Does Organic Food Taste Better?
Does organic food taste better? Why does organic food sometimes look less appealing than conventionally farmed produce? What is an organic box scheme? Melissa Kidd, spokesperson for the Soil Association, answers some FAQ’s about the benefits of organic food.
What is an organic box scheme?
An organic box scheme is a box of seasonal, locally produced organic produce delivered to your door.
Why does non-organic fruit and veg look more appealing?
About 40% of non-organic vegetables and fruit are thrown away because they don’t meet the exact specifications of the supermarkets. There isn’t the same volume of organic food produced, so wastage in this way doesn’t happen. Also for a lot of organic produce, the varieties are chosen for their robustness and disease resistance (because synthetic pesticides are not used routinely). This means that the varieties might be interestingly shaped. Organic farmers do not use chemicals or pesticides to improve the cosmetic appearance of food.
What evidence is there to prove organic food is more healthy?
The evidence is mounting, but it’s very difficult to do long term studies on the effect of an organic diet on humans because so many factors can alter the result. Back in 2000, a review of all available evidence was undertaken and this showed, on average, that organic food had higher levels of vitamins and trace minerals as well as increased levels of antioxidants (cancer fighting compounds). Since 1946, the level of trace elements in the soil has reduced significantly through use of pesticides and conventional fertilisers. So we need to eat more foods to maintain vitamin and mineral levels. With organic farming, because the soil is fed naturally there are more available trace minerals for the plants to take up, so it’s logical that more vitamins and minerals are found in these veggies.
The fact that organic food does not contain synthetic pesticides is another advantage. Would you really want to consume foods on a daily basis that have small amounts of chemical residues of which no-one really knows the long term effects?
Organic milk and dairy products have higher levels of essential fatty acids (EFA’s) than non-organic. Our bodies can’t produce EFA’s so we have to get them from our diet. EFA’s are very important for brain development and other key processes. Organic animals are fed a much more natural diet – they are not stuffed full of high energy, high protein cereals which increases their weight quickly, but also alters the nutritional balance in the animal.
Does organic food taste any better?
Taste is subjective, but it is a common reason most people give for buying organic food. There are reasons why organic food tastes better. Organic produce is grown more slowly, and is not subjected to nitric fertilizer, which speeds up the growing rate. Therefore flavours potentially develop more naturally. Also, there’s more dry matter in organic produce and less water. “You get more carrot for your carrot, so to speak”. Lots of top chefs also use organic food. Jamie Oliver, for one, describes organic as “food with sparkle”.
Are there artificial flavourings or colourings in organic food?
There are no artificial flavours and colourings allowed in organic food.
Why is organic food more expensive?
The main reason that organic food is more expensive is because it costs more to produce. Animal welfare standards for organic food are very high, so more land and more labour is needed to ensure that those standards are met. Organic seeds are more expensive – there are less around. However organic production does not cost (the taxpayer) the £120 million required to take pesticides out of water, or the other unquantifiable costs such as the loss of rural communities.
If you buy organic food directly from a farmer, from a box scheme or at a farmer’s market, lots of studies have shown that it is actually the same price or even cheaper than non-organic food through cutting out the middleman.
Where can I buy organic food?
Organic food is best bought in your local area. The Soil Association has an organic directory on its website so you can search in your county for a local organic box scheme and for farmers’ markets. If there isn’t an organic box-scheme or a farm shop in your area, you can buy organic food today in supermarkets.
Which is better: organic food or locally produced non-organic food?
This is a very complex question, and really depends on your priorities when you buying food. So if, for example, animal welfare’s important to you, then you might prefer to buy organic as animal welfare standards are extremely high. People tend to buy locally if they’re concerned about food miles. But what’s also important to notice is organic food production is inherently local, because there’s no use of fertilizers and pesticides that have been transported long distances even before the food has been produced.
In short, organic is the ideal system of production, and local is the ideal system of distribution.
What are GMOs?
A GMO is when a gene has been artificially inserted into another organism. At its most extreme, a GMO is the genetic material of an Arctic Flounder Fish being inserted into a tomato to prolong it’s shelf life. Essentially it’s a very random, unpredictable process. This wouldn’t happen in nature. When a gene is inserted into another host it can express characteristics about which we really have no idea. Therefore it’s a very risky process.
What is GM food?
GM food is food which contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
What is the Food For Life programme?
The Food For Life programme is a programme that aims to improve our food culture in this country. For example, one aspect it is currently focusing on is improving school meals: targets are to serve 75% unprocessed food, 50% locally produced food and 30% organic. Participating schools will look to provide local, fresh, organic, nutritious food to school children and will also teach them about how food is grown and prepared. The programme looks to involve parents and the wider community in producing good, healthy food.
Filed under: Organic Kitchen
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