Wednesday, March 12 2014
Posted by Karen Inge | Hot topic stories | No Comments
As more health-conscious people move away from overly-processed, ‘fake’ foods that are full of additives to foods as close to the natural source as possible, now the dilemma is should we be eating organic or not?
Unfortunately there isn’t enough hard data to make the answer a simple one.
To a great extent, it depends on which food we are talking about: for some groups of food it is more obvious than others. Most people who care about the environment and animal welfare go for free range choices.
When it comes to chicken and pork we are assured by the industry that if we buy free range these animals will not be given prophylactic antibiotics.
But when it comes to fruit and vegetables, it isn’t that clear cut. How do we know whether the food is actually organic? And is it necessary for us to only eat organic fruit and vegetables?
From a nutritional point of view there is some research to suggest that organic fruit and vegetables may be higher in phytonutrients that have antioxidant capacity and so may be better for us. Organic tomatoes, for example, may be redder and have more flavour. This generally indicates they are richer in the antioxidant lycopene. People who grow their own tomatoes organically will certainly testify that they taste better.
But how do we know that all food marketed as ‘organic’, really is? Can we be assured that it will have no more chemical residues than non-organic, because there are charlatans in every industry. It’s difficult to decide when the organic industry has such loose certification and controls, plus anyway, Australia supposedly has one of the safest food supplies in the world and it is heavily regulated in terms of which chemicals can be used in production and the amounts allowed to ensure that the levels are safe.
Ultimately, the choice is yours, but we need more independent studies regularly testing our foods for residues and these results should be made more accessible to the public. Until that time, the best advice, is to buy as much wholefoods as we can, that are in season and at their peak, produced and sold locally if possible, so when they are ripe we get all the benefits of the freshest produce.