When trying to eat healthily, how many of us understand the importance of choosing organic foods, even when considering calories and ingredients? Many people think it is “sort of” good for you, even if they don’t know the details. How food is grown or raised has a significant impact not only on one’s physical health but also on the environment. Organic foods often contain more antioxidants and other nutrients than those that are not. In some cases, consuming only organic foods has reduced or eliminated symptoms in people with food allergies.
Definition of Organic
Organic” means “organic” and is used in combination with various other words such as organic food and organic farming. The Japan Organic and Natural Foods Association (JONA) defines organic as “agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and processing methods that do not rely on pesticides or chemical fertilizers, but rather take advantage of the blessings of nature, including the sun, water, land, and living organisms.
In Japan, the Organic JAS Mark, which stands for the Japanese Agricultural Standard, is a typical organic certification mark. Only foods that meet the standards and guidelines set by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are allowed to be labeled “organic” or “organically grown. In the past, there was no clear definition of “organic” and “organically grown” and the guidelines were not enforceable, making it difficult for consumers to make the right choice. The labels “reduced pesticide” and “pesticide-free” are no longer allowed and are now labeled as “specially cultivated agricultural products. Although there are detailed standards, they were basically established in accordance with the international Codex Guidelines.
Benefits of Organic Foods
Organic produce is virtually free of pesticides. Chemicals such as synthetic fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides are widely used in conventional agriculture, and the residues end up on the food we eat. Organic food is also fresher because it contains no preservatives to make it last longer. Often they are produced on small farms close to where they are sold, but sometimes they are not, so check carefully where they come from.
Organic agriculture has a positive impact on people, animals, and the local environment. It reduces pollution, conserves water, reduces soil erosion, increases soil fertility, and reduces energy use. Farming without synthetic pesticides is better not only for the people who live nearby but also for nearby birds and animals. Organically raised animals are not given antibiotics or growth hormones that can cause antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. There is no risk of mad cow disease (BSE) because no part of the animal’s skin, bones, blood, fat, or organs that are not marketed as food are also used as feed. The animals are also given plenty of space to get outdoors and move around, thus maintaining both their physical and mental health.
Organic meat and milk often contain many rich nutrients; a 2016 European study found that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50% higher than those raised by conventional methods. Organic foods are also free of GMO technology. GMOs are generally intended for things such as resistance to pesticides and alter DNA in ways that do not occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
As you can see, organic foods have many advantages. However, it is important to note that organic does not always = healthy. Even if organic, baked goods, desserts, and snack foods can be very high in sugar, salt, fat, or calories. Don’t be fooled by the marketing strategies of the food industry that just make it sound healthy; read food labels carefully and make your own judgments.
Organic products can be a bit pricier than non-organic products. However, when considering one’s health and the global environment, even if the price is a little higher, it may be worth it. We, too, carry organic foods. Please check us out by selecting “organic” from the popular tags or by clicking here.