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Organic Health Benefits

Essay by   •  August 12, 2012  •  Essay  •  800 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,481 Views

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Both health officials and chefs tout the advantages of organic food, but what makes it any different than conventionally grown fare? Are there really any health benefits in eating only organic food? Experts aren't sure yet if organic foods actually contain more nutrients than conventional foods, but there are health benefits to consuming less pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals that are added to conventional foods.

Meat and Poultry

Meat, poultry, and dairy items are among the most important products to consider when buying organic for several reasons. Most conventional livestock comes from concentrated-animal feeding operations (CAFOs). According to "Food, Inc.," the print accompaniment to the documentary film edited by Karl Weber, these are industrial-scale facilities where thousands of animals are fed and housed together in very close proximity. In these cramped conditions, disease can spread quickly; therefore, farmers dose each animal with antibiotics. Weber asserts that increased use of antibiotics on livestock leads to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that can eventually pass to humans. Organic animals don't need antibiotics, because they don't live in such tight quarters. USDA organic standards prohibit farmers from giving any medical treatment to animals unless they are sick, including antibiotics and synthetic parasiticides. Organic farmers and ranchers are also prohibited from giving their animals hormones or supplements to promote growth. Conventional feedlots engage in this practice in order to make livestock grow faster, so that they can be slaughtered sooner, which lowers the cost of raising them. According to Weber, ingesting hormones from meat can lead to hormonal imbalances that may cause cancer. Organic, grass-fed beef is also higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower cholesterol, beta-carotene, and vitamin E.

Produce

According to the USDA, organic fruits and vegetables, as well as grains, may not be treated with fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides that contain synthetic substances or sewage sludge. According to the Mayo Clinic, organic farmers use natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, and beneficial insects and birds and other natural methods to reduce pests and disease. To manage weeds, organic farmers rotate and hand till crops instead of using chemical herbicides. Allison Pennell from babble.com, a parenting website, writes that ongoing exposure to pesticides makes children more susceptible to health problems, with a risk of nuero-developmental damage in particular. According to the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, kids who consume conventional produce and juice tested positive for the presence of several kinds of pesticides in their systems. When these foods were replaced with organics, the pesticides in their systems disappeared. According to Weber, some conventional

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