Food grown more healthful

More and more grocery stores are making room for organic produce to keep up with increasing demand. Why are people going organic? Reasons include a growing national concern about the safety of our produce and a general movement toward an organic diet.

The Organic Diet: What Does Organic Really Mean?

Organic foods are thought to be better for your health and the environment because they’re grown in a natural, chemical-free way. Organic produce is grown using natural pest control methods, instead of pesticides, and organic meats don’t rely on chemicals to prevent diseases in animals. Instead of chemicals, organic farmers:

  • Rotate crops frequently to stave off insects
  • Fertilize crops with manure or compost
  • Use chemical-free soils
  • Allow animals to spend more time roaming instead of in confined spaces where diseases can spread
  • Use organic feed to feed livestock
  • Do not use certain medications (including hormones and antibiotics) on livestock

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The Organic Diet: What Are the Benefits of Going Organic?

The decision to choose organic produce and other foods is a personal one, based on your own needs and concerns. Some people just don’t want to eat any food that could contain pesticides and other chemicals, says Anne Wolf, RD, a registered dietitian and researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

Another reason: Organic food tastes better, says Wolf, adding that studies have shown organic foods contain more disease-fighting antioxidants.

In addition to health and better taste, there’s the green aspect of going organic. “A lot of people eat organic for the philosophy of it — to help sustain our earth,” notes Wolf. Organic farming practices are better for the sustainability of land, water, and food.

For most healthy adults, though, Wolf admits, organic foods aren’t necessary for better health — it’s just a preference. Pregnant women and children are more susceptible to the health effects of pesticides (including nervous system damage and behavioral problems), so for them, organic foods are a good health investment.