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What does “organic” mean in the real sense?
When we hear the word “organic,” our mind subconsciously lingers to a fantasy that claims it to be food from the heavens. In some ways, it is rightly so, since the literal meaning of “organic food” is produced without harmful elements, like chemical fertilizers, artificial chemicals, pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics.
Organic food sounds healthier, more sustainable, and worth the extra money. However, choosing certified and the right type of organic food makes all the difference.
If your country has strict laws regarding health and certifications, then that is already a plus. Terms such as ‘natural,’ ‘pesticides free,’ and ‘hormone-free,’ etc., do not mean they are ‘organic.’ Best practices and standards are set in place by the government and relevant food safety authorities for certifying something organic.
Grouping Organic facts categorically:
Organic Crops: Pulses, grains, vegetables, fruits, etc., that are grown without synthetic pesticides, GMOs (bioengineered genes), and crude oil-based fertilizers, are considered organic crops. These are grown with organic materials that include the following.
- Natural fertilizers such as manure & compost.
- Naturally derived pesticides, birds, traps, insects, amphibians, and traps that control pests.
- Weed growth and issues are taken care of by using natural methods like crop rotation, tilling, hand weeding, etc.
Organic Protein: Products such as red meat, poultry meat, dairy products, eggs, etc. are labeled as organic protein if they are free of artificial food additives. Animals should not be given antibiotics, artificial growth hormones, or any other type of animal by-products.
Organic Food: To be labeled as organic, the food product, prepared or otherwise, should be free of artificial additives such as preservatives, coloring, flavoring, artificial sweeteners, and MSG (monosodium glutamate).
Benefits of Organic Products:
Healthy food is essential for our family. Organically grown food has a positive impact on your emotional, physical, and global environment. Here are a few facts as to how organic food affects your overall being.
- As per numerous studies, organic foods may contain more nutrients than large scale produced foods. Mainly if they are grown locally or in your own organic garden.
Most nutrients may be lost if crops such as vegetables and fruits are transported over long distances and frozen for preservation or with preservatives.
It is better to buy from smaller local farms or grow a couple of crops in your own garden since the food grows with more care and dedication. However, make sure that they are certified as organic.
- Organic crops have a lot more vitamins and antioxidants. Various studies have shown to prove the variations. In fact, these foods may contain up to 69% more antioxidant levels.
E.g., one study showed that organically grown corn and berries contain almost 58% more antioxidants and a 52% higher concentration of vitamin C.
They also have 30% fewer levels of nitrates. High nitrate levels are shown to increase certain types of cancer. This is partly because harmful chemical-based pesticides and GMOs are not used to produce these crops.
- Organic meat and dairy products tend to have more amounts of healthy fatty acids. While organic milk and dairy foods may contain higher omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and vitamin E, organic meats also contain slightly higher amounts of the same.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been known to provide many health benefits, including lowering bad cholesterol levels and reduced risk of heart diseases.
- One of the most important benefits of organic foods is that it has fewer chemicals and resistant bacteria. Chemicals such as cadmium, which is an extremely toxic metal and other hazardous residues, are generally almost 48% lower in these types of foods.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can cause health issues since they may cause gastronomical problems.
Saving money through prioritizing purchase:
Prioritizing your purchase is important if you do not want to spend all of your income on organic foods. While some type of conventionally grown food is a lot higher in pesticides, GMOs, and chemicals, others are relatively safe to buy.
Organic Vegetables and Fruits can be segregated as per their safety levels. They can be bought as per the levels of exposure to pesticides. The following vegetables are classified to have the highest levels of pesticides.
It is better to buy organic for the following fruits and vegetables:
- Leafy Vegetables
- Hot peppers
The following fruits and vegetables need not be organic since they are generally low on pesticides.
- Sweet Corn
- Egg Plant
- Sweet Potatoes
- Sweet Peas
If you want to save more money and make sure that you are getting the best organic food for the better wellbeing of your family and yourselves… Try Organic gardening.
Of course, we cannot grow everything in our gardens due to many factors, such as space constraints, seed availability, labor limitations, soil compatibility, etc. Nevertheless, many vegetables and fruits require less space and labor than others do.
What is Organic Gardening?
As mentioned earlier in the article, organic gardening is fundamentally growing crops in harmony with nature, without using chemical-based pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or any other types of products that harm and upset the balance of our eco-system.
It is about observing nature’s process around you and emulating them in your garden. This may sound challenging, but actually, it is pretty straightforward and fun once you get its basic structure.
It is also crucial to understand the soil makeup in your garden and provide it with the nutrients that best suit it. As a famous saying goes, ‘Feed the soil, not the plant.’
If you planning to start an organic garden, it is important to note that three major areas need concentration to maintain the core objectives of organic gardening.
- Soil Management:
To enrich the garden’s soil, you can use compost produced from organic matter. Your garden itself is a rich source of many composts, such as plant waste from dead stems/plants, grass clippings, shredded leaves, etc.
Another excellent source of organic compost is your kitchen. Food leftovers, waste from fruits and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, and dead houseplants can all be used in your soil as organic matter.
Please note that dog/cat droppings and dairy/meat products should never be used as compost since they may contain harmful pathogens or attract pests to your garden.
- Pest Control:
Companion planting and promoting beneficial insects such as lady beetles that are predators of eggs and larvae of pest insects can deal with pest control.
Organic farmers usually allow for a certain amount of pest damage since they understand that it is part of the natural system.
Also, since it is almost impossible to control all kinds of disease and pest through companion planting and beneficial insects’ promotion, other methods such as horticultural oil sprays and insecticidal soaps are used for the same.
- Weed Management:
If you want a healthy growth of your plants, removing weeds is necessary. Weeds tend to drastically reduce crop yield and quality by competing for light, water, soil nutrients, and growth space.
They can also contaminate your crops and serve as hosts for diseases and pests. The best way to control weed is by physically pulling them out with your hands.
Since most gardens are small, the task should not take up much of your time and labor. If you have a larger area, it is best to make it a family activity.
Organic Farming and its relation to our earth:
Choosing Organic gardens over commercial ones massively aids in environmental preservation and helps the earth heal. The use of chemicals on crops pollutes the environment because they seethe through the soil and into the groundwater.
Spraying chemicals also pollute the air harming birds, animals, and even us. These gases combine with other impurities and gradually become more toxic and pose a risk to the air we breathe in.
Growing vegetables and fruits naturally, and organically ensures healthy produce that promotes a toxic-free environment.
Another large issue at hand is the greenhouse gases that are emitted through the chemicals into the environment. They harm the outer layers that protect the earth from harmful UV rays of the sun and contribute immensely to global warming.