As you stroll down the grocery aisle of your local supermarket, adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your shopping basket, do you ever stop to think how they were produced (by conventional or organic farming methods) and just how good for you they actually are?
Different Farming Methods
The differences between organic and conventional foods stem directly from the farming methods used during the food’s production. Conventional agriculture, developed as a result of restricted land availability and food insecurity caused by rapid population growth, uses a significant amount of chemical and energy input to produce the highest possible yield of crops but achieves that efficiency at a major cost to the environment.
On the other hand, organic (sustainable) agriculture is a more holistic production method, typically much less detrimental to the surrounding landscape and with a number of social and economic benefits.
With many of the fruits and vegetables in supermarkets testing positive for pesticide residues, the health concerns of conventional farming are being widely debated. Pesticides are chemicals used to eliminate or control a variety of agricultural pests that can damage crops and livestock and reduce farm productivity. The most commonly applied pesticides are insecticides (to kill insects), herbicides (to kill weeds), rodenticides (to kill rodents) and fungicides (to control fungi, mould, and mildew).
In real life terms, we are often exposed to a ‘cocktail’ of these chemicals over long periods of time, causing problems ranging from short-term impacts such as headaches and nausea to chronic impacts like cancer, reproductive harm and endocrine disruption.
Organic Vs Conventional
Advocates of organically grown produce, claim it’s safer, possibly more nutritious and often better tasting than non-organic food. And even though organic food is typically more expensive, more and more shoppers seem to agree. Look for the certified organic label on your foods, visit farmers’ markets or local farms where you can ask the farmer directly about his or her pest control methods.
If you’re buying conventional produce, it helps to eat a variety of foods thereby lessening your exposure to any one pesticide. When preparing conventional food, properly wash or peel fruits and vegetables or wash those with edible peels with a scrubbing brush and discard the outer leaves of vegetables – lettuce and cabbage in particular.
Even though for many of us the decision whether or not to buy organic isn’t always a simple one, the bottom line is that it’s still vitally important we continue to consume fruits and vegetables (regardless of the source) because of their health benefits.
I hope this article has provided you with some food for thought; do let us know what your shopping preferences are and why…