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Eating Organic Food, The Big Debate


We need to speak to you about organic food. Does it have a place in healthy snacks? There seem to be so many different pieces of advice about how to eat healthy, and to be honest it can get a little confusing.

Do you buy organic food yourself, or perhaps just for certain products as budget won’t allow for you to go fully organic? Maybe you are not sure eating organic will bring you anything different?

Although we do know our stuff when it comes to healthy snacks, we do not profess to be experts when it comes to organic food. However, we sought the advice of our very knowledgeable friends over at Onist who really do know their stuff.

Onist is an amazing team, fully registered Food Nutritionists, accredited by the Association for Nutrition, fronted by registered nutritionist extraordinaire Mary Lynch (she used to advise the rather big deal that is Jamie O) so what they don’t know about food, well it’s not worth knowing.

Okay, so what is organic food?

What determines whether a food is organic or not is how it is produced. Organic food production in the UK is currently bound by EU regulations, meaning that production cannot involve the use of artificial chemicals, hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified organisms. Organic produce is also free from artificial food additives including sweeteners, preservatives, colouring and flavouring.

Is organic good for me?

Many of the foods available in supermarkets today contain man made chemicals, fertilisers and pesticides. We currently know little about the effects these synthetic chemicals have on our bodies in the longer term. However, organic fruit and vegetables have been found to contain higher levels of antioxidants (up to 60% higher than non organic crops), which have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers.

And is organic good for the environment?

Peter Melchett, Policy Director at the Social Association has explained the numerous benefits of organic produce on farming practices and the environment. Organic farming uses less fossil-fuel based fertilisers, and is the best available method for reducing green house gas emissions as it stores higher levels of carbon in the soil. Organic farms also attract more wildlife, providing a home for bees and butterflies to allow nature to thrive.

Isn’t buying organic expensive?

Organic food has often had a bad rep in the past for being over priced and pretentious. However, dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and butter are an easy organic swap to make at very little price difference. Fruit and vegetables often doesn’t cost anymore than non-organic, especially when you buy in season, which also encourages more sustainable farming practices.

I’m sure organic meat definitely is more expensive . . .

Yes, organic meat is more expensive that its non-organic counterparts, it’s important to recognise that quality over quantity is important here. We should all be aiming to eat less meat, for our health and the environment. The money that you save eating more vegetables, lentils and pulses can be used to buy the best meat when you do decide to eat it. Organically reared animals have also led a longer healthier life, which surely means healthier tasting meat!

What can I do to go organic?

As mentioned before, some simple easy organic food swaps are dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and butter. There is also a wide range of organic fruit and vegetables in many supermarkets. However, the Environmental Working Group has devised two lists containing fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest pesticides residues, which may help influence which produce you choose to buy organically:

The Dirty Dozen: Strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes.

The Clean Fifteen: Sweetcorn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onion, sweat peas, papaya, asparagus, mango, aubergine, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.

According to the lovely folks at Onist, as a general rule of thumb, the thinner and more delicate the skin, the more likely it is to be affected by chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers.

So why not buy organic to support your health, sustainable farming practices and the environment. You can find out more about this topic, and many others over at Onist, or for more information about eating organic food please visit The Soil Association.

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