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The Benefits of Growing and Eating Organic Food

By Dr. Tahir Mahmood, Grotek Manufacturing Inc.

The definition of organic food is very broad, but in simplest terms it is a way of producing food without using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, thereby making little or no impact on our soil, water, air, or the environment in general. The word organic stands for a commitment to agriculture that helps conserve natural resources, reduces air, water and soil pollution, and produces healthy plants and better tasting produce.

Production of organic food was very difficult a few years back, but with the introduction of new methods and means of providing adequate nutrition and plant protection measures, such as using natural plant extracts and beneficial insects, it is no longer a problem. It has been seen that with some experience a farmer can produce anything organically with only a slight decrease in crop yield. Organically produced fruits and vegetables grow slowly, but they are full of nutrition, vitamins, and the best anti-stress compounds for human health. Inorganic growers, on the other hand, can definitely produce more using inorganic fertilizers and all kinds of pesticides, but they do so at the cost of nutritional value and health. Inorganically produced fruits and vegetables not only have low/toxic nutritional values, but they also have a very strong negative impact on human health. Materials used for inorganic crop production are causing severe damage to our environment, like soil erosion, water pollution, and air pollution. This damage is having an overall impact on our current health, while posing a threat for our future generations.

A study shown in the American Journal states that in the early 1990s fewer than 3% of people had cancer, while in 1996 close to 50% of people developed cancer and 30% of them died because of this disease. Similarly, asthma cases have increased, more than doubling since 1980. These findings prompted scientists to start thinking about why these changes were occurring, why the numbers were increasing day by day, and why diseases had become so out of control in the modern world. They all agreed that this steep decline in human health coincides with chemical farming, which has replaced organic farming over the years. They also strongly believe that there are four primary causes of the diseases and three out of four are directly related to inorganically produced food.

These factors are:
• Nutritional deficiencies in fruits and vegetables
• Toxicities of the heavy metals in fruits and vegetables (heavy metals are part of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides)
• Congestion
• Stress

The final point - stress - is mostly related to nutrition (i.e. deficiencies and toxicities in fruits and vegetables grown by means of heavy inorganic fertilizers and pesticides). Along this same line, there are numerous facts related to diseases and their causes that relate primarily to the consumption of foods grown using inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. In spite of these several compelling reasons: only health-related problems will be good enough for us to decide about whether we need to grow organic or inorganic food.

Benefits of Organic Food

There can be a debate on exactly how much benefit is gained form eating organic food, but there is no doubt that organic food is much better than inorganic food. Organic food has many benefits over inorganic food quite simply because the food produced is grown naturally, safely, and with better high mineral nutrients. A large body of the scientific community concluded that consumers who want to improve their intake of minerals and vitamins while reducing their exposure to potentially harmful pesticide residues and food additives should choose organic food whenever possible.

A study was done back in 1977 comparing the nutritional value of tomatoes during the 1940s versus that of recently grown food. It was found that the average nutrient content dropped in all areas compared to the 1940s. The drop in Calcium was from 71 mg. to 13 mg. Magnesium dropped from 109 mg. to 14 mg., and Iron, from 29.8 to 0.5 mg. This study concluded that the nutritional value of produce declined drastically since chemicals started to be used in agriculture. This decrease was not only in terms of nutrients like Calcium and Iron. It also occurred with levels of vitamins and other essential things man used to get from plant sources.

There are quite a number of advantages/benefits to eating organic food over inorganic, and they require a lot of space and time to discuss in detail. Below are a few key benefits:

• Organic food has certain compounds that increase our resistance against several diseases, most importantly against cancer. Several scientists from different parts of the world have proved that organically grown food is high in cancer-fighting chemicals. The basic reason for this is the secondary plant metabolites that play a critical role in human health and are nutritionally very important. Some of these very important compounds in plants are called phenolic compounds. These compounds play a very important role in humans because of their wide range of pharmacologic properties, including anti-cancer, anti-oxidant and platelet aggregation inhibition activity. Studies have indicated that these compounds are in very low concentration in plants grown inorganically compared to organically grown because these compounds are produced in the plant body when the plant is under stress like disease/insect attack. These compounds help plants develop resistance to fight against these diseases and insects, while the use of chemical pesticides leave no choice for plants to produce any of these compounds. The application of chemical pesticides and fertilizers result in disruption of the natural production of these phenolic metabolites in plants, which leads to either no or very low concentrations of these compounds in plants.

• Organic food will also cut down the intake of chemicals in the human body, as organic food production does not use any pesticides, growth hormones, fertilizers, or toxic artificial additives like flavoring, coloring and preservatives. It has been noticed by the University of Washington that children who eat a diet of organic food show a level of pesticide six times lower than compared to children who eat a diet of inorganically grown food. Organic food arrives at the market in its natural state with its nutrient content intact. Organic food tastes better and stores better.

• Several studies provide evidence that growing vegetables, fruits and grains organically provides more beneficial nutrients like iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamins, while carrying fewer harmful nutrients (like nitrates), and virtually no toxic pesticide residues.

• Organically grown food is non-GMO, which means that in its pure form the food is free of any imported materials from animal and other plant sources.

• Production of organic food also helps indirectly by improving the environment. Its production helps improve the health of the soil and the ecosystem.

• Human health is declining day by day because of deficiencies/toxicities of mineral nutrients. This decline all started happening 50 years back when we began using pesticides, GMO food and inorganic fertilizers. Scientists believe strongly that now is the time to change our growing methods and eating habits, and to select a healthy diet that will keep us away from diseases while keeping our environment safe for us and our future generations. Always try to grow and eat organic food. Keep the environment safe for yourself and for the future generations by growing organically.