Organic Products: Myths and Reality

“Organic” products are food products grown or manufactured without the use of synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, biological and chemical (again synthetic) additives (antibiotics, growth hormones, etc.), as well as genetically modified organisms of plants or animals.

The specified requirements are valid both for agricultural products and for food industry products.

When growing “organic” food products, manure, humus, and compost are used as fertilizers. These products are also used as feed for “organic” cattle and poultry.

What are the benefits of “organic” food?

Studies and surveys on this issue have demonstrated a number of key characteristics attributed to “organic” products that make them attractive. So, consumers of “organic” products believe that:

  • They are more nutritious
  • Fertilizers used by modern farmers can adversely affect health
  • Growing “organic” products brings environmental benefits
  • The meat of animals grown on inorganic feeds contains antibiotics, growth hormones and other additives that adversely affect health

Thus, “organic” foods are perceived as more healthy and healthy.

Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus are the main mineral substances necessary for the development of plants. As studies have shown, synthetic fertilizers fully provide the soil with the necessary minerals. When using manure, humus or compost, it is impossible to predict the effectiveness and sufficient enrichment of the soil with the necessary minerals.

You should know that the deficit of mineral substances does not affect the content of certain substances in the grown products, but on the yield.

Studies have shown that there are no large differences in the content of minerals and vitamins in conventional and organic products.

“Organic” meat contains more polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 compared to regular meat, although these comparisons are not entirely correct due to the heterogeneity of the samples studied.

The nutritional composition of milk and dairy products may be different depending on the components of the feed, season, etc. Nevertheless, milk produced both “organically” and by traditionally raised cows has the same amount of protein, vitamins, lipids and trace elements.

A study in England showed that “organic” milk has significantly higher levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (including conjugated linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid), alpha-tocopherol and iron than normal but lower iodine and selenium levels

Growth hormones, sex hormones and antibiotics in food

Growth hormone (bovine recombinant growth hormone) is used to increase milk production, which allows to increase milk production by 10-15%. Studies show a slight excess of growth hormone in ordinary milk compared to organic. At the same time, 90% of growth hormone is destroyed by pasteurization of milk. In addition, bovine recombinant growth hormone is not active in relation to the human body and is destroyed in the gastrointestinal tract without any consequences.

Sex hormones are used to increase the volume of meat. It has been hypothesized that the content of sex hormones in meat can lead to early puberty in children. Studies have not confirmed this hypothesis.

Antibiotics in animal husbandry are used in large (non-therapeutic) doses in order to prevent diseases and improve animal growth. Some studies have shown that such use of antibiotics can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance and an increase in the number of diseases associated with super bacteria.

About the effects of pesticides

Excessive intake of pesticides in the body can lead to a mass of adverse events. Among them:

    • prolonged neurological disorders
    • developmental disability
    • reproductive disorders
    • dizziness
    • nausea

For children, the likelihood of negative effects of pesticides is higher:

  • Children eat relatively more food (especially fruits and vegetables) per unit of body weight.
  • Developing baby organ systems may be more susceptible to pesticides (such as the nervous system)
  • Inability or decreased ability to neutralize metabolites
  • Pesticides can affect the fetus through the placenta and through breast milk on the baby.

An additional reduction in the amount of pesticides can be achieved by washing, cleaning, thermal or other processing of food products.

At the same time, “organic” products also contain synthetic pesticides, which is caused by contamination of the soil allocated for “organic” farming, wind and water from the adjacent areas, but the content of pesticides in them is significantly lower than in traditional farming products.

Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are an alternative to fresh fruits and vegetables for people concerned about pesticide residues. Most food preservation methods minimize nutritional loss, and are safe and well standardized. One comparative analysis of fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables by the University of Illinois showed that canned foods are nutritionally equivalent to their fresh and frozen counterparts, and conservation methods minimize pesticides.