First of all, how do organic foods fare on nutritional content levels as compared to their non-organic counterparts?
Research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that among 50 studies that they analyzed, both organic and non-organic foods have similar macro nutrient content in both crops and animals.
However, sources from other journals show that organic food does have other valuable nutrients like antioxidants and vitamins which were higher than conventional foods.
Before deciding whether to go organic or not, lets look at what the term ‘organic’ actually mean and compare that with ‘non-GMO’.
What is the difference? If a fruit is organic, does that mean it is not genetically modified? It is time to make this well-defined so that you can make smarter food choices when buying groceries.
Food is produced using
- feed or fertilizer of plant and animal origin
without the use of herbicides, pesticides, chemically formulated fertilizers, hormones like growth stimulants and antibiotics.
USA commonly uses the ‘USDA Organic’ seal, it means the product is 95-100% organic
Other labels used in Europe and Australia as follows:
Otherwise, products can still use the word ‘organic’ on its front or side packaging, containing less than 90% of organic ingredients.
Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)
Living organisms that are produced using
- manipulation of genes
- Spraying crops with herbicide called ‘Roundup Ready’
When we eat livestock that is raised on Roundup Ready crops, we ingest the herbicides and develop mineral deficiencies and a buildup of bad bacteria that ultimately results in digestive problems.
GMOs can be found in as much as 80% of conventional processed foods.
Choose products that are labelled ‘GMO-free’ whenever possible. When ‘non-GMO project’ options are not available, choose ‘Certified Organic’ products.
You can find more information on GMOs here.
How then, do you shop for the best choices? Does this make shopping more complicated?
Many food labels and advertisements now make it extremely confusing for the average consumer in supermarkets. We recommend going for real whole foods, whenever possible and skip packaged foods. In addition, consider the amount of herbicides being sprayed on the main areas of the fruit and vegetables that we eat and how foods have become modified by scientists.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization that is working actively to protect us against harmful environments and materials. Every year, they release a list of the most contaminated and least contaminated foods, to help people like you and me make safer affordable choices on our food. About 50 fruits and vegetables are tested for the amount of pesticides being sprayed onto the crops and ranked accordingly.
Many of you would know that organic and non-GMO foods tend to cost more. However, referring to the EWG’s list of Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen, you would be able to buy your favorite fruits and vegetables and know which ones to get organic, whilst foregoing others for non-organic versions, thus enabling you to get organic food on a budget.
Other options to going organic without blowing your wallet:
- Support local small farms
- Farmer’s Markets
- Grow it Yourself
A great option for Singaporeans is to learn urban farming. The class can be paid via Skills Credit, so essentially you are learning how to make your own food for free! It is a great opportunity to realign yourself with nature and watch how you have more love for the food that you grow and make for yourself, as compared to buying processed ready-made frozen meals in the supermarket.
If you have further questions or would like a personal guide to help you when shopping for food, feel free to contact Melissa or Dominique at their respective email addresses.