Healthy Nutrition and Organic Food
The consumption of organic food has been increasing as part of rising consciousness and concerns of people on healthy living and nutrition. Organic food market around the world has been growing and, in that, Germany is the leading country in Europe with the highest retail sales of organic food (9.5 billion in 2016)*. Indeed, many organic products, which used to be available only in particular organic shops a decade ago, are available in regular supermarkets today; ‘bio’ products are more accessible and cheaper today.
But what is ‘organic food’ and is it really healthier as many perceive it to be?
According to EU’s definition, “organic production means a sustainable agricultural system respecting the environment and animal welfare, but also includes all other stages of the food supply chain”*. Organic food is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or GMOs. Animals used to produce organic meat, dairy products and eggs are not given antibiotics or growth hormones.
Organic production and farming seem to be better and more sustainable for the environment and animals, and therefore better for people; but according to many experts, there is not scientifically proven information stating that organic food has higher nutritional value or higher overall health benefits. So, an organic apple appears to have the same vitamins and minerals as a conventionally grown one.
A healthy diet, according to several experts, is about taking right amount of calories, consuming variety of foods and beverages that provide the needed amount of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, drinking enough water and limiting the daily intake of sugar; not necessarily about organic consumption.
While organic farming and production has obvious advantages and should be supported, misperceptions on ‘organic food and healthy living’ or misuse of organic labeling should be avoided. The given advise by the experts is that the consumers should pay attention to the nutritional benefits, as well as the extent of the organic labels, they see on the packages of the products they buy.