Organic or non-organic: what is it all about?

Published: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 2:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 2:36 p.m.

As a health and fitness professional, I am constantly asked questions about nutrition. Most people want to know what is the difference between organic and non-organic (conventional) foods. With each of my clients I educate them on the differences between organic foods and conventionally raised foods. The term `organic' is used to describe foods produced without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. And while the price tag on organic foods is often more expensive than their conventional counterparts, consider the following information the next time you are at the grocery store.

To fully appreciate the addition of organic foods to your diet, one must look beyond the primary essential nutrients such as water, fiber, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and into the notable differences in the amount of secondary nutrients and the many health benefits of organic foods.

Research from Copenhagen University and Iowa State University suggest that organic food, because of its more abundant content of secondary nutrients, may be better at protecting us from certain types of health conditions. Organic foods were found to contain high levels of a potent antioxidant and secondary nutrient called phenolic compounds. According to research phenolic compounds are ten times more efficient at cleaning up cancer- causing free radicals in the body than even vitamin C and E, protecting against cardiovascular disease, and may help prevent the oxidation of LDL a critical event in the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

There is also substantial evidence that organic meats have higher protein quality than conventionally raised animals. In one of the largest studies to date on organic food, the Haughly Experiment, found that cows fed organic produce ate less, but consistently produced more milk. This is thought to be the result of the quality of protein in the grass the cows eat.

The quality of this grass is directly dependent on the trace mineral content-of which their availability is dependent on the soil microorganisms. Conventionally farmed soils can be depleted as much as 85% in microorganism content due in part to chemical fertilizers. The proteins in the plants growing in the depleted soils are thus inferior. You can find many brands of organic chicken, beef and pork on the market today at your local grocer.

If you are interested in adding organic foods to your diet, Publix, Hitchcock's Foodway and Kash N'Karry have several brands including Galaxy, Maverick and Perdue; while Wards Super Market, Mother Earth, and the Farmer's Market (Haile Village Center) provide more organic food selections.

Already eating organic foods and want a place to eat out? Consider Mildred's, New Deal, Steve's Café Americain, Emiliano's, Chipotle, Bistro 1245, Leonardo's 706, Paramount Grill, Dinner Restaurants (Thornebrook Village & downtown Gainesville), and Ivy's Grill.

It seems rather obvious that if achieving your desired body shape were as easy as exercise alone then more people would look fantastic. Nutrition is of paramount importance to getting the results you want. People are surprised to hear that sometimes being healthy isn't completely dependent on what foods you eat, but rather where those foods come from.

To read more on the benefits of organic foods check out these sites:


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