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NUTRITION

Organic Food: A food concept assuring better health
Friday, 26 March, 2021, 16 : 00 PM [IST]
Yogesh Singh
Current era has been the era of certain buzzwords, and organic food is one of such terms, which has been prominent in shaping the health of an individual.

Many of us would not be even aware about the core essence of the organic food and hence it is crucial to demystify the basic concept of organic food. The prevailing concept among the layman is that the food which is grown with ‘no pesticides’ and ‘no fertilizers’ is just the organic food and this concept is the misconstrued definition of organic food.

During 20th century, lots of chemical fertilisers were incorporated in the farming process just to increase the productivity, ignoring the fact of its being harmfulness. Then, came the organic food to defend the adversity of various chemical used in the process. Thus, organic food is among us to fight back the industrialisation of the agriculture around 1940.

Organic food is the food produced without using any synthetic chemicals (man-made pesticides and fertilisers), hormones, antibiotics and it even does not contain any Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). GMOs are those foods where DNA has been changed in ways which usually don’t occur in nature, and they are not considered very beneficial in context to health.

The organic food is vivid as it comprises of fresh produce (vegetables and fruits), meats, grains, and dairy products; and even processed foods. The concept of organic food and its popularity has mushroomed all over and its growth has been significant in last few decades. Its consumption and acceptability is so prominent that it has been a multibillion dollar industry with unique mechanism of production, processing process and creative distribution system.

The organically grown crops are produced using natural fertilisers like manure whereas animals that are raised organically are not provided with any antibiotics or hormones. The organic foods are labelled ‘organic’ by certain approved regulating bodies and then only the customer is assured of its authenticity while purchasing.

Research has been conducted regarding the nutritive value of organic and non-organic foods but there has been no concrete result stating that foods grown organically are more nutritious that food that are grown by non-organically methods. But certain evidence states that the food grown with organic methods are more healthy and beneficial for the health of humankind.

Despite no concrete result, it has been studied that organic foods usually have higher level of antioxidants along with few micronutrients (such as vitamin C, zinc and iron). As per one study, it has been proved that the antioxidant levels of organic food is generally 69 per cent higher; and organically grown berries and corn comprise of 58 per cent more antioxidants and 52 per cent more amounts of vitamin C. The rudimentary concept behind this increase is that it doesn’t use any chemical pesticides spray for its protection; and hence it produces its own compound (antioxidant) within to protect itself.

The labelling of the organic food highlights the organic processing followed for the production of that product. ‘100 per cent organic’ label must be on the product that are 100 per cent organic ingredients, including processing aids, 95 per cent organic ingredients must be just labelled as ‘organic’ and those with at least 70 per cent organic ingredients must be labelled as ‘ made with organic ingredients’.  So, the consumer must keep this fact of labelling in their mind while making their purchase of organic food.

Organic food is associated with lower level of nitrate (almost 30 per cent lower) and the high nitrate content is associated with possibility of various types of cancer risk. High nitrate level among children leads to condition known as ‘methemoglobinemia’ in which the infant’s body doesn’t carry oxygen properly to all organs. It has also been studied that the organic milk and dairy products contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and even higher amounts of iron and vitamin E. Omega-3 fatty acid is associated with several health benefits linked to heart. On the other hand, it is also found that it contains less amount of selenium and iodine as well that are essential for good health.

Organic foods are pesticide-free and even low doses of pesticide is associated with the possibility of disease risk like several cancers such as leukemia, brain tumours, breast cancer and prostate cancer. Children and foetuses are most affected by pesticides as it impacts the immune systems and their developing brains as well. Pregnant women are also having health issues if they consume pesticides in their diet.

The inclination towards healthy food habit has increased the acceptability and popularity of organic food all across the globe. It has to be consumed fresh as it doesn’t has any preservatives in it and hence it doesn’t harm one’s health as well. It is genetically modified organism free and it also adds to its benefit list. Organic foods are more expensive as compared to normal conventionally produced food and it is easily understood that every good thing in the market has its own price. But this has made few food producers to label their product as ‘organic food’ and sell it in market without actually making their product organic in real character.

This is because there has been no strict regulation to control the monitoring of Organic labelling. Each country has their own rules and regulations and such guidelines have to be monitored strictly. The government bodies lack in this aspect and this has given birth to various irregularities in this segment.

Undoubtedly, the organic foods are expensive but they are worth its price. It is packed with certain benefits that are the indeed the foundation of good health. It is loaded with large quantity of antioxidant and certain micro-nutrients. As it is pesticide free, it is not harmful to infants, children, pregnant ladies, etc., as compared to normal food that has pesticides in it. Thus, organic food can be preferred by those who wish to have better health.

(The author is senior faculty of culinary arts at Institute of Hotel Management, Kurukshetra. He can be contacted at  singhocean@yahoo.com)
 
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