Effects of Organic Food on Health and the Environment

Apple_on_Hand.jpg
That apple isn't what it used to be.

Health benefits of organic food and environment health issues are two very hot topics today. They are also closely tied together. When the health of the environment, specifically the soil our crops are planted in, is safeguarded, organic foods have a more significant health benefit for consumers.

Health Benefits of Organic Food and Environment Health

Take a look at some of the health benefits of organic foods and environmental factors that affect the nutritional value of what you are eating.

Health Benefits

Health benefits of organic foods are sometimes questioned due to a lack of scientific proof. However, there have been numerous studies conducted over the last several years in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom that strongly suggest that organically produced foods including fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products contain more nutrients that conventionally produced foods.

Organic produce has been found to be higher in vitamin C and trace minerals. Organically grown produce has been found to have up to 50 percent more phytonutrients. These phytonutrients include antioxidants that not only aid a plant in its defenses against diseases, but they strengthen human immune systems as well.

Organic Foods and Environmental Health

How, exactly can an organically grown plant have higher phytonutrients? Think about antibiotics in people. You likely have read that taking antibiotics unnecessarily will weaken your own immune system as well as creating "super bugs" that seem immune to any treatment.Similarly, plants that are pumped full of pesticides and other chemicals become weaker and are unable to fight pests and diseases on their own. Allowing plants the nutrients they need to be strong helps them to develop essential phytonutrients to fight diseases, thus enabling people to consume these antioxidants and become healthier, too.

Chemical fertilizers reduce nutritional values of foods as well. Fertilizers help plants grow faster by plumping them with water. While water is important, it reduces the actual food value of a plant, as well as its nutritional value. This is one reason why the nutritional values of foods have dropped in the last 60 or so years. Other factors that play into the health value of foods include:

  • Picking foods before they are allowed to fully ripen
  • Prolonged storage of harvested foods, which causes foods to break down
  • More processing of foods, which robs them of vital nutrients
  • Chemicals applied to crops

Healthy Soil Means Healthy Food

It stands to reason that if the soil is void of minerals and other nutrients, the food produced on this soil will also have little nutritional value. Organic farming keeps the soil healthy by adding nutrient-rich compost and manure that fertilizes the soil and replenishes what was taken out by the crop that was grown there.Crop rotation also aids in keeping the soil healthy. Some cover crops and "green manures" add nutrients to the earth. By planting crops with different nutritional requirements on a regular timetable, farmers ensure that the soil isn't overly depleted of nutrients.

Protection from Chemicals

Chemicals harm the soil by killing the tiny living things in the soil that keep it healthy. This makes the plants weak and unable to fight diseases, resulting in more chemicals being added to prevent disease and repel insects. This chemical soup not only creates weak plants with little nutritional value, it also can have negative effects on the people and animals that eat these plants.

Pesticides and food additives have been linked to an alarming number of health problems. Everything from hyperactivity, breast cancer and Parkinson's disease has been found to have a connection to chemicals used in conventionally farmed foods.

This isn't limited to just fruits and vegetables either. Animals raised for meat and dairy products are injected regularly with hormones and other chemicals. Their feed is also exposed to the same chemicals that human foods are.

A Simple Choice

It stands to reason that reducing your exposure to toxins and synthetic chemicals can only improve your health. Eating foods full of vitamins and minerals will obviously improve your health too.

The natural conclusion is that organic farming practices will lead to many health benefits of organic food and environment health improvements as well.

Effects of Organic Food on Health and the Environment