We frequently see foods marked “organic” when we visit a supermarket. In fact, on an average, you may have to pay 50% more for organic food than for food that was grown conventionally. So, what exactly is the deal with organic food?

You may choose an apple that was grown using traditional techniques, for instance. Or you may choose an organic option. The apples are both red, shiny and firm. They both offer fibre and vitamins. And neither apple has cholesterol, salt or fat. So, which one should you pick then?

Food produced organically differs from food produced conventionally in the way it is cultivated, handled and processed. It is up to you whether you like to eat food that has been farmed organically or conventionally. We reached out to Dr. Archana Batra, Dietitian, Nutritionist, Physiotherapist and a Certified Diabetes Educator, and asked her to share her expert inputs on the nutritional differences between organic and regular foods. Read on to know all that she shared to make an informed choice! 

What Is The Difference Between Organic And Conventional Foods?

The term “organic” refers to the methods used by farmers to cultivate and prepare agricultural products. These include meat, dairy goods like milk and cheese, grains, fruits and vegetables. They are typically grown to achieve a number of environmental objectives, including that of reducing pollution, enhancing soil and water quality, providing safe, healthy living conditions for farm animals (livestock), facilitating natural farm animal behaviour, and fostering a self-sustaining cycle of resources on a farm.

Conventional fruits, vegetables and cereals, on the other hand, are grown using GMOs (genetically modified organisms), synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. Farmers use these techniques to control pests like weeds, insects and fungi.

However, synthetic pesticides can also be utilised. Conventional farms also rely on procedures like crop rotation, mulches, traps and the use of resistant types of crops to combat weeds, insects, disease and fungi.

So, Are Organic Foods Safer Than Regular Foods?

When compared to foods grown using the standard (conventional) approach, there are undoubtedly potential health benefits to consuming organic foods. There are, however, a number of food variances as well. Yet, there is little evidence to support how these variations might have positive effects on general health.

Among the potential advantages, are the following:

1. Nutrients

Some nutrients are slightly to moderately more abundant in organic vegetables. Certain antioxidants and flavonoids, which have antioxidant characteristics, may be present in higher concentrations in organic vegetables.

2. Hazardous Metal Content

A poisonous substance called cadmium is naturally present in soils and is taken up by plants. Grain crops cultivated organically have considerably lower cadmium levels than crops grown conventionally, but not fruits and vegetables. The fact that synthetic fertilisers are prohibited in organic farming may be responsible for the reduced cadmium levels in organic wheat.

3. Pesticide Residue

Produce grown organically has lower levels of pesticide residue than produce farmed conventionally (traditionally). The guidelines for the maximum residual levels permitted on conventional produce have altered. The levels have frequently been decreased. Pesticides authorised for organic farming or airborne pesticides from conventional farms, may leave residue on organic produce.

4. Bacterial Content

Meats made using standard (traditional) techniques may include larger concentrations of potentially harmful bacteria that cannot always be treated with antibiotics. Organic foods are as at risk of bacterial contamination as conventional foods.

Overall, we are aware that eating an organic diet reduces exposure to pesticides and antibiotics, but it has little nutritional difference. Furthermore, there is no proof that organic and conventional milk vary in any clinically significant ways. There is no conclusive research showing that organic foods make kids healthier. But eating organic is beneficial since its known that pesticides can cause cancer and have a significant link to neurodevelopmental problems.

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