Is Eating Organic Food Really Healthier?

April 17, 2022
Is Eating Organic Food Really Healthier?

For several years, organic products have made their way into the hearts and fridges of French consumers. For a protected planet and better health. But is eating organic better for our health?

Organic Food

What is organic farming?

Organic farming excludes the use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides. These chemical pesticides have proven toxicity that leads to a risk of cancer or neurological diseases, eating organic is necessarily a healthier alternative… At first sight in any case. The definition of organic farming is farming without synthetic chemicals, which therefore does not exclude natural pesticides.

The French and organic food

In 2017, seven out of ten French people consumed organic products at least once a month, a figure that is constantly increasing, in line with new French consumption patterns and values: sustainable, ethical, healthy, green consumption… When we know that France is the first European user of pesticides, that can make a big difference. 

The vast majority of consumers of organic products and foods do so because they are convinced that it is better for the planet and their health.

Also Read: What Is Intermittent Fasting, and How Does It Function?

Are natural products necessarily safe?

The answer is obviously no. You only have to look at the dangers present in nature to answer this question simply. A wild mushroom can be deadly and yet it is 100% natural… 

In organic farming, natural pesticides are allowed, which does not mean that there is no health risk. Do you understand the subtlety?

Is organic food guaranteed 0% pesticides?

Consuming organic products limits exposure to chemical pesticides. Even if it is possible to find traces of these on organic fruits and vegetables (due to external phenomena such as rain, wind, etc.), less than one in twenty organic products contains them, compared to one in two for non-organic fruits and vegetables. 

Organic foods also contain 87% less nitrite than their non-organic counterparts. In addition, some studies show that certain organic foods, such as salmon or eggs, have a higher POP (Persistent Organic Pollutants) content than chemically treated fruits and vegetables.

Organic food and health

While some studies show that eating organic regularly would reduce the risk of cancer by at least 25%, these results need to be confirmed. Mainly because most of these studies take only a few factors into account. In particular, they omit the overall hygiene of a person’s life. 

A person who has been consuming organic food for several years is likely to pay attention to his health by exercising regularly and avoiding processed industrial products… It is difficult in this context to know precisely the consequences of an organic diet on health…

However, an organic vegetable must learn to defend itself, so it often contains more antioxidants than others, which makes it a healthy ally by slowing down the aging of your cells. There would be as many antioxidants in three servings of organic fruits and vegetables as in five servings of non-organic fruits and vegetables. 

The content of vitamin C, carotenes, and omega-3, for dairy products, for example, would also be higher in organic foods. However, be careful not to make generalizations, it depends on the genetic heritage of the plant and the growing and harvesting conditions: temperature, exposure, soil quality, type of soil, air pollution, picking at maturity or not. … A vegetable picked before maturity (for transport, for example) will not contain as many nutrients as a vegetable picked when ripe.

Which fruits and vegetables are better to eat organic?

Fruits and vegetables are on the first step of the podium of organic products purchased by the French. Some of them are particularly exposed to pesticides in conventional agriculture, so it is advisable to consume them organically:

  • Vegetables: green salad, celery, spinach, bell pepper, endive, leek, green bean, potato…
  • Fruits: tomato, apple, grape, peach, apricot, citrus, strawberry…
  • Others: whole grains, olive oil, aromatic herbs…

Conversely, some fruits and vegetables benefit from a particularly protective skin or even a cultivation method that allows them not to be over-treated. You will therefore find almost no pesticides in these foods, remember to clean them well and peel them before eating them:

  • Vegetables: asparagus, eggplant, cabbage, onion, sweet potato, peas…
  • Fruits: pineapple, mango, melon, avocado, kiwi, watermelon…
  • Others: corn…

Organic food and health: a science not yet decided

In summary, consuming pesticide-free foods is better for your health. It remains to be seen how the foods in question were naturally processed and how they were grown. 

So choose trusted traders, preferably local, this will avoid premature picking to cash in on the transport time to you, to guarantee you a minimum of knowledge about the foods you eat. 

The best foods for your health are therefore those that you grow yourself without any pesticides and/or fertilizers and picked when ripe.

Which fruits and vegetables contain the most pesticides?

In conventional agriculture, to protect plantations and promote their development, pesticides are used that destroy unwanted insects and plants. 

The problem is that these chemicals are also toxic to humans and that you find a significant amount of them on your plates. This is why it is wise to favor organic foods for certain fruits and vegetables.

Yes, but which ones? Prefer organic origin for vegetables and fruits, known to be less contaminated than their conventional equivalents.

As for vegetables, opt for the organic salad, the cucumber, the spinach, and also the organic pepper. The latter is one of the vegetables most exposed to pesticides during its growth. Chemical residue accumulates in its folds. However, it is a vegetable that is consumed most of the time with the skin.

Did you know that non-organic potatoes still contain 81% pesticides even after being washed and peeled? Indeed these are treated, after harvest, to prevent them from germinating too quickly.

The fruit department prefers strawberries and organic grapes (the latter does not peel and on its skin, there are many pesticides and fungicides). 

Add apples to your basket. Non-organic apples undergo an average of 36 chemical treatments. Consuming organic apples without peeling them means enjoying the benefits concentrated in their skin.

Photo: Pexels/Jill Wellington

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Margaud Raynaud is a beauty expert with over 10 years of experience in the industry. She has a passion for sharing her knowledge and tips with others and has a particular interest in skincare and makeup. When she's not writing about health and beauty, Margaud enjoys trying out new products and experimenting with different looks. Follow her blog for expert advice and inspiration for living your best life.

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