While organic farming uses less energy, you need more land for the same quantity. Organic crops and crop-based foods, such as bread, are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally-grown crops. These additional antioxidants are the equivalent to eating between 1-2 extra portions of fruit and vegetables a day. You’ll know that eating sustainably has never been so important – the latest IPCC report showed that the time is now to change how we live . Organic food is often heralded as the go-to for eco-eating, but if you’re unsure of the benefits of organic food – and often just think of it as slightly-more-pricey produce – you’re not alone.
Organic farming may also use 25% to 110% more land as compared with conventional farming . For this, Graham tested the vitamin C and total polyphenol content of our fruit and veg samples. Of course, pesticides affect the environment, so that is one reason for buying organic. But as far as your health is concerned, current scientific research suggests that the fruit or veg sold in the UK does not contain levels that could be harmful – whether organic or not. Maeve has written extensively for NHD magazine over the last few years, producing a wealth of dietetic and nutritional articles.
Even in resource-poor settings, organic management of small farms has been shown to significantly increase yields, improve soil fertility, and water-holding capacity (10–12), enabling a better use of farms’ own resources and reducing dependence on bought inputs . Both lists are created by the Environmental Working Group – this is a non-profit group which promote organic farming. These lists are created by running further tests on pesticide data from the US department of Agriculture , so foods which contain more types of pesticides are higher in the ‘dirty dozen’ list. However, this distorts the original data from the USDA, because the pesticide level for vast majority of fruit and vegetables is well below safety limits (so even if a strawberry contains more pesticides than a mango – both are within safe limits). For example, in 2017 “more than 99 percent of the samples tested had pesticide residues well below benchmark levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency ” – but regardless of this the ‘dirty dozen’ and ‘clean 15’ were published as usual .
Similar research has shown that organic chicken and pork are 3 times lower in antibiotics. This should come as no surprise, given that many farmers subject their livestock to overcrowded conditions which can easily lead to disease. This is widely accepted to be a contributing factor to antibiotic resistance, given that we are being exposed to them in our food. So when we really need the antibiotics to help us overcome illnesses, they aren’t as effective as they should be. Once factor of concern however, was that non-organic milk was significantly higher in iodine, a mineral we need to produce thyroid hormones which supports metabolism and psychological functioning. As dairy is one of the main sources of iodine in the diet, this finding is significant.
So these lists don’t apply outside of the US, and even for food which is produced within the US there is no need to choose or avoid specific foods based on this. Rather than following these lists, it is better to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and washing these before use. The so-called ‘dirty dozen’ is an annual list of conventionally-grown fruit and vegetables which are thought to contain the highest pesticide levels in the US. Food can be certified as organic if it meets a specific set of criteria, which differs between countries. The focus of organic production is usually based on environmental sustainability and human wellbeing .
The above literature throws light on purchasing behavior for environmentally sustainable foods. Such empirical evidence supports the belief that organic product labeling can have a pivotal function in decision-making by exerting influence upon health-aware, environmentally concerned individuals and generating store loyalty. Store image has a constructive effect on perceived quality and confidence in organic private label that result in perceived value. Both confidence in organic private label and perceived value have a constructive effect on consumers’ purchase intentions. The consequence of perceived quality and confidence in organic private label on purchase intentions is somewhat moderated by perceived value . Consumers’ perceived relevance of wholeness in foods explains their intentions to purchase organic food .