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The Many Facets of Organic Food

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    The organic system of farming dates back to about one hundred years ago. The term organic farm was first used in the UK by albert howard to differentiate it from chemical farming. Essentially, organic farming is self sufficient and flourishes without additives such as fertilizers, seeds, and feeds. It is a agroecosystem that promotes and enhances agroecosystem health, including biodiversity and soil activity. Organic food is produce that is freed from from the use of external chemicals and synthetic materials. Its pride resides in their produce which is derived naturally and is free of genetic modification, fertilizer pesticides, and feed additives. It is form of production that was created to be sustainable and in harmony with the environment. This particular characteristic diverges organic farming from chemical farming otherwise known as conventional farming. The main difference is that organic farming withholds the use of chemicals. Furthermore, the livestock are fed organic crops or organic sources of feed (Blair).

    It is argued whether organic food has a greater nutritional value than conventional food. Although there is evidence to support both claims, the evidence towards conventional food being of greater nutritional value is deterring. Advocates of organic food claim that it is considered to be healthier because it is not contaminated with additives and can be deemed as “pure”. On the other hand, the conventional food products are contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals which can be considered a health risk. Furthermore, organic crops are fortified with essential minerals such as vitamin C. When comparing organic-grown oranges versus conventionally grown oranges, it was discovered that the organic oranges contained thirty percent more vitamin C. On a grand scale, organically grown vegetables and fruits outweighed the nutritional values of its conventional counterparts.

    Organic foods were enriched with 27 percent more vitamin C, 29.3 percent more magnesium, 13.6 percent more phosphorus, 21.1 percent more iron, and 18 percent more polyphenols. The statistics are staggering and do not wager the possibility of conventional food becoming the primary source of nutritional input. The polyphenols contained in organic food are another added benefit. Polyphenols are compounds found in natural food products and possess antioxidant properties. They do not only protect the consumer, but they also protect the plant life (Givens). The downside of conventional farming is the facts that they use pesticides and herbicides, which can deplete a plant from producing these compounds. These compounds are important because they protect plants from ultraviolet radiation and they also act as an aggressor against pathogens. Without these compounds, plants would not be strong enough to fight off pests. The organic farmers counter act this weakness caused by lack of polyphenols, by allowing the plants to fend for themselves and by feeding the soil with natural products so that they can produce these important compounds (Givens).

    Besides polyphenols, another important plant compound that is produced is salicylic acid. Salicylic acid acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and protects against things such as the hardening of the arteries and colon cancer. In fact, this particular compound has proven to be extremely useful and has partly been synthesized to create aspirin. By eating organic vegetables, you can receive the added benefits of salicylic acid (Givens). When it comes to the meat product in farming, the organic products are the healthier choice to consume. Generally, when choosing meat, the consumer is concerned with quality and fat content. It was found that cattle that were raised organically contained lower fat content than animals that were fed conventional feed. Cattle are vegetarian in nature and feed on grains and grass. Although, cattle raised on a conventional farm are given a diet that goes against their biology. On a conventional farm a typical diet for cattle can consist of but is not limited to horse protein, blood products, poultry remains, and even manure. The mal nutrients that the cattle indulges in, eventually will be transferred to the consumer as well. This could contain potential health risks towards the consumer. Additionally, organic food contains significantly less amounts of nitrates compared to conventional foods. These are the many reasons why organic food surpasses the nutritional content of conventional food.

    When regarding the price of organic food, it is considerably expensive compared to conventional food. However, if the costs of the food products mirrored its true cost, then organic food would be cheaper than conventional food. Consequently, conventional food production does damage to the environment. Conventional farming is prone to releasing greenhouse gasses and depletes soil of natural nutrients. However, these damage costs are not factored into the cost of the products. Organic food contributes to the general welfare and is less harmful to the environment.

    When considering the purchasing of food, the cheaper option would be imported food but the healthier option would be locally grown food. Organic food has comprised a strong branding image of itself and as a result, a consumer base that highly demands their product. Despite that, imported food is more likely to be bought (Chambers).

    The reason for this is because there is a high demand for food and often times local production can not meet those needs. Imported food has one sole positive aspect, and that is, that we have almost any fruit and vegetable at our disposal no matter the time of year. During November, this is why we can have strawberries in California even though the season is in the summer. Although having a variety of food is advantageous, the negative qualities of imported food outweigh this notion. Imported food often times pushes the boundaries of what is safe to consume. There are some types of regulations imposed on imported food, but the inspections are minimal. This can be potentially dangerous for the consumer. Imported food can be subject to food borne related diseases and antimicrobial resistant food pathogens. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Imported food can hold more potential risks. On the contrary, buying locally grown food eliminates those risks. Locally grown food is more expensive, but the community has the luxury of consuming organic food that is in season. Not only that, but it boosts the economy of the local community (Doyle).

    Personally, I prefer the choice of organic food over conventional food. Growing your own food and produce is beneficial to one’s health and could be a much cheaper option then buying food at the market. Foremost, the products would be organic and would encompass all of the benefits and nutritional values of organic food. Growing your own food is cost effective because what is produced will exceed the amount that was required for production. The food can keep a family fed at a minimal cost. My family does this already. Although, we do not grow as much of a variety as the market, we do have various fruit trees and vegetables. We have the benefit of eating them during their appropriate season.

    If an individual is curious about organic food and would like more information and would like to get involved, there are many resources to achieve this, including one on our campus. San Jose State has a current organic garden project called veggielution. This particular project consists of a community farm based in San Jose that offers a variety of seminars and hands on experiences on farming and techniques. They offer things like pruning and planting. Anyone can partake in the project and can take home produce as well. It would be beneficial for an individual to be able to learn to sustain themselves by growing their own food. If one would like more information on this project, then they can go to their website.

    References

    1. Adam, D. (n.d.). Nutritionists question study of organic food. Nature., 412(6848), 666.
    2. Blair, R. (2011). Organic production and food quality: A down to earth analysis (Food science and technology). Ames, Iowa: Wiley-Blackwell.
    3. “Campaign Explores True Cost of Organic v. Conventional Food.” NewHope360.Com (Online Exclusive), 2016, p. 360.
    4. Chambers, et al. “Local, National and Imported Foods: A Qualitative Study.” Appetite, vol. 49, no. 1, 2007, pp. 208–213.
    5. Doyle, Michael P., et al. Imported Foods: Microbiological Issues and Challenges. ASM Press, 2008.
    6. Givens, D. I., et al. Health Benefits of Organic Food : Effects of the Environment, CABI, 2008. Organic Production & Handling Standards. (2016, November). Retrieved November 13, 2018, from https://www.ams.usda.gov/

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