At a time of growing awareness of the power of food to improve or devastate our health, people are turning to safer and healthier foods and regimes. It seems that there is an organic alternative to whatever you need to buy from the store these days.
Organic foods, grown and processed without the use of chemicals, seem to be the biggest trend now when it comes to food. Organic crops are grown with compost or manure, by natural control of weeds and pests.
Animals are not treated with antibiotics and are fed organic, hormone, and GMO- free foods. Organic foods are much more expensive than conventional foods, but they are highly beneficial. They are rich in nutrients, like polyphenols, which produce antioxidants that prevent free radical damage.
Moreover, organic foods are abundant in the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. A 2016 study has found that they contain 50% more of these fatty acids than conventional products.
What’s more, growing organic foods is environment- friendly way and it does not contribute to pollution.
A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that organically grown crops are less likely to contain detectable pesticide levels and cadmium.
They are also safer as they are produced without antibiotics, according to Rolf Halden, Professor, and Director of the Bio design Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University.
Therefore, consuming organic products is not only a move toward a healthier way of being, but at the same time, it is better for the Earth, the water, the animals and the environment.
But wait before you make a final decision, as the organic food you are buying might not be organic at all!
Namely, there are numerous organic products imported in the U.S. from China and some of them have been found to be far from organic.
The head of the Organic Program at the United States’ Department of Agriculture (USDA), Miles McEvoy, stated:
“China is a major producer of organic products, and there are continual questions about the integrity of products coming from China.”
Here is why these foods are not considered organic:
- The environment in China is dramatically polluted, with the soil and water rich in heavy metals like cadmium and lead. A Greenpeace report suggested that “contamination of soil with a number of toxic metals, including cadmium and lead, is known to be an existing problem for many parts of Hunan Province, China.” Dr. Xia Hanbing, manager of Shanghai Tianzai Fruits and Vegetables Specialized Co-op added that it is difficult for farmers to grow organic foods, as “‘organic’ calls for certain soil and water standards, and because vegetables are part of the food chain, they’re especially vulnerable to diseases and pests” and “the current eco-friendly measures to combat these problems are not yet developed enough to fully replace pesticides.”
- Organic products from China are poorly regulated, as there are not grown by clear standards, or under the supervision of any officially recognized body
- Some producers just add fake “organic” tags on their products and thus sell them for a higher price.
- The products cannot be trusted because they can be certified by third-party vendors, as there are not enough certifiers accredited by the USDA. According to the website of the Chinese Organic Food Classification Centre (COFCC), they are “a special organization responsible for organic agriculture promotion and engaged in organic-food certification and management under the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture,” but they only inspect 30% of organic products.
Not all organic food imported from China is problematic, but we need to be more careful, as the country is the third greatest exporter of agricultural products to the United States.
It would also be wise to avoid foods from China until they enforce better regulations, even if they are labeled “organic’.
Even if the certificate has not been forged, you should consider the possible effects of the die environmental situation of the country.
Unfortunately, you cannot fully avoid buying fake organic products, but there are things you should know:
- If it is specifically labeled as containing no GMOs, it is probably organic
- Check for an “organic certificate”, and if the product has it, look up the company to see if it is legit
- “Organic” products that cost less than traditional products are probably fake
- It is probably not organic if it claims to be ‘fortified’ with synthetic vitamins
Switching to organic foods is one of the best decisions you can make to improve your health and wellbeing, so don’t allow this to deter you.
Yet, to stay on the safe side, it would be best to grow your own garden, or find a reliable, local vendor and buy your organic produce from him.