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Organic vs. Conventional Foods


Is buying organic worth it?

We’ve all heard that organic food is better, but does it make enough difference to our health compared to conventional food? The debate has been ongoing for years, with conflicting evidence only leaving us more confused. Finally, studies now suggest that organic food is actually better for you, and here’s why.


Organic Vs. Conventional— What is the Difference?

Organic food is grown without pesticides, antibiotics, fertilizers, GMOs, and other chemicals. Conventional food uses all these chemicals and additives to grow bigger, more aesthetically appealing food. Farm animals are fed antibiotics and growth hormones, and fruits and veggies contain pesticides and fertilizers. It sounds obvious which one is healthier, but there was no clear evidence to prove anything until recently.


With an idea and a batch of fruit flies, Ria Chhabra chose this debate for her high school science experiment. With the help of Johannes Bauer from Southern Methodist University, she conducted an experiment testing the effects of organic vs. conventional foods on the health of fruit flies. The results of this study were clear— the fruit flies fed an organic diet had a better response to stress, higher fertility rates, and lived longer than the flies on a conventional diet. Although fruit flies and humans are quite different, the evidence is highly in favor of organic foods.


The answer as to whether organic foods have more nutritional quality than conventional foods is conflicting. Some studies say yes, while others say there is no significant difference. It also greatly depends on the specific micronutrients. Numerous studies have reported that organic foods contain significantly higher amounts of vitamin C and other antioxidants. In a world full of chemicals that increase free radicals, which cause chronic diseases, we could all use the extra antioxidants. Conventional foods that contain GMOs can be less flavorful and sometimes contain fewer vitamins and minerals as well.


We also know that organic farming is significantly better for the environment and animals. The pesticides and fertilizers used in conventional farming drain into rivers and lakes and pollute the waters. Conventional farming, especially for animals, has some serious issues both for the environment and the animals involved. Thus, when you’re thinking of the pros and cons of organic vs. conventional, you can also take environmental health into account.


So, is the higher price of organic food worth it? Ultimately, it depends on your budget and whether organic food is accessible to you. If you can make the switch, you can start small and work your way up. You don’t need to buy everything organic right away— some foods are heavily affected by pesticides and chemicals, whereas others are not as bad. Try to buy organic fruits such as apples, grapes, strawberries, and peaches if you can. Anything that you can peel or has a protective layer (such as watermelon or bananas) is generally safer to eat. Make sure your spinach, kale, and bell peppers are organic, as they are some of the most contaminated vegetables.


When it comes to buying animal products, go for the local farm raised in as natural an environment as possible. For example, grass fed beef, free range chicken and eggs, wild caught US fish, and shop at your local butcher for better choices.


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