Myths about organic foods

Eating organic seems to be the hype in recent years. The demand for organic foods have increased over the years as people are concerned about health and the environment. We see many products being labelled as organics in the market but what does organic food really mean? Is there a direct relation between eating organic and health? Organic by definition means (of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals.

The fact is organic foods are actually food that are produced in compliance with the organic farming standards and the organic farming standards can defer between organisations. To be able to label or sell the food produce as organic, some organic certifications have to be obtained. Although the standards may be different depending on the country and organisation, generally to be certified organic, it would mean that the foods are certified to be :-

  • Free from synthetic fertilizers, pesticides
  • Antibiotics free
  • GMO free
  • The food are produced on land that have been free from chemical input for several years
  • Proper detailed records of the production
  • Food are not to be processed using irradiation
  • Free from synthetic hormones

People generally have certain perceptions of organic foods and here I will be discussing on some of the myths or perceptions of organic foods.

Organic foods are
TOTALLY free from pesticides and fertilizers
Organic foods are not totally free from pesticides. In organic farming, naturally derived fertilizers and pesticides are permitted
Organic foods are
While organic foods may be healthier than conventionally farmed produce due to lower pesticides residues, eating products such as cookies labelled as using organic ingredients does not make one healthier than another person who consume conventional produced fresh vegetables and fruits
Organic foods are more nutritiousThere are no consistent results in studies done on the nutritious levels between organic and conventional farmed produce. However, there are studies which noted lower level of anti-nutrients such as nitrogen in organically grown vegetables and lower arsenic levels in organically grown chickens. We should also note that the nutritious level in foods are also affected by the state they are harvested, length of time of transporting the produce, how the produce are stored and how long have they been stored. All these affects the nutritional levels of the produce as well besides being organically farmed or not
certification/labelling means its 100% organic or quality guaranteed
It is important to note how produce or products are being labelled. In the US, the labelling is as such "100% organic" means ALL the ingredients are organic. "Organic" means 95% or more of the ingredients are organic. "Made with organic ingredients" means 70% or more are of the ingredients are organic. Its not hard to understand why people gets confused due to the different type of certification and labelling.

It is also worthy to note a product being labelled as natural or all natural does not mean that the ingredients are organic.

Despite the misconceptions and the different standards, organic label is still highly regulated. Considering the facts mentioned above and considering one’s budget, one can make the best decision for themselves which product to purchase. It is a no brainer that organic produces are generally still largely recommended  because at least they have lower pesticides and fertilizers and are antibiotics free, synthetic hormones free and GMO free. However, personally I feel I would choose local produce over imported organic produce if they fall in the Clean 15 list of food as long transportation and storage would impact the nutrients level.




6 thoughts on “Myths about organic foods

    1. Hi Huijun, the clean 15 is actually a list of food that are lowest in pesticides. They are listed by the environmental working group to give consumer a guide when they shop. They are also the one who came up with the list of dirty dozen(fruit vegetables with highest level of pesticides).

  1. Hi Wendy, thanks for this great article.
    You have managed to debunk some myths about organic foods.
    How about the myth that Organic Foods are always expensive – actually I don’t think it is a myth, it is a fact right? May you comment about this? Thank You

  2. Hi MLee,
    yes its a fact, as organic farms are generally smaller scale, the crops take longer to grow and the certification needs money as well. But we can be selective in choosing which item to buy organic and which we can do without as mentioned earlier to another comment. I personally will buy local produce over organic for those in the Clean 15 list (least pesticides).

  3. I agree with you completely, the organic food hype we see everywhere somehow points people’s ignorance about how these food items are produced, I choose to gain knowledge before making a conclusion, and your post I must say is very informative

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