Organic Foods: Things Every Parent Must Know
Do you often wonder what we mean by the term ‘organic foods’ and what their health benefits are? Our expert tells you all you need to know.
By Luke Coutinho
Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of buzz about organic foods and their benefits. But, have you really analysed how they are beneficial, or have you blindly jumped on to the organic food bandwagon?
This article tells you all about organic food. It’ll help you make better choices when shopping for organic food for your family as it can be difficult to navigate through the maze of information about its benefits.
What makes food organic?
As the benefits of organic food are being discussed widely, some parents have formed the opinion that they should be feeding their children only those products that have been grown the organic way.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the role organic food plays in keeping your family healthy, let's understand what ‘organic’ really means. An organic food item has the following characteristics:
- It’s grown using natural resources without damaging the environment.
- The cultivation does not involve the use of conventional pesticides or synthetic fertilisers.
- Meat and eggs are procured through natural means without the use of hormones or unnecessary antibiotics.
Why is organic food expensive?
Although, there are many reasons why organic food products cost more than those produced using inorganic methods, these are the two key factors.
- Compared to inorganic food products, the amount of organic food available in the market is less. The low supply, coupled with the relatively high demand, drives the prices up.
- Most environment-friendly farming practices are labour-intensive; so, the investment in manpower is high. Organic food also costs more to process and transport because it needs to be kept separate from inorganic ones.
However, with new and improved technologies, and a continuous demand for organic food, the prices will probably decline in the future. But, for now, the prices of organic food will continue to remain high.
Difference between organic and natural
We often come across terms such as ‘natural’ or ‘all natural’ on food items. These are not the same as 'organic'. A ‘natural’ food item is not processed as much as other food items; but, it is not necessarily organic. So, the next time you go to the market, read the label well.
Benefits of consuming organic food
1. Nurtures the environment: One of the easiest ways to make your child eat organic food is to let her know about the environmental benefits of growing food the organic way. Not only will this inculcate in your child a sense of responsibility towards the environment but also make her feel proud that she is doing her bit for nature by going organic. Moreover, chemical pesticides used for growing regular crops not only find their way into the produce but also damage the soil and water bodies.
2. Improves the immune system: To boost our immunity levels, we need to have the right balance of good and bad bacteria in our body. When we consume food with traces of pesticides and chemicals, the good bacteria get eliminated. This leads to poor gut health and low immunity. Also, consuming food products that are laced with antibiotics, eventually leads to antibiotic resistance, thereby weakening our immunity. With organic food, we face no such dangers to our immunity. So, serving organic food to your child can boost his immunity and keep him healthy and strong.
3. Ensures healthy skin and hair: Organic foods are extremely beneficial for the skin. As they are free of preservatives and chemicals, they do not affect skin health and lead to clear, glowing skin. So, children who face any skin issues should eat organic fruits and vegetables. Organic products are also great for healthy hair – for example, consuming organic coconut oil helps nourish the scalp and promotes hair growth.
4. Is safe: Most chemicals that are sprayed on crops, fruits and vegetables contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). They find their way into the produce. Consuming such food products harms us by disturbing the delicate balance of hormones in our body. This can lead to several health problems, even affecting growth in children, our sleep and fertility. Since organic foods are free of such harmful chemicals, they are a safer choice. Also, they keep the vitamins and minerals in them intact.
So, as we have seen, organic food is good both for us and the environment. Therefore, why not go the organic way, as far as possible? It may be a bit expensive; but, the nutritional benefits of organic food would certainly outweigh its high cost.
About the expert:
Written by Luke Coutinho on 13 September 2018.
The author is an expert in integrative and lifestyle medicine, holistic nutrition, exercise physiologist and Founder, Pure Nutrition.
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