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Organic Food Vs. Non-organic Food

Organic Food Vs. Non-organic Food: Answers to the Age-old Debate

The debate about organic vs. non-organic food has been under scrutiny for a while now and it still remains unresolved for the large part. This article will help you know more about both varieties, so that you can decide which side you would take, in this deliberation about organic and non-organic foods.
Pragya T
Last Updated: Feb 19, 2018
Most of the world's population consumes non-organic food. Such food uses conventional farming methods. Organic foods are preferred by people who are more conscious about their health. They are produced using organic farming principles. Organic farming uses preventive measures rather than cures. Organic farming is based on principles of health, ecology, care, and fairness. Keep reading to know more about organic food and conventionally produced non-organic food.
There are many myths surrounding organic food, with regards to its nutrition value, the manner of production, environment issues, cost, etc. Some people say that the taste differs between organic and non-organic food, but this is debatable, as taste is a factor which varies, from individual to individual.
Organic Food Vs. Non-organic Food

There are several differences between food grown in an organic manner and food grown by conventional farming. Read the chart, which is given below, to compare the facts about these two types of foods.
Non-organic Food Organic Food
During processing, non-organic foods lose some nutrients and such nutrients have to be artificially added back to the food. Organic foods contain more nutrients, that is, a higher amount of minerals and vitamin C.
Chemical fertilizers are used to provide nutrients for the growth of crops in conventional farming. Natural fertilizers like green manure and compost are used for the plants and soil in organic farming. If the question is of chemical vs. organic fertilizers, then chemical fertilizers are obviously more harmful.
In conventional farming, there are over 450 pesticides which are permitted for use. Many of these pesticides are toxic. Pesticides are not allowed in organic gardening or farming. In certain cases, they may be allowed but only after considering factors like necessity, effect on human health and environmental health.
Herbicides are used in non-organic farming to protect crops from insects and weeds. Herbicides sometimes leave a harmful toxic residue on the plants. Methods like crop rotation and hand weeding are used instead of herbicides in organic gardening and farming.
Sewage Sludge
Human waste is used as a fertilizer to grow crops in conventional farming. This contaminated sewage sludge may cause diseases. Use of sewage sludge is not permitted in organic farming.
Non-organic food is irradiated, to kill harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. Such radiations might cause diseases in human beings. Irradiation is avoided in organic farming.
Nitrate Amount
Fertilizers contain nitrate as a common ingredient and this nitrate gets converted to nitrosamines, which may be retained in the food and may cause cancer. Organic food contains lesser amount of nitrates in it.
Genetic Engineering
Genetically-modified seeds are used in non-organic farming. Such seeds are expensive and difficult for farmers to afford. Such seeds give high-yield crops, but such plants may be deficient in nutrients. Organic farming selects healthy seeds by seed testing.
Animal Welfare
Animals are given antibiotics against diseases. Intensive farming methods are used to grow chicken quickly and most of the time the animals are kept indoors. Good animal husbandry standards are maintained in organic farming. No antibiotics are used on animals, but homeopathic medicine is used, in case an animal gets sick. If a farmer gives any antibiotic to an animal, he loses the certificate for organic farming. Livestock are handled properly and given a proper diet, and adequate exposure to the outdoors.
Animals are injected with hormones for stimulating growth, so that they can be sold in the markets. No hormones are used in organic animal husbandry.
Effect on human body
As animals are given antibiotics in conventional farming, human body, when sick does not accept the same antibiotics, thus reducing the body's immunity in the long run. Exposure to pesticides is harmful to humans and especially harmful to women's health. Organic farming is not permitted to use such harmful chemicals. Thus, when you measure the pros and cons of organic vs. non-organic food, organic food is better, as it has lower health risks.
Food Poisoning
There are more chances of food poisoning with conventional farming food products because of the use of chemicals in the form of fertilizers and pesticides. Possibility of toxic pathogens is very less in organic foods.
Environment Pollution
Use of pesticides damages aquatic life. Herbicides and pesticides contain toxic chemicals, which has resulted in lesser number of birds, insects and wild plants on the farmland. Earthworms are essential for good soil health and using pesticides and insecticides reduce earthworm population. This leads to increased dependence of the soil, on pesticides. Organic farming uses crop rotation to prevent pests, by creating a more diverse ecological system to naturally grow the pest's predators. For increasing the quality of soil, natural manure and composting is done. Thus, the benefits of organic farming are more long-term and benefit in fighting problems like degradation of the environment.
Soil Erosion
Due to productivity and cropping regimes in conventional farming, there is more soil erosion. Use of green manure and good topsoil management prevents soil erosion in organic farming.
Non-organic food contains many hidden cost like taxes and the cost of the treatment for the harm caused to the environment by conventional farming. The pros and cons of organic farming shows us that organic food is more expensive. But with the number of farmers shifting to organic farming and increased government funding, the prices will come down. Also, organic food has lesser hidden cost.
Non-organic food is treated many times with preservatives. Organic food decays earlier, as there are no preservatives added. Also, it looks similar to non-organic food, but sometimes might have different shapes and color.
Quality Standards
All non-organic food products have the normal quality approval labels on them. All organic food should have a USDA organic label.
Food Safety
Many times harmful preservatives are added to non-organic foods. Organic foods are safer and better, as they don't use any toxic chemicals.
If you measure the availability of organic food to non-organic food, mostly it is the latter which is more easily available. Some organic foods are imported from other countries and therefore, you cannot be assured of the quality of imported organic food.
Number of Consumers
Maximum consumers buy non-organic food, as it is cheaper and easily available. Consumers are shifting towards buying organic foods, with growing awareness.

Organic food is better as it uses natural farming techniques. It is similar to preferring natural remedies when suffering from a disease as compared to eating chemical antibiotics. So, the question of organic vs. non-organic foods - which is better, is clearly answered by the table above that organic food surpasses the conventionally-produced food in several ways. Though, more studies are required to establish facts about organic foods and their long term effects.
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