Once found only in health food stores, organic foods now seem to be the norm at most supermarkets. Some choose to purchase organic produce, grass fed meats, or organic milk for environmental reasons. Others believe these products simply have more nutritional benefits. Today I provide the facts to help you make more informed nutritional decisions at the supermarket.
"Organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to meet the following goals:
Enhance soil and water quality
Provide safe, healthy livestock habitats
Enable natural livestock behavior
Promote a self-sustaining cycle of resources on a farm
Organic farming practices for livestock include:
Healthy living conditions and access to the outdoors
Pasture feeding for at least 30 percent of livestock's nutritional needs during grazing season
Organic foods for animals
What the research says regarding organic:
Studies have shown small to moderate increases in some individual nutrients in organic products. Organic produce has proven to provide higher amounts of phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and certain types of flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties. One study found organic strawberries have more vitamin C and antioxidants than conventional strawberries, and organic tomatoes contain more of a type of antioxidant called polyphenols than commercially grown tomatoes.
The feeding requirements for organic livestock farming, such as the primary use of grass and alfalfa for cattle, result in generally higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a kind of fat that is more heart healthy than other fats.
Producers of organic milk are required to allow their cows to spend a certain amount of time grazing, which results in a noticeable effect on the fatty acids in the milk. Compared with conventional milk, organic milk has lower levels of omega-6 fatty acids and higher levels of healthful omega-3 fatty acids (cardioprotective).
As with milk and meat, the omega-3 levels of eggs are affected by the hens’ diet and can be increased by pasturing or diet supplementation for either organic or conventional hens. Eggs high in omega-3s are generally labeled.
Although some organic crops have proven more nourishing than their conventional counterparts, wheat, one of the world's biggest cereal crops, shows no difference.
In summary, organically grown and raised food products contain less pesticides, cause less harm to the environment, have lower amounts of bad fats and higher amounts of good fats, and may have a higher nutrient content.
do you buy organic or conventionally grown?
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Fuel More Functionally, Jacquelyn