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Is it worth spending money on organic products?
Is it worth spending money on organic products?

Lifehacker found out what scientists think about this.

Is it worth spending money on organic products
Is it worth spending money on organic products

Products labeled Organic cost at least two to three times the price of regular products. And this is not a whim of the shops. To earn the mark, the product must be grown and processed to organic standards.

What makes organic farming different

It does not use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, does not play with genes to make food bigger, better and more resistant to pests, does not inject cattle with antibiotics and growth hormone.

Farmers fertilize fields with manure, spread predatory insects on pests, fight weeds by covering the ground with wood chips, and use other tricks to avoid chemicals while still getting crops.

Livestock and poultry in organic farming does not suffer: it is kept in spacious pens with other individuals, grazes in the fresh air and eats suitable food, and not dubious feed. Animals are killed humanely using anesthetics and analgesics to reduce suffering.

If the farm meets all the requirements, the farmer can be checked by an accredited organization and receive a special certificate. Without this certificate, the farm and its products cannot be called organic.

How organic products are labeled

How organic products are labeled
How organic products are labeled

There is no uniform labeling of organic products in the world, but there are several recognized systems:

  1. USDA Organic (USA).
  2. EU mark (regulations 834/2007 and 889/2008).
  3. Accreditation mark by the international organization IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements).
  4. Bio-Siegel (Germany).
  5. Agriculture biologique (or AB, France).
  6. KRAV (Sweden).
  7. JAS (Japan).
  8. National standard of the Russian Federation (GOST 33980 and GOST 56508).

Also in the countries of Europe and Asia, there are many private organizations that carry out organic certification. For example, in Russia there is a voluntary certification system called “Leaf of Life”.

What's special about organic foods

They have more antioxidants

Antioxidants from food are believed to protect Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health from oxidative stress and increase Dietary Antioxidants, Circulating Antioxidant Concentrations, Total Antioxidant Capacity, and Risk of All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Dose -Response Lifetime Meta-Analysis of Prospective Observational Studies.

And these antioxidants in organic fruits, vegetables and berries are 6-69% higher Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyzes., Comparison of the total phenolic and ascorbic acid content of freeze-dried and air-dried marionberry, strawberry, and corn grown using conventional, organic, and sustainable agricultural practices., Agroecosystem Management and Nutritional Quality of Plant Foods: The Case of Organic Fruits and Vegetables than traditional agricultural products farms.

Less pesticides and heavy metals

Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops were found in organic products: a systematic literature review and meta-analyzes. four times fewer traces of pesticides and almost half the toxic metal cadmium than conventionally produced food.

It's hard to say if this can be considered a plus. After all, there are too few Organic Foods in conventional products of pesticides to harm the body.

It's the same with heavy metals. Organic food: buying more safety or just peace of mind? A critical review of the literature. … True, there is a hypothesis that they can accumulate in the body. If so, organic foods can help you avoid future problems.

More omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids

This applies to organic milk Higher PUFA and n-3 PUFA, conjugated linoleic acid, α-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic milk: a systematic literature review and meta- and redundancy analyzes. and meat Composition differences between organic and conventional meat: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. … Why is it good? Because Omega-3 Fatty Acids 17 Science-Based Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids improve skin, bone and joint health and fight inflammation.


It is forbidden to use genetically modified organisms in organic farming. But this can hardly be called a plus, because the harm of GMOs has not been proven.

More than 3,000 scientific studies have shown GMO 20-year safety endorsement: 280 science institutions, more than 3,000 studies that GMOs are no more harmful to humans and the environment than conventional agricultural products.

On the contrary, genetic modifications allow Impacts of GMO corn: A meta analysis to get rid of dangerous mycotoxins, use less pesticides A meta-analysis of the impacts of genetically modified crops. to protect the fruit and increase the quality and quantity of the crop.

How organic food affects health

There is no consensus in the scientific community on this matter. Research shows that an organic diet accelerates the growth of Organic food and impact on human health: Assessing the status quo and prospects of research, reduces Effects of organically and conventionally produced feed on biomarkers of health in a chicken model. weight and risk Consumption of organic foods and risk of atopic disease during the first 2 years of life in the Netherlands. allergies, strengthens Effect of diets based on foods from conventional versus organic production on intake and excretion of flavonoids and markers of antioxidative defense in humans. protection against oxidative stress and immunity in general.

But these data were obtained either with the help of animals or a small number of people, or in a short time.

In addition, people who eat organic foods are generally more Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review. take care of their health. So it’s impossible to say for sure if organic products or a healthy lifestyle helped them.

In general, there is still insufficient evidence that organic food is healthier than regular food. Effects of organic food consumption on human health; the jury is still out! …

How organic farming affects the environment

On the one hand, such industries consume less energy by Comparative analysis of environmental impacts of agricultural production systems, agricultural input efficiency, and food choice, since they do not use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, the creation of which requires a lot of resources.

On the other hand, farms need more land and generate the same amount of greenhouse gases as conventional ones. Moreover, manure, which replaces synthetic fertilizers, gets into water bodies and kills flora and fauna there.

Scientists believe that reducing the amount of greenhouse gases, consumed energy and cultivated land is more important for the environment than switching from a conventional farming to an organic one.

This can be achieved in different ways. And one of them is the use of GMOs banned on organic farms.

Due to genetic modification, the use of Environmental impacts of genetically modified (GM) crop use 1996–2015: Impacts on pesticide use and carbon emissions of pesticides and herbicides is reduced by 18.6%, and farmers use less fuel, which reduces carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

In general, organic farming cannot be called exceptionally beneficial to the environment.

Should you buy organic products?

So, organic foods contain more antioxidants and omega-3s, less pesticides and less heavy metals. But it is not yet clear if this is so good for health. At the same time, organic farming is not so good for the environment.

Perhaps the only undoubted plus is that animals do not suffer. If this is important to you, look for organic products in supermarkets and online stores.

Just look at the packaging carefully: if there is no recognized label on it, the word "organic" may just be a publicity stunt.

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