whenever possible – exploited exceptions (e.g. for feed or grazing).

True organic farming can – as the following studies show – not only feed the world’s population but also save the earth from the looming ecological crisis.

Organic saves poor countries

In a study by the University of Michigan, for example, scientists found that organic farming can achieve the same, if not higher, yields than conventional farming, not only in industrialized nations but especially in the developing world.

This study also showed that the world’s population could be fed very well organically with the existing areas – WITHOUT endangering the environment and human health.

Organic against hunger

In 2010, the UN Special Rapporteur Olivier De Schutter and his experts came to the conclusion that no other form of agriculture was better suited to saving the world than organic farming.

In his report, he dealt with numerous aspects. For example, organic smallholder agriculture could at least double food production in those parts of the world where hunger is the biggest problem.

Organic for biodiversity and self-sufficiency

In any case, according to Olivier De Schutter, we will neither be able to solve the problem of hunger nor stop climate change with the conventional agricultural industry, which advocates genetically modified crops and monocultures on huge plantations.

Small farms with their biodiversity, on the other hand, create the conditions for independence, self-sufficiency, and healthier nutrition and can thus show a way out of the widespread poverty in rural regions of the third world.

While farmers with the usual cultivation system in monocultures are dependent on a single field crop and its harvest, organic agriculture with its mixed culture ensures that even in unfavorable weather conditions, which can lead to crop failure, other products can still be harvested and therefore neither Famine nor bankruptcy threatened.

Organic without multinationals

Studies in 57 impoverished countries also showed that organic methods could increase harvests by nearly 80 percent, for example by raising weed-eating ducks in paddy fields (while also ensuring families regular and high-quality meat meals) or by planting insect-repellent plants (e.g. B. Desmodium) were planted between the rows of grain.

Methods of this type are not only effective but also inexpensive, available locally (without having to be imported from multi-corporations), extremely healthy in contrast to chemicals and they can be passed on from farmer to farmer.

Organic creates fertile soil and pure drinking water

The Rodale Institute/Pennsylvania, USA, came to a similar conclusion after a 30-year comparative study, which showed that organic farming methods – in contrast to conventional ones – not only improve the quality of the food, the fertility of the soil, the purity of our drinking water and the improve living and working conditions in rural regions, but also create more jobs and at the same time ensure higher incomes.

The yields in dry years in organic farming are also significantly higher and therefore safer than those in conventional agro-industry.

It was also shown that organic farming used 45 percent less energy, while conventional farming produced 40 percent more greenhouse gases.

Organic for the next 1500 years

Conclusion: The products of organic farming are not only of higher quality and healthier for us. Organic farming is also the farming of the future – at least when we care about a healthy planet and well-fed people around the world.

This is exactly how Mark Smallwood, director of the Rodale Institute, summarized the situation in an interview with the Huffington Post:

If we want to feed the world for the next 50 years, then we can do that very well with conventional agriculture. But if we want to feed the world for the next 1,500 years, then we had better consider organic farming.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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