The ongoing debate between organic and conventional foods in our country has raised multiple concerns. Organic and conventional foods have notable differences in substance, cost, appearance, health benefits, and government involvement. However, the average American consumer generally sees them as relatively similar. Many questions emerge for American consumers about the comparative healthiness of organic food for the human body, what distinguishes these two types, and whether the higher price of organic food is warranted.
In this essay, we will explore the similarities and differences between organic and non-organic food. Organic food is distinct from genetically modified food in terms of its content. Organic food is cultivated without pesticides, herbicides, or other chemical treatments for a minimum of 3 years (Hardy). As a result, it consists solely of naturally occurring components without any additives or fillers. Conversely, genetically modified food involves multiple chemical treatments.
Research has found that genetically modified foods contain chemicals such as ammonia and roundup. Genetically modified organisms are food products that have undergone DNA modifications not found in nature (Taylor). These two types of food not only differ chemically, but also in their nutrient levels. A review of multiple studies has shown that organic food contains higher amounts of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus compared to non-organic alternatives (Crinnion). However, it is important to recognize that chemical-free food comes at a cost.
The cost disparity between organic and non-organic food products can significantly fluctuate depending on the shopper’s location and choice of store. According to Dharmananda, organic poultry tends to be around 196% more expensive than its non-organic counterparts. However, Trader Joe’s offers reasonably priced organic options. Initially an independent grocery store based in California, Trader Joe’s has now become a widely favored national retailer for natural groceries.
Trader Joe’s offers a range of affordable organic options. Increasing the demand for organic food is crucial to lowering its prices nationwide. With greater demand, more regions can produce organic foods, resulting in a larger supply and reduced costs. Organic and genetically modified food also vary in appearance. Genetically modified foods are infused with steroids and hormones to enhance their size, juiciness, and toxicity levels. These modifications give them vibrant and colorful appearances that appeal to consumers. When shopping for groceries, consumers often face a choice between a watermelon twice the size of their head at a certain price or an organic watermelon that is only one-fourth the size but priced twice as high. It’s understandable that consumers would opt for the first option due to its lower price and ability to feed more people.
Why does it have to be this way? Companies like Monsanto and government organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration back the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in crop production. GMOs are implemented for simpler weed and insect control, which leads me to discuss government involvement in food production. The government agencies responsible for enforcing food labeling laws do not require indicating GMO presence on product packaging.
The labeling rule for genetically modified food organisms states that they cannot be considered organic if they contain any genetically altered substance. Monsanto, the top producer of genetically engineered seeds and crops in the country, spends billions annually to ensure the continued presence of genetically modified organisms in our food. The company has engaged in numerous legal conflicts with other notable food corporations and even the Food and Drug Administration due to its improper utilization of genetically altered seeds.
Despite its extensive funding and government involvement, Monsanto’s dominance in court battles has made it difficult to stop the company’s impact on the genetically engineered food industry. The main concern with Monsanto is the global health risks it poses. Research indicates that their genetically modified seeds result in tumor growth, damage to organs, and premature death (Cook). These are just a few of the health dangers associated with consuming genetically modified foods. Other studies suggest that these foods can contribute to conditions like asthma, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, antibiotic resistance, severe diseases such as cancer, and even fatal consequences for consumers (Helke). In contrast, organic food yields entirely different results.
Reports state that organic food has numerous health benefits, such as reducing cholesterol levels and preventing various types of cancer (specifically colon, breast, and prostate cancer). It also helps in minimizing hot flashes during menopause and preventing osteoporosis in post-menopausal women (Cook). However, the extent to which these effects are experienced may differ among individuals due to genetic makeup, other health-affecting factors, and family history. In contrast, genetically modified foods contain hormones that are not intended for human consumption and may cause growth issues in children, especially young girls.
Modifying the natural state of one’s body is both cruel and detrimental to one’s health. Despite being fundamentally distinct, genetically modified foods and organic foods are often mistaken as identical in many cultures, including our own, due to a lack of knowledge among American consumers. If the government were to sever ties with Monsanto and prioritize the nation’s well-being over corporate interests, we would not have the highest global obesity rates nor be at such a significant risk of diseases resulting from our food choices. Additionally, our average lifespan would increase. It is important to recognize that what we consume directly impacts our overall experiences. Continuously exposing children and adults to harmful chemicals and toxins will have catastrophic consequences in the future. Considering the numerous health challenges our country already faces, it is crucial for us to collectively explore ways to improve our overall well-being.
The following is a list of works cited.
The article “Consumer Acceptance, Knowledge and Attitudes towards Organic and Genetically Modified Foods: A Cross-sectional Study among Turkish University Students” by Ayaz, Aylin, and Saniye Balici provides insight into the opinions and understanding of Turkish university students regarding organic and genetically modified foods. The article can be found on the website HealthMed.
Another article titled “15 Reasons to Eat Organic Food” by Michelle S. Cook highlights the benefits of consuming organic food. This article is featured on the Care2 Healthy Living website and was published on August 12, 2011.
In an April 2010 publication in the Alternative Medicine Review, Walter J. Crinnion discusses the advantages of organic foods, such as higher nutrient levels and lower pesticide content, suggesting potential health benefits for consumers.
On the topic of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Dr. Subhuti Dharmananda explores various issues surrounding their use in an article titled “Issues Surrounding Genetically Modified Organisms”. The publication can be accessed on the website Issues Surrounding Genetically Modified (GM) Products.
In December 2009, the Institute of Traditional Medicine published a web page. On November 5, 2012, it was accessed. Rob Hardy wrote an article called “Going Organic” in Perfumer & Flavorist in November 2010. The article can be found on pages 22-24 of volume 35, issue 11. It was retrieved from the Food Science Source website on October 30, 2012. Ferrie Helke published an article titled “Evidence Grows of Harmful Effects of GMOs on Human Health” in October 2011. This article is available on the Academic Search Complete website. Nutiva and Elevare uploaded a video on Youtube on September 14, 2012. Marygrace Taylor authored an article called “The New Food Fight” in the magazine Kiwi in 2011. The article can be found on pages 66-71 and was accessed from the Food Science Source website on October 30, 2012.