Organic foods are produced according to specific standards. Practitioners of organic agriculture control the use of chemicals in pesticides and fertilizer to minimize environmental damage impact. To illustrate, they substitute chemical fertilizer for livestock manure and synthetic pesticides for fungicides as copper and sulfur (Knapp). Furthermore, organic products have 30% lower pesticide residue than conventionally grown foods do (Watson), but conventional products are in the same range allowed by the Federal safety guidelines (Lu and Silverstein). Although the Federal guidelines state these foods are safe to consume, they do not take into consideration the effects these pesticides can cause in the human body when consumed even in small amounts. Pesticides are made to kill bacteria. The Cancer Panel argued in 2010 that they see them as a threat for people to consume them (Lu and Silverstein). In addition, organic and conventional chicken and pork were tested for bacteria, and they found the bacteria that cause food poisoning equally in both products (Watson). Similarly, the manure use to fertilize organic produce can contain E. coli and can be transfer to consumers that eat these produce getting them significantly sick (Knapp). The use of pesticides and fertilizer regimen changes along with seasons, weather and different farmers can use different combination of chemicals to their favor. Also the fungicide use as pesticides in organic farming requires to be applied in larger amounts because is not as effective as their synthetic counterparts; this interferes with the environment because they have a larger amount of toxins in them (Knapp). Many think that organic food is grown locally and brought directly to the supermarket; however, a lot of them come from countries that have different regulations for their safety and can be grown in soil that has been used with chemicals before. For example, in recent years they found pesticides that have not been used for many years in organically labeled products.Studies of significant quality show there is a very small difference in nutrient content between organically grown food and conventionally grown food. Research from Stanford University analyzed about 250 studies measuring the dissimilarities between organic and conventional food nutrients in products like vegetables, fruits and more. Other than slightly higher acid levels in organic products and omega-3 in organic milk and chicken they were little nutrient differences between both products (Watson), so it is clear that organic and conventional vegetables offer similar levels of nutrients, including minerals, vitamin C and vitamin E. On the other hand, it is hard to compare the nutritional value of organic vs. conventional products because the soil, climate, and the time of harvest affect the composition of the produce. All produce -including organic- loses nutrients the longer they are in a supermarket or sitting on the farmer’s market after they are harvested. Similarly, there is no evidence that cows that are given hormones (BGH) produce contaminated milk or impacts human health (Lu and Silverstein). Even though organic food consumers believe that by consuming these products, they are healthier than those who consume conventional food; such a theory is wrong. Knapp remarks that “According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), in 1996, the last year for which data is available, 36% of people suffering from E. coli infection contracted it from organic food.”Consequently, consumers should be focused on eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and less processed food to get the most nutrition out of the products they consume to be healthier; whether they are organic or not.
Organic products have achieved a few advantages over conventional food. Health wise, they have little to nothing to offer; economically, they are out of range for many American households. Organic products were usually found in health food stores, now is a regular food found at the supermarket and is creating guilt on the people that cannot afford to buy them. Consumers who buy organic products agree that paying more for them is a trade-off they make to be healthier (Lu and Silverstein). Conversely, families that do not have the budget to pay for organic products question if they are really worth the price (Lu and Silverstein).In her article, Watson emphasized that “is a controversy that’s been going on for a long time” between consumers. It is really a personal choice but food does not have to be organic to be safe, healthy and environmentally friendly. Even if some people opt to buy organic foods to reduce their pesticide intake they do not have to substitute their entire diet or change it all; likewise, pesticides can be avoided by washing conventional produce with a mixture of water and a dishwashing soap before eating them (Watson). In addition, the Environmental Working Group releases two different lists every year to inform consumers about pesticide content in products. The “Dirty Dozen” that acknowledges the food with the highest pesticide concentration and the “Clean 15” that lists the food with the lowest pesticides. These lists give consumers the source they need make smart choices when substituting products for their benefits and is a big help to manage the economic limits for those families that cannot afford paying 40% more for their food to be all organic. Although many consumers think that going all organic and paying higher prices for these foods is worth it, just because a product is labeled as organic and, consequently, it is implied that it contains organic ingredients, does not necessarily mean it is a healthier choice. Former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman pointed out, “The organic label is a marketing tool. It is not a statement about food safety” (Knapp). Organic products are still high in sugar, sodium, fat and calories.
Although organic farmers promote their product as better for the environment, produce less toxic and are safer and healthier, the evidence available proves otherwise. Nevertheless, it is true that synthetic fertilizers are a threat for health, the evidence for such a threat is not sustainable (Knapp). Consumers who wish to have a more nutritious diet to prolong their healthy lives must be aware of the choices they make about what they put on their table. Food is consumed to provide nutritional support for the body, usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals that provide energy to the body to maintain life and stimulate growth. Both organic and conventional food contains same essential nutrients when consume, therefore consumer should take into consideration whether organically grown products are affordable for their family. Knapp suggests that “Consumers should think twice about paying extra for organic food.” Documented research disclosed what minimal the health gain is by consuming organic products, but there is evidence that proves having a balanced diet will help someone’s health permanently; in the same way, it will outweigh any potential risk from pesticide consumption. One thing the experts agree on is that regardless of whether consumers choose locally grown, organic, or conventional foods, the important thing is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. As long as they make a long-term commitment to adding a variety of products and stay active, they will be healthier no matter which way they decide to go for their food. In addition, conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are cheaper, leading to increased consumption of this important food group, which increases the health of consumers. It is evident, there is not enough available scientific research done comparing organic and conventional food nutrient quality. After learning these facts, if one has a conventionally grown broccoli in one hand and in the other hand, one organically grown broccoli, knowing that both broccolis are firm, green and crispy, both provide vitamins, protein and both are free of cholesterol and saturated fat, which would you choose now?