Eating Organic: The Real Benefits to You and Your Family

Eating Organic: The Real Benefits to You and Your Family

Thinking of switching your family to organic? Use this guide to get educated first.


By: Shari Brooks

A healthier life could very well give you a jumpstart at healthier eating. This not only includes the basics — eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains — but also understanding the importance of food safety, nutrition and sustainability. The way our foods are grown or raised can also impact our health and the environment.

Over the past few years it seems the term “organic” has become synonymous with healthier eating. While many argue that scientific studies have not conclusively proven that organic food is more nutritious than non-organic, there are many benefits that simply can’t be disputed. Mainly, if you want a diet based on natural food that hasn't been tampered with — think organic.

Food is considered organic if it comes from a farming system that avoids manmade fertilizers, pesticides and growth regulators. Instead, organic farmers rely on basic crop rotation, using animal and plant manures, and hand weeding to grow their products.

All of that adds up to foods containing no hydrogenated fats, artificial colors or flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives. In short, there are no additives.

Because organic food isn’t pumped full of preservatives to make it last longer on store shelves, it’s usually fresher, but must be consumed quickly. Chances are, if you eat an organic vegetable or fruit, you wouldn’t have to travel far to visit where it was grown. Less travel time usually guarantees a fresher product for sale to the consumer.

Considering many of us can’t take the time to go shopping every day, it’s understandable the organics’ short shelf life may be a drawback, but one need only taste the difference between a fresh, organic tomato to understand why people are pushing for more organic produce.

Organic foods are, generally, the way foods are supposed to taste. For some things, the difference is hardly noticeable. But for juicy fruits and meats, you may find yourself vowing to never go back to non-organic again.

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Aside from going to a farm and picking the produce up yourself, it’s usually possible to find a farmers market locally that features local growers who produce their crops organically. While it may come with a higher price, if you’re serious about going even greener, organic crops may just be miles away from your home.

And if you have the room, why not try growing some things yourself? Your harvest is likely not going to yield fresh produce for salads for the rest of the year, but you can really taste homegrown greens and other veggies you tended throughout the season.

Think about all the things you cook — even if it’s just growing your own rosemary or oregano organically, the taste of anything just picked from a garden is better than store-bought by a long shot.

As for organic meats, to be considered organic, animals cannot be fed animal byproducts (which reduces the risk of mad cow disease). Additionally, the animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, both of which help to keep the animals healthy. The more crowded the conditions, the more likely an animal is to get sick — which is why the potential contamination of animals packed close together in farms is higher.

Perhaps one of the greatest non-scientific benefits to eating organic foods is the guilt-free pleasure associated with the experience. Isn’t it reassuring to know that, by eating organic, you're not only helping the environment but you're feeding your family good, pure food that’s fresh and preservative free?

Here’s the bottom line: If you’re trying to reduce pesticides and chemicals in your family’s diet, the best thing is either to buy food labeled “organic,” ask the grower directly if you’re at an outdoor market, or assume your food is conventionally grown (no matter where you’re buying it).

Shari is a former MTV marketer and now the founder of the food and video blog My Judy the Foodie, which was voted a Top 25 Foodie Mom blog by the website Circle of Moms. She also writes about parenting, family, healthy living, fitness, work/life balance and is a breast cancer ambassador.

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