Discover the advantages of organic foods
There are plenty of advantages of organic foods, although eating organic won't automatically make you healthier in itself. After all, you can overdose on organic chocolate just as easily as you can on non-organic!
But there are lots of compelling reasons for taking on board the advantages of organic foods and using them whenever you can, to give added value to a healthy and balanced diet.
Organic foods have to be produced to certain standards so when a food is labelled organic, you can be sure you're getting the real thing.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING ORGANIC FOODS
* Often, the flavour is just so much better. Good organic fruits and vegetables are juicy and full-flavoured, milk tastes richer, cheeses are ripe and mouthwatering. Once you've experienced the sweet intensity of a fresh
organic carrot, bought with the sandy soil still clinging to it, other carrots will seem insipid and bland. Of course, there are no guarantees. Not every organic item will give you a burst of flavour pleasure, but if you shop carefully, buy only the freshest, and seek out quality, you won't be disappointed. Eating organic makes it easier to follow the seasons too.
* Supermarkets choose fruit and veg varieties for appearance and shelf-life. Flavour isn't always a consideration. Because there are more, named varieties of organic fruit and veg on offer, you can get to know their subtle flavour differences.
* One of the huge advantages of organic foods is that they haven't been doused in pesticides. Organic farms ban artificial pesticides. In the UK, 31,000 tonnes of pesticides are blasted on to farmland every year, and 25% of food carries residues of these chemicals, created to kill pests and weeds. Non-organic fruit and veg is covered in the stuff and it won't all wash off. Pesticide residues turn up, not just on fruit and vegetables, but in bread, baby food and other products. Governments claim that there's no need risk to health from these pesticide traces, but wouldn't you rather feed yourself and your kids on food that's pesticide free?
* Making organic food for babies is an especially good idea. That way, you'll to give them the purest possible source of nourishment while their organs and bodies are growing so fast. Take a look at these organic baby food recipes if you need some inspiration.
* Perhaps one of the prime advantages of organic food is that it is pure food, nothing more, nothing less. Forget E-numbers, hydrogenated fats, artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners, preservatives – none of the additives lurking in processed and fast food are permitted in organic foods. There are no residual antibiotics, growth hormones or BSE in organic meat, no pesticides in organic milk, no hidden starches bulking out organic baby food. If you want a diet based on natural food that hasn't been tampered with – think organic.
* Genetically modified – GM – food isn't used in organic products. We don't know what effect GM foods have on long-term health. Best avoided.
* Organic foods can be more nutritious, richer in vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids than non-organic.
* And don't forget the feel-good factor. One of the greatest advantages of organic foods is that buying and eating them is a real, guilt-free pleasure, which is more than you can say for the average supermarket shop. It's great to know that you're not only helping the environment, you're feeding your family on good, pure food, that tastes better than processed food, and has no hidden unhealthies. That feels good.
* Yet another of the advantages of organic foods is that you're also doing the environment a good turn when you choose them. Intensive farming methods erode soil, destroy ancient hedgerows, and decimate wild life. Organic farms look after the environment.
* Intensive farming is outrageously cruel to farm animals – think of battery chickens, pigs kept in farrowing pens, cows milked to exhaustion. Another of the indisputable advantages of organic foods is that organic farming methods put humane treatment top of the agenda.
HOW TO SWITCH TO ORGANIC FOODS
* Don't feel that you must buy organic everything. Even switching to a few organic regulars makes a difference.
* Make the change to organic versions of everyday mainstays. Try organic milk, cheese, pasta, chicken, bananas.
* Take it slowly. Pick up one or two organic items every time you shop. Try different brands, and once a week, buy something new to try: organic tofu, stuffed vine leaves, soup. You'll soon find favourites.
* There's an organic version of almost every food you can think of, from coffee to baked beans, pizzas to eggs. Drinks, pork chops, peanut butter, jam – all supermarkets stock organic goods, although you'll do better buying in local shops or farmers' markets if you can.
* Shop around. Organic foods are sometimes more expensive than non-organic, but the more people buy them, the more prices will come down. We pay through taxes for the hidden costs of cleaning up water polluted with agro-chemicals that underpin the production of cheap mass-produced foods.
* Once you've started making the change, you'll soon appreciate the many advantages of eating organic foods, and you won't want to switch back.