It is not only our genes that influence our health, but also the food we eat on a daily basis. That’s why the way food is produced is important to us, not only for our health, but also to preserve the environment. In this article we explain what organic food is, what characterizes it, how it is produced and why it is better than conventional food.
What is organic food?
This type of food is based on the use of ingredients that are grown or produced according to production methods that meet several requirements: the use of natural processes and techniques, respect for animal welfare, the use of environmentally friendly methods and the protection of consumer health.
Organic food rejects the use of chemical components (excessively added chemical components) and is characterized by the limitation of the use of additives or their elimination. In this way, animal welfare and respect for biodiversity are promoted, avoiding any type of environmental pollution.
What does organic food production look like?
A first characteristic of organic agriculture and according to the EU guidelines is that during the production and transformation process, limitations are established on the use of products that are not of agricultural origin.
This limitation applies to the use of chemical components and additives in foodstuffs. In addition, no chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides or fungicides are used in the production process, although natural products may be used for this purpose. Only a small amount of chemical ingredients and additives may be used in their manufacture.
This also avoids possible long-term adverse health effects of additives. The FAO states that to certify organic production, the land must be free of chemical inputs for 2 to 3 years before the production process begins. This means that producers who certify this type of production can only use pesticides, herbicides or insecticides of natural origin.
One of the methods used to develop these products is biological control, which consists of incorporating insects and other animals into the crops to keep pests away. The use of this control method must be based on the knowledge of the species that are suitable for controlling certain pests.
What characterizes organic food
These products are increasingly in demand due to growing concerns about the long-term effects of excessive additives, preservatives and other chemicals, the health effects of pesticide and herbicide use on crops, antibiotic resistance or animal diseases that may affect humans. Examples include mad cow disease, avian flu, and foot and mouth disease. Many animal feeds consumed by animals contain chemicals, such as pesticide residues, heavy metals and other substances that can have negative health effects.
You may want to learn more about a specific case of this problem, such as the negative effects of the herbicide glyphosate.
Another characteristic of these products from ecologically or organically produced animals, such as milk or meat, is that they avoid the use of antibiotic drugs, seeking a treatment as natural as possible and based on prevention, such as selecting healthy strains naturally, through their genetics, living in appropriate environments and a balanced and quality diet through the use of organic food.
Another advantage of these products is for the environment, that is, the damage caused to the environment is reduced and even avoided because the whole process is more natural. In fact, in industrialized production, the abuse of pesticides and other chemical substances releases toxic gases into the atmosphere that cause air pollution. Similarly, cows that are fed chemical-intensive pastures end up releasing more gases into the atmosphere than if they were fed more natural diets.
Is organic food better than conventional food?
Over the years, many studies have been done comparing organic foods to conventional foods and, while they don’t show conclusive data in terms of quality differences, some foods, such as apples or tomatoes, have been found to have more flavor than conventional foods.
What has been proven are the environmental benefits of farming more organically. In addition, organic farming is closely linked to sustainable rural development and fair trade.
The benefits of organic food
Organic food has several benefits for you and the environment. Here are some of them:
- They are natural foods. This means that they retain all their nutritional properties. No chemicals or genetically modified organisms are used in their production. This means that the food retains its nutritional qualities and is of better quality.
- They are healthier. The absence of chemicals makes organic foods healthier because they are better assimilated by the body, improve defenses and help prevent disease.
- They are sustainable. Respect for the environment is one of the requirements of organic food. When we consume this type of food, we contribute to the conservation of the natural environment around us. Organic farming respects the fauna and flora because it uses less aerosols and does not generate pollution.
- They guarantee the highest quality. European legislation guarantees that organic food is controlled at all stages: processing, packaging, labeling, etc., thus ensuring the maximum quality of each product.
- They guarantee the respect of animals. The regulations applicable to this type of product guarantee that the animals live in semi-freedom, that they are not stressed and that they develop at their normal pace and in appropriate conditions. The animals are not manipulated for greater production.
- They taste better. The production process of organic food products is artisanal, so that they retain all their flavor and natural properties. Many consumers choose these products because they get the authentic taste of food. In addition, this means that organic food keeps better and longer.