It wasn’t until the last few decades that the use of pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) became a normal component of conventional farming. The use of these chemicals is intended to protect crops, however, it has to be noted that the products used are essentially toxic chemicals.

As these crops grow with the assistance of these chemicals, the foods that are produced still carry varying traces of these chemicals. These chemicals can of course be detrimental to the health of those consuming these foods.

What are Organic Foods?

Organic foods are essentially those that are grown without the use of any chemicals. The official definition of organic foods from the Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is:

"Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation. 

Organic agriculture is a systems approach to production that is working towards environmentally, socially and economically sustainable production. Instead, the agricultural systems rely on crop rotation, animal and plant manures, some hand weeding and biological pest control".

Why Genetically Modify Foods?

Genetically modifying foods can make them resistant to the threat of pests and poor weather. However, it is known that GMO foods can cause adverse health effects. Known effects are allergic reactions, antibiotic resistance, birth defects, reproductive damage and cancer.

The Benefits of Eating Organic

When you eat organic food, as opposed to non-organic, you are reducing the amount of toxins that are present in your body. Organic produce is more nutritious than its non-organic counterparts, and can therefore be additionally beneficial for promoting optimum health. Studies have shown that organic foods have a greater presence of nutrients and antioxidants, and a lesser presence of heavy metals.

It is not only your body and your health that stand to benefit when you choose to eat organic. The additional advantage for the planet is that the quality of the soil used for crops is protected. This is because farmers rely more on natural farming methods. Crop rotation is used in conjunction with an animal manure fertiliser. However, on the flip-side, when non-organic methods are used in farming, the integrity of the soil becomes compromised. This damage can be serious and long-lasting.

Organic Meat

It is not only food crops that present dangers due to the chemicals that they are exposed to. Conventionally raised livestock will be fed a diet that mainly consists of these chemically laced foods, not to mention added antibiotics and hormones - all of which are then passed onto you when you eat meat.

Dairy cows, for example, are usually given a growth hormone in order to increase the amount of milk that they produce. This increase in milk production can actually cause infections to develop, which is the reason that antibiotics are then also introduced into the diet.

How to Make the Change to Organic

Making the switch to organic produce can at first appear to be a bit daunting. Not only is it not as widely available as non-organic foods, but it can also be more expensive.

A good way to get started is to switch out one food at a time. When you do so, you are making the commitment to always go organic when it comes to certain foods. You can then increase the amount of foods that you always go organic for, and slowly reduce your exposure to these chemically contaminated foods!

In addition to starting to always choose the organic version of certain foods, you can also try to incorporate the following foods into your diet. These foods are often referred to as the clean fifteen, as they do not require many chemicals, such as pesticides, in order to grow:

• Avocados
• Sweet corn
• Pineapples
• Cabbage
• Sweet peas (frozen)
• Onions
• Asparagus
• Mangoes
• Papayas
• Kiwi
• Eggplant
• Grapefruit
• Cantaloupe
• Cauliflower
• Sweet potatoes

You should bear in mind that papaya and sweet corn are often genetically modified.

The following foods are those that are exposed to the largest amounts of chemicals, and you should generally try to limit your consumption of the non-organic varieties of these foods. In fact, when you are making the decision to slowly introduce organic foods into your diet, you should aim to swap these ones first if possible:

• Apples
• Strawberries
• Grapes
• Celery
• Peaches
• Spinach
• Sweet Bell Peppers
• Nectarines
• Cucumbers
• Cherry Tomatoes
• Snap Peas
• Potatoes
• Hot Peppers
• Kale & Collard Greens

Hopefully this article will have served as an informative guide to demonstrate the benefits of increasing your intake of organic produce. When you do so, you may notice that your health improves as your exposure to toxins lessens. You may also observe other benefits to your body and mind as the amount of nutrients that you consume increases. 

References

1) https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/organic

2) http://www.care2.com/greenliving/health-risks-of-eating-gmo-foods.html